In business, project management is a daily priority, and two projects are rarely exactly alike. When approaching project management and to avoid common pitfalls, it is important to remember that project management distinctly differs from operations management. Unlike ongoing operations, a project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result; the project has a defined beginning and end.
Critical to project management is process management, and in construction project management, The PMBOK® Guide (published by the Project Management Institute helps us understand the interplay. It defines a process as “a set of interrelated actions and activities performed to create a pre-specified product, service or result.” It goes on to say that “project management processes ensure the effective flow of the project throughout its life cycle.” In short, processes get projects done.
Each process has pre-requisites (i.e. inputs), which are tools and techniques to be used to execute the process, and then outputs, which are results of the process. The achievement of inputs and outputs indicates the process is complete for that instance.
To dive deeper into effective process management, let us look at the five Process Groups as defined by PMI in their Sixt Edition of the PMBok : Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing.
Initiating Processes help us define a new piece of work – either a new project or the current phase of an existing project that is about to begin. Initiating is starting the process of turning an idea into reality, and it ensures authority to proceed.
Planning Processes help us define objectives and scope of work, and they encompass work-around planning and scheduling tasks. Again, these processes may cover a complete project or just a project phase.
Executing Processes are achieved as we carry out project tasks, and many people consider these processes to span the life of a project. This is the ‘delivery’ aspect of project management and where products are created and services delivered.
4. Monitoring & Controlling
Monitoring & Controlling Processes allow us to track the executed work, to review it, and to and report on it. Required course correction and change management occurs within this process group. These processes run concurrently and alongside to those in the Executing Group (i.e. we track, monitor, report, and course correct as we execute).
Finally, Closing Processes enable us to finalize all the tasks in the prior Process Groups as the close of project or phase approaches. An organized Closing is as vital as an organized Initiation.
By defining five stages to process management known as Process Groups, we add structure and accountability to it. Variance in the types of projects needing to be managed become less intimidating with a roadmap for success, and consistency and efficiency are infused into micro processes at the service of successful project management outcomes. Be aware they are not a linear process. Each project is different, and we might be going back and forth in some groups as the project develops.
In our second project management installment, we will further explore PMI approach by discussing the importance of Knowledge Areas in project management and their interaction with the Process Groups.
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