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

Option 2: A New Concept for Process Groups

Initial Thought on Adding a Process Group

Table 1-4 in the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edn. shows that the "planning" group incorporates processes that are precursors to the planning, in that they provide an analysis of the specific situation with respect to the objectives of the KA.

The results of an additional PG, the Analysis PG, are therefore required before the planning can be carried out.

The new definition of an Analysis Process Group would allow it to capture a number of processes currently rather uncomfortably in the Planning group, i.e., Collect Requirements, Identify Risks, Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis, and Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis.

This idea may improve the use of process grouping to some extent, but it does not solve the basic problem of confusion caused by the naming of the PGs.

Changing the Process Grouping Framework

As a more radical, but much better alternative to reworking the current set of PGs, and to provide a clear break with the past, a set of "knowledge area steps" (KASes) should be defined to replace the PGs. In contrast with PGs that seem to be closely related to the entire project life cycle, KASes are designed to be meaningful only within the corresponding KA. Hence:

  • A KAS is defined as a category of activities carried out for a specific purpose within a knowledge area. The KASes are normally carried out sequentially within a KA, and can be reiterated as required. Not all KASes are necessarily represented by processes in each KA.

The IPECC model of PGs should then be replaced by the SPAARC[8] KASes defined below This change to the set of names serves additionally as a reminder of the change of concept: each of these SPAARC categories is applicable only within a KA. The six KASes are as follows:

  1. Specification. The specification processes set the rules and authority under which the KA work should be carried out, and determine the environment for the work.
    This KAS would mainly incorporate processes from the Initiating and Analysis PGs. These processes would normally be followed by ones from the Analysis or the Preparation KAS.
     
  2. Analysis. The analysis processes are performed to transform raw data into action-oriented information.
    These processes would normally be followed by ones from the Preparation or the Control KAS.
     
  3. Preparation. The preparation processes are those required to define the course of action required to attain the objectives to which the KA should contribute.
    These processes would normally be followed by ones from the Action KAS.
     
  4. Action. The action processes are performed to deliver the work defined in the corresponding management plan for the KA.
    These processes would normally be followed by ones from the Review KAS.
     
  5. Review. The review processes are required to track, review and report the progress and performance of the KA work. This includes identifying any significant differences between actual and planned values.
    These processes would normally be followed by ones from the Analysis or the Control KAS.
     
  6. Control. The control processes are performed to regulate the progress and performance of the KA work, determine any changes to the plan required to address performance issues highlighted from reviewing, and assess the viability of corresponding changes. It should be noted that life cycle governance processes such as managing phase transitions, as well as initiation, and closing a project belong in the Control KAS.
    The processes would normally be followed by ones from the Preparation or the Action KAS.

These interactions are shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: The Set of Potential
Figure 4: The Set of Potential SPAARC Interactions Within any Knowledge Area

Table 1-4 from the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edn. should be restructured based on these definitions. The hierarchical representation of this restructuring, from KAs, to KASes, to processes, is shown below in Table 2 in a similar form to Table 1-4 from the PMBOK® Guide. This restructuring also provides a more balanced grouping of processes than the IPECC convention, as can be seen by the number of processes in each KAS shown in the headings in Table 1 presented earlier.

The analysis required for this restructuring raises a number of questions on the set of processes for some of the KAs: for example, 12.1 "Plan Procurements" should probably be subdivided into two processes — one for the make-or-buy decisions (Specification), the other to develop the procurement documents (Preparation).

As an aside, the Stakeholder Management KA that has been added for the sixth edition of the PMBOK® Guide would be more complete if the team-management processes 9.4 and 9.5 were transferred from the Resource Management area across to Stakeholder Management.

Effective teamwork cannot be achieved if the team members are managed in the same way as inanimate resources!

KA

PG

Specific-
ation
(10)

Prepar-
ation
(4)

Analysis
(13)

Action
(8)

Review
(5)

Control
(9)

Integration Management

4.1:
Develop Project Charter

4.2:
Develop Project Management Plan

4.4:
Manage Project Knowledge

4.3:
Direct and Manage Project Work

 

4.5:
Perform Integrated Change Control

4.6:
Close Project or Phase

Scope Management

5.1:
Plan Scope Management

 

5.2:
Collect Requirements

5.3:
Define Scope

5.4:
Create WBS

 

5.5: Validate Scope

5.6:
Control Scope

Schedule Management

6.1:
Plan Schedule Management

6.5:
Develop Schedule

6.2:
Define Activities

6.3:
Sequence Activities

6.4:
Estimate Activity Durations

 

 

6.6:
Control Schedule

Cost Management

7.1:
Plan Cost Management

 

7.2:
Estimate Costs

7.3: Determine Budget

 

 

7.4:
Control Costs

Quality Management

8.1:
Plan Quality Management

 

 

8.2:
Manage Quality

 

8.3:
Control Quality

Resource Management

9.1:
Plan Resource Management

9.2:
Estimate Activity Resources

 

9.3:
Acquire Resources

9.4:
Develop Team

 

9.5:
Manage Project Team

Communications Management

10.1:
Plan Communications Management

 

 

10.2:
Manage Communications

 

10.3:
Monitor Communications

Risk Management

11.1:
Plan Risk Management

11.5:
Plan Risk Responses

11.2:
Identify Risks

11.4:
Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis

11.3:
Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis

11.6:
Implement Risk Responses

11.7:
Monitor Risks

 

Procurement Management

12.1:
Plan Procurement Management

 

 

12.2:
Conduct Procurements

 

12.3:
Control Procurements

Stakeholder Management

13.2:
Plan Stakeholder Engagement

 

13.1:
Identify Stakeholders

13.3:
Manage Stakeholder Engagement

13.4:
Monitor Stakeholder Engagement

 

Table 2: SPAARC Process Groupings in terms of KAs and KASes

The SPAARC model provides a framework for analyzing the structure of each KA as well as for understanding the dependencies between processes in a KA. These points are addressed in the next two sections.

Proposed Changes to the PMBOK® Guide — Sixth Edition  Proposed Changes to the PMBOK® Guide - Sixth Edition

8. I have chosen to call the mnemonic SPAARC, rather than putting the letters in the logical order of the KASes (i.e., SAPARC) for the simple reason that it sounds nicer.
 
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