3.4 Planning Process Group – A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), Fifth Edition

3.4 Planning Process Group

The Planning Process Group consists of those processes performed to establish the total scope of the effort, define and refine the objectives, and develop the course of action required to attain those objectives. The Planning processes develop the project management plan and the project documents that will be used to carry out the project. The complex nature of project management may require the use of repeated feedback loops for additional analysis. As more project information or characteristics are gathered and understood, additional planning will likely be required. Significant changes occurring throughout the project life cycle trigger a need to revisit one or more of the planning processes and possibly some of the initiating processes. This progressive detailing of the project management plan is called progressive elaboration, indicating that planning and documentation are iterative and ongoing activities. The key benefit of this Process Group is to delineate the strategy and tactics as well as the course of action or path to successfully complete the project or phase. When the Planning Process Group is well managed, it is much easier to get stakeholder buy-in and engagement. These processes express how this will be done, setting the route to the desired objective.

The project management plan and project documents developed as outputs from the Planning Process Group will explore all aspects of the scope, time, cost, quality, communications, human resources, risks, procurements, and stakeholder engagement.

Updates arising from approved changes during the project (generally during Monitoring and Controlling processes and specifically during the Direct and Manage Project Work Process) may significantly impact parts of the project management plan and the project documents. Updates to these documents provide greater precision with respect to schedule, costs, and resource requirements to meet the defined project scope.

The project team seeks input and encourages involvement from all stakeholders when planning the project and developing the project management plan and project documents. While the act of collecting feedback and refining the documents cannot continue indefinitely, procedures set by the organization dictate when the initial planning ends. These procedures will be affected by the nature of the project, the established project boundaries, appropriate monitoring and controlling activities, as well as the environment in which the project will be performed.

Other interactions among the processes within the Planning Process Group are dependent upon the nature of the project. For example, for some projects there will be little or no identifiable risks until after a significant amount of planning has been done. At that time, the team might recognize that the cost and schedule targets are overly aggressive, thus involving considerably more risk than previously understood. The results of the iterations are documented as updates to the project management plan or to various project documents.