This Guest paper is an updated version of a paper first published in the PM World Journal, January 2018. This revision was presented for publication December 24, 2017
Part 2 published here March 2018

In this paper: IPECC = Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling, Closing OGC = Office of Government Commerce (UK) KAs = Knowledge Areas (in the PMBOK Guide) PGs = Process Groups (ditto) PMBOK = Project Management Body of Knowledge (Guide) PMI = Project Management Institute (USA)

PART 1 | Introduction | Understanding the Confusion
Proposed Changes to the PMBOK® Guide | Option 2: A New Concept for Process Groups
Applying SPAARC to Improve Knowledge Area Definition | Conclusion

Proposed Changes to the PMBOK® Guide - Sixth Edition

Textual Changes

All of the text needs to be reviewed for references to PGs and adapted to make the relationships clear. For example, to the clause:

"Project management is accomplished through the appropriate application and integration of logically grouped project management processes. While there are different ways of grouping processes, the PMBOK® Guide groups processes into five categories called Process Groups."

Add the sentence:

"These Process Groups are applied within each of the ten areas of expertise known as Knowledge Areas."

That is, change the paragraph to read:

"Project management is accomplished through the appropriate application and integration of logically grouped project management processes. While there are different ways of grouping processes, the PMBOK® Guide groups processes into five categories called Process Groups. These Process Groups are applied within each of the ten areas of expertise known as Knowledge Areas."

Option 1: Reworking the Process Group Definitions to Remove the Confusion

The first option would be to change the PG definitions in order to avoid phase-related terminology.

  • Initiating Process Group. Those processes that determine the environment, agree the objectives, set the rules and authority under which work should be carried out, and obtain the corresponding approval for that work.
  • Planning Process Group. Those processes required to establish the scope, define the quality criteria, refine the objectives, elaborate the course of action required to attain the objectives that the project was undertaken to achieve.
  • Executing Process Group. Those processes performed to deliver the work defined in the corresponding management plans, and report on status.
  • Monitoring and Controlling Process Group. Those processes required to track, review, and regulate the progress and performance of the project; identify any areas in which changes to the plan are required, assess the corresponding changes, and update the project plans as required.
  • Closing Process Group. Those processes performed to finalize all activities relative to a given knowledge area.

Effect on the Composition of the Process Groups

The removal of the phase-related terms in the definitions of the Initiating and Closing groups makes it clear that life cycle management concepts need to be catered for elsewhere. Adding the following Controlling process to the Project Integration Management KA can best satisfy this need. Thus:

  • Manage Phase Transitions. This process can be defined in such a way as to allow the removal of the Close Project or Phase process, or at least its replacement by a specific Close Project process.

Given the modified definition of the Initiating PG, the following change should also be made:

  • Transfer "Plan Risk Management" from the Planning PG to the Initiating one. This is because the resulting Risk Management Plan describes the rules and conventions in general for managing risk in the project, i.e., it does address the specific risks in the project.

This initial redefinition of the PGs would certainly make a number of points clearer and more coherent. However, it does not go far enough in removing the potential confusion with life cycle phases due to the current naming and implied scope of the PGs.

Understanding the Confusion  Understanding the Confusion

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