How to better understand the planning processes of the PMBOK Guide?

Although this article is independent of the previous one, it would be useful to read the last article first. This article is also part of a book that is currently with the publisher and likely to be released to the market before the summer.

The following discussion is for the planning processes, within a phase. It is based on PMBOK® Guide, but a similar analysis can be used for ISO 21500.

There are processes, one in each knowledge area that focuses on the management of the knowledge area, including all other processes.

Management Planning

For example “Plan Scope Management[1] is about:

  • How toCollect Requirements,”
  • How toDefine Scope,”
  • How toCreate WBS” (the work breakdown structure),
  • How toValidate Scope,” and
  • How toControlScope.”

17 Fig 15-1 _ Project scope management processesIn other words, the “Plan Scope Management” process produces the scope management plan, which addresses ‘how to’ do the other processes within the same knowledge area. Each of the phrases in quotation marks is a process in the scope knowledge area (The Project Management Institute, 2013). Please note, this figure is the author interpretation and adaptation from the PMBOK® Guide; it is how about our understanding of the guide.

The following are a few clarification points on the image.

  • There are six processes in this knowledge area.
  • They are shown here in sequence; except “Control Scope”; reasons explained below.
  • The first process is a management planning process, as described in this section,
  • The second, third, and fourth processes are detailed planning processes; will be outlined in the next section.
  • The fifth process is a controlling process, “Validate Scope,”; shown on the right.
  • “Control Scope” is not in sequence; it is in parallel with most of the processes listed here; refer to the textbox.

In theory, the same concept should apply to all knowledge areas. Therefore, there are

Therefore, there are, or should be ten management planning processes. These processes are in Table 3-1 in the PMBOK® Guide; all the processes labeled like this “Plan _____ Management,” and filling the space with the name of the knowledge area.

Detailed Planning

The fifth edition of the PMBOK® Guide has twenty-four planning processes. Ten of them are specific to management planning, as has been presented. On the other hands, each of the other fourteen planning processes is about ‘doing’ and producing a detailed ‘output’ for the given process.

For example, staying with scope management and back to the image above. ‘Doing’ the “Collect Requirements” process is performing analysis, talking with stakeholders, and collecting all of the needs and expectations of the stage, then documenting these needs in a requirements management report, traceability matrix, or similar document.

Next, consider “Define Scope” process; ‘doing’ the process is to develop and produce the scope statement as the primary output. The same applies to “Create WBS,” which produces the WBS and WBS Dictionary.

The same concept applies to the other processes. Let’s elaborate further.

If the reader can refer to the PMBOK® Guide, one will notice the following about the other fourteen planning processes.

  1. These are processes that produce details, project documents, and not managing a knowledge area. Refer to earlier discussion on scope.
  2. However, these fourteen processes are only from four of the knowledge areas; scope, time, cost, and risk.
  3. The fourteen processes do not include any processes from quality, human resource, communication, stakeholder, and procurement. The single processes in these knowledge areas are included in management planning; per the CAMMP™ approach.

Reflecting back on point 3, why no detailed processes in some of these knowledge areas?

Why scope and risk, for example, have many planning processes but quality and communication only one process each?

It is important to reflect back and to try to understand what these processes mean. For example, in these knowledge areas, like quality, there is only one process in the planning process group, and this process is incorporating management and detailed planning actions.

Once again, every knowledge area has a management planning process but not every knowledge area has an explicit, detailed planning process. Further, those knowledge areas that have detailed planning processes, have more than one process; three in scope, five in time and so on.

Why the other knowledge areas do not follow the same approach but splitting management planning from detailed planning? More on this last point in the next article.

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