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Get Smart: A Project Manager's Guide to the Processes of the New and Improved PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition

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Product management consultant Joseph Phillips dives headfirst into the new and improved PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition in this article. Want some quick insight to all of the PMI project management processes? Read on, project manager, read on.

In my previous article, I wrote about the big, big changes you can expect to find in the new edition of PMI’s The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. This tome of project management best practices covers the generally accepted practices of project managers everywhere, and it’s fondly called the PMBOK—pronounced “PIM-BOK.” In this article, I want to quickly buzz through the processes you’ll find in the ten knowledge areas. Keep in mind that while you could do every single process on a project, you probably won’t do every process on every project. That would just suck.

To be clear, a process is a set of actions that a project manager, project team member, or even a vendor would take to move the project forward. For example, you define the project scope—that’s a process. On the other hand, you go out and inspect the work for quality—that’s a process. Each project is unique and requires different processes at different times. Some project managers would have you believe that you always do all of the processes, or a set of processes, in a specific order. Wrong! Depending on the project’s conditions, organizational requirements, and scenarios, time, cost, and other concerns will determine the best process to do next in the project.

For example, you might define the project scope, but chances are you don’t do it in just one sitting. Your project may be something big that you define most of the project scope in a few weeks, but then as more information becomes available you return to the project scope and continue to define it. If you had to do all of the processes in a specific order, then you couldn’t do anything else until all of the project scope was defined. Well, that’s just not very practical.

Let’s hop in and check out the process you may, or may not, be doing in your projects. Remember, this is a buffet; these are processes that are available for you to do if they need doing.

Project Integration Management Processes

I like to say project integration management, Chapter 4 in the PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition are the set of processes that are the gears of project management. This knowledge area has six processes for you:

  •   Develop the project charter: The project charter authorizes the project to exist in the organization, authorizes the project manager to have some control over the project resources, and officially launches the project. The project charter is signed by, usually, the project sponsor—someone with authority in the organization to launch the project.
  •   Develop the project management plan: You need a project management plan that communicates the intent of the project and what processes you’ll do in the project, and serves as a general guide for the project objectives.
  •   Direct and manage the project work: The project manager, project team leader, or even the project management office (PMO) needs to oversee the project work and assign tasks to the appropriate project team members.
  •   Monitor and control the project work: You want the project work to be completed, but you need the project work to be done correctly. This process ensures that everyone is doing what they’re supposed to.
  •   Perform integrated change control: Changes will inevitably happen in the project, and this process examines the effect the change will have on the project as a whole. I could talk all day about change control, but I won’t.
  •   Close project or phase: This is the best part of the project: closing out the entire project, or a mini-celebration, closing out a phase of the project.

Project Scope Management

Chapter Five in the PMBOK Guide, 5th Editionfocuses on the project scope management. There are six processes in this chapter:

  •   Plan scope management: You’ll need time to plan how the scope will be created and controlled.
  •   Collect the requirements: You, the project team, maybe the business analyst, project customers, and other stakeholders will need to define what the project requirements are to more precisely build the project scope.
  •   Define the scope: The project scope defines everything that the project will create. This includes the project requirements, but also the project management requirements, tools, equipment, documents, and facilities that the project will need to be considered complete.
  •   Create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): The WBS is a visual decomposition of the project scope. It breaks down all of the project requirements into smaller and smaller items, eventually ending up with the project’s work packages.
  •   Validate scope: Once the project team has created deliverables, the deliverables need to be inspected to ensure that they’re what were requested by the project customer.
  •   Control scope: You don’t want the project team to change the project scope without going through change control. This process keeps all stakeholders conforming to the expected change control processes.

Project Time Management

Chapter Six in PMBOK Guide, 5th Editionis all about time management. This chapter details seven processes:

  •   Plan schedule management: You’ll need to define how the schedule activities and the control of the schedule will take place.
  •   Define activities: The project manager and the project team will work together to define the project activities that are needed in order to reach the project objectives.
  •   Sequence activities: Once the activities are defined, you can put them in the order in which they should happen.
  •   Estimate activity resources: You’ll identify the needed resources to complete the project activities. Resources are people, but also include equipment, software, facilities, and other things that are required to do the project work.
  •   Estimate activity durations: Of course, you’ll work with the project team and subject matter experts, and use historical information to predict how long each activity will take.
  •   Develop the schedule: Developing the project schedule is the fine art of tweaking, massaging, and adjusting sequence and resources, and applying lags and leads in the project schedule.
  •   Control schedule: When the project schedule is slipping or moving ahead of schedule, you’ll respond accordingly.

