Every project, whether it’s constructing a building, launching an app, or rolling out a marketing campaign, requires a series of processes to bring it to fruition. These processes are pretty consistent, regardless of the industry or the type of deliverable. So what are these project management processes, and what do they consist of?
The five project management processes
The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) breaks down the overarching process of managing a project into five stages, or “process groups.” These process groups are typically defined as:
- Initiating: During this phase, the project is conceptualized and feasibility is determined. According to SME Toolkit, some activities that should be performed during this process include defining the project goal; defining the project scope; identifying the project manager and the key stakeholders; identifying potential risks; and producing an estimated budget and timeline.
- Planning: Next, the project manager will create a blueprint to guide the entire project from ideation through completion. This blueprint will map out the project’s scope; resources required to create the deliverables; estimated time and financial commitments; communication strategy to ensure stakeholders are kept up to date and involved; execution plan; and proposal for ongoing maintenance. If the project has not yet been approved, this blueprint will serve as a critical part of the pitch.
- Executing: During this phase, the project manager will conduct the procurement required for the project as well as staff the team. Further, execution of the project objectives requires effective management of the team members on the ground. PMs are responsible for delegating and overseeing the work on the project while maintaining good relationships with all team members and keeping the entire project on time and on budget. The PM must therefore be highly organized and an exceptional leader. That’s because they’ll need to address team concerns and any issues that arise along the way, requiring frequent and open communication with all team members and stakeholders.
- Monitoring and control: During this process group, project managers will closely measure the progress of the project to ensure it is developing properly. Documentation such as data collection and verbal and written status reports may be used. “Monitoring and controlling is closely related to project planning. While planning determines what is to be done, monitoring and controlling establish how well it has been done,” explains SME Toolkit. “Monitoring will detect any necessary corrective action or change in the project to keep the project on track.”
- Closing: The closing process group occurs once the project deliverables have been produced and the stakeholders validate and approve them. During this phase, the project manager will close contracts with suppliers, external vendors, consultants, and other third-party providers. All documentation will be archived and a final project report will be produced. Further, the final part of the project plan — the plan for troubleshooting and maintenance — will kick into place.
Project management techniques
Even though the standard project management process is relatively stable, the way in which a project manager undertakes it can vary greatly. In fact, there are several different approaches that project managers can take to manage their projects through the process. A few of the most popular can be categorized as follows:
- Traditional, sequential methodologies, such as waterfall and critical path method (CPM). These approaches are usually best suited to projects that produce a physical, tangible product such as a building or a computer.
- Agile methodologies, such as scrum, kanban, extreme programming and adaptive project framework. These methodologies were originally created for software developers, and the most sense for projects that may have changing tasks or priorities.
- Approaches with a change-management focus, such as event chain methodology (ECM) and extreme project management. These approaches factor in the possibility of massive change during the project’s duration and build in a level of flexibility.
- A process-based approach,such as lean project management. Lean focuses on efficiency and cutting waste and can be applied to nearly every industry.
Choosing the project management technique that works best will depend on the project, the organization, and the project manager.
Skills for success
To ensure the project management process runs smoothly, it’s important for project managers to possess a varied set of skills and expertise. Successful PMs demonstrate a high level of organization and attention to detail, understanding of big-picture business goals, risk-management ability, resourcefulness, excellent communication skills, and great leadership. According to the Project Management Institute, an openness to self-assessment and re-evaluation are also helpful.