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Understanding the Project Management Institute's Project Planning Process Group

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The Project Management Institute defines a total of 44 project processes that describe activities throughout a project's life cycle. One of the most prominent of the process groups is project planning, evident in that nearly half of the processes occur in this group. This chapter details the ins and outs of project planning with an eye toward passing the Project Management Professional Exam.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Terms you'll need to understand:

  • Activity

  • Activity attributes

  • Activity list

  • Activity on arrow diagram (AOA)

  • Activity on node diagram (AON)

  • Activity sequence

  • Analogous estimating

  • Arrow diagramming method (ADM)

  • Bottom-up estimating

  • Critical path

  • Dependency

  • Milestone list

  • Network diagram

  • Parametric estimating

  • Precedence diagramming method (PDM)

  • Project management methodology

  • Project management plan

  • Project management processes

  • Project scope

  • Resource breakdown structure

  • Rolling wave planning

  • Slack

  • Three-point estimates

  • WBS dictionary

  • Work breakdown structure (WBS)

Techniques and concepts you'll need to master:

  • General project planning steps

  • The importance of the WBS

  • The relationships between scope, activities, and resources

  • Estimating activity duration using three methods

  • Creating PDM and ADM diagrams

  • Reading and interpreting project network diagrams

  • Understanding dependencies between project activities

  • Identifying the critical path

  • Estimating cost and creating a budget

In Chapter 1, "Project Management Framework Fundamentals," the PMI concepts of processes, process groups, and knowledge areas were introduced. Recall that PMI defines a total of 44 project processes that describe activities throughout a project's life cycle. These processes are organized into nine knowledge areas and represent five process groups. One of the most prominent of the process groups is project planning, evident in that nearly half of the processes occur in this group. This process group contains 21 of the 44 processes. In case you might think that planning processes are localized to a particular area of your project, note that processes in the planning group span all nine knowledge areas. Let's look at project planning in more detail.

Understanding PMI’s Project Planning Process Group

After you are ready to plan your project, you have passed through the initiation processes. Remember what that means? It means that you possess formal authorization to conduct the work of the project. But what work will you do? What exactly are you trying to accomplish?

To answer these questions, start from what you know. There are two outputs from the initiation process group. Always start with the information necessary to proceed. Recall that PMI refers to this initial information for each process as the process’s inputs. So, start with the project charter and preliminary scope statement and refine the project documents from there. Figure 3.1 shows how the processes in the planning group are related.

PMI is very explicit in stressing the importance of planning. Far too many projects suffer from the poor practice of starting work before anyone really knows what needs to be done. This almost always results in wasted effort and lost time. Proper planning requires good communication among the team and sound leadership from the project manager. The result is a project team that is more informed and prepared to carry out the work required to meet the project’s goals. You should expect to see several questions on the exam that require you to understand the importance of fully planning before starting work.

Figure 3.1

Figure 3.1 The planning process group process interactions.

Because planning is such a large process group, the material is divided into two separate chapters. This chapter covers the general concepts of planning and the processes that relate to the development of project baselines, including the following topics:

  • Cost

  • Schedule

  • Scope

Chapter 4, "Elements of Project Planning," covers the remaining project planning processes that support project planning by applying more details to the baselines. Topics covered in Chapter 4 include these topics:

  • Communications

  • Human resources

  • Procurement

  • Quality

  • Risk

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