Project Management – Process Groups

Project Management is a wast area and there are multiple processes we need to follow to complete the Projects or Products. It is very difficult to manage the Projects, without Project Management & also it is very difficult to do Project Management if we do not follow any Project Management Standards or Project Management best practices.

Fortunately, we have PMI Institute, which delivers the Project Management Standards through extensive academic & research programs. Millions of people, Voluntarily involve in these programs and help to improve the Standards for better Project Management. We have five Project Management Process Groups as per these Project Management Standards.

Where these Standards are available.? You can get these from PMI Institute. PMI releases PMBOK Guide – Project Management Body of Knowledge book, with the details of Project Management processes defined. We can join and download these details from PMI Website. Whenever there are changes in the Standards or improvements; PMI releases new versions or editions of PMBOK Guide. Currently, PMBOK 6th Edition is going on.

Mostly we follow the Standards defined by PMI, to do the Project Management to deliver the Projects or Products.

I am going to write a series of Articles, on Project Management; and the reference is PMBOK Guide 6th Edition. In this article, I am going to explain what are the different Process Groups we have in the Project Management as per PMBOK Guide.

Managing the Project means, managing the Processes which are defined for the Project to deliver the Objectives of the Project. If the project is delivered with the defined Objectives, means the Project has been successfully delivered. There are so many Processes, we need to follow in order to deliver the Project. 49 processes are defined in the PMBOK 6th Edition, and all or some of these must be followed in order to deliver the Project.

Five Project Management Process Groups

But, how do we manage all these 49 Project Management processes.? To simplify this, all these processes are logically grouped depending on their relationship in the Project Management and named them as Process Groups. There are 5 Process Groups:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Monitoring and Controlling, And
  5. Closing

We will discuss briefly these five Project Management Process Groups.

Before I start discussing of 5 Process Groups, I would like to emphasize one thing; Process Groups may overlap each other. That means they are NOT  sequential. The below picture shows this;


Project Management - Process Groups
Project Management – Process Groups


Initiating Process Group

Initiating process groups comes first, among other process groups. Initiating Process Group defines the Objectives of the Project and it also decides whether the Project is feasible to continue to meet the objectives of the Project. There must be a trigger point to start the Project; Project can’t start without any Objectives or need.

For example, recently (on 12th August 2018) NASA has launched Parker Solar Probe satellite to study the behavior of the SUN. If we take this as a Project, the Objective of this Project is to "Study the behavior of the Sun". This is the trigger point to start the Project.

Now, we have the Objective; and we need to know whether the Project will meet the Objectives. The first question raised here is, do we have the material to survive in the SUN’s radiation & the generated heat to safeguard the Satellite.? Yes, now we have the latest technology available to manufacture the material to safeguard the Satellite.

If this Project, had started, 60 years back; there must be a no-go to the Project; because at that time the material wasn’t available to safeguard the Satellite. That means we couldn’t meet the Objective of the Project.

Initiating Process Group will kick-off the Project to start & provide initial requirements of the Project and keep the Constraints. That means, high-level Cost, Schedule (when this project is to be completed), etc.

Once the Project is officially kicked-off, it delivers, Project Charter to continue with the Project. This is the official Project document to start the Project.

Planning Process Group

Planning Process Group mainly focuses on Project planning. Initially, we do not have complete requirements for the Project. From the Project Charter, we will get the initial requirements, scope, cost, and schedule of the Project. Planning Process Group will take these initial details and continue to work on getting Detailed requirements, Scope, Cost & Schedule of the Project.

That means, in the Planning Process Group, the Project Manager should get clear requirements and understanding of the Project. If it is not possible to get all the requirements, the Planning will continue with the available details; and will revise the planning once the missing details are known; and we call this type of Planning is called Rolling-Wave Planning.

There are a lot of Project Management Processes Involved in the Planning Process Group. Planning is the Key to the Project Success. If we miss any details in the Planning; it is difficult to modify the Project, if it is already halfway through. That means, later modifications to the Project are expensive. That’s why most Project Managers spend a good amount of time in Planning.

Breaking down the project into manageable components, called Work Packages, and structured them based on their relationship. We can call this a Work Breakdown Structure.

For example, take the NASA's Parker Solar Probe satellite Project; and the Satellite built up with number of Components. Each component is a Project deliverable. We can put all together to form a Work Breakdown Structure.

The project management plan contains more detailed information to other Process Groups to continue to work on the Project.

Executing Process Group

Executing Process Group involves while executing the Project. Actual work will be done in this Process group. As per the planning, the Activities are going to perform, and deliver work as per the requirements, to meet the Project Objectives. What are those deliverables.? Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) was delivered as part of the Planning; comprising of deliverable Work Packages. Executing Process Group will work on these Work Packages to be delivered.

Executing Process Group will start once the Planning is started, and WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) is available.

Another Very Important thing, Executing Process Group will do is, Integrate all the Work Packages to build a complete workable Solution.

For example, once all the Components are ready for NASA's Parker Solar Probe Satellite, integrate all the Components to built the Satellite. After integrate all the Components, Satellite will be ready for launching.

Monitoring and Controlling Process Group

Monitoring and Controlling Process Group will start from the beginning of the Project & will exist until Project Closure. This Process Group mainly focuses on how the Project is going, whether any deviations to its Objectives, whether the required Processes are following to meet the Objectives etc.

This will control the way the project is going.

For example, In NASA's Parker Solar Probe Project, there must be a monitor & control processes involved to verify how the Project is going on. There may be chances, the identified Components are not suitable for the Satellite and needs to rebuilt the new Components with different features & technologies, etc,. These will be identified during this Process Group and raise Change Requests for the new Components.

Closing Process Group

Closing Process Group will verify the Project deliverables and verify whether the Project meets the Objectives. There are other things also verified in Closing Process Group, one such important verification is whether the Cost is within the Approved budget.

Project Documents are also updated with Lessons Learned details; which are helpful to future related Projects.

If all parameters to evaluate the Project Success is met; Project will be Successfully Closed.

For example, NASA's Parker Solar Probe Satellite will go to SUN's Atmosphere in the month October 2018; to steady the behavior of the SUN. If it starts, assessing SUN's magnetic field & Corona; and sending the details to the Earth station where these details are studied; the Objective of the Project will meet and can Close the Project.

But, the Satellite will continue to study the behavior of the SUN for 7+ years. Don’t we need to consider these 7+ years period, to be part of the Project.? May not be required. This period falls under Operations or Support; this will continue after the Project Closure. But, this will treat differently; not part of the Project. The Operations or Support cost is not part of the project budget.

It is the Project Management team’s responsibility to identify and use the processes that are needed for the Projects. The project management approach may be different, for individuals; but, certified project managers follow the Project management best practices and utilize the project management techniques to improve the way the projects are managed; and follow the management best practices to complete the Projects or Programs Successfully.

I will continue to give more details on Project Management & its’ process in upcoming Articles.

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Project Management – Process Groups

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