PMP Exam Cram: Examine Project Planning
In Chapter 1, “Project Management Framework Fundamentals,” we introduced the PMI concepts of processes, process groups, and knowledge areas. Recall that PMI defines a total of 47 project processes that describe activities throughout a project’s life cycle. These processes are organized into 10 knowledge areas and represent 5 process groups. One of the most prominent of the process groups is project planning. Over half of the processes occur in this group; 24 of the 47 processes are in this group. You might think that planning processes are localized to a particular area of your project, but note that processes in the planning group span all 10 knowledge areas. Let’s look at project planning in more detail.
Understanding PMI’s Planning Process Group
- Planning Process—3.4
After you have completed the initiating processes, you are ready to start planning your project. Remember what that means? It means that you possess formal authorization to conduct the work of the project. But you don’t know what to do without a plan. Planning answers a few very important questions, such as What work will you do? and What exactly are you trying to accomplish?
To answer these questions, start from what you know. There are two outputs from the initiating process group processes. Always start with the information necessary to proceed. Recall that PMI refers to this initial information for each process as the process’s inputs. There are two outputs from the initiating processes:
- The project charter
- The stakeholder register
Armed with these initiating documents, you can start the planning processes. In a nutshell, you follow each of the planning processes to refine the project documents from these outputs. As you develop the planning documents, always remember how the various processes are related.
Think of the initiating process group as the processes that answer the “what” and “why” questions. The planning processes answer the “how” questions. The planning processes result in outputs that explain how the project will progress toward reaching its goals.
Figure 4.1 shows how the processes in the planning group are related in the PMBOK Guide, Fifth Edition.
FIGURE 4.1 The planning process group process interactions.
PMI is 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 of solid planning 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.
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:
Chapter 5, “Explore More 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 5 include these:
- Human resources
The main purpose of planning is to provide a framework to gather information to produce a project management plan. In fact, the plan itself is really a collection of other plans. The majority of activities in the planning group center around developing the supporting documents that comprise the final project management plan. As more detailed information is learned about the project, the overall plan becomes more complete, and the stakeholders’ confidence in the project increases.
Planning is an iterative group of processes. As a project progresses, it often becomes necessary to modify the plan for a number of reasons. Unexpected results, delays, outside factors, and internal factors can all require additional planning. Any scope changes are likely to require one or more planning processes to be revisited. Don’t assume that planning is accomplished only once. The exam requires that you understand how planning is iterative throughout a project.
The following are some fundamental planning process items you need to understand for the exam:
- Project management plan—One process in the planning group addresses the project management plan. The develop project management plan process is the high-level process that provides direction for developing subsidiary plans and compiling their information into the final project plan.
- Scope—Four processes address scope planning. These direct the refinement of the preliminary scope statement and break down the high-level goals of the project into smaller, more manageable chunks.
- Activity—Six processes deal with activity planning. After the work of the project is expressed in small, manageable chunks, the activity-related processes focus on defining the activity details, integrating with project resources, and sequencing the project activities.
- Cost—Three processes address cost planning. These processes collect estimates and organize them into a project budget.
We examine each of these processes in the next section.