There are five process groups according to PMI. They are Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing.
All groups contain a total of 44 project management processes of which 21 are located in the planning group. That doesn’t necessarily make this group the most important or most time consuming but it makes the group the most comprehensive group that covers all of the nine knowledge management areas.
In this article I will cover all the processes that goes into the planning group. I will not cover each process in detail but rather show the overall concept of the planning process group and what sequence the processes are executed in.
The order in which the planning processes are executed is determined by how the outputs of those planning processes are used. Most of the time the outputs are used as inputs in subsequent planning processes thus there is a natural order all the processes should be executed in.
The project management plan is covered under the Integration Management knowledge area and essentially covers all the plans from all knowledge areas including baselines and risk registers (see link).
The process of Scope Planning is about developing a plan that serves as your guidebook to the other scope processes. A common mistake is to plan the scope of the product here, but instead we plan how to conduct the scope gathering, definition, monitoring and control and verification for the entire project.
Based on the preliminary project scope statement we will work to gain additional detail of the scope by doing analysis and design sessions. This process actually produces a detailed project scope and is used to create the WBS (see below).
The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a complete and very detailed decomposition of the entire scope in to small work packages that are easy to estimate for time, cost and activities. (see link)
Using the WBS we now decompose each work package into activities needed to complete each package.
Once we have defined all the activities we need to put them into the correct sequence. We also need to make sure that activities that depend on other activities being finished are executed as soon as possible after the end of the previous activity. There are much more to this process and some is partially covered by my article about critical paths (See Link).
In this process we estimate how many resources (people and purchases) each activity requires. This is later used as an input into Cost Estimating.
Here we estimate how long each activity will take.
Here we use the outputs from all the previously planned processes and develop the project schedule. The project schedule is one of the most visible and important parts of the project plan and is often mistakenly referred to as the project plan. The schedule is part of the project plan but is not the project plan.
Each activity is analyzed to evaluate the time and resource estimates to establish a good cost estimate.
The budget is also known as a cost baseline. The cost baseline takes the estimated cost and maps it back to the calendar to allow us to plan for cash flow and expenses.
In this process we are planning how to make sure that the resulting product is of acceptable quality. See this article about quality management in IT projects.
Here we plan how we will staff, manage, team-build, assess and improve the project team.
This process is about how communication will be distributed and updated including the format of the communication. We also plan which stakeholders should receive the communication.
I think you now get the idea about what we do in the planning processes. In this process we plan how we are going to handle risks in all risk processes.
Here we identify the risks that we the project can encounter. Most think of risks as negative but some risks can also have a positive outcome. As project managers we tend to focus mostly on the negative risks since they can jeopardize the project outcome but some risks can have a good outcome. The output is a risk register that is an important part of the project management plan.
In this process we prioritize the risks of the project and update the risk register.
Here we will try to quantify the risk by assigning a projected value if the risk should occur. We want to know what the cost potentially could be to the project in case each risk would occur.
Here we create a detailed plan what we will do if a risk should occur.
In this process we plan how we are going to purchase resources or products to the project. Since purchasing can happen during the entire project we may often come back to this process and plan accordingly.
Here we create requests for proposals and send them out to potential sellers.
In order to complete a successful implementation of a project we must be good at planning. Not all projects may need all the planning processes I mention above, but use this as a checklist for the project planning and include what applies to your project to ensure that you have planned the best you could before the project starts to execute.