Project Management Body of Knowledge

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This wiki article is about one of the central standards within the field of portfolio, program and project management. The standard is project management body of knowledge (PMBOK) published by the project management institute (PMI). The standard describes the central tools and knowledge, which can be applied to a project to secure a successful project. The standard is based on the modern views of project management from the 1960’s when PMI was founded in 1969. In 1989, the first edition of the PMBOK was created out from a series of workshop with leading project managers from the industry. In 1996 the first edition was revised and changed out from comments from project managers. This process is iterative and PMI has contiounsly updated the standard several times during the years. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accepted the PMBOK as a standard in 1998, and later by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Today the standard is widely known and used, and by December 2013 a total of 628,363 [1] people has been certified in the PMI. And a yearly increase of certification holders by 13% in the North America, 18.1% in Europe and Africa, while in Latin America it is an yearly increase of 22.8% [1]. By the increasing numbers of certification holders it is clear to see that the standard is being widely accepted and the importance and impact of the standard is huge.

Content of the standard

The PMBOK [2] are divided into ten main topics, which each is divided into five standard processes. These processes describes different phases of a project work, and how each of the main topics should be handled within each of the processes.

Process groups

The five standard process groups are Initiating, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing, can be explained as following;

Initiating process group is about the processes, which is used to define a new project. It is in initiating of a project where the initial scope and financial resources is being decided. It is also within this phase where stakeholders and end goal is being identified. The tools and methods described under this process group will help the project manager establishing the business case for the project, and to decide whether the project can go on to next phase or if it should be delayed.

Planning process group is the process group, which addresses the total scope of effort for the project. Within these sections, tools for defining and redefining objectives is listed and explained. The planning process is also about creating a plan for the entire project, which tells how the defined objectives will be obtained. The planning phase is not only done once, but is considered an iterative process, as over the course of the project, additional information becomes available, and the project management guide has to be revised to take the new information into account.

Execution process group are the processes, which occurs doing the work described in the project management plan. This process group is about getting the objectives done and about managing and coordinating people and the resources. One of the main challenges during the execution phase is that the time schedule often will have to be adjusted to fit the reality, tools for how set up appropriate change request and other tools is described within these sections.

Monitoring and Controlling is the process group, which addresses all the processes that is used to monitor and control a project. The main idea with this section is to describe how to be able to track and revise the project and make changes in the project management plan if needed.

Closing process group concludes the project and formally closes the project. These processes is an evaluation of the project, and lessons learned is a part of this process.

Figure 1 shows the relationship between the five process groups.

Figure 1 - process groups

The PMBOK is divided into ten parts, which each describes an important aspect of project management.

Main topics

Project Integration Management : Project Integration Management is about defining and coordinating different processes and activities. This topic includes information about the tools that are used to control the overall project such as how to develop a project charter and Project Management Plan. It also includes information about how to direct and manage project work, and how to control the work.

Project Scope Management : Project Scope Management defines what boundaries a project has, and what work is required to complete the project, and makes sure that only the required work should be done. This section within the PMBOK mentions information about how to define scope and how to collect requirements from stakeholders. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is mentioned as a great tool to determine the required work and is described within the section.

Project Time Management : The section about Project time management is about all processes in a project regarding time. The section describes various tools and processes that can help the project manager to complete the project within time. This includes information about how to plan and develop the schedule, and how to estimate activity resources.

Project Cost Management : this section addresses everything regarding estimating, budgeting, financing, funding, managing, and controlling costs, and the procedures and policies regarding the cost management to stay within budget.

Project Quality Management : Project Quality Management includes information about the processes regarding the quality management within a project, so the project can be completed as expected by the stakeholders. This section about how to best possible set up policies and procedures to make sure the activities performed during the project work will uphold the requirements.

Project Human Resource Management : the section about human resource management is about develop and manage the project team and how to determine the skills and responsibility within the project group.

Project Communications Management : the section about project communications management I about how to ensure proper ways to deliver project information within the team, and how to collect the information and how to manage it.

Project Risk Management : Project Risk Management is about identifying the risk within the project and how to ensure that it does not become a problem for the timely finish of the project. SWOT is one of the tools mentioned in this section of the standard.

Project Procurement Management : Project Procurement Management is about the processes, which is used to buy and acquire materials, services or products from outside the project organization. Procurement is also about the setup of contracts with suppliers and other outside organizations. Contracts for change control processes is also part of procurement.

