6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Project Management Processes

I am starting a project of going through the 6th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide and blogging about its contents.    The 6th Edition was released on September 22nd by the Project Management Institute, and the first chapter is a general introduction to the framework in which project management exists, starting with section 1.2 Foundation Elements (section 1.1 describes the purpose of the Guide).

The section I am going over in this blog post is section 1.2.4 Components of the Guide, although it should be titled Components of a Project (in my humble opinion).    The reason is that the preceding section, 1.2.3 Relationship of Project, Program, Portfolio, and Operations Management shows the external relationship between a project and all of these other elements within an organization.   The current section 1.2.4 now shifts from an external view of a project to an internal one, and shows what its components are.  Here they are in decreasing order of magnitude:   project life cycle, project phase, process group/knowledge area, process.   In the last posts, I discussed the project life cycle, project phases, and the five process groups and ten knowledge areas that project management processes are divided into.   In this post, I will discuss the project management processes themselves:  what they consist of, how they fit together, and how to study them for the exam.

Processes–what do they consist of?

In section on Project Management Processes, processes are defined as a series of activities that take inputs,  and utilize tools & techniques to produce outputs .   

How do they fit together?

In most cases, the outputs of one process with then become the inputs to other processes, and this is how they are connected together.

How many processes are there in project management?

There are 49 processes, which are distributed between the five process groups and ten knowledge areas.   See page 25 of the Guide for Table 1-4 which shows how they are distributed.

How do I study them for the exam?

You should take a blank sheet of paper, and draw the table on p. 25 or create your own template grid that you can print out.    If you can do it on ledger size (11 x 17) paper it will be the easiest to use, but use letter or even better yet, legal size paper to do the exercise.    You should find some index cards and put the name of the process on one side, and then on the other side put the name plus the numerical designation of the process based on the Table 1-4 on page 25.   For example, the first process in Integration is 4.1 Develop Project Charter.   You would put “Project Charter” on one side, and then “4.1 Develop Project Charter on the other.”

  • Try to memorize the position that the process would take on the grid, namely, in the Initiating Process Group under the Integration Knowledge Area.
  • Do this for all of the 7 processes in the Integration Knowledge Area, then shuffle the cards, and then looking at the side of the card with just the name of the process, try to guess where it goes.    It should only take a couple of tries, probably 5 at the most, to be able to master this knowledge area.
  • Then take the next knowledge area of Scope, memorize the location of those processes, and then combine the two sets of index cards and see if you can remember all of the locations for the two knowledge areas.
  • Keep adding knowledge areas until you have memorized the locations of all of the 49 processes in all of the knowledge areas.
  • Next:   now you have to remember the name of the processes, and do this by taking a blank card and thinking of the first process in Integration Management.    Put it on the grid and when you are done with filling in index cards and putting them on the grid, check your results with the grid on p. 25.
  • Continue this for all of the knowledge areas until you can recreate the chart within 15 minutes from scratch.

The ultimate goal should be to recreate the chart from scratch in 15 minutes because that’s how much time it takes to go through the tutorial at the beginning of the PMP exam.    You can multitask and recreate the chart in the time it takes to go through the tutorial which contains information about how to take the test, most of which is self-explanatory anyway.

As far as memorizing the inputs, tools & techniques, and outputs, it is good to study them, but trying to memorize all of those would be a monumental task, and the most important thing is not to memorize, but to understand them.   If you understand what it is that the process does, then figuring out which of 4 possible choices could be inputs for that process is a matter of logic and understanding, rather than one of memorization.

That being said, there are some patterns that show up with inputs and outputs, and I will create posts at a later time for how to deal with exam questions dealing with them.

The next post covers the topic of how data is created during a project, how it is turned into information that is usable by the project team, and how this information is packaged into reports that are usable by the stakeholders.



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