PMP® Vs PRINCE2 – Comparative Study

PMP® Vs PRINCE2 – A comparative study – A guest blog

The Overview

PMP® Vs. PRINCE2

“Which certification I should go for; PRINCE2 or PMP®?”, “What is the difference between PRINCE2 and PMP®?”

The two most common questions I get from many of those professionals who aspire to make the career in Project Management. The answer is not an easy one as it depends on your background, the professional environment you are in, your aspirations and your preference over prescriptive (PRINCE2) over non prescriptive (PMP)®. Here, in this series, I will attempt to compare the two against the imperatives of Project Management and show where they align and where the differences are.

What is a Project?

PRINCE2 defines a project as “A temporary organization that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to an agreed upon Business Case”.

PMP® defines a project as “A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result “.

Based on these definitions, the attributes of a project could be listed as – it will bring some Change (even Cross functional change), to achieve particular Business Value, it is Temporary and Unique in nature and brings Uncertainty.

What is project management?

According to PRINCE2, Project Management is “The planning, delegating, monitoring and control of all aspects of the project and the motivation of those involved, to achieve the project objectives within the expected performance targets for time, cost, quality, scope, benefits and risks”.

According to PMP®, Project Management is “the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirement”.

Now lets us look at how the two models are structured –

PRINCE2 has 7 Principles, 7 Themes and 7 Processes while PMP® has 5 process groups and 10 knowledge areas.

Both the models acknowledge the processes could be categorized into two major categories as – Project Management Processes and Product Management Processes.

Product oriented processes are outside the scope of PMP® while PRINCE2 emphsises on Product driven approach for project management and supports the same through its Principle(Focus on Product), Themes (Qulaity, Planning and Change) and Processes (Managing Product Delivery).

Looking at the above structure you can notice multiple overlaps and differences as well. As we progress in this series, we will map the processes from both models and highlight the commonalities and differences. In the process we will understand how these two models are complementing each other.

As a Project Manager, it is important to understand these prominent models in industry and find a balance as per the project requirements to make the project a success.

 

Initiating Project

PRINCE2 Vs PMP

PMP® Vs. PRINCE2

In general, any project could be divided into 5 phases as Initiating, Planning, Executing, Track & Report and Close through the project life cycle. Let us take these as the base for comparing PRINCE2 and PMP® as we go ahead.

To begin with let us try and map the processes from both the models. As a rule of thumb, it will look like in the figure.
Initiating phase will set the answers to the questions like “What is the project?”, “What are the benefits?”, “What is the problem or change that project will address?”, “What are the options?”…

PRINCE2 and PMP® model formulates the specific processes to get these answers. Lets take a closer look.

PMP® has “initiating process group” which maps to the knowledge areas of “Project Integration Management” and “Project Stakeholder Management”. The key purpose of this process group is to align stakeholder’s expectations with project’s purpose. These processes help set the vision of the project.

PRINCE2 looks at the beginning of a project in a little different way. The processes are split into Starting Up a Project and Initiating a Project. The purpose of “Starting Up a Project” process is to ensure that the prerequisites to initiate the project are available. According to PRINCE2, the answer to the question “do we have viable and worthwhile project?” is required before project could be initiated (Initiating a Project Process trigger). Starting Up a Project process finds the answer to the same.

The reason / purpose / trigger to run the project is referred as “Project Mandate” in PRINCE2. This is provided by the sponsor organization which is referred as “corporate or programme management” (which could be considered as equivalent to “Steering Committee” in more general terms).

As against Project Mandate, in PMP®, this trigger for the project is called as “Project Charter”. Project Charter will have the information about the project, stakeholders and overall expected outcome.

The project can begin only when the Project Mandate / Project Charter is approved by the commissioning body.

In both the models, identification of customer, sponsors, supplier and other project stakeholders is key activity before the project work can commence.

