This Guest paper is an updated version of a paper first published in the PM World Journal, January 2018. This revision was presented for publication December 24, 2017
Part 2 published here March 2018

In this paper: IPECC = Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling, Closing OGC = Office of Government Commerce (UK) KAs = Knowledge Areas (in the PMBOK Guide) PGs = Process Groups (ditto) PMBOK = Project Management Body of Knowledge (Guide) PMI = Project Management Institute (USA)

PART 1 | Introduction | Understanding the Confusion
Proposed Changes to the PMBOK® Guide | Option 2: A New Concept for Process Groups
Applying SPAARC to Improve Knowledge Area Definition | Conclusion

Option 2: A New Concept for Process Groups

Initial Thought on Adding a Process Group

Table 1-4 in the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edn. shows that the "planning" group incorporates processes that are precursors to the planning, in that they provide an analysis of the specific situation with respect to the objectives of the KA.

The results of an additional PG, the Analysis PG, are therefore required before the planning can be carried out.

The new definition of an Analysis Process Group would allow it to capture a number of processes currently rather uncomfortably in the Planning group, i.e., Collect Requirements, Identify Risks, Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis, and Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis.

This idea may improve the use of process grouping to some extent, but it does not solve the basic problem of confusion caused by the naming of the PGs.

Changing the Process Grouping Framework

As a more radical, but much better alternative to reworking the current set of PGs, and to provide a clear break with the past, a set of "knowledge area steps" (KASes) should be defined to replace the PGs. In contrast with PGs that seem to be closely related to the entire project life cycle, KASes are designed to be meaningful only within the corresponding KA. Hence:

  • A KAS is defined as a category of activities carried out for a specific purpose within a knowledge area. The KASes are normally carried out sequentially within a KA, and can be reiterated as required. Not all KASes are necessarily represented by processes in each KA.

The IPECC model of PGs should then be replaced by the SPAARC[8] KASes defined below This change to the set of names serves additionally as a reminder of the change of concept: each of these SPAARC categories is applicable only within a KA. The six KASes are as follows:

  1. Specification. The specification processes set the rules and authority under which the KA work should be carried out, and determine the environment for the work.
    This KAS would mainly incorporate processes from the Initiating and Analysis PGs. These processes would normally be followed by ones from the Analysis or the Preparation KAS.
  2. Analysis. The analysis processes are performed to transform raw data into action-oriented information.
    These processes would normally be followed by ones from the Preparation or the Control KAS.
  3. Preparation. The preparation processes are those required to define the course of action required to attain the objectives to which the KA should contribute.
    These processes would normally be followed by ones from the Action KAS.
  4. Action. The action processes are performed to deliver the work defined in the corresponding management plan for the KA.
    These processes would normally be followed by ones from the Review KAS.
  5. Review. The review processes are required to track, review and report the progress and performance of the KA work. This includes identifying any significant differences between actual and planned values.
    These processes would normally be followed by ones from the Analysis or the Control KAS.
  6. Control. The control processes are performed to regulate the progress and performance of the KA work, determine any changes to the plan required to address performance issues highlighted from reviewing, and assess the viability of corresponding changes. It should be noted that life cycle governance processes such as managing phase transitions, as well as initiation, and closing a project belong in the Control KAS.
    The processes would normally be followed by ones from the Preparation or the Action KAS.

These interactions are shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: The Set of Potential
Figure 4: The Set of Potential SPAARC Interactions Within any Knowledge Area

Table 1-4 from the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edn. should be restructured based on these definitions. The hierarchical representation of this restructuring, from KAs, to KASes, to processes, is shown below in Table 2 in a similar form to Table 1-4 from the PMBOK® Guide. This restructuring also provides a more balanced grouping of processes than the IPECC convention, as can be seen by the number of processes in each KAS shown in the headings in Table 1 presented earlier.

The analysis required for this restructuring raises a number of questions on the set of processes for some of the KAs: for example, 12.1 "Plan Procurements" should probably be subdivided into two processes — one for the make-or-buy decisions (Specification), the other to develop the procurement documents (Preparation).

As an aside, the Stakeholder Management KA that has been added for the sixth edition of the PMBOK® Guide would be more complete if the team-management processes 9.4 and 9.5 were transferred from the Resource Management area across to Stakeholder Management.

Effective teamwork cannot be achieved if the team members are managed in the same way as inanimate resources!









Integration Management

Develop Project Charter

Develop Project Management Plan

Manage Project Knowledge

Direct and Manage Project Work


Perform Integrated Change Control

Close Project or Phase

Scope Management

Plan Scope Management


Collect Requirements

Define Scope

Create WBS


5.5: Validate Scope

Control Scope

Schedule Management

Plan Schedule Management

Develop Schedule

Define Activities

Sequence Activities

Estimate Activity Durations



Control Schedule

Cost Management

Plan Cost Management


Estimate Costs

7.3: Determine Budget



Control Costs

Quality Management

Plan Quality Management



Manage Quality


Control Quality

Resource Management

Plan Resource Management

Estimate Activity Resources


Acquire Resources

Develop Team


Manage Project Team

Communications Management

Plan Communications Management



Manage Communications


Monitor Communications

Risk Management

Plan Risk Management

Plan Risk Responses

Identify Risks

Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis

Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis

Implement Risk Responses

Monitor Risks


Procurement Management

Plan Procurement Management



Conduct Procurements


Control Procurements

Stakeholder Management

Plan Stakeholder Engagement


Identify Stakeholders

Manage Stakeholder Engagement

Monitor Stakeholder Engagement


Table 2: SPAARC Process Groupings in terms of KAs and KASes

The SPAARC model provides a framework for analyzing the structure of each KA as well as for understanding the dependencies between processes in a KA. These points are addressed in the next two sections.

Proposed Changes to the PMBOK® Guide — Sixth Edition  Proposed Changes to the PMBOK® Guide - Sixth Edition

8. I have chosen to call the mnemonic SPAARC, rather than putting the letters in the logical order of the KASes (i.e., SAPARC) for the simple reason that it sounds nicer.
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