5th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Memorizing the Processes: Step 3 (Time Knowledge Area)


1.   Introduction

In the last post, I discussed the processes in the Scope Knowledge Area, which is covered in Chapter 5 of the 5th Edition PMBOK® Guide.   In this post, I will discuss the processes in the Time Knowledge Area, which is covered in Chapter 6.

Here are the 47 processes of project management; the chart indicates how many are in each knowledge area and process group.

Initiating Planning Executing Monitoring & Controlling Closing
Integration 6

1

1

1

2

1

Scope 6

4

2

Time 7

6

1

Cost 4

3

1

Quality 3

1

1

1

Human Resources 4

1

3

Communications 3

1

1

1

Risk 6

5

1

Procurements 4

1

1

1

1

Stakeholder 4      1

1

1

1

 47

2

24

8

11

2

2.  Time Management knowledge area

Here’s the portion of the above matrix of 47 processes that lists the processes in the Time Management knowledge area, which is covered in chapter 6 of the 5th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide.

Knowledge Area Total # of Processes Initiating Planning Executing Monitoring & Controlling Closing
Time

7

6

1

Here’s a description of the seven processes that are included in the Time Knowledge Area.    The process descriptions are taken from the the PMBOK® Guide.

Process Group Process Number Process Name Process Description
Planning 6.1. Plan Schedule Management Establishes policies and procedures and documentation related to the project schedule.
6.2 Define Activities Identifies and document specific actions (activities) to be performed the product deliverables.
6.3 Sequence Activities Identifies and documents relationships among project activities.
6.4 Estimate Activity Resources Estimates the amount of resources (material, people, equipment, or supplies) required to perform the project activities.
6.5 Estimate Activity Durations Estimates the number of work periods needed to complete project activities.
6.6 Develop Schedule Analyzes project activity sequences, durations, resource requirements and schedule constraints to create the project schedule model.
Monitoring & Controlling 6.7 Control Schedule Monitors the status of project activities to update the progress of the project with respect to the schedule baseline, and to manage any changes needed to achieve the plan.

Let’s take a closer look at the process descriptions.   I think if you pay attention to the essence of what each process is, you will see how they flow from one to the other.

6.1  Plan Schedule Management

As mentioned in the last post, for all of the knowledge areas, the first planning process is going to create the management plan associated with that area.    In this case, the process will create the Schedule Management Plan, which outlines all of the guidelines and processes for doing all of the other processes, not just the planning processes but the process that is in the monitoring & controlling process group as well (6.7 Control Schedule).    One of the important elements of that management plan will be the schedule baseline, which will be the ultimate product of the last of the planning processes, 6.6 Develop Schedule.   But to get to that last planning process, you need to go through four other planning processes.

That is why, out of all of the knowledge areas, the Time or Schedule Management knowledge area has the most processes of all (7).

6.2 Define Activities

The last planning process for the previous knowledge area, that of Scope Management, is 5.4 Create WBS, which is the process of breaking down the project work down, from deliverables to work packages, the individual units of the work breakdown structure.    Work packages are nouns, which tell you what you are supposed to produce (the end product).

This process Define Activities takes those nouns, the work packages, and lists the activities you will need to do in order to accomplish those work packages.    Activities are verbs, which tell you what you are supposed to do (the process).

6.3 Sequence Activities

Okay, you have a list of activities.   In what order to you do them?   Are there are activities that specifically need to be done BEFORE others.   Do you have to do them all one after another (series relationship), or can you some of them simultaneously (parallel relationship), assuming you have the resources to do so.   By the time you are done, you know WHAT needs to be done (the output of 6.2 Define Activities) and in WHAT ORDER (the output of 6.3 Sequence Activities.

6.4 Estimate Activity Resources

How long will the project take to complete the activities in the order you have determined?   Before you can answer that question, you need the answer to two more questions, the first of which is answered by this process:   what resources do you have available to complete the activities.     The answer to this question is the output of this process 6.4 Estimate Activity Resources.

6.5 Estimate Activity Durations

The second question you need to answer before getting to the ultimate question of “how long will the project take” is answered by this process:   given the resources you determined in process 6.4 Estimate Activity Resources, how long will each activity take in terms of work periods (usually in terms of 8-hour work days, but this can vary).

