In a project’s life, there are five process groups according to the Project Management Institute’s standard, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). For illustrative purposes, I will call these groups “phases,” even though that may not always be entirely accurate. They are:
- Initiating: This is where the project is given the right to exist. The need for the project is identified, as is the desired result. The project stakeholders are identified, and the project sponsor (the person who owns the project) gives the green light to go ahead with the project, gives the project manager the authority he/she needs to manage it, and provides the funding that the project needs.
- Planning: This phase is critical, because the more planning is done, the greater chance the project has to succeed. All sorts of things are planned, such as the project schedule, budget, communications, risk management, and human resource management among other things.
- Executing: This is where the project work actually gets done. The planned activities are carried out, and the work necessary to bring the project to fruition is done.
- Monitoring and Controlling: How will you know how the project is doing? Monitoring and controlling is the answer. Things you do during this phase include seeing if the project is still on schedule and on or under budget. You will also recommend corrective actions to be taken to bring the project back on time and within budget.
- Closing: This is where the project gets closed out. You take the steps necessary to make sure that all project activities have been satisfactorily completed, get the official “ok” from the sponsor that everything is done, and then bring the result of the project into the organization. The result can be a new website to be launched or a new nonprofit program to offer its constituents.
I think it’s easiest to visualize these groups as phases of a project, i.e. the initiating phase, the planning phase, etc. However, as mentioned before, this is not entirely accurate. Planning, executing, and monitoring and controlling can and usually do happen at the same time. They can happen sequentially one after the other in a phase-like fashion, but this is usually not the case.
Additionally, larger projects can be divided up into smaller phases. Website development projects can have the discovery, wire framing, design, coding, testing, and launching phases. All five process groups will take place at some point during these phases.
Future installments of the project management section of the Simplified Series will include a review of the nine knowledge areas, going in-depth into each of them, and showing you how they can apply to your work.
Do you use any of these process groups in your projects? How so?