5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 3: Initiating Process Group

This next series of posts goes through the five process groups, but before I start on the Initiating Process Group, I would like to summarize some general points about the five process groups.

1. Project Management Process Groups

The PMBOK® Guide stresses that the process groups are not the same as life cycle phases. Phases are for the most part sequential, although they can be overlapping (or in rare cases, even parallel). Process groups are iterative, meaning there is a back-and-forth movement between various process groups during the course of the project.

2. Initiating Process Group—Purpose

The initiating process is for defining a new project or phase and for obtaining authorization to start the project. It aligns the stakeholders expectations with the project’s purpose, gives them visibility of the scope and objectives, and demonstrates to them how their participation in the project can ensure those expectations are achieved.

3. Initiating Process Group—Components

What are the activities done in the Initiating Process Group?

A project manager is selected. That manager needs to understand the general company culture and external forces such as regulations. That manager needs to see if the project is new or similar to ones that have done before. If similar to ones done before, the historical records of those projects will need to be consulted. If new or complex, the project may be divided into phases.

Next the project charter must be created. One of the components of this charter is the business case, which states what the project will create, and why the company is going to undertake the project. What need will it fulfill, both externally (e.g., market demand) and internally (profit or return on investment)? Then the specific objectives and success criteria for the project are determined, and the constraints of time and cost (schedule and budget) within which the project must be completed are identified.

All these elements go into the project charter, which is then reviewed by the sponsor, who then will authorize the project to be done, which then releases the financial resources to be able to complete the project.

Another crucial element of the Initiating Process Group is identifying stakeholders and developing a strategy for managing their expectations. Different stakeholders will have different levels of involvement depending on their interest in the project and their level of authority over it.

Fig. 1 Steps of Initiating Process Group

Category Explanation
1. Authority The project manager is selected.
2. EEF Company culture + external cultural/political constraints (regulations, etc.) considered
3. OPA Historical records consulted (if similar project was done before)
4. Life Cycle Project may be broken up into phases if new or complex
5. Stakeholders Internal, external stakeholders identified, stakeholder management strategy developed
6. Business Need Reason for doing project identified: external (demand) + internal (profit)
7. Scope Initial scope defined (high-level requirements)
8. Objectives Project objectives, success criteria defined
9. Budget, schedule High-level budget, schedule constraints determined
10. Project Charter Project charter produced: contains elements 6, 7, 8, 9
11. Approval Sponsor approval of Project Charter commits financial resources to project

These steps are not necessarily chronological in order, although I tried to list them thematically so that they could be better understood. That is why all the elements that comprise the project charter are listed before the project charter itself.

The next post will deal with the Planning Process Group.

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