ADDIE & Four-Step

If you stumble into a project management job on your path to total world domination, you may wonder how all your instructional design experience will fit. Rest easy! Instructional design and project management are different ice cubes in the same glass.


ADDIE- the ID way

Anyone who has worked with instructional design has worked with ADDIE (Analysis-Design-Development-Implementation-Evaluation). A designer will start with an analysis to determine needs, task and content, then move on to the design outlining specific objectives, sequence, and assessments. After that, a designer will shift gears to the development and implementation phases where materials are collected and created, formats are outlined, and personnel assigned followed by a roll out of the entire project. Finally, reflection… and a sigh of relief.


Four Step- the PM way

Now floating around in the same glass are these project management ice cubes. Instead of the five we find with instructional design, project management uses four: Initiation, Planning, Execution and Closing. Unlike ADDIE, the PM phases start with an initiation. The initiation phase is where a manager would create a Project Charter and identify the stakeholders. Next, a manager would analyze and plan by first examining the needs and then creating a design document (see more below on design documents). Next, the Execution phase starts which is the Development and Implementation phases of ADDIE combined. Here a manager would acquire a team, oversea the project work, scope, cost, and quality, and then monitor distribution. Finally, at the Closing Phase, the manager closes out the project marked with evaluation as does ADDIE.


Glass of What?

The processes on both ADDIE and the Four-Step are closely related and really happen hand-in-hand without knowing it. If you have been working with ADDIE all this time, the Four-Step will come naturally. What may be new is the PM’s development of a design document. These documents are the backbone of the PM’s project and outline the objective, concepts, and content of the program (Cox, 2010, p. 48). For most, a 3-column approach is best and it would look something like this:


Courtesy of OIT

For more, visit the OIT website– the resources abound!


Armed with this document, you can take on the world of PM with the sword of ID (all while holding your glass of Four-Stepped ADDIE)!

Do you think the transition from ADDIE to Four-Step is an easy one? What do you anticipate will be your biggest hurdles? 

Good luck and design on!



Cox, D. M. T. (2010). Project management skills for instructional designers: A practical guide. Bloomington, IL: Iuniverse.

OIT. Design Your Online Course, from

Stock Images Courtesy of Microsoft


One thought on “ADDIE & Four-Step

  1. Kathy Milhauser says:

    Enjoyed your blog post. Most people find that the “biggest hurdle” is comprehending the PM work that is beyond instructional design. I like how you represent them as “different ice cubes in the same glass.”

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