The AMA Handbook of Project Management

By Paul C. Dinsmore; Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin | Go to book overview
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Project Management Process Groups
Project Management Knowledge in Action


One often hears the project management profession’s standard, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), described as consisting of nine knowledge areas. What is left out of this description is the equally important segment of the standard that describes the processes used by the project manager to apply that knowledge appropriately. These processes can be effectively arranged in logical groups for ease of consistent application. These process groups— Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing—describe how a project manager integrates activities across the various knowledge areas as a project moves through its life cycle. So, while the knowledge areas of the standard describe what a project manager needs to know, the process groups describe what project managers must do—and in roughly what order.1

Historically, the definition of the processes that make up projects and project management was a tremendous milestone in the development of project management as a profession. Understanding the processes as described in the PMBOK® Guide is a first step in mastering project management. However, as the practice of this profession matures, our understanding of its processes also matures and evolves. This is reflected in the additions and changes made to successive editions of the standard over the years.

In the PMBOK® Guide, 2000 Edition, processes were divided into two classifications that were essentially only virtual


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