In specific, PRINCE2 – Starting up a Project covers below activities –

  1. Create and approve project Mandate
  2. Appoint Executive, Project Manager and management team
  3. Prepare outline of business case
  4. Select project approach
  5. Prepare Project Brief
  6. Obtain the authorization to Initiate a Project

In specific PMP® – Initiating Process group covers activities –

  1. Initial scope definition
  2. Commitment on financial resources
  3. Assign Project Manager
  4. Create Project Charter
  5. Authorisation to the project manager to approve subsequent activities

Till this point, as evident from above, both the processes run on similar principles. Further PMP® kick starts Planning processes whereas PRINCE2 continues with Initiating a Project which has some overlap with Planning processes of PMP®. Let us take look at the same.

Planning process group is the largest one among the five process groups. It integrates with all the ten knowledge areas. Key activities covered are –

  1. Develop management plan
  2. Define scope
  3. Schedule the activities
  4. Allocate budgets
  5. Plan Quality, Communication, Risk, Resources, Procurement and Stakeholder management strategies

In PRINCE2, we see these are covered under the process of Initiating a Project. Once the Project brief and Initiating Stage Plan gets an authorization, Initiating a Project process kicks off. The key activities of Initiating a Project are –

  1. Create strategies for Risk, Quality, Configuration and Communication management
  2. Set up controls (these are the budgets if we refer to PMP® terminology)
  3. Create a detailed project plan
  4. Refine business case and assemble Project Initiation Document (this is the Bible of project .. J )

We must also look at one more process from PRINCE2 which kicks off at the end of Starting up a Project process. This process is “Directing a Project”. Refer the above Table 3, which will clarify the same. While we will look into Directing a Project in greater detail later in this series, let us understand the objectives of this process here. The objectives are to ensure that –

  1. There is authority / approval to initiate the project and deliver the products of project
  2. Project remains viable and worthwhile throughout the project life cycle
  3. Post project benefits are monitored and measured
  4. Corporate / programme management has an interface to connect to the project management
  5. Give ad hoc directions as and when required through the project life cycle

Planning

Lets take a deeper look into the Planning

In PRINCE2, “Plans” is one of the key themes. A Plan is a comprehensive document, covering key aspects of project (products, timescales, costs, quality and benefits) and describing how, when and by whom a specific target(s) is to be achieved. Planning is an act or process of making and maintaining a plan. Plans are the backbone of controlling a project. PRINCE2 recommends Project plan and Stage plan as mandatory while Team plan is optional. Stage plans are further classified into Initiation Stage Plan and Delivery Stage Plan. Corporate or programme plan is created at the organization level which commissions the project. Exception plans are created when necessary. Benefits Review Plan covers all the activities during and after project to measure the benefits realized. This could be part of corporate or programme plan.

PRINCE2 follows “product based planning” approach. The product-based planning technique is described as below –
Create Project Product Description (for project plan only; rest are for all levels of plans)-> Create Product Breakdown Structure -> Write Product Description -> Create Product flow diagram
To complete the plan further, below activities need to be followed once the product plan is ready –
– Define activities
– Identify dependencies
– Estimate
– Prepare schedule
– Assign resources
– Define control points and milestones
– Calculate costs
– Analyse risks
– Document the plan
As mentioned in the earlier part, Planning Process group is the largest group in PMBoK. Let us look at the mapping of the processes under Planning Process Group and the Knowledge Areas.

PRINCE2 Vs PMP - Planning

Each of the above processes are further detailed in – Inputs, Tools & Techniques and Output.

Hence to conclude, it could be noted that there is an overlap between the “Initiating a Project” from PRINCE2 and “Planning” from PMP®. Inside these similar activities of laying down the project foundations are executed which covers strategies / plans for key aspects of project like Communication, Risk, Quality, Resources, etc.

 

To be continued….

Watch out next week. Subscribe to our newsletter to get to know as soon as next part is published and much more knowledge on project management.

PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition – FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition

PMBOK(R) Guide 6th Edition

PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition

Recently PMI released PMBOK® 6th Edition. It is obvious that some questions start bubbling in the mind of PMP® Certification aspirant. Here is a FAQ about PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition:

When was PMBOK® 6th Edition released?

PMI® released PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition on 6th Sep, 2017 along with translation in 11 language including Hindi.

How will it impact me?

If you are PMP® Certification aspirant then the question how it will impact me is natural. Though knowledge of project management does not changes but many aspects which were not considered earlier are considered now, some areas have received more focus, some areas are found not in practice so removed and many areas are presented differently.

If you are targeting PMP® Exam in 2017 i.e. before 31st Dec, 2017, you need not to bother about new 6th edition as it will be applicable only in 1st quarter of 2018.

If you are targeting PMP® Exam in 2018 or later, it is important for you to understand the changes in PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition.

What are key changes?

The key changes in PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition are as below…

  1. In PMBOK® 6th Edition, number of processes will increase from 47 to 49. Names of some processes are changed. Some processes are added and one process is dropped.

Key changes – Name change

Key Changes in PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition

Key Changes in PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition

Key changes – Addition and deletion

Key Changes in PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition

Key Changes in PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition

Key changes – Movement

Estimate Activity Resources (Section 6.4)—Moved to Project Resource Management

2. Chapter 2 and 3 of PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition are merged into Chapter 2 in PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition

3. A chapter on Role of Project Manager is added as chapter 3 focusing on PMI Talent Tringle®.

4. Every chapter has four new section in 6th Edition

   4.1 Key concepts:

It summarizes the chapter’s main idea. It will make it easy to understand the chapter. People used to say that PMBOK is boring. I hope key concept    section will make it interesting.

   4.2 Trends and Emerging Practices:

Normally PMBOK® describes what is considered good practice on most projects most of the time. This subsection identifies the trends or emerging    practices that may not be practiced on most projects as of now.

   4.3 Tailoring Considerations:

It is important that the processes defined in PMBOK® are tailored to meet the need of project, organization or stakeholders. This subsection   identifies areas the project managers can consider when tailoring processes for their project.

   4.4 Considerations for Agile/Adaptive Environments:

Some agile-specific tools and techniques have been introduced such as sprint and iteration planning. It identifies the area where the approach in agile/adaptive environment is different.

5. Appendix: Appendix X3, X4, X5 & X6 consolidate Agile/Adaptive environment, Kay Concepts, Tailoring Considerations and Tools and techniques for complete book. So to understand PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition, Appendix X3, X4, X5 and X6 could be important. One can read these appendixes and get a good degree of understanding of main theme and concepts of PMBOK® Guide 6th

When will the PMP® Exam change to PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition?

PMI® has announced that PMP® Exam will change to PMBOK® 6th Edition in the first quarter of 2018. No specific date is announced. It can be as early as 1st Jan, 2018 or can be as late as 31st March, 2018. As soon as, a date is announced, we will update this section. To be on safer side, consider that PMP® Exam will change in January, 2018 itself.

Should I study PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition or 6th Edition?

It all depends upon when you target to attempt PMP® Exam. If you are targeting to attempt PMP® Exam before it switches to PMBOK® 6th edition (Consider 1st Jan, 2018 until PMI® announces a firm date), you should study PMBOK® 5th Edition. If you are planning to attempt PMP® Exam after the switch, you should study PMBOK® 6th Edition.

Where can I get PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition?

You can get PMBOK® 6th Edition on book stores near to you or can buy from PMI online store on PMI website.

If you are a PMI Member (or become PMI Member), you can download a free copy of PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition in PDF format.

When can I get training on PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition?

It may take a while as currently most of the PMP® aspirants would be targeting Exam on PMBOK® 5th Edition itself. It also depends upon individual training providers when they are ready to offer training on PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition. We and I believe most of the training providers will start offering PMP Prep training only before PMP Exam switches to 6th Edition.

I hope above information will be of your use. If any of your question is not addressed above, please ask you questions in the comments section below. I will reply promptly.