6.6 Develop Schedule

If you combine all of the outputs for the previous planning processes, you get the activity resources (6.4) applied to the sequence of activities (6.2 and 6.3) to get the activity durations (6.5).     This gives you the rough “first draft” of the schedule.  Now there are schedule constraints that may need to be applied.     Let’s say your first draft of the sum of all activity durations says the project will take 12 months.    But management says it absolutely has to get done in 8 months.    Then you may need to do an iteration or repetition of the planning processes to see if the project can get done in that time frame.   You can either try to sequence the activities differently, for example, by trying to do more processes at once, or you can add more resources in order to get the same activities done in less time.    Both of these approaches may be necessary.

The schedule is referred to by the Project Management Institute by the term the schedule model, because how long the schedule will take will be affected by various assumptions.    In order to get to a schedule within the constraints imposed by management, you may have to change those assumptions to see how the schedule changes in response.    That is essentially what I outlined at the end of the paragraph above.    You may have to ask yourself, “what will happen if do these activities in a different sequence?” or “what will happen if I get extra people to work on the project?”   Just be aware that in order to accomplish these changes in order to change the schedule, other constraints such as risk or cost may be affected.   For example, to do activities at the same time rather than one after the other may increases the risk of making a mistake because of the increased need to coordinate more activities within a certain timeframe.   Likewise, adding more resources in order to reduce the time it takes to complete certain activities will necessarily involve higher costs.

Once you have a schedule that fits the schedule constraints, this then becomes the schedule baseline of the project, and it is the output of this last planning process.    This is what the progress of the project will be measured against in the monitoring & controlling process that comes next.

6.7 Control Schedule

Now switching to the Monitoring & Controlling process group, Control Schedule tells you whether you are proceeding according to the schedule baseline.    This is the monitoring part of the process, and the output is the work performance information with respect to the schedule baseline, which needs to get communicated to all parties concerned, not just on the project itself, but the various interested stakeholders (suppliers, customers, management, etc.).

What happens if the project is NOT going according to the schedule baseline.    The first way to control the project is to suggest changes to the project that will make it conform once again to that schedule baseline.    These change requests come in the form of corrective actions and preventive actions.    Corrective actions help make current activities conform to the schedule baseline, and preventive actions help make future activities conform to the schedule baseline.

The second way to control the project is, if you realize during the course of the project that the project is so far behind that you will never catch up to the schedule baseline, then you may find that the problem was not with the project, but with the project schedule being unrealistic in the first place.    Perhaps events have come up which were unexpected, or perhaps the assumptions you made in creating that schedule turned out not to be true.    In any case, it is possible that the change request may not be to the project, but to the project schedule.

The output of this controlling part of the process, then, are change requests that change either the project (to conform with the schedule baseline), or to the schedule baseline itself.    In either case, these change requests get analyzed in the Integration Knowledge Area under the process 4.5 Perform Integrated Change Control.

If the changes are implemented, then the monitoring & controlling process will be used periodically throughout the project to see if those changes did indeed work to bring the project and the schedule baseline back in alignment.

3.   Conclusion

The Time or Schedule Management knowledge area is the most complicated in terms of planning, but if you understand what the planning processes do, then memorizing their order is not too difficult.    You have to define the activities before you sequence them, and you have to figure out how much resources you have to apply to the activities before you figure out how long it will take to complete those activities.

The last planning process, for the three knowledge areas that comprise the traditional “triple constraints”, that is scope, time and cost, have as their output the baseline for that knowledge area.   In the case of Schedule Management, the output of the last planning process is the schedule baseline, which is then used as the “measuring stick” for the progress of the project.    The last process, in the monitoring & controlling process group, measures the progress against that baseline and, if the progress is off somehow from that baseline, changes are suggested in order to bring them back into alignment.

So write down on index cards the name of the process (for example, Define Activities), and then on the other side put the process number and the name (for example, 6.2 Define Activities).    In this way, when you see a process name, you will be able to guess what knowledge area is comes in and which order (the “6” tells you that it comes from chapter 6, which covers the Schedule Management knowledge area, and the “2” tells you that it is the process #2 from that knowledge area.

Eventually, you should be able to list “from memory” all of the names of the 7 processes from the Schedule Management knowledge area and put them in their proper order.    Take it one knowledge area at a time, a couple days per each knowledge area, and you will be able to memorize all of the 47 processes within about a month.

The next post deals with the Cost Management knowledge Area.   This knowledge area, along with Scope Management and Time Management, is one of the three traditional “triple constraints” of project management.

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2 Responses

  1. “Here’s a description of the seven processes that are included in the Scope Knowledge Area.” – This should say “included in the Time Knowledge Area.”

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