What are the 5 Process Groups? What are they for? How can the PMBOK support the work of a Project Manager?
Projects are complicated. There are many factors that constantly impact the project and require reallocation of resources to stay on track. A great way to stay on schedule and manage costs is by collecting and processing project data through the project’s 5 Process Groups as described in the PMBOK.
The latter is one of the most important books in a Project Manager’s collection: the Project Management Body of Knowledge, PMBOK® Guide. The PMBOK contains the processes that govern any aspect of a project. They are grouped into five groups of processes or so-called project management phases. The processes do not contain a specific method for organising a project but can be used with any type of project management.
Why do we talk about 5 Process Groups and how do they relate to a Life Cycle?
The project lifecycle (Life Cycle) comprises the phases necessary for Project Managers to successfully manage a project from its inception to its completion.
The project life cycle comprises five phases or process groups: Initiating, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Controlling and Closing.
The PMBOK guide speaks of a process-based approach to project management. The guide divides project management into 49 processes, which are then grouped into process groups and knowledge areas.
Complex projects, which are large in scope, resource-intensive and of high strategic importance, require a higher level of project management knowledge. A basic knowledge of the project lifecycle and the 5 phases of project management (initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and control and closure) will help Project Managers to achieve continuous and repeatable success over time.
The process groups are horizontal, while the performance domains are vertical.
This is because in the PMBOK, process groups are regarded as the chronological stages that the project goes through, while knowledge areas occur at any time during the process groups.
Below we see the 5 Process Groups specifically.
This is the group of initial processes: it includes all those processes necessary to start a new project or a new project phase.
The initiation phase of the project lifecycle consists of two distinct processes: the baseline documentation and the stakeholder register. The purpose of this phase is to determine the vision for the project, document what is hoped to be achieved and secure approval from a stakeholder who can authorise it.
According to PMI (Project Management Institute), initiation helps to define the vision of what is to be achieved. This is where the project is formally authorised by the sponsor, the initial scope is defined and stakeholders are identified. These processes are carried out so that projects and programmes are not only approved by a sponsoring entity, but also that the projects are aligned with the organisation’s strategic objectives.
This phase defines the guidelines of the project in a definite manner so as to make a solid start by preparing the foundations for what will follow
Once authorised, the project must be planned.
The second group of processes is the planning phase which involves all those processes related to defining and planning the scope of the project. Stakeholder expectations are established and now the project scope, costs, deadlines, and other items showing stakeholders information related to project management, must be defined.
24 processes involved in planning are defined in the PMBOK. Although a project team can decide which of these to choose for a given project, the key point is: if you do not plan, you fail. The project infrastructure is created, a detailed schedule is made. At the end, all team members must be able to understand the vision of the project and must understand what they have to do to achieve the target within the set time.
The team is able to think about the entire project in advance. So not only does it create a set of plans, it also considers all the things that could go wrong (risks) and how to respond to these risks. The types of plans that are created are primarily the project management plan, which guides every aspect of the project. It is essential as it becomes an indispensable governance document.
If everything is not executed in the best possible way during this phase, there is a risk of cost overruns and slipping deadlines. It is therefore crucial for the Project Manager in charge to follow every performance that develops during this phase. At the end of this process, the team should have a very clear idea not only of what it has been tasked to do, what is and what is not in scope, but also what will be needed to execute the project on time and within budget.
The third phase deals with the processes related to the completion of project activities and tasks.
The execution phase describes how to respond to requirements and develop final products. In other words, how to achieve the objectives.
Project execution requires the coordination of human resources, the management of stakeholder expectations and the management of project changes. The Project Manager has to keep an eye on problems that arise, as well as make regular forecasts of future timing and cost problems in order to deal with changes as far in advance as possible. Change requests must be managed and documented during this phase and stakeholders must be kept informed at all times.
In this phase, most of the budget is invested and most of the results are produced. The implementation of the project begins. The execution phase often includes team development, stakeholder involvement and quality assurance activities, on a formal or informal basis. It is the longest phase of all, therefore most of the investments are made here.
Progress updates and other project communications are sent to stakeholders according to the project management plan. Documents are kept and archived and stakeholders are kept informed about the progress of the plan. This is where the project team starts to do the work of creating deliverables, while the Project Manager coordinates resources.
Execution alone is not enough. It must be ensured that the project stays on track. Closely linked with this phase and the one before the last phase, is project monitoring and control.
Project Monitoring and Control
These processes now cover everything from monitoring, reporting and controlling project performance and progress.
Throughout the duration of the project, the Project Manager must monitor and control the work to ensure that deliverables are on time, on budget and of acceptable quality. The monitoring and control of project work takes place concurrently with the execution phase, so the two sets of processes run in parallel.
Product quality, communication with stakeholders and potential high-risk issues are other areas to be monitored regularly. At any time, the results of monitoring may lead to changes in the project.
According to the PMBOK Guide, these are “processes necessary to track, review and adjust project progress and performance; identify areas where changes to the plan are needed; and initiate corresponding changes”. These are the moments when you get back on track, when you compare the plan with reality, measure the deviation in order to take corrective action.
Some examples of areas that can be checked are the scope of the project, cost and timing. All these aspects vary depending on the tools and techniques to be used to control them, but they have in common some baselines defined at the planning stage.
If changes need to be made to any part of the project, as documented in the project management plan, the plan must be documented and updated at this time. This includes changes to deadlines, costs, results and any other changes to the project. Only constant vigilance, monitoring and reporting will keep the project focused on achieving the objective.
The last process group is the Closing Process Group.
This covers all those processes required to finalise and complete a project or project phase. All deliverables created during the execution of the project have been delivered and the Project Manager is finalising the last details. It may also include a review and documentation of lessons learnt, the end of work for team members and the completion of contractual obligations.
Not only does this formally close the project, but it is also signed and accepted by the client. Although this should be self-evident, all too often projects come to an end.
The conclusion is that although these process groups are not necessarily easy to implement, not doing so means that the team may not realise the end of the work for the team members. Contractual obligations must be completed and funding finalised before the project can be closed. Contractual obligations must be completed and closed.
These 5 groups were created to support the planning of a project from its inception to its completion.
The Project Manager will use the process groups in the best possible way, making them interact with each other. In this way he will be more successful in managing the project in question. The 5 processes can be applied to all types of projects, they therefore do not refer to a single model. In this way they can be adapted to different project types, including agile projects.
QRP International offers PMP certification courses. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information!