Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chapter 7: Project Management Knowledge Areas

In the previous chapter, we saw the project lifecycle in detail. In this chapter, we are going to take a look at the Project Management Knowledge Areas.

So, lets get started!!!

Project Management Knowledge Areas

Managing projects requires applying knowledge, skills, and tools and techniques to project activities in order to meet the project objectives. You do this by performing some processes at various stages of the project, as discussed in the previous chapter. That means processes are part of the knowledge required to manage projects. Each aspect of a project is managed by using the corresponding knowledge area. For example, each project has a scope that needs to be managed, and the knowledge required to manage scope is in the knowledge area called project scope management. To perform the project work within the project scope, you need human resources, which need to be managed; the knowledge used to manage human resources is called human resource management.

I guess, by now you have a fair idea of where we are getting to.

Each process belongs to one of the nine knowledge areas:
1. Scope Management
2. Time Management
3. Cost Management
4. Human Resource Management
5. Procurement Management
6. Risk Management
7. Quality Management
8. Integration Management &
9. Communication Management

Each knowledge area has its own place in the project lifecycle and they are all equally important from a project managers point of view. In practical experience you might fine one or more areas to have a greater impact on the outcome of the project, but nonetheless they are all important and play a vital role in the success or failure of a project.

Let us now look at each of these knowledge areas in detail…

Project scope management

The primary purpose of project scope management is to ensure that all the required work and only the required work is performed to complete the project successfully. This is accomplished by defining and controlling what is included in the project and what is not.

Project scope management includes the following:

1. Collect requirements - Collect the requirements for the project based on the stakeholders’ needs, which will determine the project scope.
2. Define scope - Develop the description for the project and its products, which is the basis for the project scope.
3. Create the work breakdown structure (WBS) - Decompose the project deliverables into smaller, more manageable work components. The outcome of this exercise is called the work breakdown structure.
4. Verify scope - Plan how the completed deliverables of the project will be accepted.
5. Control scope - Control changes to the project scope—only the approved changes to the scope should be implemented.
Obviously, these components are performed by using the corresponding processes. So, project scope management, in part, defines the work required to complete the project. It’s a finite amount of work and will require a finite amount of time and resources. These need to be managed as well. The other knowledge areas cover them.

Project time management

The primary purpose of project time management is to develop and control the project schedule. Any project has a timeline by which it is expected to be completed and a well managed project is expected to complete by the set timelines.

This is accomplished by performing the following components:

1. Define activities - Identify all the work activities that need to be scheduled to produce the project deliverables.
2. Sequence activities - Identify the dependencies among the activities that need to be scheduled so that they can be scheduled in the correct order.
3. Estimate activity resources - For each schedule activity, estimate the types of resources needed and the quantity for each type.
4. Estimate activity durations - Estimate the time needed to complete each schedule activity.
5. Develop schedule - Analyze the data created in the previous steps to develop the schedule.
6. Control schedule - Control changes to the project schedule.

Even though project time management takes care of all requisite parameters to manage the timelines of a project effectively, in reality you might find that the project managers are running around like headless chickens trying to get the project completed on time. This usually happens almost always. As an efficient manager, we should ensure that we don't become one of those headless chickens.

Project cost management

The primary goal of project cost management is to estimate the cost and to complete the project within the approved budget. This is one of the important activities because our bosses wouldn't approve if we exceed our approved budgets and it might have severe repercussions. Not to mention, finishing a project within budget with money to spare will always help you during your own appraisal!

Cost management includes the following components:

1. Estimate cost - Develop the cost of the resources needed to complete the project, which includes schedule activities and outsourced/procured work.
2. Determine budget - Aggregate the costs of individual activities to establish a cost baseline that includes timing.
3. Control cost - Monitor and control the cost variance in the project execution. i.e., the difference between the planned cost and actual cost during execution, as well as changes to the project budget.

The resources needed to complete the project activities include human resources, which need to be managed as well.

Project human resource management

The primary purpose of project human resource management is to obtain, develop, and manage the project team that will perform the actual project work.

Project human resource management includes the following components:

1. Develop human resources plan - Identify project roles, responsibilities for each role, and reporting relationships among the roles. Also, create the staff management plan that describes when and how the resource requirements will be met.
2. Acquire project team - Obtain the human resources needed to work on the project.
3. Develop project team. Improve the competencies of the team members and the interaction among members to optimize the team performance.
4. Manage project team - Track the performance of team members, provide them with feedback, and resolve issues and conflicts. This should all be done with the goal to enhance performance i.e., to complete the project on time and within the planned cost and scope. There should be no favoritism or partiality while resolving conflicts.

There will be situations in which your organization does not have the expertise to perform certain schedule activities in-house. For this or for several other reasons, you might want to acquire some items or services from a vendor Ex: Servers from IBM. This kind of acquisition is called procurement, which also needs to be managed.

Project procurement management

The primary purpose of procurement management is to manage acquiring products (that is, products, services, or results) from outside the project team in order to complete the project. The external vendor who offers the service is called the seller.