To learn more or buy a copy of PMBOK, please go to pmi.org – PMBOK® Guide – 6th Edition

Mapping MS Project 2016 to project management processes

Mapping MS Project 2016 to Project Management Processes

MS Project 2016 and Project Management Processes

Mapping MS Project 2016 to project management processes

Microsoft Project is the tool which is used throughout the project life cycle from initiation to closure. Let’s see how various features of MS Project 2016 are used at various stages of the projects and how project 2016 helps in adhering to project management processes. Above figure shows the relationship between project management process groups and Microsoft Project. The figure also gives an understanding how we have to use Microsoft Project at various stages of project life cycle.

Initiation:

We need to setup MS Project 2016 if we are using MS Project 1st time or we have not created a template from our earlier executed projects. At the start of a project we need to induct MS Project to our project environment vary similar to how we induct a new team member to our project. In the File -> Options, we should setup some basic options like date format, currency that will be used for project costing, office timing, duty ours on a typical day, number of working hours in a week, number of working days in a month, unit of measurement for duration and work etc. This way we customize MS Project to work in our environment.

Planning:

For a smooth execution, plan has to be of excellent quality. With respect to Microsoft Project, a lot of work is done at planning stage. We create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) by breaking down product and project work into smaller pieces up to activity level, enters duration or efforts estimates for each activity, establish dependencies among activities, identify constraints and minimize them as much as possible. We also identify all types of resources (man, machines, material & money), make a list of resources with all the details such as their availability, unit of measure, their standard rates etc. After creating a list of resources, we assign them to activities based on who will do what and what all resources are required to accomplish the work. Once the plan is ready, we optimize the plan by adjusting estimates, discretionary dependencies and resource assignments. If the total duration of the schedule is more than expected then we crash or fast track the project to reduce its duration. Here feasibility is an important aspect to consider. We are preparing plan that our team will execute. If we crash or fast track the project beyond the feasible limits, our team will not be able to carry out the work as per plan and then such a plan will only be a paper work because it cannot be executed. We have to prepare a plan that is practical and executable. Even if it means going beyond imposed deadlines. We need to negotiate deadlines with stakeholders to keep the plan realistic and executable to deliver the outcome as promised.

Execution:

Execution is the stage where we have full team on board. While the whole team is working to produce deliverables, our main responsibility is to guide the team, remove the potential road blocks and from MS Project 2016 point of view, collect the work performance data to update the project schedule with actuals.

The actual data should be collected right from the team member who has performed the work. We should not only collect the data about progress so far but also the forecast. Suppose an activity is estimated to take 10 days. As of now 5 days of work is completed. It does not mean that the remaining work will be completed in next 5 days. It can be less or more depending up on experience of team members and progress made in last five days. Once we have collected actual data of the progress made so far and forecast, we update these actuals in MS Project.

Monitoring and Control

Now we have got actual data in the MS Project, we should generate reports. Microsoft Project specially MS Project 2013 and MS Project 2016 provide a very flexible way of generating reports. Based on requirements of our status meeting and various stakeholders, we should prepare various report templates. There are some readymade templates available which we can customize or we can take a completely blank canvas and add tables, graphs, text boxes, pictures, shapes etc. to prepare a template that satisfies stakeholders of our project.

Reports help us to understand if we are on time & budget or there is any variance? With these reports we can conduct our project status meetings and discuss with stakeholders to analyze and identify root causes. Based on root cause, we can decide on corrective and preventive measures. These corrective and preventive measures will be updated in project plan to carry out the work in execution as per updated plan.

Closure

MS Project 2016 helps us on two aspects of project closure. The first is lesson learned. Throughout the project we have collected actual data and updated MS Project. This is the time to look back. Using various views, tables and reports we can analyze what went well and what did not go well. Using MS Project we can compile a report and present lesson learned to stakeholders.

Second is archive the data. We have a very valuables data with us. If we archive the data in such a way that can be easily searched and used, we can use it if we get a project in future which is similar to this project.