Project Cost Management

Project cost management, Chapter 7 in the PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition, focuses on one of the most important questions of project management: How much will this thing cost? There are just four processes:

  •   Plan cost management: Create the cost management plan for spending and controlling the project bucks.
  •   Estimate costs: The project manager can utilize a variety of cost-estimating techniques to predict how much the project will cost.
  •   Determine the budget: The actual project budget, in its purest form, is the sum of the costs of all the project activities. The cumulative costs of the project help to create the project cost baseline.
  •   Control costs: Just like time management, when costs go awry from the project plan you’ll have to do corrective and preventive actions to keep costs in check.

Project Quality Management

Chapter 8, “Project Quality Management,” focuses on the quality definition and the assurance that quality really does exist in the project deliverables. There are just three little ol’ processes in this chapter:

  •   Plan quality management: Define the approach, methodologies, and of quality for your project.
  •   Perform quality assurance: This process ensures that work is performed right the first time.
  •   Perform quality control: This process inspects the work before the project customers see the deliverable to keep mistakes out of the customers’ hands.

Project Human Resources Management

Chapter 9 in PMBOK Guide, 5th Editionfocuses on what some consider the toughest part of project management: human resources. This knowledge area has four project management processes:

  •   Plan human resource management: This documents your project’s plan, approach, and coordination with organization policies to manage the people on your project team.
  •   Acquire the project team: You need the people to be on your project team through assignment, by selection, or a combo of both. Organizational policies will likely define how you get people on your project.
  •   Develop the project team: Project teams need time to congeal, but the project manager can facilitate some of the team development through exercises, group activities on the project, and training.
  •   Manage the project team: While you want your project team to do the work with no issues or problems, you need to make certain it’s so. You’ll manage issues, problems, concerns, and other fun HR stuff.

Project Communications Management

It’s been said that 90 percent of a project manager’s time is spent communicating. That’s the focus of Chapter 10 in the PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition: communications. This knowledge area includes three processes:

  •   Plan communications management: You’ll define who needs what information, when it’s needed, the correct modality for the information, and communication preferences for your stakeholders.
  •   Manage communications: This is the execution of the communications management plan.
  •   Control communications: Beyond just following the communications management plan, you’ll need to control rumors, gossip, and misinformation, and ensure that all stakeholders are getting the information they need.

Project Risk Management

Chapter 11 in the PMBOK Guide, 5th Editionfocuses on project risk management. There are six processes in this meaty chapter:

  •   Plan risk management: Document your intent and approach for project risk management.
  •   Identify risks: This is an iterative process that happens throughout the project.
  •   Perform qualitative risk analysis: Perform a high-level, quick assessment of identified risks’ probability and impact on the project objectives.
  •   Perform quantitative risk analysis: Risks that may have large impact and probability on the project are quantified and studied for their accurate risk planning.
  •   Plan risk responses: Risks that warrant a risk response will be documented, and their conditions for the identified risk response will be communicated.
  •   Control risks: You’ll want to be monitoring the identified risks and the risk responses for changes, success, or failures in the project.

Project Procurement Management

Chances are your project will need materials and maybe subject matter experts. When your project needs to buy stuff and hire contractors, you’ll use the four processes in Chapter 12 of the PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition:

  •   Plan procurement management: This defines how procurement can happen in your project.
  •   Conduct procurement: This involves the actual purchasing activities with the vendors.
  •   Control procurements: The project manager must ensure that both the buyer and the seller are living up to the terms of the contract.
  •   Close procurement: Once the vendor has completed their obligations, the project manager and the organization will follow the terms of the contract to close out the deal.

Project Stakeholder Management

The final chapter of the PMBOK Guide, 5th Editionwas the focus of my first article on the new PMBOK. Let me recap these four processes:

  •   Identify stakeholders: The stakeholders are the people and groups that are affected by your project.
  •   Plan stakeholder management: Figure out how you’ll manage the stakeholders with power, influence, and interest in your project.
  •   Manage stakeholder engagement: Stakeholders need to be engaged in order for them to contribute to the project.
  •   Control stakeholder engagement: Some stakeholders will need to be more involved than others. This process ensures that the right people are contributing to the project.

PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition: Quick Wrap

There you have it—the quick overview of PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition. It’s a meaty book that you’ll want to add to your library if you’re pursuing a PMI certification, as a reference guide for your projects, or you just want to look really brainy around your boss. You choose.

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