Successful project management requires a precise set of skills, knowledge, flexibility, and creative problem-solving. Seasoned project managers know that along with years of experience comes a greater understanding of the complex interrelationships between all parts of a project from set-up to completion.
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) provides a best-practice approach to tackling project management challenges across the industry at all professional levels. The integrative approach of five essential process groups, also referred to as the traditional approach to project management, yields positive results for project leaders who take the time to understand how the five different process groups overlap and support success throughout all phases of the project.
Leading effective projects requires not only strong general leadership skills, but also a methodological and responsive set of core processes and abilities. Success on one project can be duplicated in subsequent projects and may lead to more contacts and additional opportunities. While no two projects will be identical, mastering a standard set of industry-wide processes can leverage more effective project management strategies and can yield to increased professional advancement.
The five PMBOK® process groups outline the necessary competencies that must be achieved in order to secure the most effective use of project resources. These five essential areas or process groups are:
Initiating Process Group
The initiating process group involves the processes, activities, and skills needed to effectively define the beginning of a project. Setting all permits, authorizations, and initial work orders in place to secure an effective and logical progression of initial project activities sets the stage for subsequent success throughout all project phases. Setting clear phases for work to be completed, initializing teams, and having the budget in place before work begins are vital for a strong start to any project across industry.
Planning Process Group
The Planning Process Group sets forth the processes needed to define the scope of the project, set strategic plans in place to maximize workflow, and begin to assemble priority lists and plan team needs. This process group also addresses a more narrow clarification of all project goals and expectations and puts in place the project infrastructure necessary to achieve those goals according to the timeline and budgetary constraints.
Executing Process Group
The executing process group involves managing teams effectively while orchestrating timeline expectations and reaching benchmark goals. Project managers utilizing this set of skills will demonstrate a high degree of organization and communication skills while addressing team concerns or other complex situations associated with getting the work done on time and within budget.
Monitoring and Control Process Group
Processing change orders, addressing on-going budget considerations, and mitigating unforeseen circumstances that may affect a team’s ability to meet initial project expectations are all part of the core skills and competencies involved in the Monitoring Process Group. Seasoned managers keep the momentum moving forward and guard the project against stalling by actively monitoring progress and using foresight and quick response to address project challenges.
Closing Process Group
Bringing a project to a successful close on time and within budget is no small feat. The Closing Process Group addresses the culmination of strong project management skills demonstrated throughout the other interrelated processes that guided the project. Following through to close all aspects of the process and submitting necessary paperwork on time is just as important as all other skills and processes. Good closure brings great reviews and can increase future word of mouth referrals.
For project managers committed to upholding the highest standards, the protocol contained within the PMBOK® Guide contains vital information for leading effective projects in any industry. For project managers looking to set themselves apart from other leaders in the field, developing advanced project management skills through ongoing professional development including increased competency with PMBOK® process groups can help leverage the competitive edge.
To the outside world, a smooth project may seem like a stroke of luck. To those that understand the intricacies of project management core competencies, the “luck” is a reproducible duo of knowledge and skills that can be applied over and over. Understanding project management as an interrelated set of dynamic skills and progressive knowledge can help professionals build a long and illustrious career. The PMBOK® sets forth a detailed outline for project management success for those willing to invest the time into finessing these vital career skills.
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