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Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)

Contributor(s): Sarah Lewis

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a document containing standard terminology, best practices and process guidelines around project management as defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI). Currently in its sixth edition, the body of knowledge was created to evolve over time and is internationally recognized as an essential resource for project managers. Referred to as the PMBOK, this guidebook outlines 49 processes that are categorized into five process groups and ten knowledge areas in a matrix structure.

The majority of the guide covers topics specific to project management, but does mention broader themes that overlap such as budgeting, planning, financial forecasting, staffing, organizational behavior and management science. Aligned with similar management standards, the PMBOK is formulated around processes that coincide and impact each other to complete a project. According to the guide, the three phases of a project include inputs, tools & techniques and outputs. These are used to create the general lifecycle of a project to outline typical project management steps and techniques.

This is an important tool for aspiring and continuing project managers alike, especially those who wish to achieve CAPM or PMP certifications. The PMBOK has been accepted by highly-esteemed organizations such as the American National Standards Institute, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the International Organization for Standardization Technical Report.

Process Groups

The PMBOK utilizes five process groups to categorize operations of general management needed to run an enterprise or oversee a project.

  1. Initiating: These are processes that initiate the beginning of a new project such as identifying a need, addressing a concern, or receiving authorization.
  2. Planning: These are processes that establish the initial proposal of the project such as limiting the scope, communicating the objectives, and defining the plan of attack.
  3. Executing: These are the processes completed to further the project along- performing the work defined in the planning of the project and meeting specifications.
  4. Monitoring and Controlling: These are the processes executed that track and review the development of the project, making changes and extending deadlines as needed.
  5. Closing: These are the processes that quality check all of the work completed for the project and finalize it for official use.

Knowledge Areas

The five process groups can further be broken down into ten knowledge areas, or components, that overlap during different phases of a project.

  1. Project Integration Management: This refers to the process of seamlessly combining or bringing together the various moving parts of any project in order to work towards a common goal.
  2. Project Scope Management: This refers to ensuring that each project includes all and only the work identified at the beginning on the project, rather than letting the scope of the project expand as time goes on.
  3. Project Schedule Management: This refers to keeping an accurate and updated schedule of events for each project- including enforcing accountability and adjusting deadlines as necessary.
  4. Project Cost Management: This refers to planning, budgeting and controlling the financial aspects of every project in order to keep labor, materials, and equipment costs under the initially approved budget.
  5. Project Quality Management: This refers to the establishment of quality policies and objects at the beginning of each project so that recurring checks can be made to ensure the project will satisfy the needs of everyone.
  6. Project Resource Management: This refers to delegating specific tasks to members of the project team in a way that utilizes knowledge, expertise, and skills in the most methodical way.
  7. Project Communications Management: This refers to determining the most efficient way to distribute, monitor, control, and store information surrounding the project with everyone involved.
  8. Project Risk Management: This refers to conducting a risk management plan for each project by identifying, analyzing, and controlling risk and establishing a response plan to address issues that may arise.
  9. Project Procurement Management: This refers to obtaining the products or services needed to complete the project. Subsets in this knowledge area include procurement planning, solicitation planning, source selection, contract administration, and contract closeout.
  10. Project Stakeholder Management: This refers to identifying all of the people or teams involved in the project, what role they will be playing, what their expectations are, and what management strategies will be employed. 
This was last updated in September 2018

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