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.

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