According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, the project management process consists of many processes organized into nine knowledge areas and five process groups. These process groups are utilized in all projects and are always performed in the same order. The Initiating and Closing process groups are the first and last groups executed and each receives one iteration. The Planning, Executing, and Monitoring and Controlling process groups receive multiple iterations during the lifetime of the project. As problems arise, solutions may require revisiting previously enacted process groups (Project Management Institute, 2004).
The Initiating Process Group consists of processes formally authorizing the commencement of the new project. It is common for the process of the Initiating Process Group to occur outside the control of the project team. The two processes in this group, Develop Project Charter and Develop Preliminary Project Scope Statement, are both part of the Project Integration Knowledge Area. The Develop Project Charter process authorizes the project and describes the business purpose for the project. It is the goal of the Develop Preliminary Project Scope Statement to build on the project charter by creating a high-level definition of the project scope. This process defines the project requirements and boundaries at a high-level. Together, the processes of the Initiating Process Group kick off the project and ensure it is set on the proper path (PMI, 2004).
The Planning Process Group is best described by Gido and Clements (2009) as the group that determines “what needs to be done, who will do it, how long it will take, and how much it will cost” (p. 87). This process group creates a highly detailed project plan with information acquired from all available resources. The development of the plan and the interaction with resources is the result of 21 processes touching all Knowledge Areas. Each Knowledge Area includes some number of processes devoted to resolving the planning related issues in that area. For example, Project Cost Knowledge Area includes two processes in this process group: Cost Estimating and Cost Budgeting. The primary activity of this process group is the development of the project management plan. The project management plan is the primary source of information regarding how the project will be executed and controlled. The development of the project management plan acquires information from each of the nine Knowledge Areas. Once the project management plan is initially developed, the project will continually iterate through the Planning Process Group as new information requires the project plan to be revised (PMI, 2004).
The Executing Process Group consists of seven processes focused on completing the tasks necessary to fulfill the requirements of the project. The Direct and Manage Project Execution process from the Project Integration Knowledge Area is the primary process of this process group. It is mainly concerned with overseeing the various areas of the project to ensure proper execution of the project management plan. Other processes in this group include Perform Quality Assurance from the Project Quality Knowledge Area, Acquire Project Team and Develop Project Team from the Project Human Resource Knowledge Area, Information Distribution from the Project Communications Knowledge Area, and Request Seller Responses and Select Sellers from the Project Procurement Knowledge Area. Not all projects will implement each of these processes. The project manager, with input from the project team, will determine which processes are appropriate for the project (PMI, 2004).
It is the function of the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group to ensure that problems are identified and corrective action taken. Like the Planning Process Group, this process group receives constant iteration as the project progresses. By constantly monitoring the performance of the project team, this process group has a higher likelihood of spotting potential problems before they occur. The two primary process of this process group are the Monitor and Control Project Work and Integrated Change Control processes from the Project Integration Knowledge area. The Monitor and Control Project Work process identifies and obtains performance data and recommends improvements when necessary. The Integrated Change Control process evaluates the changes recommended by the Monitor and Control Project Work process to ensure those changes are beneficial. These two process interact with process in the
Project Scope, Project Time, Project Cost, Project Quality, Project Human Resource, Project Communications, Project Risk, and Project Procurement Knowledge Areas to evaluate performance and recommend change (PMI, 2004).
Finally, the Closing Process Group includes the two processes necessary to terminate the project. The main process is the Close Project process from the Project Integration Knowledge Area. This process takes the results of the project team’s work and ensures the project requirements have been satisfied. The Contract Closure process of the Project Procurement Knowledge Area may be required of the project required contracts with outside resources. This process settles those contracts. This process group is responsible for verifying that all required processes within all process groups have been completed.
Although all five process groups are utilized in every project, it is up to the project manager and project team to define the necessity of processes in each group. Therefore, it is possible that not all nine Knowledge Areas will be utilized. That being said, the Project Integration Knowledge Area defines the primary processes of many process groups and will be required by all projects. As the project progresses, project teams should not avoid revisiting process groups. The Initiating and Closing Process Groups are designed to be executed once per project, but all other process groups benefit from repeated iteration throughout the project life cycle.
Gido, J., & Clements, J. P. (2009). Successful project management (4th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western.
Project Management Institute. (2004). A guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (3rd ed.). Newton Square, PA: Project Management Institute.