Project Management Processes Process Groups and Knowledge Areas

Project Management Processes and Knowledge Areas

PMP aspirants usually ask these common questions while preparing for the PMP Certification Exam: What are the project management processes? What are the project management knowledge areas? Why do we need these project management process groups and knowledge areas?

PMP aspirants often have difficulties in understanding these important concepts. In this article, we will take a glance at both concepts and clarify their differences.

The project management process groups are related to defining, organizing and managing the scope of the project.

In order to understand better, let’s define the “project” and “project management” terms.

Project and Project Management

A project is a temporary and unique operation that is designed to accomplish a singular goal. It has defined scope and resources.

A software development, a business process improvement, an expansion of sales in a new market and dam construction are the samples of projects.

All the projects must be managed to deliver on time and budget with meeting the organizational goals.

Project management is the implementation of processes,  knowledge areas, talents, techniques, and methods to project tasks in order to achieve the project’s goals. Project management has several dimensions based on the type and magnitude of the project.

In brief, project management is the method of selecting, organizing, planning, managing and controlling resources to meet the project’s requirements.

Project Management Processes (Process Groups)

Project management process groups are a logical classification of tasks that are arranged in a system that the projects are being performed. The Project Management Institute created terminologies and guidelines to help you to successfully manage your project that is known as project management process groups and knowledge areas.

According to PMBOK Guide, Project management has five interrelated processes;
1. Initiating
2. Planning
3. Executing
4. Monitoring and Controlling
5. Closing

An idea for a project will be analyzed considering its benefits and incomes for the stakeholders during the initiating process. The initiating process includes developing and approving the project charter.

The planning process includes creating the project management plan that helps to execute project activities.  Project schedule, budget, and resources are determined during the planning process.

The executing phase is usually the longest phase in the project life cycle in which the physical project deliverables will be built and presented to the client. During the executing process, you perform the actual work and spend most of the time and money.

In the monitoring and controlling phase, project management teams will compare and report the planned and the actual status of the project. During this phase, project managers will make adjustments to keep the project on track.  It is a continuous process which happens throughout the project life cycle.

The closing phase comes after the completion of all the scope of work and project management processes. The closing process is a formal process includes the formal agreement of completion of the project between the parties. You close all procurement contracts and update the lessons learned during the closing process.

As you see from the above, all the process groups are organized in order. All the five process groups; Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, Closing are needed to complete the project successfully.

Although project types and project management processes vary from industry to industry, the above project management phases are traditional phases for almost all the projects.

Project Management Knowledge Areas

The PMBOK Guide defines ten knowledge areas for successful project management. These project management knowledge areas bring the project to life and ensure that the project meets its objectives.

1. Project Integration Management
2. Project Scope Management
3. Project Time Management
4. Project Cost Management
5. Project Quality Management
6. Project Procurement Management
7. Project Human Resources Management
8. Project Communications Management
9. Project Risk Management
10. Project Stakeholder Management

These ten project management knowledge areas provide a direction to organize and classify the knowledge and skills required in a particular specialty in project management. Processes and tasks are grouped into common areas. By grouping many project management processes and tasks into a few areas, it’s easier to know and recognize.

The process groups are grouped under the knowledge areas based on their similarities on the subject. The PMBOK Guide and most of the reference books available for the PMP certification exam are organized based on these ten knowledge areas. However, there are some reference books which are written based on the process groups. If you read both of them, you will gain a better understanding of the project management processes and knowledge areas.


Project management has evolved from a few simple practices to a wide subject with many complex processes and knowledge areas. Following an established project management methodology helps project managers to complete their projects successfully. Most of these methodologies follow specific processes. The PMBOK Guide is a strong reference book which is a collection of processes, practices, terminologies and knowledge areas. Gaining expertise in all of these knowledge areas can help project managers to become more successful in their organizations. Project managers need to know each of the processes and have the skills to accomplish their tasks.

In this article, we discuss the project management processes and project management knowledge areas. We hope that it will be useful for the PMP aspirants. Please note that this is an important topic for the PMP Certification Exam. Therefore you must know the knowledge areas and processes in each process groups in order to pass the exam. If you have something to add or share, you can do so by using the comments section below.

External References

[1] What is Project Management (pmi)


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