Project Management Process describes what you need to do to manage a project. You can see the process depiction on the diagram. It consists of five interrelated process groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing.
The most important thing to understand is that the Project Management Process is universal and industry-independent. You don’t need industry-specific knowledge, in general, to manage a project. However, proficiency in some areas greatly increases your efficiency and reduces hassle. As a bonus, if you master Project Management, you will dramatically increase the number of career options.
Interesting to notice, Project Management Process closely relates with Deming’s (plan-do-check-act) Cycle. With additional on project’s specific start and end.
I described project management in a metaphor in one of my previous posts. If you missed it, please go back and have a look.
The processes are our tools. There are tools that help us to define what product we need to create (initiating). Some tools describe how we will be producing the product (planning). A set of tools and techniques helps actually to craft the product (executing). There are also tools for measuring our product and verifying that we are doing it correctly (monitoring and controlling). And there are tools to pack and hand off the product to the customer as well as ensure that he is happy (closing).
Complex projects usually consist of several (possibly consecutive) phases or subprojects. Each phase produces a piece required to deliver the whole product (result, service) of the project. In such a case, you will apply the project management process to each phase. On a small project, one project management cycle can cover the whole project’s lifetime from start to end.
Performing organization is the organization that has resources, expertise and capabilities to perform the required work.
So how does it work? A customer and/or a sponsor of the future project contact a performing organization. Performing organization allocates a project manager and some pre-assigned resources to assess the project.
The project manager communicates with the customer to discover the business case, initial requirements, constraints of time and budget, high-level risks, and required deliverables. Based on this information, he has to assess the possibility of achieving project goals within given constraints. If the project looks feasible, the project manager creates Project Charter that includes all the information mentioned above. If not, he needs to negotiate changes to scope, deadlines, or budget.
Once the sponsor signs the Project Charter, it gives formal approval for the project’s existence. The project manager receives authority to use allocated resources.
Also, during initiation project manager creates a list of all Stakeholders and logs them into the Stakeholder register. He will use it throughout the project to collect requirements and expectations.
Once the project is approved, the project manager has to create a very detailed and realistic Project Management Plan. Together with the project management team, he needs to think over all knowledge areas. They must define how to plan, execute and control scope, costs, schedule, quality, risks, communications, procurement, stakeholders, and human resources.
The processes in this group follow in a structured order. So, in the end, the project manager will have to come up with a plan that covers all aspects of the project.
The final plan should be approved by the customer. The team should also believe that the plan is feasible.
Executing process group
Here project team works towards producing deliverables. The project manager organizes and keeps the work as close as possible to the project plan. He must ensure that the team follows the processes and procedures.
The team should generate performance data (e.g., daily reports) that can be used to control the project.
The project manager works closely with stakeholders to meet their expectations. Additionally, he works on his stakeholder management plan to get the required engagement level from them.
Monitoring and Controlling process group
Processes in this group are aimed at ensuring that the project progresses following the project management plan in all aspects. The project manager should keep all knowledge areas under control. Here, he always measures against the Project Management Plan. Only this way he can define whether a project deviates from its track.
In case there are significant deviations, the project manager takes corrective and preventive actions to get back on track.
He also should manage changes. Changes will come from different sources. The project manager should be vigilant to implement only changes that are critical to achieving project goals and are aligned with the project’s business case.
Closing Process Group
In the end, the project manager should deliver the final result, service, or product of the project or a phase of the project. He should ensure that it is of the required quality and that the customer will accept it. Also, he must ensure that all contract obligations are fulfilled and all procurements are closed.
It is the time when the project manager should collect lessons learned and solicit feedback from the customer. It is a good practice that helps improve performance on the future project.
Once the customer gives formal notice of the project’s end, the project manager has to archive all project-related information and update the organizational knowledge base.
And the cycle starts again from the initiation of the next project or phase.
And one last point. As you might notice on the diagram, there is a large monitoring and controlling process encircling the whole project management process. Keep in mind that the project manager should monitor and control all work and project management activities on the project. That way, you will ensure that the project is on track during the whole project lifetime.