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The Project Management Process According to the PMP®

August 24, 2017

Bita Beigishah

The Project Management process is connecting all the components necessary to meet specific goals and criteria for success. The Project Manager is essentially the captain of the project at hand and is responsible for ensuring that project challenges are addressed, risks are mitigated and, overall, it runs as planned.

The most well-known project management process is the one developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI)®. PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification is a global standard for project managers and focuses on five process groups. This post will examine the process for project management according to the PMP® stages/process groups

The Project Management Process During Each Process Group

The five PMP® process groups (PGs) intersect throughout the project’s lifecycle. Below is a breakdown of each process group and the responsibility of the Project Manager during each of these phases.

1. Initiating

This is the first encounter of the Project Manager with the project. In this Process Group the focus is to get all the required approvals or authorization to kick start the project or phase. This Process Group essentially lays out all of the ground work such as the initial scope, resource requirements, financial budgets, and stakeholder’s identification. It is ultimately designed to develop a high level overview of what is required for the project to be completed successfully.

Ideally, the project manager is involved in all of the initiating steps, however in some cases, a project manager is not assigned until this process group is already underway. This means the project manager may not have a had a hand in all of these initial steps but is rather brought in at some point after the process group as begun but before it has been completed.

For example: A project with a low financial threshold may require an initial budget before a project manager can be assigned since the project manager’s skill set and cost need to be factored into the overall costs.

The project charter will be the main output of this process group. This is the most important component of the project, in that it will be continually referenced by the Project Manager not only in terms of managing the project’s timeline but also for managing the stakeholders’ expectations.

2. Planning

The focus of this process group is to essentially elaborate on the initial project requirements established previously. This group will establish full scope, planning for time required, cost, quality risk etc. of the project. In this process group, the overall project management plan is developed by the project manager. Additional subsidiary plans are also developed as needed.

For example: One part of the project management plan could be to develop a mobile app but this part also includes the subsidiary plans of developing the app’s design and coding the app’s functionality.

One important fact related to the planning process group is that while a plan is created it is never considered concrete. Rather this process group is iterative in that it is constantly reviewed, changes to the environment are evaluated and it is altered as needed to accommodate any new developments. During the course of any project, due to multiple situations, re-planning and adapting existing plans is required. It is important to note that all changes are not necessarily negative, there can easily be new factors to the environment that lead to positive plan alterations. Some factors that could require changes to the project management plan include:

  • Changes to stakeholder requirements
  • Power outage that prevents the team from accessing key files
  • Addition of a new team member
  • Discovery of new technologies that can aid in the advancement of the project.

The main output of this process group is the Project Management Plan with all the subsidiary plans in it, as well as, necessary project documents.

3. Executing

This is the process group of action. In this process group, the project manager deals with completing the work defined in the plans such as coordinating with the team and resources allocated on the project, managing all the different stakeholders’ expectations, performing the tasks required to complete the work as defined in the project management plan.

This is the process group where most of the budget allocated is used and the dynamics of the project occurs. It is the responsibility of the project manager to understand those dynamics and adapts the plan accordingly so that project progresses. The planning and executing process groups are closely tied together as any changes to the project environment uncovered during execution require a trip back to the planning board which then sends teams back to the execution phase and so on and so forth until the project reaches completion.

The main outputs of this process group are the deliverables, change requests and other procurement contracts determined by the needs of the project.

4. Monitoring and Controlling

This is the process group in which the project manager tracks and reviews the project’s progress and adapts for the dynamics of the project. Ultimately this process group is meant to measure the overall project’s performance in regards to the goals outlined from the start and the alterations made along the way.

Monitoring refers to keeping a pulse on the progress and checking if it’s moving according to plan whereas controlling refers to suggesting preventive and corrective actions to adapt the project plan in case of issues.

No project runs smoothly without any challenges. That’s the reason the project manager spends a significant amount of time in this process group. This process group is like the umbrella under which planning and execution takes place.
The main outputs of this Process Group are approved change requests, reporting of project performance and other controlling measures in the deliverables. Essentially, all changes required in the scope, time, money, risks, quality, resources etc. can be considered outputs of this process group.

5. Closing

This process group is simply to conclude the work of the project. This calls for a formal closure of the project in which the project manager ensures that all the processes and their related work are completed.

This closure is not restricted to the project as a whole it can also be visited when a phase or contract related to the project comes to an end. Closing is the one process group which will be completed for all projects regardless of whether that project was completed. The closing process group should be followed for projects completed successfully, completed but unsuccessful, premature closure, started but never kicked off, etc.

Closing is the time when appropriate confirmation/approvals are acquired from customers, lessons learned are documented, open procurements or contracts are closed, and all quality related formalities of uploading the deliverables, final product, etc. is completed. The project manager also ensures that he or she has given the project performance for all team members involved in the project to either their respective reporting manager or documented for his/her own use at later performance evaluations.

The main output of this process group is simply the product or service for which the project was originally initiated. Additionally, it provides the project manager and organization valuable historical knowledge related to lessons learned, repository updates and suggestions or updates to the existing processes in the project life cycle. This information can all be referenced and leveraged for later projects.


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*PMP, PMI, PMBOK, Project Management Professional, Project Management Professional (PMP) and its Logos are registered marks of the Project Management Institute. 

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