 

Also refer

  1. Project Management Process Groups
  2. Project Management Knowledge Areas
  3. What’s new in Microsoft Project 2016

Project Management Competencies

Project Management Competencies

PMI Talent Triangle

 

Project Management Competencies

PMI’s Project Management Competencies Development Framework defines three types of competencies for project managers. These competencies are represented by triangle called PMI’s Talent Triangle as shown in the figure

The talent triangle focuses on three main project manager competencies

  1. Technical Project Management
  2. Leadership
  3. Strategic and Business Management

Technical project management defines processes and procedures. PMBOK Guide mainly defines technical project management competencies.

However technical project management skills are not sufficient to lead a project to success. As I compared a project manager with necklace designer in an earlier post (Who is Project Manager?), project manager’s vision, creativity, art of collaborating with stakeholder and his/her understanding of business value of project are more important for project success.

  1. Technical Project Management

Knowledge Areas described in PMBOK fall into this project management competency. Competency in understanding and implementing processes defined in these knowledge areas is technical project management competency. Knowledge of using Microsoft Project to schedule, track and report projects is also a technical competency.

  1. Leadership

Leadership skill is the ability of project managers to motivate & guide the team and building relationship with stakeholder to support the project. It includes creating a vision, communication, problem solving, resolving conflicts, critical thinking, interpersonal skills, negotiation skills, guiding team, constructive criticism, art of appreciation, assertiveness etc.

  1. Strategic and Business Management

Strategic and business management skill is the ability of project manager to understand benefits of project outcome and relating them to the goals of organization and customer’s organization. It involves creating project strategy, defining goals and objectives, defining tangible and non-tangible business benefits of the project, cost benefits analysis, return on investment etc. Business management skills also includes connecting organization’s strategy with project objectives, identifying and communicating tangible and non tangible business benefits of project to stakeholders and relating project work with other functions of the organization.

These three project management competencies are essential for a project manager to succeed. In general organizations give more emphasis on technical competencies however leadership and strategic skills have more impact and play a major role in success.

 

Also refer

  1. What is Project Management?
  2. Who is Project Manager?

Who is Project Manager?

Who is Project Manager

Who is Project Manager

Who is project manager

Who is project manager? What is his role? What are his primary responsibilities? These are few questions we must answer before move into project manager’s role. In an earlier section “What is Project Management“, I compared a project with a necklace. Functions, team members, stakeholders and technical activities are pearls and project management processes are its thread. Now who is project manager? In this context, project manager is a necklace designer. This is where the art come into picture to give a nice shape to the science. Best pearls and thread are not enough for a necklace to look beautiful. It is the necklace designer’s vision, creativity, hard work and experience that make the necklace looks beautiful. Similarly it is the project manger’s vision, creativity, its decision making skills, its skills of forming cohesive team, its art of engaging stakeholder, its experience in integrating by placing every pearl at an strategic position make project to deliver wonderful results. This art cannot be taught completely in a classroom. Besides classroom we learn it by doing it under an experience artist i.e. an experience project management professional or a guide or a consultant.

Project manager’s primary responsibility is to integrate various aspects of project, technical activities, team and stakeholders. Project manager’s failure to integrate them lead to project failure. A bad project manager can lead a project to failure despite excellent technical resources on board due to his inability to integrate. On the other side, a good project manager can achieve excellent results with average technical resources.

A project manager should have minimum 3 types of competencies – Project Manager Technical Skills, Leadership skills and Strategic Business Management skills to pay his role effectively. We will discuss about these skills in next section.

Balancing the triple constraints triangle

Managing Triple Constraints Triangle using MS Project

Managing Triple Constraints Triangle using MS Project

Balancing the triple constraints triangle

For balancing triple constraints triangle, let’s look back to the Project Manager Knowledge Areas section above where we discussed various aspects of project management that a project manager has to deal with all the time. We saw scope, time, cost and resources were painted in green indicating that these four areas can be managed in Microsoft Project. These four areas are most important in project management because any problem in any other area impacts either scope, time, cost or resources. This makes triple constraints triangle as shown in the figure very important. A PMP Aspirant should also understand this concepts in depth.

