Every project manager needs some sort of guideline to know what works and what doesn’t, which is why the PMBOK exists. First published in 1996 and now on its sixth edition, The Project Management Body of Knowledge is a book of general guidelines that are recognized as “good practice,” useful for not only project managers but also the company’s employees. It mainly focuses on the Critical Path Method and Work Breakdown Structure. This body of knowledge is overseen by the Project Management Institute (PMI) who also happen to certify those who are wanting to become project managers.

This book recognizes 5 basic categories that fall into 10 knowledge areas of which lead to 49 different processes.

The five process groups are:

  • Initiation: Involves the processes, activities, and skills needed to effectively define the beginning of a project. This includes setting permits, authorizations, and beginning plans to ensure that the rest of the project will go smoothly.
  • Planning: Involves the processes needed to define what the project is supposed to do and why it is happening, set strategic plans to be efficient, and to make priorities.
  • Executing: Involves teams being able to use the processes associated with creating timelines and reaching the benchmark goals that accompany those timelines.
  • Monitoring: Involves the whole process as this is where orders change, and unseen circumstances arise. Managers should keep the process moving by being quick to respond to these situations and also use a little bit of foresight to combat issues.
  • Closing: The budget must not go over and the project must be completed on time for this process to be completed. This means the customer signs off on the product, the project manager can archive records, final payments are in order, and closing contracts are completed. This is one of the most difficult parts of a project. 

The ten knowledge categories are:

  • Project integration: The whole idea of the project.
  • Scope management: How it will deliver, making sure everyone is on the same page, and the collection of requirements.
  • Schedule management: Essentially time management.
  • Cost management: This includes everything about the budget.
  • Quality management: The requirements of the customer are gone over and quality control is discussed.
  • Resource management: What are the resources that the company needs to complete the project?
  • Communication management: The project manager must write the communication plan as well as monitor the incoming and outgoing communications.
  • Risk management: This happens throughout the entire process of the project as risks may come up unexpectedly.
  • Procurement management: The purchasing process for managing the work of suppliers, what kind of resources you need, and closing the project when it is finished.
  • Stakeholder management: This is one of the most important groups because it helps identify potential stakeholders as well as understanding what role they play and how to meet those standards for them.

Since the last edition, there have been three more processes added to the original list of 47 to make 49 total. They are conveniently placed in a grid form that correlates with the original five process groups.

The big takeaways for using PMBOK are:

  • It creates a standard across all departments for better communication.
  • It can work as a standard across companies when project managers move to different locations.
  • It states what does work and what doesn’t work already.

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