3.2 Project Management Process Groups

The PMBOK® organizes the project management processes into five groups known collectively as the Project Management Process Groups.

These five Project Management Process Groups have clear dependencies and are typically performed in the same sequence on each project.

Project Management Process Groups are independent of application areas or industry focus.

A Process Group includes the constituent project management processes that are linked to the respective inputs and outputs where the result or outcome of one process becomes the input to another.

The Process Groups are not project phases.

Project Management Process Groups

Project Management Process Groups

Each individual process focuses on a specific purpose, such as creating the project risk register, while the entire collection of processes make sure that all the project management components are properly integrated with each other.

The Five Project Management Process Groups

There's an inherent logic to the order of the Project Management Process Groups:

  • The Initiating Process Group occurs first and generally only once for a project or phase. This is where the project or phase gets a high-level definition and formal authorization to proceed.
  • The Planning Process Group begins after initiation. During planning processes, project or phase objectives are clarified and the scope defined.
    Since planning is not a one-time process, it may occur simultaneously with executing and monitoring.
  • The Executing Process Group is where the work described in the scope takes place. It begins after some planning has taken place, but planning and executing often occur simultaneously.
  • The Monitoring and Controlling Process Group reviews the project or phase work and performance for variances.
    It starts immediately after initiation and will remain active until the project is closed.
  • The Closing Process Group occurs last and generally only once for a project or phase. It performs the activities needed to formally close the project or phase.
Project Management Process Groups and Knowledge Areas Mapping

Project Management Process Groups and Knowledge Areas Mapping.

1. Initiating Process Group 

The first group of project management process groups is Initiating Process Group.

Processes in the Initiating Process Group are what formally authorize a new project, but they can also occur during transitions from one phase to another in a project.

It's very easy for the boundaries between portfolio management and project management to be blurry at this step in the project life-cycle.

There are likely to be activities going on that center around high-level business objectives, product scope, or requirements, feasibility analysis, and project selection decisions.

In practice, many of these will involve the project manager or project management team.

From the PMBOK's perspective, the project doesn't begin until a project charter is established and it's been formally approved, so another way of looking at the processes in this group is that they're focused on approvals (whether it's at the project level or approval to proceed with phases within a project).

Unlike most other project management process groups which have many process outputs, the Initiation Process Group has only three:

  1. The project charter.
  2. The stakeholder register.
  3. The stakeholder management strategy. 

The project charter provides a high-level overview of the project and the stakeholder documents identify the stakeholder groups.

The stakeholder documents are needed before planning processes begin because stakeholders have to be identified so that they can be included in the planning processes.

Initiating Process Group

Processes in the Initiating Process Group are what formally authorize a new project

The Initiating Process Group includes the following project management processes:

Develop Project Charter (4.1)

Develop Project Charter is the process of developing a document that formally authorizes a project or a phase and documenting initial requirements that satisfy the stakeholder’s needs and expectations.​

In multi-phase projects, this process is used to validate or refine the decisions made during the previous iteration of Develop Project Charter.

Identify Stakeholders (10.1)

Identify Stakeholders, is the process of identifying all people or organizations impacted by the project, and documenting relevant information regarding their interests, involvement, and impact on project success.

2. Planning Process Group

The second group of project management process groups is Planning Process Group.

The Planning Process Group is all about information gathering and project planning, and as such, it's by far the group with the largest number of component processes, inputs, and outputs.

As we saw in the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, planning processes are heavily intertwined with those in the Executing Process Group and Monitoring and Controlling Process Groups.

As project information becomes known, is further refined, or changes, the impact of the project will have to be identified, resolved, and plans updated.

Of course, the nature of the project will impact to what degree information can generally be known up-front, how much information will be discovered as the project evolves, and what or how many changes are likely to occur within the project.

Planning processes cover all areas of the project scope, budget, schedule, risks, quality, communication, procurement, and human resources.

All of the planning activities will ultimately lead to a comprehensive Project Management Plan.

The Project Management Plan is not a static document; just as the Planning Processes will reoccur throughout the project, the Project Management Plan will be updated as new information becomes available or changes to the project are approved.