It is very important for a project manager to balance the triangle i.e. create a balance among scope, time and cost to deliver a quality product. Quality in the middle is an indication that it is not negotiable while scope, time and cost on sides indicate that we need to negotiate them to balance the triangle.

Various situations in a project arising time to time like a risk getting materialized, vendor delaying a deliverables or a change request may have impact on cost, time or scope. In such situations we need to analyze the impact and negotiate other sides to balance the triangle so that we can deliver the product or service as promised.

A scheduler such as Microsoft Project come very handy in keeping the triangle in shape. It is an excellent platform to analyze impact and negotiate other sides. In MS Project, we can define complete scope as Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), enter all our estimates for each WBS item, assign all our resources and manage dependencies among activities. This way we get control on the scope, timelines and cost.

We get the real benefit when we track the project. If we add some scope, it helps us to workout additional time & cost required. If any activity get delayed, it will show us the impact on all dependent tasks & on end date and give us a platform to take corrective actions in terms of adding resources (cost) or reducing scope to finish in time. If we have a constraint on cost side, it will help to us tuning time or scope to manage within budget. Basically it helps us to measure variance, identify cause of the variance, work out the right corrective actions and also track if corrective actions are really effective.

Suppose our customer sends a change request that adds an additional deliverable in the scope. Until we analyze the impact and balance it by adding more resources (cost) or adding some time or both, we may not be able to deliver a quality product. Microsoft project gives us a platform to add the additional work in the scope and see if we can manage it with existing resource by adding time or we need to add resources because adding time is not acceptable to the customer.

What are Program and Portfolio Management?

Program and Portfolio Management

Program and Portfolio Management as explained in PMBOK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Program and Portfolio Management

Program and portfolio both are group of projects however their objective of grouping is different. Program and portfolio management address the grouping of the projects in an organization for specific objectives. Let’s understand what program management and portfolio management are?

Program Management

A program is defined as a group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually. Programs may include elements of related work outside the scope of the discrete projects in the program. A project may or may not be part of a program but a program will always have projects.

For examples projects for a single client or projects using same technology can be grouped together to form a program and manage them more effectively.

Portfolio Management

A portfolio is defined as a group of related projects formed to achieve a strategic business objective. The projects or programs of the portfolio may not necessarily be interdependent or directly related.

An organizations looking to break into Telecom sector may group all the projects for telecom clients together in one portfolio. Multiple projects for specific client or specific technology may be grouped together as different programs under this portfolio. In a typical organization portfolios can be mapped to lines of business.

In general portfolio, program and projects are connected as displayed in the Figure.

Projects are normally authorized as a result of one or more of the following and linked with portfolio and program through organizational strategies and priorities.

  • Market Demand,
  • Strategic Opportunity,
  • Business Need,
  • Customer Request,
  • Technology Advancement,
  • Legal Requirements etc.

They are grouped together for synergy as it is more effective to manage them together than managing them individually and then they are grouped together to achieve organizational objectives.

Project Management Knowledge Areas

Project Management Knowledge Areas

Project Management Knowledge Areas as explained in PMBOK (A standard by PMI)

Project Management Knowledge Areas

A project manager has to manage multiple aspects of the project continuously throughout the project life-cycle from initiation to closure. These aspects such as scope of the project, given time frame, project cost, risk, quality, communication, procurement and human resources are termed as project management knowledge areas in PMBOK.

Integration Management is the primary work, a project manager should do all the time without delegating to any one which ensures that activities in different knowledge areas are progressing in a synchronous manner. Scope, Time and Cost often called Triple Constraints are the core knowledge areas. These areas in general get impacted if you have issues in any area.

