PMBOK Guide Process Categories

Do the process categories in PMBOK Guide make sense? PGR8

Continuing with the PMBOK Guide reviews, this is the last post on the Standard part of the book, Part 2.

In this post, we also focus on the numbers in relation to the new process categorization.

The Numbers, Part 2

Process Categories

There are three categories to classify the various processes.

This is a new concept and appearing for the first time in the PMBOK® Guide. Although the first PMBOK® Guide classified processes as Core and Facilitating and we honestly believe that 1996 classification, first edition, made more sense than the 6th edition categories.

The three categories are shown in the table with the corresponding number of processes from the various groups. The first table shows the information per process groups and the end table by knowledge area. However, we believe it is more important to view these categories per the process groups.

What we like/don’t like about these categories

What we like is that the concept of categories clearly show that these processes are not insolated and done once in a project.  A good image to have in mind to help the practitioners understand this is the spaghetti bowl, the processes are co-mingled.

What we do not like is the first category – we would have like to see it split into two categories, at least. The “or” will create too much confusion. If there are processes that are performed once then let us know what they are. Otherwise, performed at predefined points would have been good (without the “once”).

We also think that the second and third categories will lead to confusion between them; I am confused and I have been in this business for a few decades :(.

I would love to hear from those who came up with the idea of categorization to explain their views to us.

The first category

We are having a problem with the first category (green).

We think we understand it but we are sure that this would create numerous areas of confusion by students of the PMBOK® Guide. We can understand if a process is performed once but what does at predefined points mean? Maybe we need to read more.

Further, we believe there is no single process that would be performed once; except in a rare occasion if there is a one-phase project, assuming this is not a white elephant.

Therefore, we think that predefined point refers to the processes that would be performed once per phase. Would you agree?

The other two categories

Also, what are the main differences between periodically (blue) and throughout the project (yellow)?

Does this mean that periodically is performed every once in a while the other is ongoing? By ongoing that means every day?

Let us go into the details, table, and stats first.

PMBOK Guide Process Categories; by Process Group

Notice in the table we are splitting the planning process group into two columns.

  • The first column is for the Plan X[2] Management; these are the 10 processes that will produce the project management plan. These processes are one per knowledge area.
  • The second column is for the other 14 processes that will produce the various project documents[3]. However, it is interesting to note that for some knowledge areas there are no dedicated processes here.

General Stats

  1. No/Pct. of processes that are performed once or at predefined points in the project is 14 and 29%.
  2. No/Pct. of processes that are performed periodically as needed is 7 and 14%.
  3. No/ Pct. of processes that performed throughout the project is 28 and 57%.

Initiating

The develop project charter is shown in the green category (once or at a predefined point) and the identify stakeholders in the yellow. This is logical.

However, we can see this keeping the common confusion that there is one charter on the project life cycle because some will see the first part of the category (performed once) and forget the second part (at predefined points).

For the identify stakeholders process, we would have preferred this would have been like the charter but we can understand that we might need this process on an ongoing basis.

Planning – 1

The 10 Plan X Management processes (the X stands for a knowledge area) are split per the following:

  • 8 that are green (once or predefined points) and
  • 2 that are blue (periodically).
  • The blue ones (performed periodically) are communications and stakeholders.
  • This does not make sense to us. Why are not all of these management planning processes performed once or at predefined points?
  • What is the difference between “periodically” and “predefined points”?

Planning – 2

The 14 other planning processes (these are usually required to produce the project documents) are split per the following:

  • 4 are green (performed once or at predefined points),
  • 8 are yellow (performed throughout the project), and
  • 2 are blue (performed periodically).
  • Estimating costs and estimating activity resource are the ones performed periodically.
  • This is not clear why these are not like the other processes either performed at predefined points or throughout the project?

Executing

The 10 executing processes are split per the following:

  • 0 are green (once or at predefined points),
  • 8 are yellow (throughout the project), and
  • 2 are blue (periodically).
  • Acquire resources and conduct procurement are the ones performed periodically.
  • In general, this makes sense, but not totally; do not we need to acquire resources at predefined points, a new phase?

Monitoring and Controlling

The 12 monitoring and controlling processes are split per the following:

  • 0 are green (once or at predefined points),
  • 11 are yellow (throughout the project) and
  • 1 is blue (periodically).
  • Validate scope is the one performed periodically.

Closing

For closing, there is only one and it is performed once or at predefined points.

The following is the table per knowledge area.

Closing Remarks

For a full view of these tables with processes, please contact us.

If you review those tables, more questions could come up. For example:

  • We estimate costs and activity resources periodically (as needed) but we estimate activity durations throughout – don’t the activity resources and durations go hand-in-hand?
  • We estimate costs periodically but we determine budget once or at predefined points.
  • Perform integrated change control is throughout the project although we think this would be more periodically – as needed.

Most of the split makes sense but quite a few either do not make sense or we do not understand them enough.

What are your views on this change in the PMBOK Guide?

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Footnotes

[1] End of this section

[2] X refers to a given knowledge area

[3] Some project documents could be produced by the Plan X Management processes