Project Planning vs. PM – Spot The Difference [video blog]

by Jennifer Bridges, PMP (formerly, Jennifer Whitt)

Hello and welcome to our whiteboard session today on why project planning isn’t project management. Have you ever wondered the difference? Well, it’s two terms that often get misused in the marketplace, and we wanted to take the time to distinguish the difference.

If you look on the board here, we have a diagram and it’s actually referenced from “The Project Management Body of Knowledge,” the Fourth Edition by PMI, the Project Management Institute. They have a great diagram there that distinguishes the two this way.

If you look at the diagram, we have the start of the project and the end of the project and a lot of things going on in between. There are five process groups identified by the Project Management Institute. There are the initiating processes, there are planning processes, executing processes, monitoring and controlling processes, and the closing processes. That’s five project management process groups here that make up the whole life cycle of the project.

As you can see, the project planning process group is only one of five. Here’s what happens in the planning process or the planning phase of the project. Here are some sample project planning activities. Developing the project management plan, so the project management plan includes all of the plans that identify how the project is run, when it’s run, by who, who does what, when, and where for each of the planning documents. In here also the project manager collects requirements, helps define the scope, creates a work breakdown structure, develops a schedule, estimates costs, defines the budget, and many other activities that go on in the planning process.

Then what happens in the project management process, so this is the whole thing. Sample project management activities include the application of knowledge, skills, tools, techniques to the project activities to meet the project requirements. You can actually see what the difference is. Many times you may see project managers who do all the planning for the project, and they actually sit those project plans on the desk and not use them. As you can see, the difference of this, the management part, the project management is actually utilizing these planning documents to execute, monitor and control, and actually close out the project.

You can see the difference between the two. You need both. Project planning isn’t project management.

If you found these tips from Jennifer Whitt, PMP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at


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