Project Management – What is it and why do we care so much?

Those of us who practice project management are always focused on delivery of successful results, but we are usually even more focused on the crucial steps involved to achieve those results. Following a process based on proven best practices is a methodology adhered to by Professional Project Managers. I became a Project Manager at TerraTherm in 2002, and since then have successfully completed thermal remediation projects in Alabama, California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. In 2011, I was certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP®) by the Project Management Institute (PMI®). This post is a brief overview of the processes of Professional Project Management, which I follow closely at TerraTherm in my daily work and feel are of great importance for all aspiring Professional Project Managers. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) Guide is the project management handbook accepted globally as the definitive guide to project management. It is the basis for testing aspiring project managers who seek certification as a PMP®.

One of the most important things I learned while studying for my PMP certification and something I find myself using still today at TerraTherm are The Project Management Knowledge Areas. The 10 Knowledge Areas, which are important in helping Project Managers stay on track in all aspects of a project, are mapped into the five process groups as shown in the matrix below:

Process Managment Table

This table maps the 47 processes of project management to their corresponding Knowledge Areas, as well as to their corresponding Process Groups. Although the table may seem complicated, it helps us understand the relationships among processes, Process Groups, and Knowledge Areas. Click on this table for an enlarged view.


These are the building blocks of the matrix. A process is a way of transforming an input into an output using proven tools and techniques. Processes, like a roadmap, keep the project going in the right direction; they can also help minimize confusion and uncertainty between the project manager and the project stakeholders and can help drive progress from start to finish.

Knowledge Areas

Each Knowledge Area is made up of a set of processes, each with inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs. These processes, together, accomplish proven project management functions and drive project success. Knowledge Areas also assume specific skills and experience in order to accomplish project goals.

What are the Differences Between Knowledge Areas and Process Groups?

Knowledge Areas encompass what the Project Manager needs to know, while the Process Groups describe the actions the Project Manager (and team) need to perform. Knowledge Areas are about knowledge of project management topics, while Process Groups seek to apply that knowledge. They provide a logical sequence of steps within the Knowledge Area.

Process Groups

There are five process groups: Initiation, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing.

Recognizing the interdependent nature of the development lifecycle is critical to effective project management. Project managers need to be able to identify ways in which the process groups interact with each other through the life of the project. Execution within certain Knowledge Areas and processes will directly lead to accomplishment of key project objectives.

How Do We Use These Process Groups Here at TerraTherm?

Initiation Process Group: We complete the individual initiation processes including defining scope, goals, deliverables, assumptions, limitations, etc.

Planning Process Group: We develop the project plan, Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), procurement plan, communication plan and project budget.

Executing Process Group: We execute the work by selecting, developing, and managing the project team, conducting procurement and performing quality assurance.

Monitoring and Controlling Process Group: We closely monitor and control the cost, schedule, quality, communication, risks, and procurements.

The Closing Process Group: Finally, we complete the closing processes such as demobilization and final reporting.

Obtaining PMP® certification has provided me with more confidence about the decisions that I make on a daily basis at TerraTherm. I feel empowered as I follow the correct processes in a logical sequence and understand the connections and interdependencies that are involved throughout the entire life of a TerraTherm project. As a result, when you select TerraTherm, you can feel confident that we will execute your project efficiently and with a continual focus on Client goals.

Detailed information regarding the PMP® credential, the application process, and much more information about Project Management can be found at the Project Management Institute’s web site

About Ken Parker

Ken Parker has over 20 years of professional leadership in Pollution Control Equipment Design and Manufacturing, Project Management of pilot tests and full scale, remedial designs, and remedial actions involving in-situ treatment of soils and groundwater, including a wide range of technologies such as thermally enhanced soil vapor extraction, air stripping, thermal oxidation, multiphase extraction, and in-situ thermal desorption. As Project Manager, Mr. Parker has successfully completed thermal remediation projects in New Jersey, California, Massachusetts, Tennessee, New York, Alabama, Pennsylvania and Louisiana.
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