If you want to be the HPIC or head person in charge, the five process groups are an absolute must, but they can be explained without those long and drawn out posts and articles you find on the World Wide Web.
Initiating – This process consists of first being assigned as the HPIC, landing the client or project sponsor (the one who is shelling out the dough), and a meeting or two (maybe three) with all of your stakeholders. Stakeholder identification is easy. If someone has an interest in the project, they are a stakeholder and they can be internal or external. This process group is necessary to write the charter and scope of the project and set goals.
Planning – Here you determine and assign tasks in order to reach set goals. It’s really that simple: who will do what, when it will it be needed, and what’s the timeline?
Executing – Nope, the project doesn’t take a ride in the electric chair here, but instead, the project begins and your busy-as-a-bee teams and other stakeholders begin working on the assigned tasks you set in the planning phase.
Monitoring and Controlling – As the HPIC, you need to be the conductor of the project and ensure the project flow is where it should be, assess risks, and control those risks. Skipping this process group essentially means you will have no idea what the project outcome will be. It’s sort of like making a movie with no director.
Closing – Is this process group really needed? You bet. Before you turn over the finished project, your team and all the stakeholders can analyze what worked, what didn’t and how problems were solved, etc. You’ll also need to prepare a closing statement, deliver the project, answer questions, reward your team, and document the project for use in other projects.
This is generally how the five process groups work, but then there are those nine nasty knowledge areas that fall within those five groups.