We’ve addressed several blog posts around the Project Management topic, and this post puts the focus on the process group of Planning. As a reminder, the five process groups are: Initiating Process Group, Planning Process Group, Executing Process Group, Monitoring Process Group, and Closing Process Group.
Planning Process Group: 8 Knowledge Areas
The primary purpose of the planning process group is to define and refine project objectives in order to plan and select the best course of action to attain these objectives. This plan is also known as the Project Management Plan, a top-level course of action that describes how to manage the project or phase. Within the Project Management Plan are eight specific knowledge areas of consideration:
- Scope Management – It is necessary to define the scope of your project in order to develop a detailed scope statement. This statement serves as the basis for project decisions. It contributes to the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), which decomposes project work into manageable components called work packages. The WBS serves as the basis for a schedule.
- Project Time Management – Activity Definition is crucial to time management, as identifying the specific activities that need to performed in order to deliver the product or service is essential to each project. Each activity needs to be documented, and the resources and durations of each must be estimated. With all the documentation and the estimations required below, one can initiate Schedule Development, or the process resulting in a baseline project schedule.
- Activity Resource Estimating – This is the process of estimating the level of effort needed for each activity in terms of a person’s resource time. The results of this process include a Resource Breakdown Structure (RBS), resource requirements and a resource calendar.
- Activity Duration Estimating – These estimates are needed in order to achieve proper schedule development. One thing to keep in mind, duration differs from actual estimated time of effort. For example, an activity could take one week for one person to complete, but if the person can only devote 50% of their time, then it will take the person two weeks to complete the project. In this example, the level of effort is one work week, but the duration is two work weeks.
- Project Cost Management & Budgeting – This stage encompasses estimating costs and determining a budget. Cost Estimating uses the information collected in developing the project schedule and resources to develop an approximate cost for each activity. Cost budgeting aggregates the costs of each activity to develop a cost baseline.
- Project Quality Management – The purpose of this stage is to exercise Quality Planning, which identifies which quality standards to apply to the project and how to measure them. This results in a Quality Management Plan, quality metrics, quality checklists, a Process Improvement Plan (if needed), and a quality baseline.
- Project Human Resource Management – Human Resource Planning results in a Staffing Management Plan and project roles and responsibilities.
- Project Communications Management – The Communications Management Plan identifies how communication will be managed for the project. This includes internal communication among the project team as well as external communication. External communication planning can help set expectations and keeping stakeholders informed of progress.
- Project Risk Management – Risk Management Planning is the process that results in a Risk Management Plan. This plan helps define the approach to managing risk within the project. In order to plan risk management to the fullest, you must do the following:
- Identify risks – Risk Identification results in a Risk Register, which is a ledger of the identified risks for the project. The Risk Register must be managed throughout the life of the project.
- Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis – This process is a technique identified by the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) for prioritizing risks based on a risk score, which is a function of probability and impact.
- Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis – Quantitative Risk Analysis, according to PMBOK, is the process necessary for numerically analyzing the effect of a risk on the project.
- Plan Risk Responses – Every risk must have a risk response. In order to mitigate risks, a set of actions must be considered to reduce the threat of risks (negatively impacting risks) on a project. This involves identifying a mitigation strategy for each risk.
- Project Procurement Management – Planning procurements includes purchases and acquisitions as well as plan contracting.
Every knowledge area listed above requires attention during the Project Planning phase. If the planning of the project and the decomposition of the work is incomplete at the end of the Project Planning phase, then you can expect quality, cost or schedule issues in later phases — specifically in the next project phase, Execution. Stay tuned for the next post in our Project Management Series.