Project management process groups and the six Questions in Pmlc

According to Wysocki (2012, p.25) ‘Project management is a set of tools, templates, and processes designed to answer the following six questions: What business situation is being addressed by this project? What do you need to do? What will you do? How will you do it? How will you know you did it? How well did you do it?’

Wysocki (2012, p.64) also added that; ‘In addition to answering the six questions that a valid project management methodology must answer, whatever project management life cycle model you use must contain all of the following Process Groups; Scoping (PMI calls the Initiation), Planning, Launching (PMI calls the Execution), Monitoring & Controlling and Closing. The process groups will each be completed and in sequence, some or all of them may be repeated a number of times’.

PMI recognized the five process groups and nine knowledge areas to make up the Project management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). PMI also identified the five process groups as building blocks of every project management life cycle.

Scoping is identified by PMBOK as Initiation. Projects brainstorming, client need analysis, resource requirements, documentations and management approval are handled at this stage. This stage clearly answers questions like; “what business situation is being addressed?” and “what needs to be done?”. Key inputs at this stage can include contracts from the clients, deliverables from a company’s annual business plan, policy, procedure and other social factors where the project will be cited. The outputs of scoping process group are Project Charter and Preliminary Project Scope Statement. Scoping is aimed at addressing the business situation at hand by indicating what needs to be done.

For example, IT projects scoping in NLNG activities are handled by a multi-disciplinary team of subject-matter experts (SMEs) – including IT teams from Strategy and Planning. The whole team reports to IT projects review team of senior management positions to secure management approval on the project.

Planning follows Project Charter and Preliminary Project Scope Statement produced by the scoping activity to establish project objectives and how to go about achieving such objectives within the project scope. Planning will answer the questions; “what to do?” and “how to do it?” by setting clear objectives for the project, allocating resources, identifying the best-fit model, setting milestone/targets throughout the project lifespan, etc.

A Project Management Plan is drawn up at the end of the planning process. For example; in NLNG a three-year IT projects plan document is updated with latest approvals, milestones and closeouts to produce what is called “IT Master plan for the year” which various project managers use throughout the year in implementing IT projects.

Launching/execution works with the Project Management Plan to deploy human and material resources to ensure all deliverables are achieved as planned. The question of; ‘how will you do it?” gets answered here. Project management plan is the only input here and it must be strict to objectives, targets and specifications. The output at this stage a performance according to plan. In NLNG, IT project teams work across company locations in line with IT Master plan all through the year.

Monitoring and Controlling process group ensures projects are run in line with targets by identifying KPIs for periodic monitoring – based on client’s requirements in the project plan. Changes to project scope, budget performance, maintenance/repairs to project equipment, etc, are all represented here in an attempt to answer the question; ‘how will you know you did it”? Project deliverables are only recognized at this stage.

Key inputs to this process group are KPIs of the launching/execution group while their output is the project delivery/milestone status. In NLNG, various teams are involved in monitoring and controlling projects. Ranging from the Cost Controller who monitors budget and reports cost (work-in-progress), through quality assurances and process auditors who ensure compliance with procedure, risk management and corporate governance.

Closing process group collates all deliverables and closes all sub-process when a project is adjudged completed. Contracts and procurements, manpower engaged, work-in-progress close out and so many other project administrative supports are rounded up here. At this stage, the final product derived from the project is presented to the client according to specifications. The question of “how well did you do?” will be answered when client approves of the output, asset/output gets installed, audit tests post-implementation status and a final report submitted. In NLNG for example, IT projects are closed with a report and a “go-live” activity.

In conclusion, the questions of what business situation to address and what needs to be done are critical success factors to any project. The Project Charter and Preliminary statements derive from such questions and are therefore essential to how a project plan is developed with achievable objectives, what resources are required to launch/execute the project, how to monitor and control parameters and when to identify project ending and close out.

Wysocki (2012, p.9) aptly captures this in his definition of project as; ‘a sequence of finite dependent activities whose successful completion results in the delivery of the expected business value that validated doing the business’. Therefore, until a business need is identified, there cannot be a project.

Reference:

1. Project Management Institute (undated). Available online at; http://www.pmi.org/pmief/learningzone/KCMA_Curricula_Documents/Lesson_1-Five_Processes_Definitions.pdf (Accessed 23rd March, 2013)

2. White, D. (undated) ‘The 5 project management process groups’. Articles Dashboard, Available online at; http://www.articledashboard.com/Article/The-5-Project-Management-Process-Groups/484871 (Accessed 23rd March, 2013)