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What is PMBOK for Project Managers?

Planning and Control using Microsoft Project and PMBOK GuideIn general, a “body of knowledge” would usually refer to gathered knowledge from different sources that is about one idea or topic.

For project managers, there is PMBOK, which refers to all the standards they need to adapt and practice. Just by the scope of knowledge required to manage projects, this particular guide covers a much broader spectrum of content than you might expect to find in other bodies of knowledge publications.

The acronym stands for “Product Management Body of Knowledge”.

This is not a system, per se, but rather a guide published by the Project Management Institute and for project managers to practice and master.  It is also a qualification that can be acquired via the testing and exams provided by PMI, and available from Prometric testing centres around the world.

PMBOK Guide

This guide got its debut in 1987 and was published as a collection of the “body of knowledge” that project managers could follow; thus, a guide. Its formal book launching was on 1996, and now, it is in its 4th edition.

The guide is a compilation for standards that every project manager worldwide considers the ultimate source of essential information and practices. It is not a “how-to” guide that gives step-by-step instructions as to what should be done. Rather, it is a handbook that explains the five basic process and knowledge areas involved in managing a project.

Five Processes & Nine Knowledge Areas

The five processes discussed in PMBOK are the following:

  1. Initiating – It involves the discussion of how to successfully initiate a project; usually, this is the brainstorming phase in project management
  2. Planning – This process is a crucial part of a project. This includes everything that has to be taken care of to make a project successful. In PMBOK, this phase is discussed thoroughly.
  3. Executing – As the term may imply, it is the execution of the plan.
  4. Controlling and Monitoring – This is the phase where project managers are starting to feel if the project is winning or losing. If it should be stopped, revised, continued, etc.
  5. Closing – This serves as the finale – whether the project was a success or a failure.

The nine knowledge areas discussed in the same guide are the following:

  1. Project Integration Management
  2. Project Scope Management
  3. Project Time Management
  4. Project Cost Management
  5. Project Quality Management
  6. Project Human Resource Management
  7. Project Communications Management
  8. Project Risk Management
  9. Project Procurement Management

These nine knowledge areas are very insightful in making a successful project.

For PMI, being able to know these areas can have a great impact in the projects that project managers are handling.  As project managers, they need to have knowledge about these areas so that they will be able to execute projects with ease, confidence, and pride.

The PMBOK® Guide is now considered to be the sole resource for project managers when it comes to handling projects. Organizations such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and the International Organization for Standardization Technical Report refer to PMBOK for all of their projects.

For project managers who have been in the profession for quite some time, the PMBOK serves as their Bible – an ultimate guide. Perhaps, smaller organisations and simple projects, handled by less experienced project managers, should also study this guide to help improve their knowledge and skills about project management.

Eastwood Harris has published a number of books related to using project management software, like Primavera P6 or Microsoft Project, to design and manage the project within the PMBOK framework.


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