An Introduction to PMI’s Project Management Life Cycle

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An Introduction to PMI’s Project Management Life Cycle

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This paper provides a review of the steps and stages associated with project management according to the Project Management Institute® (PMI). It is a primer for anyone new to the Project Management Body of Knowledge® (PMBOK®) and who is preparing to take the PMP exam. In order to understand how the Project Management Institute (PMI) recommends that projects be run it is nec- essary to understand the project management life cycle. The project management life cycle is the framework around which project management activities are structured. It is a key concept in formal project management according to PMI....

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  1. Expert Reference Series of White Papers An Introduction to PMI’s Project Management Life Cycle 1-800-COURSES www.globalknowledge.com
  2. An Introduction to PMI’s Project Management Life Cycle Brian Denis Egan, Global Knowledge Instructor, PMP The Project Management Life Cycle. This paper provides a review of the steps and stages associated with project management according to the Project Management Institute® (PMI). It is a primer for anyone new to the Project Management Body of Knowledge® (PMBOK®) and who is preparing to take the PMP exam. In order to understand how the Project Management Institute (PMI) recommends that projects be run it is nec- essary to understand the project management life cycle. The project management life cycle is the framework around which project management activities are structured. It is a key concept in formal project management according to PMI. In this paper the structure and function of the project management life cyle is introduced along with a num- ber of related terms that are commonly confused. What Is a Life Cycle? The term ”life cycle” implies two things: that a process is perpetual and that the sequence of events is obliga- tory or uni-directional. A typical life cycle is depicted below. There is no beginning or end to a life cycle and the sequence of events cannot change. A seed cannot go directly to being a mature plant nor revert back to the blossom stage. Seeds Blossoms Seedling Mature plant Copyright ©2006 Global Knowledge Training LLC All rights reserved. PMI, PMP, and PMBOK are registered Page 2 trademarks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
  3. The Project Management Life Cycle The term “life cycle” is misleading, because it is neither a perpetual circle of events nor is the sequence of events rigidly fixed. There are five stages to the project management life cycle: The five stages usually occur in sequence. If the project is relatively simple and there is no need to rethink or re-plan the project, the sequence of stages may be as simple as that depicted above. If there are problems with the original project plan, then the controlling function leads back to planning. Execution may be delayed while additional planning takes place or may continue during re-planning. The new or modified project plan is then executed. During execution controlling processes are undertaken to ensure that the correct work results are being achieved. Below is a project management life cycle that has been forced by problems to return to planning. During large complex projects it is often necessary to return to planning several times. In this case, the project management life cycle can become very complex with multiple repeats of planning and even initiating processes. Below is an illustration of a complex project management life cycle involving multiple returns to the drawing board. Copyright ©2006 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. Page 3
  4. Project Life Cycle vs. Project Management Life Cycle The ”project management life cycle” is different from the project life cycle. But the terms are often confused. The project life cycle refers to the development phases that a project can go through. For example: • Evaluate – Design – Build – Test – Launch • Design – Code – Test – Train – Release The phases that a project goes through are determined by the nature of the project. The project life cycle is tailored to suit individual project needs. In contrast, the project management life cycle stays the same for all projects. Relationship of Project Management Life Cycle to Phases of the Project Life Cycle This is where things get really confusing. Each phase of the project life cycle (such as Design or Code) can go through the entire project management life cycle. In other words, each phase can be thought of as an independent project that has its own complete project management life cycle. Stages of the project management life cycle, for the design phase of the project life cycle, are illustrated below. The design phase is essentially an independent project that produces a deliverable. This deliverable becomes an input to the coding phase, which in turn can go through the entire project management life cycle. Each phase of a project does not necessarily go through the entire project management life cycle, but it can. It is best to think of phases in the project life cycle as independent little projects. What we originally thought of as a “project” would best be referred to as a program consisting of several phases that are actually sub-projects. Back to the Project Management Life Cycle As explained, the project management life cycle has five stages (initiate, plan, execute, control and close). The PMI refers to these stages as “process groups” for reasons that will be explained. Copyright ©2006 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. Page 4
  5. In order to understand project management according to PMI, it is necessary to understand the boundaries between the project-management-life-cycle stages or process groups. For example, it is necessary to know when initiating is over and what documents must be ready in order to begin execution. In order to understand the boundaries between the stages, it is necessary to know what management activi- ties (called processes) are included within each of the stages (called process groups). Project Management Life Cycle and Management Process The five stages in the project management life cycle are subdivided by PMI into 44 management processes as illustrated in the table below. Each column represents a stage. Within each column are a number of manage- ment activities that PMI refers to as processes. To know what management activities are included in each of the columns is to understand PMI’s version of project management. Process Groups PMI uses the term “process groups” to refer to stages in the project management life cycle, which appear as the columns in the above illustration. Each column is therefore referred to as a ‘process group’. Each stage of the project management life cycle is referred to as a process group rather than a stage or step in the life cycle. Copyright ©2006 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. Page 5
  6. Knowledge Areas PMI divides the management processes within each process group (column in the table above) into knowledge areas. What are knowledge areas? They are areas of expertise or specialization. Every project needs to have skills and knowledge in each of these areas. In the next figure, each row of the table represents a unique knowledge area. Knowledge Areas, Processes, and the PMBOK The PMBOK is structured according to knowledge areas. Each chapter of the PMBOK (after the three introduc- tory chapters) covers a separate knowledge area. Chapter 4 of the PMBOK discusses all the process within the Integration Management row (knowledge area). Each of the processes is discussed in order from top to bottom (within cells of the table) and left to right. Chapter 5 of the PMBOK discusses all the Scope Management processes. And so on. The point is that the discussion of processes within the PMBOK is not ordered so as to follow a logical pro- gression through a project. Processes are not discussed in execution order. Copyright ©2006 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. Page 6
