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Archive for March 2010

Project Management: Part 5 – Basic concepts – Mapping Project Management Process Groups and Knowledge Areas

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Manage a project is a hard to summarize task. By the PMBOK standard, it’s about managing the following NINE areas, but not restricted to: Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Human Resources, Communication, Risk and Procurement. 

Each area has a defined set of processes. The set of all the processes for all the areas can be partitioned in FIVE process groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Managing and Controlling and Closing. 

PMBOK definition: “A process is a set of interrelated actions and activities performed to achieve a pre-specified product, result, or service. Each process is characterized by its inputs, the tools and techniques that can be applied, and the resulting outputs.”  

Thus, project management consist of selecting the processes that apply for the underlying project and execute these processes in order to achieve the target of the project. 

Many factors can influence the subset of selected processes and the way they are applied. But the main elements to consider are: The organization process asset and the enterprise environment factors. Those two must be watched all over the project life. 


You may wonder where all these are coming from. Recall, from our previous posts, that a lot of projects have is undertaken, and a large common experience was developed during ages. And this is the common experience as seen and addressed by the PMI. 

We’ll see each the process groups, the knowledge areas, and the processes listed progressively (fig. above). 

But keep in mind the here following points: 

  • Even if we are talking about processes here, the job is actually done by people. So the focus on process will help define a path to follow but will never replace the special care to be given to people to make that path leading to the projected target of the project.
  • On the other hand, each project is unique, and one must not be flowed thinking that if he applies religiously all the processes, the result is guaranteed. It takes some “Agility” to take the “right” decisions, or may I say the “best”, at the right time depending on the information available and the special context of the project.
  • And the last one: if you are new to the domain do not try to be so much innovator. Try first to understand, apply and experiment and find your way smoothly. But most of all, learn from others and share your experience.

See you later.

Sif E. Elharti,

Written by selharti

March 16, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Project Management: Part 4 – Basic concepts Project / Program / Portfolio

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For a large organisation, projects can be gathered in two kinds of collections: Program or Portfolio.

The PMI definitions are as following PMBOK (4th Ed.):

A “Program is a group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually. Programs may include elements of related work outside of the scope of the discrete projects in the program.”

 “A portfolio refers to a collection of projects or programs and other works that are grouped together to facilitate effective management of what work to meet strategic business objectives.”

 An easy way to figure it out is to imagine portfolios and programs as containers that can include projects.

Portfolio, program and project organization

A portfolio is at business strategy level. Its scope is larger than any program or project within the organization and has strategic goal to reach. Thus it contains a set of project or programs that complete each other for that purpose. Nevertheless, those programs and projects are not necessarily related or dependent.  The main raison for creating a portfolio is to centralize, synchronize and prioritize all the components needed to carry out the business goal.

A program is a component of a portfolio that groups a set of related projects that need to be coordinated to accomplish a larger target than the target of the projects individually.

Let’s apply this to an example:

Suppose a developing country “Alpha” has identified tourism as major axe to develop to enhance its economy. “Alpha” has identified also that a large number of pediments that act against this opportunity such as:

  • Bad infrastructure: few international airports with limited capacities, missing highways and roads.
  • No easy access to natural parks and historical sites
  • Limited high standing Hotels.
  • Poor marketing
  • Restrictive lows
  • Etc…

So “Alpha” creates the following projects (to keep it simple, we will stop at this infrastructure and hotels level)

  • Portfolio: “Welcome to Alpha”

    • Portfolio1.1: “Transportation program”

      • Program 1.1.1: Highway between cities “A” and “B”

        •          Project Highway Section 1 (“A” to “N”)
        •          Project Highway Section 2 (“N” to “M”)
        •          Project Highway Section 3 (“M” to “B”)

      • Project 1.1.2: Highway between cities “A” and “C”
      • Project 1.1.3: Enlarge the international airport of city “A”
      • Project 1.1.4: Add a road from city “B” to the historical site “H”
      • Project 1.1.5: Add a road from city “C” to the natural site “N”

    • Portfolio1.2: “Hotels”

      • Project 1.2.1: Build Airport hotel in city “A”
      • Project 1.2.2: Extend hotel “X” in city “B”
      • Project 1.2.3: Build hotel near the site “N”
      • Project 1.2.4: Build hotel near the site “P”
      • Project 1.2.5: Build hotel in city “C”

The role of the portfolio managers is to coordinate and prioritize all these programs and projects by providing all the necessary infrastructure, processes and assistance needed to facilitate the accomplishment of the main goal.

But one has to keep in mind that applying this model of projects hierarchy requires a maturity in the organization. In fact, a bad implementation or misunderstanding can lead to more chaotic results and can go against the original purpose for which it was undertaken.

See you later.

Sif E. Elharti,

Written by selharti

March 6, 2010 at 2:52 am

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