The Project Management Planning Process Group
There are five process groups according to PMI. They are Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing.
All groups contain a total of 44 project management processes of which 21 are located in the planning group. That doesn’t necessarily make this group the most important or most time consuming but it makes the group the most comprehensive group that covers all of the nine knowledge management areas (link).
In this article I will cover all the processes that goes into the planning group. I will not cover each process in detail but rather show the overall concept of the planning process group and what sequence the processes are executed in.
The order in which the planning processes are executed is determined by how the outputs of those planning processes are used. Most of the time the outputs are used as inputs in subsequent planning processes thus there is a natural order all the processes should be executed in.
1. Develop Project Management Plan
The project management plan is covered under the Integration Management knowledge area and essentially covers all the plans from all knowledge areas including baselines and risk registers (see link).
2. Scope Planning
The process of Scope Planning is about developing a plan that serves as your guidebook to the other scope processes. A common mistake is to plan the scope of the product here, but instead we plan how to conduct the scope gathering, definition, monitoring and control and verification for the entire project.
3. Scope Definition
Based on the preliminary project scope statement we will work to gain additional detail of the scope by doing analysis and design sessions. This process actually produces a detailed project scope and is used to create the WBS (see below).
4. Create Work Breakdown Structure
The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a complete and very detailed decomposition of the entire scope in to small work packages that are easy to estimate for time, cost and activities (link).
5. Activity Definition
Using the WBS we now decompose each work package into activities needed to complete each package.
6. Activity Sequencing
Once we have defined all the activities we need to put them into the correct sequence. We also need to make sure that activities that depend on other activities being finished are executed as soon as possible after the end of the previous activity. There are much more to this process and some is partially covered by my article about critical paths (Link).
7. Activity Resource Estimating
In this process we estimate how many resources (people and purchases) each activity requires. This is later used as an input into Cost Estimating.
8. Activity Duration Estimating
Here we estimate how long each activity will take.
9. Schedule Development
Here we use the outputs from all the previously planned processes and develop the project schedule. The project schedule is one of the most visible and important parts of the project plan and is often mistakenly referred to as the project plan. The schedule is part of the project plan but is not the project plan.
10. Cost Estimating
Each activity is analyzed to evaluate the time and resource estimates to establish a good cost estimate.
11. Cost Budgeting
The budget is also known as a cost baseline. The cost baseline takes the estimated cost and maps it back to the calendar to allow us to plan for cash flow and expenses.
12. Quality Planning
In this process we are planning how to make sure that the resulting product is of acceptable quality. See this article about quality management in IT projects.
Human Resource Management
13. Human Resource Planning
Here we plan how we will staff, manage, team-build, assess and improve the project team.
14. Communications Planning
This process is about how communication will be distributed and updated including the format of the communication. We also plan which stakeholders should receive the communication.
15. Risk Management Planning
I think you know get the idea about what we do in the planning processes. In this process we plan how we are going to handle risks in all risk processes.
16. Risk Identification
Here we identify the risks that we the project can encounter. Most think of risks as negative but some risks can also have a positive outcome. As project managers we tend to focus mostly on the negative risks since they can jeopardize the project outcome but some risks can have a good outcome. The output is a risk register that is an important part of the project management plan.
17. Qualitative Risk Analysis
In this process we prioritize the risks of the project and update the risk register.
18. Quantitative Risk Analysis
Here we will try to quantify the risk by assigning a projected value if the risk should occur. We want to know what the cost potentially could be to the project in case each risk would occur.
19. Risk Response Plan
Here we create a detailed plan what we will do if a risk should occur.
20. Plan Purchases & Acquisitions
In this process we plan how we are going to purchase resources or products to the project. Since purchasing can happen during the entire project we may often come back to this process and plan accordingly.
21. Plan Contracting
Here we create requests for proposals and send them out to potential sellers.
In order to complete a successful implementation of a project we must be good at planning. Not all projects may need all the planning processes I mention above, but use this as a checklist for the project planning and include what applies to your project to ensure that you have planned the best you could before the project starts to execute.