Do we do everything in the PMBOK on real life projects?

What is Performance Measurement Baseline (PMB)?

Diving deep into the study for PMP you will definitely realize the importance of measurement be it the performance of the project or the project manager or the project team. Typically there is a baseline used for measurement and the deviations around it need to be addressed.

The triple constraints - time, cost and scope each have a baseline which is a part of the Project Management Plan. Ofcourse all of this is done during the planning phase.

Now these three baselines put together is known as the Performance Measurement Baseline.

Mathematically speaking,

Performance Measurement Baseline = Scope Baseline + Schedule Baseline + Cost Baseline

But do note that while Schedule and Cost baselines are just the final versions of the agreed upon schedule and cost, scope baseline consist of the following,

Scope Baseline = Project Scope Statement + Work Breakdown Structure + WBS Dictionary

Once the Performance Measurement Baseline is established, agreed upon and signed off by the relevant stakeholders, it becomes the ultimate benchmark of measuring the project and all discussions of keeping the project on track surrounds the PMB

Project Management Life Cycle vs Project Management Process

In our previous articles, we have gone over the types of project management life cycle, types of phase to phase relationships as well as the meaning of process groups and knowledge areas but in order to completely understand the fundamentals of PMP (check out our comprehensive YouTube playlist of fundamentals of PMP) we must understand the difference between Project Management Life Cycle or Project Life Cycle and Project Management Process.

Let's define both of these for more clarity,

Project Management/Project Life Cycle

This is basically what you need to do 'to do' the work

In simpler terms, when you are out to create a software you will have to gather requirements and complete a system requirements document. This will be followed by a high level design document, coding, testing and delivery.

But at the same time for a construction project, right after the requirements are signed off, you will move on to create a CAD drawing.

Consider creating a software but working on partial requirements followed by coding, testing and delivering them. And then in the next iteration again delivering some more requirements. This is also a project life cycle which is following the Agile methodology.

The point is, there are different types of Project Management/Project Life Cycles but all of them essentially deal with the activities that are required to be done in order to deliver the project. These activities may have different names and characteristics depending upon the type of Life Cycle in practice

Project Management Process

This is basically what you need to do 'to manage' the work

All projects, no matter what industry and no matter what Life Cycle they follow, will always have the five project management processes viz.
1. Initiation
2. Planning
3. Executing
4. Monitoring and Controlling 
5. Closing

However, an important point to note here is that each phase/activity of project life cycle may involve all project management processes. For instance, collecting requirements itself could be initiated, well planned and executed! And ofcourse it would be monitored and controlled throughout before the final sign off and closure.

Why organizations must deliver complex projects?

As per the report, organizations must take care of complexity because,

1. Complexity is not going away and will only increase

2. Large budgets are at stake

3. Effectively navigating complexity delivers a competitive advantage

What exactly are Process Groups and Knowledge Areas?

The Process Groups and Knowledge Areas are one of the very few things you will learn when you start off your PMP preparations. Although we have already discussed whether you should learn the PG-KA mapping, it should be noted that a clear understanding of PG and KA is a must. So let's dive into this.

Process Groups

The process groups are basically a logical categorization of tasks/activities organized in the way that the project is being performed.

For example, you will perform the following processes in the project,

1. Initiate the project (develop and approve project charter)
2. Create a project management plan
3. Work on the project. If it is a software development project, this is where coding is done
4. Monitoring and controlling is common to all the above steps
5. Close the project - publish the software, close contracts, update lessons learned, release the team etc

The five process groups - Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling and Closing are thus arranged such that all projects go through them

Knowledge Area

The knowledge areas are basically designed to combine the processes that have common characteristics. 

Let's talk about Communication for instance. If you take a look at the PG-KA mapping you will notice that we have the following processes related to communication,

1. Plan Communication Management - Planning Process Group
2. Manage Communications - Executing Process Group
3. Control Communications - Monitoring and Controlling Process Group

All of these processes talk about Communication and although they are spread across different Process Groups but due to their 'common characteristic' of communication they are a part of the Communication Management Knowledge Area

Take a look at all other processes in the PG-KA mapping and you will have even more clarity.

In conclusion, Process Groups help you organize the processes by the kind of work you do while Knowledge Areas help you organize the processes by the subject matter you're dealing with.

It should be noted that the PMBOK Guide is written based on the Knowledge Areas and so are most other books. This is also the reason why most of the mentors in the PDU classes tend to teach following the knowledge areas.