  7. While this structure makes perfect sense for a reference manual (which is what the PMBOK is) it is very con- fusing for anyone trying to understand how projects are managed. As a consequence, the PMBOK is not an effective study guide. It is a ‘dictionary’ not a training tool. Understanding the Process Groups (Stages of Life Cycle) Process groups are defined by the activities they include. It is helpful to have a big picture view of where each of the process groups begins and ends. Initiation Initiation begins when someone in an organization has a project idea. The idea may be internally generated or may be the consequence of a contract with outside customers. There may be a statement of work outlining what is required. There may only be a vague idea based on the musings of senior management. Overlaid over top of the need for a project are the rules, regulations, and practices that determine how an indi- vidual company manages and selects projects. Initiation is complete when a project charter and preliminary scope statement have been prepared and a proj- ect manager has been assigned to the project. A project charter is an outline (with varying degrees of detail) of what the sponsors of the project expect the project to accomplish. It should define constraints and identify the major stakeholders involved. A preliminary scope statement is a detailed look at what exactly the project is expected to deliver. At this point there is little or no discussion of how--just what and why. The scope statement may include a review of constraints and their priority, such as a completion date and proposed budget. The preliminary scope statement is often prepared under the direction of the project manager. However, it may be prepared by the sponsors before the PM has been named. It is possible for a contract or statement of work to include all the necessary details that a preliminary scope statement requires. Initiation ends when there is a project manager and that project manager has been given the authority and direction necessary to begin planning. Planning Planning begins with the outputs of initiation (charter, preliminary scope statement, and project manager). Planning starts with a detailed idea and ends when the entire project has been completed on paper. That is, the entire project is dismantled into numerous discrete activities, and those activities have been budgeted and scheduled. At the end of planning, the entire project has been thought through: what will be done; how; in what order; and at what cost. The planning process is directed by the project manager. It is completed by the project team and stakeholders. Planning is complete when there is a project plan. The act of creating a project plan involves 21 separate management process incorporating all of the knowledge areas. For each knowledge area there is a manage- ment plan prepared as well as documents that detail what will be accomplished and how. Copyright ©2006 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. Page 7
  8. Formal project management plans are thick. They describe how and when activities will be undertaken as well as the procedures that will be followed to ensure the correct work is done in the correct order. The project plan states how the project will be run. Plan the work and then work the plan. Execution Execution cannot begin until there is a plan. Executing is the act of doing what it says to do in the plan. It is completed when all the work is completed. Controlling Controlling is the act of making sure that the work being executed complies with the plan. The objective is acceptance of deliverables by the customer. Controlling cannot start until there are work results generated by execution. Controlling involves monitoring completed work results to ensure that they match the plan and meet stakeholder expectations. If they do not, information is fed back to the execution processes so that corrective actions are taken. Controlling is complete when the final outputs of the project (deliverables) meet the prescribed quality stan- dards defined in the plan and are accepted by the customer. It ends at the same time as execution. Closing Closing ensures that an organization learns from its experience. An organization cannot get better at project management if it does not learn. Organizations learn by documenting what was learned--what went right and what went wrong--and making these documents available for reference on future projects. Closing begins deliverables are accepted. It involves making sure that all the necessary paperwork is complet- ed in terms of contract administration and sign off. It continues until a project archive has been compiled. This archive includes not only a complete set of project records but also a critical review of lessons learned. Proportions of Stages The figure below roughly illustrates the proportions of each stage in the project management life cycle. Initiating and closing are relatively brief. Planning involves the most management processes but takes up rela- tively little time compared to executing. Controlling is performed in proportion with execution activities. Copyright ©2006 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. Page 8
  9. Conclusion The PMBOK uses terminology that can be confusing. Understanding the working definitions of a few funda- mental terms makes the PMBOK a much more useful reference tool. The project management life cycle is a fundamental concept of project management according to the PMI. It is not the same as the project life cycle. The PMBOK divides the project management life cycle into five process groups. Process groups are made up of 44 separate management processes. Processes are further subdivided into nine knowledge areas. Armed with this information it is possible to put the structure of the PMBOK into perspective. The PMBOK is not organized so as to explain in logical sequence the processes as they would occur in a project. It is organ- ized according to knowledge area (something like alphabetical order) making it a very poor training tool and very confusing for those readers who are not warned. Consider yourself warned. Learn More Learn more about how you can improve productivity, enhance efficiency, and sharpen your competitive edge. Check out the following Global Knowledge courses: PMP Exam Prep Boot Camp For more information or to register, visit www.globalknowledge.com or call 1-866-925-7765 to speak with a sales representative. Our courses offer practical skills, exercises, and tips that you can immediately put to use. Our expert instructors draw upon their experiences to help you understand key concepts and how to apply them to your specific work situation. Choose from our more than 700 courses, delivered through Classrooms, e-Learning, and On-site sessions, to meet your IT, project management, and professional skills training needs. About the Author Brian Egan is CEO of a manufacturing company (Book Box Company) and a management consultant. He has written three professional development manuals and several white papers on aspects of management science. Since 2000, Brian has been a part-time instructor for Global Knowledge within the Management product lines. Copyright ©2006 Global Knowledge Training LLC. All rights reserved. Page 9

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