In my previous blog, I discussed some of the perils to avoid as a new project manager and now I’d like to begin to explain how we turn this herculean task of project management into something more manageable. Most complicated tasks become a lot simpler if you divide it down into smaller tasks and project management is no exception to that. So how do we do this?

  • The PMI (Project Management Institute) defines 47 processes which are commonly run on any project. 
  • Each process has inputs, outputs, tools and techniques to tell the project manager how to execute that process. 

Don’t panic!... and disappear to make a cup of tea - I’m not going to go into detail for each of the 47 processes, but each can be assigned to a process group and I’d like to describe them instead.

Every project is going to have a start and an end, and in the middle we’re going to want to do some actual project work. We’re also going to plan our project and be checking that our plans are working. Hence we have the following project process groups, and there are 5 of them:



This is the start of the project before we’ve even done the planning. In this process group we’re going to want to check that we have authorisation for the project and the budget has been approved. We’re also going to want to find out who are the people we’ll need to involve to make this project a success and identify what their individual goals are.


“Fail to plan, plan to fail” is the famous quip. In this process group we plan every aspect of the project from the scope, schedule and cost all the way through to stakeholder management. These are the project management knowledge areas which will be discussed in the next blog.


Here we will be doing the actual work of the project using the plan to guide us. The status will be communicated to the stakeholders and the information used in the next process group.

Monitoring and Controlling

This is the feedback group where the status of the execution is used to adjust the continuous planning.


Finally, at the end of the project we wish to close it. We want to make sure all the deliverables have been done and capture any Lessons Learned so that improvements can be learned for the next projects. 

In the following figure, we can see at what point during the duration of a project each of these process groups are active and the level of involvement.


Process Group Project Interaction

[Adapted from PMI PMBOK 5th Edition]


Important take-aways from this figure are that all project groups, besides initiating and closing, are active concurrently. The planning phase starts before executing and the amount of work spent planning the project is comparable with the amount of work in actually doing the project. This is why project managers never assign themselves tasks – they don’t have time to do them!

In my next blog, I will be looking at the 10 project management knowledge areas and their interaction with the process groups.

Andrew Miles PMP


Andrew Miles is a physical implementation engineer turned project manager working for Sondrel, an IC Design Services Consultancy.  He is PMP certified and has led many projects for a number of tier one companies.  He helps to run the Sondrel Project Management Office (PMO).  If you'd like to know how Sondrel's project managers can help your project then please contact