Stakeholder and project team involved in planning processes is necessary and should be encouraged, so the appropriate people should be included with an appropriate level of involvement based on their project involvement, influence, and interest.

Planning Process Group

Processes Included in Planning Process Group

The Planning Process Group includes the following project management processes:

Develop Project Management Plan Process (4.2)

Develop Project Management Plan is the process of documenting the actions necessary to define, prepare, integrate, and coordinate all subsidiary plans.

The project management plan becomes the primary source of information for how the project will be planned, executed, monitored and controlled, and closed.

Collect Requirements Process (5.1)

Collect Requirements is the process of defining and documenting stakeholders’ needs to meet the project objectives.

Define Scope Process (5.2)

Define Scope is the process of developing a detailed description of the project and product.

Create Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) Process (5.3)

Create Work Breakdown Structure is the process of subdividing project deliverables and project work into smaller, more manageable components.

Define Activities Process (6.1)

Define Activities is the process of identifying the specific actions to be performed to produce the project deliverables.

Sequence Activities Process (6.2)

Sequence Activities is the process of identifying and documenting relationships among the project activities.

Estimate Activity Resources Process (6.3)

Estimate Activity Resources is the process of estimating the type and quantities of material, people, equipment, or supplies required to perform each activity.

Estimate Activity Durations Process (6.4)

Estimate Activity Durations is the process of approximating the number of work periods needed to complete individual activities with estimated resources.

Develop Schedule Process (6.5)

Develop Schedule is the process of analyzing activity sequences, durations, resource requirements, and schedule constraints to create the project schedule.

Estimate Costs Process (7.1)

Estimate Costs is the process of developing an approximation of the monetary resources needed to complete project activities.

Determine Budget Process (7.2)

Determine Budget is the process of aggregating the estimated costs of individual activities or work packages to establish an authorized cost baseline.

Plan Quality Process (8.1)

Plan Quality is the process of identifying quality requirements and/or standards for the project and product, and documenting how the project will demonstrate compliance.  

Develop Human Resource Plan Process (9.1)

Develop Human Resource Plan is the process of identifying and documenting project roles, responsibilities, and required skills, reporting relationships, and creating a staffing management plan.

Plan Communications Process (10.2)

Plan Communications is the process of determining project stakeholder information needs and defining a communication approach.

Plan Risk Management Process (11.1)

Plan Risk Management is the process of defining how to conduct risk management activities for a project.

Identify Risks Process (11.2)

Identify Risks is the process of determining which risks may affect the project and be documenting their characteristics.

Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis Process (11.3)

Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis is the process of prioritizing risks for further analysis or action by assessing and combining their probability of occurrence and impact.

Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis Process (11.4)

Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis is the process of numerically analyzing the effect of identified risks on overall project objectives.

Plan Risk Responses Process (11.5)

Plan Risk Responses is the process of developing options and actions to enhance opportunities and to reduce threats to project objectives.

Plan Procurements Process (12.1)

Plan Procurements is the process of documenting project purchasing decisions, specifying the approach, and identifying potential sellers.

3. Executing Process Group

The third group of project management process groups is Executing Process Group.

The Executing Process Group consists of the processes that will be used in order for the project to achieve its product, result, or service.

We can think of the Executing Process Group as the "Do" component of the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, and it’s in these processes that the bulk of the project's budget and scheduled time will usually be spent.

The executing process group also contains processes that relate to team development, procurement activities, verifying deliverables, and distributing project information.

A key item for the project manager to remember is that it's his or her job to keep the project team focused on executing tasks once they are underway.

The project manager should protect the team from unnecessary meetings, distractions, problems, or issues that don't directly involve them.

After all, the purpose of the executing processes is to get the work of the project itself has done, and the project team must remain focused on that priority.

This is not to say that team members should never be involved as new information or changes are requested; however, by this portion of the project life cycle, the project manager should buffer the project team as much as possible and he or she should have sufficient expertise in the project subject matter to direct the project without distracting the team too often.

Executing Process Group

Executing Process Group

The Executing Process Group includes the following project management processes:

Direct and Manage Project Execution (4.3)

Direct and Manage Project Execution is the process of performing the work defined in the project management plan to achieve the project’s objectives.