In MS Project Context, four knowledge areas (scope, cost, time and resources) in the above figure 1.2 are shown in green which indicate that these aspects of project can be managed with Microsoft Project 2016. That means you can define complete scope of the project in terms of WBS in Project 2016, can take care of complete cost including fixed and variable, all the resources can be managed and ensure the timeline which is the primary objective of any scheduling tools like Project 2016.

You can manage knowledge areas that are shown in yellow i.e. stakeholder, communication, quality, procurement and risk up to certain extend in MS Project 2016 and you need to define and control work outside project 2016 also to manage them fully. That means Project 2016 helps in managing stakeholders, communication, quality, procurement and risk on a project. For example in communication management, MS Project will provide you progress data, status, reports etc. but what, when and to whom to send the information is beyond MS Project. Similarly Project 2016 helps you identifying risks associated with scope, time, cost, resources, inter-dependencies etc. Similarly there will be many other areas where MS Project may not be of help.

Project Management Process Groups

Project Management Process Groups can be understood using following diagram

Project Management Process Groups

Project Management Process Groups as defined in PMBOK

Project Management Process Groups

Initiating Process Group

Processes that are used to initiate a project are grouped in Initiation Group. In initiation, we conceptualize what exactly we need at the end of the project and identify stakeholders who can influence the project outcome.

This Project Management Process Group contains only two processes out of forty seven processes. This is a tiny process group but very important as initiation set the direction of the project. Therefore skipping it or fast tracking this stage could be dangerous. Every moment spend at this stage it precious. A small degree of deviation at initiation may takes you miles away from your goal at the end. Until you are very clear about reasons (business case) & objectives of your project and have sketched a high level approach to project planning, you should not move into planning stage.

Planning Process Group

From all Project Management Process Groups, Planning Process Group contains maximum number of processes. Out of 47 processes, planning alone has 24 processes that is 51%. Rest other 4 process groups share remaining 49%. If we consider project management a company, planning has the controlling stake. Therefore everything runs around planning in a project. It can easily be understood that projects which do not focus on project planning remain away from achieving their objectives. Various surveys have repeatedly showed that majority of the projects never achieve their objectives. They were challenged on time, cost & quality and failed to deliver benefits and values expected from them. Success and failure ratio may vary a bit in different surveys but one thing on which all survey unanimous agree that primary reason of failure was poor planning.

What is a plan? Fundamentally it is a list of time bound tasks if executed can turn concept (that we created in initiation) into reality (the product, outcome or service of the project). Planning is not just list of technical work we need to do in a project. It should contain each and every work to be done in project in order to make it a success. It contains, all stakeholders and how they can influence the project, a detailed scope of the work, a time bound meticulous schedule, cost estimate and expenditure schedule, quality improvement activities, resource utilization plan, a strong communication strategy to engage stakeholders and team, bill of material, procurement strategy, list of risks that can jeopardize project objectives and a response plan. A meticulous and comprehensive plan is like half way through.

Execution Processes Group

Out of 47 processes, This Project Management Process Group has just 8 processes (only 17%) while this is one of the longest stage and most of the money is spent here. You may observe, out of 8 processes, 5 processes are related to people – 3 processes for leading team, 1 for communication and 1 for stakeholder engagement. What is this indicating? For a project manager, managing people around i.e. your team members and other stakeholders is most important thing during execution stage and you have to be effective communicator to do so. It can be summarize like this. Team has a good amount of work to do during execution and project manager should act as enabler. He/she should look out proactively what kind of road blocks may come up that may impact effectiveness of team members & contribution of stakeholders and promptly work to remove them.

Execution process group may not contains many processes but this is the stage where most of the money allocated to a project is spent. Your team is at peak and if you are not effective on resource utilization, you probably burn the money without output.  If your team size is 10 people, you will have all 10 team members on board during execution. A single day delay during execution means, you carry all 10 people for another day i.e. 10 person days effort for every one day delay in execution.

