The Core Project Management Process

30 October, 2014

Anyone who has done Project Management Professional (PMP)® training will remember some, if not all, of the processes. In the fifth edition of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) a total of 47 processes are listed and you really need to be aware of all of them before attempting the PMP® exam.

Among this collection of processes is one that does not stand out, but is vital to the whole project. This is the integration process “Direct and Manage Project Work”. While it does not catch the eye when studying for the PMP® exam, anyone who has actually managed a project will identify this as where the project gets done.

A good rule of thumb for Project Managers is to plan your work and then work your plan. “Direct and Manage Project Work” is where the plan gets executed. This is where the project deliverables are produced, according to the plan. It is important to appreciate that the Project Manager does not produce the deliverables but ensures that the project team has the resources and facilities to do so. Management is not about doing the work, but creating the conditions where work may be done.

Reading the PMBOK® Guide offers scope for confusion because it includes among the activities done in Direct and Manage Project Work “provide, train and manage the team members assigned to the project”. Surely these are covered by the Project Human Resource Management processes “Acquire Project Team”, “Develop Project Team” and “Manage Project Team”? But it is probably appropriate to mention them under the integration heading because, without the team, nothing would happen.

The schedule that the Project Manager prepares is based on whatever methods will be used during the project. The sequencing of activities (remember the Project Scope Management process, “Sequence Activities”?) shows how the deliverables will be produced. Often, there will be checkpoints and inspections scheduled along the way. The Project Manager must ensure these happen and that the findings feed into the “Manage and Control Project Work” process. This explains why Work Performance Data is an output of “Direct and Manage Project Work”. Another form of Work Performance Data generated comes from Progress Reports. Adhering to specific methods and standards suggests “Perform Quality Assurance”, another process in the Executing process group.

Again, the “Direct and Manage Project Work” invokes another process – “Manage Communications”. According to the Project Management Institute, Project Managers spend 75-90% of their time communicating, so a would-be PMP® should have this fact emphasized frequently. This mention also hints at the “Manage Stakeholder Engagement” process by highlighting the fact that we are communicating both internally and externally. However, this is also explicitly mentioned in the “Direct and Manage Project Work” activity list.

An interesting “Direct and Manage Project Work” activity is “manage risks and implement risk response activities”. This explains why we do not have a “Manage Risks” process – reacting to risk triggers and authorizing risk response strategies happens here. Note that the “Control Risks” process is more concerned with ensuring that the Risk Register is up to date and new risks are being considered than with the actual execution of risk responses.

The “Perform Procurement Management” knowledge area also gets name checked in the bigger integration process when we are advised to “manage sellers and suppliers”.

An interesting aspect of the “Direct and Manage Project Work” process is its part in the change control process. In response to observations on the way things are going, Change Requests can be raised. These may be due to drifts in schedule or to inefficiencies in the process. However, the “Direct and Manage Project Work” process is also subject to Approved Change Requests. So the project team and indeed any stakeholder may raise Change Requests. Once they have gone through the “Perform Integrated Change Control” process and been analysed by the Change Control Board, they may return to the “Direct and Manage Project Work” process in order to be acted upon. These changes could relate to scope and also to process improvement recommendations, usually uncovered during Quality Audits.

The final activity listed in this process is “collect and document lessons learned”. Traditionally, lessons learned are associated with the “Close Project or Phase” process but, during a long project, it is easy to forget problems that occurred early on and the clever solutions that were implemented. The Project Manager should keep a diary of these events and use it to drive the Project Post-Mortem meeting at the end of the project.

Velopi’s PMP® exam preparation courses will cover all 47 project management processes, including “Direct and Manage Project Work”. Please visit our training page or contact us directly to start your journey towards project management certification. For your convenience, we run our project management courses in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway. Velopi is also a Registered Education Provider for the Project Management Institute and an Approved Training Provider for Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) so you are in good hands.

By Velopi Seamus Collins

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