Project Management Body of Knowledge

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)
Author Project Management Institute
Genre Business
Published 2013 (Project Management Institute)
Pages 589 (fifth edition)
ISBN 978-1-935589-67-9

The Project Management Body of Knowledge is a set of standard terminology and guidelines (a body of knowledge) for project management. The body of knowledge evolves over time and is presented in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (the Guide to the PMBOK or the Guide), a book whose fifth edition came out in 2013. The Guide is a document resulting from work overseen by the Project Management Institute (PMI), which offers the CAPM and PMP certifications.

Much of PMBOK is unique to project management e.g. critical path method and work breakdown structure (WBS). The PMBOK also overlaps with general management which both include planning, organising, staffing, executing and controlling the operations of an organisation. Other management disciplines which overlap include financial forecasting, organisational behaviour, management science, budgeting and other planning methods.


Earlier versions of the PMBOK were recognized as standards by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) which assigns standards in the United States (ANSI/PMI 99-001-2008) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE 1490-2011).[1]

The evolution of the PMBOK is reflected in editions of the Guide. The Guide was first published by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in 1996. That document was to some extent based on earlier work that began with a white paper published in 1983 called the "Ethics, Standards, and Accreditation Committee Final Report." The second edition was published in 2000.[2]

In 2004, the PMBOK Guide — Third Edition was published with major changes from the previous editions. The Fourth edition was published in 2008. The latest English-language PMBOK Guide — Fifth Edition was released in 2013.

A "Sixth Edition" is scheduled for release in Q1 2017.[3]


The PMBOK as described in the Guide is intended to be "subset of the project management body of knowledge that is generally recognized as a good practice. 'Generally recognized' means the knowledge and practices described are applicable to most projects most of the time and there is a consensus about their value and usefulness. 'Good practice' means there is a general agreement that the application of the knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques can enhance the chance of success over many projects."[4] This means that the "latest" project management trends, often promoted by consultants, are normally not part in PMBOK.

The PMBOK Guide is also used as a support to prepare the certifications offered by the PMI, such as the CAPM and PMP.


The PMBOK Guide is process-based, meaning it describes work as being accomplished by processes. This approach is consistent with other management standards such as ISO 9000 and the Software Engineering Institute's CMMI. Processes overlap and interact throughout a project or its various phases.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge — Fifth Edition provides guidelines for managing individual projects and defines project management related concepts. It also describes the project management life cycle and its related processes, as well as the project life cycle.[4]

The PMBOK as described in the Guide recognizes 47 processes that fall into five basic process groups and ten knowledge areas that are typical of most projects, most of the time.

Process groups

The five process groups are:.

  1. Initiating: processes performed to define a new project or a new phase of an existing project by obtaining authorization to start the project or phase.
  2. Planning: Those processes required to establish the scope of the project, refine the objectives, and define the course of action required to attain the objectives that the project was undertaken to achieve.
  3. Executing: Those processes performed to complete the work defined in the project management plan to satisfy the project specifications
  4. Monitoring and Controlling: Those processes required to track, review, and regulate the progress and performance of the project; identify any areas in which changes to the plan are required; and initiate the corresponding changes.
  5. Closing: Those processes performed to finalize all activities across all Process Groups to formally close the project or phase.

Knowledge areas

The ten knowledge areas, each of which contains some or all of the project management processes, are:

  1. Project Integration Management : the processes and activities needed to identify, define, combine, unify, and coordinate the various processes and project management activities within the project management process groups.
  2. Project Scope management : the processes required to ensure that the project includes all the work required, and only the work required, to complete the project successfully.
  3. Project Time Management : the processes required to manage the timely completion of the project.
  4. Project Cost Management : the processes involved in planning, estimating, budgeting, financing, funding, managing, and controlling costs so that the project can be completed within the approved budget.
  5. Project Quality Management : the processes and activities of the performing organization that determine quality policies, objectives, and responsibilities so that the project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken.
  6. Project Human Resource Management : the processes that organize, manage, and lead the project team.
  7. Project Communications Management : the processes that are required to ensure timely and appropriate planning, collection, creation, distribution, storage, retrieval, management, control, monitoring, and the ultimate disposition of project information.
  8. Project Risk Management : the processes of conducting risk management planning, identification, analysis, response planning, and controlling risk on a project.
  9. Project Procurement Management : the processes necessary to purchase or acquire products, services, or results needed from outside the project team. Processes in this area include Procurement Planning, Solicitation Planning, Solicitation, Source Selection, Contract Administration, and Contract Closeout.
  10. Project Stakeholder Management : the processes required to identify all people or organizations impacted by the project, analyzing stakeholder expectations and impact on the project, and developing appropriate management strategies for effectively engaging stakeholders in project decisions and execution.

Each of the ten knowledge areas contains the processes that need to be accomplished within its discipline in order to achieve effective project management. Each of these processes also falls into one of the five process groups, creating a matrix structure such that every process can be related to one knowledge area and one process group.


While the PMBOK Guide is meant to offer a general guide to manage most projects most of the time, there are currently three official extensions:

Criticism and alternatives

The PMBOK is widely accepted to be the standard in project management, but it has had its critics. One thrust of critique has come from the critical chain developers and followers (e.g. Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Lawrence P. Leach),[5] as opposed to critical path method adherents. it should be noted that PMBOK Guide section on Project Time Management does indicate Critical Chain as an alternative method to Critical Path.

See also


  1. IEEE (2011), IEEE Guide--Adoption of the Project Management Institute (PMI(R)) Standard A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK(R) Guide)--Fourth Edition
  2. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, copyright page, edition 2 ISBN 1-880410-12-5, and edition 3 2004 ISBN 978-1-930699-45-8, and edition 4 2008 ISBN 1-933890-51-7
  3. Project Management Institute], retrieved 8 January 2016
  4. 1 2 PMI (2012), A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, 5th Ed.
  5. Eliyahu M. Goldratt . ISBN 0884271536 and Lawrence P. Leach. (Artech House Professional Development Library). ISBN 1580530745

External links

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