What is the Brookes project life cycle and where does the sponsors role fit in?

The Brookes project life cycle is simply defined as Initiate, Plan, Do and Closedown. If the initiation and planning have been done thoroughly then, provided the project manager does not need to step outside of the framework and plans agreed there should be little input necessary from the sponsor in the Do phase.

This is a summary of the Brookes project life cycle, the key activities undertaken and an outline of the sponsor's role in each phase.

Phase Sponsor's role Project activities in this phase

Sponsor's role is to ensure that the rationale behind the project is sound in the context of the University's strategic objectives. The sponsor owns the business case on behalf of the University's senior management and is accountable for delivery.

Once the business case has been approved the sponsor is responsible for ensuring that the project initiation document is geared toward benefits realisation and that the project team have clear boundaries and standards in terms of scope, cost, time, resources and quality. The sponsor must ensure that all stakeholders are properly engaged with the process.

The business case and the project initiation document form the framework around which the project plan can be built.

Business case

  • The case for change
  • Aims and objectives
  • Benefits analysis
  • Strategic fit
  • Summary of risks
  • Assumptions
  • Stakeholder impacts
  • Option appraisal

Project initiation document

  • Method of approach
  • Main deliverables
  • Dependencies
  • Key milestones
  • Quality measures
  • Assumptions, constraints, risk logs
  • Stakeholder analysis and communications plan
  • Project governance, roles and responsibilities and reporting arrangements
  • Change control and management of project issues
  • Project resources

Sponsor's role is to ensure that planning is carried out in a logical clear way and that stakeholders are given the opportunity to contribute fully.

The sponsor should ensure that planning takes place within the framework set in the initiation phase.

The sponsor should also ensure that the project plan is given a thorough reality check.


Product based planning

Deconstruct the project into a series of products or deliverables and identify the linkages between the products

Resource allocation

Allocate time, money, people, and equipment. Devise project Gantt chart.


Break the project into a series of logical phases (usually based around milestones).

Work package creation

Build logical work packages and assign to owners


The sponsor's role is to assess the on-going viability of the project as it progresses, particularly when:

  • changes are proposed to the agreed plans
  • the project is forecast to fail to deliver on time or to budget
  • the external business environment brings into question the need for the benefits the project will bring.

The sponsor is also responsible for ensuring that issues are being dealt with and that risks are being managed properly.

The sponsor is responsible for authorising the project to move from one stage to the next.



Check work against plan regularly and forecast progress outlook for next period. Regularly monitor risks, issues and assumptions

Manage stage boundaries

Ensure that the project moves through the stages smoothly. Review and sign off completed stage authorise work to progress to next stage

Control change

Assess the impact of any proposed change on the project, particularly on the achievement of the project benefits

Take corrective action

Where the project is predicted to move outside of the set parameters (in terms of time, cost, quality) take corrective action. If necessary revise the plan after assessing the impact on the achievement of the project benefits

Handover project

Formally hand over the project to go into mainstream business as usual

Handover and close

The sponsor should ensure that a post project review is carried out and sign off that report.

The sponsor should ensure the benefits review is carried out and reported back to senior management

Post project review

Carry out project review, what went well, what could be improved

Benefits review

After the project has been mainstreamed, review the project to assess its impact on the business and measure whether the predicted benefits have been achieved


Templates for all of the key documentation in each phase are available.