Perform Quality Assurance (8.2)

Perform Quality Assurance is the process of auditing the quality requirements and the results of quality control measurements to ensure appropriate quality standards and operational definitions are used.

Acquire Project Team (9.2)

Acquire Project Team is the process of confirming human resource availability and obtaining the team necessary to complete project assignments.

Develop Project Team (9.3)

Develop Project Team is the process of improving the competencies, team interaction, and the overall team environment to enhance project performance.

Manage Project Team (9.4)

Manage Project Team is the process of tracking team member performance, providing feedback, resolving issues, and managing changes to optimize project performance.

Distribute Information (10.3)

Distribute Information is the process of making relevant information available to project stakeholders as planned.

Manage Stakeholder Expectations (10.4)

Manage Stakeholder Expectations is the process of communicating and working with stakeholders to meet their needs and addressing issues as they occur.

Conduct Procurements (12.2)

Conduct Procurements is the process of obtaining seller responses, selecting a seller, and awarding a contract.

4. Monitoring and Controlling Process Group

The fourth group of project management process groups is Monitoring and Controlling Process Group.

The Monitoring and Controlling Process Group is about making sure the project plan is followed, watching for problems or variances from the project plan, team or stakeholder issues, managing procurement contracts, and making sure that project changes are properly managed.

Processes in this group are focused on monitoring and reporting on risks, scope, schedule, cost, quality, and team performance as well as processes for managing the project team, stakeholders, and contracts.

The Monitoring and Controlling Process Group is primarily centered on the “Check” and “Act” portions of the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle.

Monitoring and Controlling Process Group

Monitoring and Controlling Process Group

The Monitoring and Controlling Process Group includes the following project management processes:

Monitor and Control Project Work (4.4)

Monitor and Control Project Work is the process of tracking, reviewing, and regulating the progress to meet the performance objectives defined in the project management plan.

Monitoring includes status reporting, progress measurement, and forecasting.

Performance reports provide information on the project’s performance with regard to scope, schedule, cost, resources, quality, and risk, which can be used as inputs to other processes.

Perform Integrated Change Control (4.5)

Perform Integrated Change Control is the process of reviewing all change requests, approving changes, and managing changes to the deliverables, organizational process assets, project documents, and the project management plan.

Verify Scope (5.4)

Verify Scope is the process of formalizing acceptance of the completed project deliverables.

Control Scope (5.5)

Control Scope is the process of monitoring the status of the project and product scope and managing changes to the scope baseline.

Control Schedule (6.6)

Control Schedule is the process of monitoring the status of the project to update project progress and managing changes to the schedule baseline.

Control Costs (7.3)

Control Costs is the process of monitoring the status of the project to update the project budget and managing changes to the cost baseline.

Perform Quality Control (8.3)

Perform Quality Control is the process of monitoring and recording results of executing the quality activities to assess performance and recommend necessary changes.

Report Performance (10.5)

Report Performance is the process of collecting and distributing performance information including status reports, progress measurements, and forecasts.

Monitor and Control Risks (11.6)

Monitor and Control Risks is the process of implementing risk response plans, tracking identified risks, monitoring residual risks, identifying new risks, and evaluating risk process effectiveness throughout the project.

Administer Procurements (12.3)

Administer Procurements is the process of managing procurement relationships, monitoring contract performance, and making changes and corrections as needed.

5. Closing Process Group

The last group of project management process groups is Closing Process Group.

The Closing Process Group contains the processes that formally end the project, phase, or procurement contract.

Activities within this process group would include the deliverable hand-off to the customer, archiving project documents, providing final performance information, and settling contracts.

At the project level, the closing processes always occur even if the project is canceled or otherwise terminated.

Closing Process Group

Closing Process Group

The Closing Process Group includes the following project management processes:-

Close Project or Phase (4.6)

Close Project or Phase is the process of finalizing all activities across all of the management Process Groups to formally complete the project or phase.

Close Procurements (12.4)

Close Procurements is the process of completing each project procurement.

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