Project Stakeholders Management : this section of the standard is about how to identify the important parties of the project and how to manage their interest and expectations of the project. One of the tools explained in this section is stakeholder analysis, both the classical power/interest grid but also others like power/influence grid and influence/impact grid.

Table 1 below shows the five process groups and the ten main topics, and shows the knowledge areas within each of the process groups, and what section to find them in within the standard.

Table 1 - project management process group and knowledge area mapping [3]

Initiating Process Group

Planning Process Group

Executing Process Group

Monitoring and Controlling Process Group

Closing Process Group

4. Project Integration Management

4.1 Develop Project Charter

4.2 Develop Project Management Plan

4.3 Direct and Manage Project Work

4.4 Monitor and Control Project Work 4.5 Perform Integrated Change Control

4.6 Close Project or Phase

5. Project Scope Management

5.1 Plan Scope Management 5.2 Collect Requirements 5.3 Define Scope 5.4 Create WBS

5.5 Validate Scope 5.6 Control Scope

6. Project Time Management

6.1 Plan Schedule Management 6.2 Define Activities 6.3 Sequence Activities 6.4 Estimate Activity Resources 6.5 Estimate Activity Durations 6.6 Develop Schedule

6.7 Control Schedule

7. Project Cost Management

7.1 Plan Cost Management 7.2 Estimate Costs 7.3 Determine Budget

7.4 Control Costs

8. Project Quality Management

8.1 Plan Quality Management

8.2 Perform Quality Assurance

8.3 Control Quality

9. Project Human Resource Management

9.1 Plan Human Resource Management

9.2 Acquire ProjectTeam 9.3 Develop Project Team 9.4 Manage Project Team

10. Project Communications Management

10.1 Plan Communications Management

10.2 Manage Communications

10.3 Control Communications

11. Project Risk Management

11.1 Plan Risk Management 11.2 Identify Risks 11.3 Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis 11.4 Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis 11.5 Plan Risk Responses

11.6 Control Risks

12. Project Procurement Management

12.1 Plan Procurement Management

12.2 Conduct Procurements

12.3 Control Procurements

12.4 Close Procurements

13. Project Stakeholder Management

13.1 Identify Stakeholders

13.2 Plan Stakeholder Management

13.3 Manage Stakeholder Engagement

13.4 Control Stakeholder Engagement

Related material

The PMBOK is only one of the standards within the field of project management. One of the other widely known standards is the PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments, version 2) [4]. PRINCE2 is well known and very common in Denmark, especially within the government. In many ways the PMBOK and PRINCE2 is very smilair, both explains that there are different process groups, where the PMBOK mentions the five process groups above. The PRINCE2 focuses on four instead of five, where closing is the missing process group. The PMBOK focused primarily on processes, where the PRINCE2 focuses on controlling the document flow within the project[5].

Another standard is the ISO 21500[6] standard, which was released in 2012, and is a new standard within PM. Compared to both PMBOK and PRINCE the ISO standard is short, and mentioned a few but very central topics and tools. The ISO standard was made to try to create a common language in projects within the industry, and is made to be compatible with other standards.

The International project management association (IPMA)[7] is another organization, which creates standards within the project management field. In contrast, to the other standard IPMA focuses on the project manager and his competences.


It is important to remember that the PMBOK is toolbox, which contains what the PMI considers best practices, by that said, the PMBOK is not better than the other standards, and in many cases it is up to the individual of what he or she prefers.

The PMBOK is a toolbox and does not tell the PM exactly how to run a project, it do however come up with many different tools that could be used to run a project successfully. How the PM has to tailor the tools to his need and only use the tools that are necessary for his project, it could quickly turn into a very bureaucratic project if everything is applied on to a small project, which perhaps only need some proper stakeholder management.

The PMBOK should be used a guide book to how run a project best possible and basicly if you need information within a certain area, then you look it up in the PMBOK and use one of the tools or method it suggest.


  1. 1.0 1.1 [Project Management Institute 2013 ANNUAL REPORT]
  2. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute.
  3. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute. page. 60
  4. 20-11-2014
  5. Prince2 or PMBOK – a question of choice, Sandra Matosa, Eurico Lopesa
  6. Standard ISO 21500 for Project Management, Rehacek, Petr
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