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Tools and guides

Project cycle management – a Roots guide

A comprehensive, practical guide for people doing relief and development work

2020 Available in Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, Russian, Arabic and Bengali (Bangla)

Cover illustration showing a person juggling mutliple project tasks
A range of ROOTs guides

From: Roots guides

Practical guidance and training material for organisations on development topics

This guide explains what good project cycle management looks like. It follows the different phases in the project cycle:

  • understanding the situation
  • project design
  • approval and governance
  • preparation
  • implementation and monitoring
  • evaluation
  • closing the project

The guide provides tools to use in each phase, with examples of how to apply them, using a scenario adapted from a real-life project.

It is useful for anyone working on a project, including project managers and field staff. The principles in the guide can also be used by leaders as they manage and develop their organisation.

This guide explains what good project cycle management (PCM) looks like and gives practical tools and examples for applying PCM principles in each phase of the project cycle.

A project is a self-contained set of activities to achieve defined objectives within a fixed timeframe and budget. A project cycle is all of the phases from the beginning to the end of a project: from context to closure. Project cycle management is the process of planning and managing project resources to deliver specific outcomes.

The importance of participation

In emergency relief and development work, it is essential that the people we seek to serve are fully involved and participate in the project. For example, someone can participate by: 

  • being involved in the design of the project  
  • meaningfully taking part in the decision-making process 
  • contributing materials, money or labour 
  • providing information relevant to local needs 
  • answering questions in a survey 
  • helping to evaluate the project’s impact. 

For participation to be meaningful and beneficial, it is important that people are involved throughout the project cycle, and not merely seen as sources of information during the design phase. Be sure to include those who are often hidden or need extra support to participate. This may require you to provide additional, intentional support to encourage and build the capacity of marginalised people to participate – such as people with disabilities.


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