Execution means doing the work as you have planned. How many times we really do this? Don’t we deviate often from what is there in the plan? Don’t we do activities that are not in the plan because we think, they are required? Don’t we skips the activities scheduled in the plan because now we think, we don’t need them? Actually we create problems for our self by doing so.

Execution means do the work as per plan, nothing else to be done and no activities should be skipped. That may be difficult to digest but let me explain it completely. During execution if you find any activity to be done to deliver the value you have committed and that is not there in the plan, don’t just do it. First schedule this activity in the plan and then do it. If you find an activity you scheduled in the plan but now it is not to be done due to changing situation on the ground, you should first make its duration zero and remove resource allocation in the plan. Therefore whenever there is a change due to different ground situation, you should first update the plan and then do according to the updated plan.

Meticulous plan and discipline execution is the key to success.

Monitoring and Controlling Process Group

This Project Management Process group contains 10 processes out of 47 i.e. 21%. In some time we will learn about knowledge areas. Knowledge areas represents 10 aspects of project management.  They are Integration, scope, time, cost, quality, human resource, communication, procurement, risk and stakeholders. Each knowledge area contains 1 to 6 planning processes but only one controlling processes to control that aspect of project management. Only integration has two controlling processes. It shows that amount of effort to be spent in controlling should be much less than planning. However if you don’t put enough efforts in planning, you may end up spending much more time in monitoring and controlling than required.

When we face problems in the project or observe significant variance, our tendency is to tighten the control but remember one thing – better you plan, less you need to control. So if you are facing issues and variance, it is the time we should look back on our plan and make corrections so that we can prevent future issues and variance instead of tightening the control.

A Monitoring and controlling process help in monitoring i.e. comparing actual with the plan to identify if there is any variance from the plan and then controlling it i.e. taking corrective measures to reduce or eliminate the variance. Monitoring & Controlling is not a stage in a project but it is done throughout the project from project start to project completion.

Closing Processes Group

Like initiation, this Project Management Process Group also contains only two processes but it is equally important. A proper closing helps us to understand our strengths and weakness and perform better in next project. We must do following before we close the project.

  1. Compile, document and share lesson learned
  2. Transition the project outcome to operation
  3. Archive all the artifacts of the project that can be searched later.

Lesson learned is a continuous process throughout the project. As and when you see variance, deviations and revisions in your project, there is an opportunity to document lesson learned so that we learn from our mistakes and omissions. When you get better than usual results, again there is an opportunity to document lesson learned so that we keep our best practices. When we reach to closure of the project, it is the time we should compile all our lesson learned in a document, present them to the team and also to other teams in the organizations so that others also learn from our good or no so good work.

We should handover outcome of the project to operation team with proper training and hand holding.

We should also archive all the artifacts of the project in a searchable manner. Should you get a project in future which is similar to this project, your archived artifacts will be of immense help. If you have archived them in a searchable manner, it will be easier for you to use them and perform even better in new project.

What is Project Management?

As per PMBOK, Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. Again, let’s understand what it really means?

Project Management Definition

What is Project Management?

Project Management

Let’s understand project management through an example of a necklace. Project Management is similar to a thread in a pearls necklace. It does not matter how good and how many pearls you have, until you have a thread, you cannot form a necklace. If a project is a necklace, its functions, disciplines, people, stakeholders etc. are its pearls and project management is the thread that binds all the pearls.  You cannot wear individual pearls until you have a thread. Similarly, you cannot deliver result of a project with individual functions, people and stakeholder until you integrate them through project management. You may not have wonderful pearls with you but if you bind the pearls you have in a beautiful manner, you can have a wonderful necklace. You may not have best out of best resources with you in a project but if you integrate them strategically through project management, you can have wonderful results. If wonderful pearls are not threaded properly, necklace may not look good. Your champion performer may not be able to give you excellent results in the absence of project management.

Project Management activities (processes) help a project manager to integrate all stakeholders, team members and technical activities in a project. Therefore it is important for a project manager to have sound understanding and experience of project management processes.