Procurement management includes the following:

1. Plan procurements - Identify purchasing needs, specify the procurement approach, and identify potential sellers.
2. Conduct procurements - Obtain seller responses, select sellers, and issue contracts.
3. Administer procurements - Manage procurement relationships, monitor the procurement performance, and monitor and control changes in procurement.
4. Close procurements - Complete each procurement with proper closure, such as accepting products and closing contracts.

Project Risk Management:

Any work, that is done will always have some uncertainties that give rise to project risks, which need to be managed. A project risk is an event that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on meeting the project objectives. The primary purpose of project risk management is to identify the risks and respond to them should they occur.

Project risk management includes the following:

1. Plan risk management - Decide how to determine and execute the risk management tasks.
2. Identify risks - Identify the potential risks relevant to the project at hand and determine the characteristics of those risks.
3. Perform qualitative risk analysis - Assess the probability of occurrence and the impact for each risk in order to prioritize risks for an action or for further analysis.
4. Perform quantitative risk analysis - Estimate the effects of identified risks on project objectives.
5. Plan risk responses - Develop action options for risks to maximize opportunities for and minimize threats to satisfying project objectives.
6. Monitor and control risks - Track identified risks, implement risk response plans, identify new risks, and evaluate the effectiveness of risk management processes throughout the project.

The goal of risk management is to help meet the project objectives and to help avoid/handle situations that might compromise the project schedule or outcome.

Project quality management

Project quality is defined as the degree to which a project satisfies its objectives and requirements. For example, a high-quality project is a project that is completed on time and with all the work in the project scope completed within the planned budget.

Project quality management includes the following:

1. Plan quality - Determine the quality requirements and standards that are relevant to the project at hand and how to apply them.
2. Perform quality assurance - Ensure the planned quality requirements and standards are applied.
3. Perform quality control - Monitor the quality activities and record the results of these activities in order to assess performance and make necessary recommendations for corrective actions and changes.

Project integration management

The project is initiated, planned, and executed in pieces, and all those pieces are related to each other and need to come together. That is where integration management comes in. For example, integrating different subsidiary plans into the project management plan needs to be managed. Project integration management includes developing the project charter, developing the project management plan, directing and managing project execution, monitoring and controlling project work, performing integrated change control, and closing the project or a phase of a project.

While managing all the aspects of the project, you as the project manager, will need to coordinate different activities and groups, and for that you need to communicate.

Project communication management

It is absolutely mandatory for the success of the project that the project information is generated and distributed in a timely fashion and to all the stakeholders involved. Experienced managers would say communication is the most important aspect of a project and the most important skill a project manager must have. Without any doubt, communication management is certainly a critical component of project management and a common thread that runs through the project lifecycle.

Communication management includes the following:

1. Identify stakeholders - Identify all individuals, groups, and organizations that will potentially be impacted by the project and find relevant information about them.
2. Plan communication - Determine the information and communication needs of the project at hand and the communication approach to be used.
3. Distribute information - Make the needed information available to the project stakeholders in a timely fashion as planned.
4. Manage stakeholder expectations - Communicate and work with the stakeholders to understand and meet their needs, address the issues, and manage the expectations within the project scope and the project management plan.
5. Report performance - Collect and distribute performance information to the stakeholders to stay on the same page.

As you can see, managing a project involves performing a set of processes at the various stages of the project. Accordingly, processes are grouped corresponding to these stages and the groups are called process groups.

Processes are part of the knowledge required to manage projects. Each of these processes belongs to one of the nine knowledge areas identified in the PMBOK Guide. So a process has a dual membership—one in a process group, indicating at what stage of the project the process is performed, and the other in a knowledge area, indicating what aspect of the project is managed by using the process.

Below is a table that relates these two aspects:

Knowledge Areas Initiating Process Group Planning Process Group Executing Process Group Monitoring and Controlling ProcessGroup Closing Process Group
Communications Management Identify Stakeholders Plan Communications Distribute Information Manage Stakeholders’ Expectations Report Performance N/A*
Cost Management N/A* 1. Estimate Costs
2. Determine Budget
N/A* Control Cost N/A*
Human Resource Management N/A* Develop Human Resource Plan 1. Acquire Project Team
2. Develop Project Team
3. Manage Project Team
N/A* N/A*
Integration Management Develop Project Charter Develop Project Management Plan Direct and Manage Project Execution 1. Monitor and Control Project Work
2. Perform Integrated Change Control
Close project or Phase
Procurement Management N/A* Plan Procurements Conduct Procurements Administer Procurements Close Procurements
Quality Management N/A* Plan Quality Perform Quality Assurance Perform Quality Control N/A*
Risk Management N/A* 1. Plan Risk Management
2. Identify Risks
3. Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis
4. Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis
5. Plan Risk Responses
N/A* Monitor and Control Risks N/A*
Scope Management N/A* 1. Collect Requirements
2. Define Scope
3. Create Work Breakdown Structure
N/A* 1. Verify Scope
2. Control Scope
Time Management N/A* 1. Define Activities
2. Sequence Activities
3. Estimate Activity Resources
4. Estimate Activity Durations
5. Develop Schedule
N/A* Control Schedule N/A*
*N/A – Not Applicable

Now that we know all the processes involved in project management, we will next take a look at the Project Stakeholders.

Previous: Project Lifecycle

Next: Project Stakeholders

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