When I started my PMP exam preparation, I had difficulty understanding the difference between a process group and a knowledge area. Every PMP aspirant is confused about this in their initial stage of preparation.
You may also wonder why the PMBOK is not organized according to process groups.
These questions bothered me also.
Now, I have passed the exam and I understand these issues. Therefore, I am writing this blog post to explain my knowledge to you.
(Please refer to page 25 of the PMBOK Guide, 6th edition, if you have access to it. It will help you follow this blog post.)
The project management process groups are logical categorization activities that are organized in the way that projects are performed.
For example, to complete a project, you go through the following processes:
- You initiate the project, including developing and approving the project charter.
- The second step is creating a project management plan.
- The third stage is to execute the project. This is where you will spend most of your time and money.
- Monitoring and controlling is a process that happens throughout the project life cycle.
- Closing the project is the last step. Here, you close all procurement contracts, update the lessons learned, and release the team.
So, you can see that the PMI has arranged the process groups in the way that the activities happen. The order for these activities is: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. You need all these process group to complete the project.
Now, you may wonder about the knowledge areas and how they are grouped. You might be wondering if there is any relationship between knowledge areas or between knowledge areas and process groups.
Let’s discuss them as well.
Knowledge areas are group processes that have common knowledge characteristics.
For instance, assume that you are developing your project plan.
Here, you will use two processes to calculate the budget: estimate costs and determine the budget.
Next is the monitoring and controlling process. Here, control cost is the process to control the project costs.
Let’s take a look at the processes of estimate costs, determine budget, and control cost.
The first two belong to the planning process group, and the third belongs to the monitoring and controlling group.
Do you see anything that these processes have in common?
Yes, they all concern the cost.
Therefore, these processes are under the cost management knowledge area of the PMBOK Guide, even though they belong to different process groups.
Likewise, if you look at these processes:
- Plan quality process
- Perform quality assurance process
- Perform quality control process
You will notice that:
- Plan quality is a member of the planning process group
- Perform quality assurance is a member of the executing process group
- Perform quality control is a member of the monitoring and controlling process group
Now tell me, don’t they involve the same thing—quality?
Although they belong to different process groups, they are related to the quality of the project, so they are called the project quality management knowledge area.
So, you can see that there is no logical relationship between the knowledge areas. Knowledge areas are grouped according to the skill required to manage that particular process.
Moreover, there is no relationship between knowledge area and process group.
The PMI has organized the PMBOK Guide according to the knowledge areas to ease the process of acquiring the skills. Processes are grouped according to their similarities, logical categorizations of processes in the way that a project moves from initiation to closing.
Are you still having doubts regarding process groups and knowledge areas? Please let me know through the comments section and I will try to answer you.