PMBOK® or the Project Management Body of Knowledge describes a best practice set of standards, processes and terminology for project management.
PMBOK® is a book, now in its 5th edition which is often used as course preparation for PMP and CAPM certifications.
It is structured around five widely understood process groups that are common to most standard projects:
- Initiating – defining and authorising new project
- Planning – the scope, objectives and courses of action. Also the time, cost, quality, human resources and risks
- Executing – all the processes to complete the work defined in the process stage
- Monitoring and Controlling – tracking and reviewing the progress and performance of the project, managing change, and implementing corrective action
- Closing – acceptance of the final outputs of the project, post-project reviews and lessons learned
What else is in the Project Management Body of Knowledge?
PMBOK® is an extensive document of several hundred pages and contains detailed information and guidelines on many aspects of project management. Ten specific knowledge areas are explored in detail and cover comprehensive processes for the following among others:
Organizational Influences on Project Management are discussed to give context to how the type and size of an organisation, and its culture will impact project style. Project stakeholders, governance and the structure of the project team are covered along with useful information on the different types of life cycles and phases.
Project Integration Management provides detail on how to coordinate the 5 process groups mentioned above. This includes developing the project charter and management plan, the process of leading and performing the work required, and how track and report on project progress. Change control forms an important part of integration management as well as the actual closing of a project once it is complete.
In Project Scope Management, the discussion centers on defining and controlling scope and also the process of collecting and documenting the stakeholder requirements. Scope refers to both product scope – the features and functions to be built, and project scope – the extent of the work to be done. It is here that the specifics of the work breakdown structures (WBS) are decided.
The Plan Schedule Management section is all about executing and controlling the project schedule. This is often the hardest part to get right so defining the baseline, activities and milestones as accurately as possible at the start is very important. Here, PMBOK® gives you tools and techniques to estimate timelines, manage dependencies, and optimise your resource allocation.
The processes explored in Project Cost Management include how to plan, estimate and control costs so that the project can be completed within the approved budget. The cost management planning effort should ideally occur early in project planning so that performance of the processes will be efficient and coordinated.
Quality Control is one of the most crucial aspects of delivering successful products, but the quality of the project plan and other project outputs are also very important. There are interesting discussions on continuous improvement, the cost of quality (COQ) and how to plan your quality strategy. Here we also get insight into 7 basic quality tools: cause-and-effect diagrams, flowcharts, checksheets, Pareto diagrams, histograms, control charts and scatter diagrams.
The Project Management Body of Knowledge has comprehensive sections on the knowledge areas of Human Resource Management, Project Communication and Risk Management which I found extremely valuable to read.
PMBOK® is not for everyone, nor can it be applied to every project type. If you’ve been working with Agile methodologies you will find it particularly process heavy.
It is however an extensive and thoroughly researched document that has evolved over more than 20 years and provides a valuable reference for any project manager.