Process Groups in the PMP Exam

Each type of work you need to complete in real life has its own characteristics and needs time to be completed. The process groups of project management treat different kinds of work. As with project management, best practices in the industry dictate that these processes are categorized under predetermined groups.

There are project performance domains that are categorized according to the topics that are needed to be focused on. These performance domains have to be performed according to project management principles.

The processes carried out in a project can be hard to handle, also they can be hard to be correctly interpreted. Therefore in order to create a simpler understanding of what these processes are about and what are our objectives while carrying them out. In an indirect way for sure. 

The lifecycle of a project can be broken down into five distinct process groups that organize a project from start to finish. This decomposition is made by taking the famous Deming Cycle as a basis. Another categorization is knowledge areas which are made according to the common knowledge characteristics of processes.  Also, it is clear that process groups in PMP are simply pre-determined categories that are grouped according to the time interval the processes are performed. Actually, they simply describe what kind of process we have to cope with. 

If we take a high-level look at each of these process groups and how they depend on each other to guide the project to a successful finish, as a project manager we will gain a better understanding of project management as a whole. Process groups may be defined, as a logical grouping of the processes by taking into consideration their characteristics. Five process groups give us hints about which aspects can be considered in a thorough project management lifetime. Process groups aid us to organize the project work we perform as the project progresses and gives us a hand to stay in the correct direction of the project. Unfortunately, more and more days we see many projects with high potential, rolling into the stockade.

The concept of categorizing as process groups and knowledge areas is replaced by performance domains, project management principles, tailoring, and system for value delivery. Process groups are still there as a part of the models, methods, and artifacts section as a model that you can choose as a result of tailoring process according to the nature of the project. Therefore, the information here is still valid and useful.

5 Process Groups

Initiating: This process group is executed when the project is authorized by the sponsor and senior management. This group also encompasses when the project manager is chosen and high-level goals are set by the major stakeholders. This process group has all processes that are necessary to be performed to be able to give a start to a project or a stage by obtaining the necessary approval for the project and by granting authorization to the project manager. 

Planning: This is when we refine and define the project objectives and then plans. The steps necessary to achieve those objectives within the project scope is planned in the scope of this process group. This is when budgets are estimated timelines are set and the deliverable is defined. This process group consists of the processes necessary for defining the scope and objectives of the project and determining how, when, where, and with whom the necessary activities will be performed to be able to achieve the project's main goals and objectives.

Executing: Takes the project management plan and puts it into action. This is when all the project work gets done. During this process, resources are combined with the project management plan to carry out the plan for the project throughout the project lifecycle. In order to complete the activities previously defined in the project management plan all processes under this process group should be performed. The execution processes group is mostly used in the implementation stages of projects.

Monitoring and Controlling: Here we use multiple measurement methods and make sure that the project is on-time and on budget while still producing a quality deliverable. During the monitoring and controlling process, project change requests get approved or rejected. Defect repairs are approved and updates to the project scope and the project management plan are reviewed. This is the process group that is ultimately responsible for approving the final deliverables of the project after all the deliverables of the project are created. The processes concerning monitoring the progress of the project and evaluating their compliance compared with the original project management plan and suggesting corrective actions if necessary, form the monitoring and control process group. This set of controlling processes is heavily applied at all stages of project management.

Closing: Even if we controlled project outcomes beforehand, we still have to close the overall project and provide the deliverables to the customer. Vendors need to get paid and accounts need to be updated. It's during this process that the formal acceptance of the product or service is obtained from the customer. 
The processes which were performed to finalize all activities of all process groups at the official closing of the project or a stage are listed in this process group.