3. Project Management Processes – A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), Fifth Edition



Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. This application of knowledge requires the effective management of the project management processes.

A process is a set of interrelated actions and activities performed to create a pre-specified product, service, or result. Each process is characterized by its inputs, the tools and techniques that can be applied, and the resulting outputs. As explained in Section 2, the project manager needs to consider organizational process assets and enterprise environmental factors. These should be taken into account for every process, even if they are not explicitly listed as inputs in the process specification. Organizational process assets provide guidelines and criteria for tailoring the organization's processes to the specific needs of the project. Enterprise environmental factors may constrain the project management options.

In order for a project to be successful, the project team should:

  • Select appropriate processes required to meet the project objectives;
  • Use a defined approach that can be adapted to meet requirements;
  • Establish and maintain appropriate communication and engagement with stakeholders;
  • Comply with requirements to meet stakeholder needs and expectations; and
  • Balance the competing constraints of scope, schedule, budget, quality, resources, and risk to produce the specified product, service, or result.

The project processes are performed by the project team with stakeholder interaction and generally fall into one of two major categories:

  • Project management processes. These processes ensure the effective flow of the project throughout its life cycle. These processes encompass the tools and techniques involved in applying the skills and capabilities described in the Knowledge Areas (Sections 4 through 13).
  • Product-oriented processes. These processes specify and create the project's product. Product-oriented processes are typically defined by the project life cycle (as discussed in Section 2.4) and vary by application area as well as the phase of the product life cycle. The scope of the project cannot be defined without some basic understanding of how to create the specified product. For example, various construction techniques and tools need to be considered when determining the overall complexity of the house to be built.

The PMBOK® Guide describes only the project management processes. Although product-oriented processes are outside the scope of this document, they should not be ignored by the project manager and project team. Project management processes and product-oriented processes overlap and interact throughout the life of a project.

Project management processes apply globally and across industry groups. Good practice means there is general agreement that the application of project management processes has been shown to enhance the chances of success over a wide range of projects. Good practice does not mean that the knowledge, skills, and processes described should always be applied uniformly on all projects. For any given project, the project manager, in collaboration with the project team, is always responsible for determining which processes are appropriate, and the appropriate degree of rigor for each process.

Project managers and their teams should carefully address each process and its inputs and outputs and determine which are applicable to the project they are working on. The PMBOK® Guide may be used as a resource in managing a project while considering the overall approach and methodology to be followed for the project. This effort is known as tailoring.

Project management is an integrative undertaking that requires each project and product process to be appropriately aligned and connected with the other processes to facilitate coordination. Actions taken during one process typically affect that process and other related processes. For example, a scope change typically affects project cost, but it may not affect the communications management plan or level of risk. These process interactions often require tradeoffs among project requirements and objectives, and the specific performance tradeoffs will vary from project to project and organization to organization. Successful project management includes actively managing these interactions to meet sponsor, customer, and other stakeholder requirements. In some circumstances, a process or set of processes will need to be iterated several times in order to achieve the required outcome.

Projects exist within an organization and do not operate as a closed system. They require input data from the organization and beyond, and deliver capabilities back to the organization. The project processes may generate information to improve the management of future projects and organizational process assets.

The PMBOK® Guide describes the nature of project management processes in terms of the integration between the processes, their interactions, and the purposes they serve. Project management processes are grouped into five categories known as Project Management Process Groups (or Process Groups):

  • Initiating Process Group. Those processes performed to define a new project or a new phase of an existing project by obtaining authorization to start the project or phase.
  • Planning Process Group. Those processes required to establish the scope of the project, refine the objectives, and define the course of action required to attain the objectives that the project was undertaken to achieve.
  • Executing Process Group. Those processes performed to complete the work defined in the project management plan to satisfy the project specifications.
  • Monitoring and Controlling Process Group. Those processes required to track, review, and regulate the progress and performance of the project; identify any areas in which changes to the plan are required; and initiate the corresponding changes.
  • Closing Process Group. Those processes performed to finalize all activities across all Process Groups to formally close the project or phase.

The remainder of this section provides information for project management of a single project organized as a network of interlinked processes, details the project management processes, and includes the following major sections:

3.1 Common Project Management Process Interactions

3.2 Project Management Process Groups

3.3 Initiating Process Group

3.4 Planning Process Group

3.5 Executing Process Group

3.6 Monitoring and Controlling Process Group

3.7 Closing Process Group

3.8 Project Information

3.9 Role of the Knowledge Areas