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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chapter 5: Understanding a Process

In the previous chapter we learnt what progressive elaboration is. At the end of it, we saw that every project needs to follow a set of processes. In this chapter, we are going to understand them in detail.

So, lets get started!!!

What is a Process?

Processes are the heart of project management. If you want to think of project management like a project management professional, think in terms of processes. Almost everything in the world of project management is done through processes. Any good project manager respects and follows the processes properly. In the short term, skipping a process might sound like a time saving option but the reality is, following them would give you more benefits than the time you save by skipping them.

To understand more about processes, we must first define them. Look around you, you will see processes everywhere, not only in project management. For example, if you want to make an egg omlette, you first let the pan heat up in the stove, sprinkle a little oil on it, crack open the egg and beat it with salt and pepper in a bowl, add a little onions for taste and then pour the beat up egg in the pan. You let it cook for a minute and then flip it over until both sides are a golden brown. And voila, a tasty omlette is ready for you to eat.

Here, the pan is the tool and how you make the omlette is the process. The output is a plate of fresh egg omlettes for you to feast on.

So, a process is a set of interrelated activities performed to obtain a specified result.

Every process has 3 elements:

• Input
• Tools
• Techniques

In our case:

• Oil, salt, pepper, onions and egg are the inputs
• The frying pan and the stove are the tools
• The cooked omlette is the final output



This is just a real-life simple example of a process. You would be using so many processes in real life without even realizing the fact.

Processes in Project Management:

In project management, you use processes to accomplish things like developing a project schedule, directing and managing project execution, developing and managing the project team and so on…

From the project management perspective, the 3 elements of a process would be:

Input - The input to a process consists of the raw data that is needed to start the process. For example, the list of activities that need to be scheduled is one of several input items to the process that will be used to develop the schedule of a project.
Tools and techniques - Tools and techniques are the methods used to operate on the input to transform it into output. For example, project management software that helps to develop a schedule is a tool used in the schedule development process.
Output - The output is the outcome or the result of a process. Each process contains at least one output item; otherwise, there would be no point in performing a process. For example, an output item of the schedule development process is, well, the project schedule.

Now that you understand what a process is, you likely realize that you will be using different processes at the different stages of a project, such as planning and execution.

Every project has a lifecyle and you will be using numerous processes as part of each of those stages in a projects lifecycle. This is what you will be learning in the next chapter…

Previous: Progressive Elaboration

Next: Project Lifecycle

2 comments:

  1. why does PMBOK say this?

    ...all of the Process Groups would be normally be repeated for each phase or sub project.

    Doesn't some Process Groups or processes only apply to certain phase. Why repeat all the Process groups for all the phases?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @ Anonymous
      The PMBOK is talking about cases where a project is split into multiple phases and in each of those phases, the whole lifecycle happens. In such cases, the process groups are normally repeated for each of those phases. In some cases a single project is split into multiple sub-projects and the same applies here as well.

      They are not talking about executing all the process groups for phases like initiation or execution.

      So, the PMBOK is right. Hope this clarifies

      Delete

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