Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)

~ By Duncan Haughey

PMI logo

Now in its fifth edition, the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a collection of processes and knowledge areas accepted as best practice for the project management profession.

As an internationally recognised standard (ANSI/PMI 99-001-2008 and IEEE 1490-2011) it provides the fundamentals of project management, irrespective of the type of project be it construction, software, engineering, automotive.

PMBOK recognises five basic process groups and ten knowledge areas typical of almost all projects. The basic concepts are applicable to projects, programmes and operations. The five basic process groups are:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Monitoring and Controlling
  5. Closing

Processes overlap and interact throughout a project or phase. Processes are described in terms of:

  • Inputs (documents, plans, designs, etc.)
  • Tools and Techniques (mechanisms applied to inputs)
  • Outputs (documents, products, etc.)

The ten knowledge areas are:

  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
  10. Project Stakeholder Management (added in the 5th edition)

Each knowledge area contains some or all of the project management processes. For example, Project Procurement Management includes:

  • Plan Procurements
  • Conduct Procurements
  • Administer Procurements
  • Close Procurements

Much of PMBOK is unique to project management, for example, critical path and work breakdown structure (WBS). Some areas overlap with other management disciplines. General management also includes planning, organising, staffing, executing and controlling the operations of an organisation. Financial forecasting, organisational behaviour and planning techniques are also similar.


The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the publisher of PMBOK (now in its fifth edition) and offers two levels of certification:

A Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) has demonstrated a common base of knowledge and terms in the field of project management. It requires a secondary degree (high school diploma or global equivalent) and either 1500 hours of work on a project team or 23 contact hours of formal education in project management.

A Project Management Professional (PMP) has met specific education and experience requirements, has agreed to adhere to a code of professional conduct and has passed an examination designed to objectively assess and measure project management knowledge. In addition, a PMP must satisfy continuing certification requirements or lose the certification.

As of February 2012, PMI reported over 378,749 members, with 472,799 active Project Management Professionals (PMP) and 16,939 active Certified Associate in Project Managements (CAPM).¹ Over 44,000 PMP certifications expire annually; a PMP must document ongoing project management experience and education every three years to keep their certification current.

PMI is currently developing the sixth edition of the PMBOK Guide, which is expected in Q1 2017.


¹ PMI Today Magazine, April 2012.


Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment

(never displayed)

What is the opposite word of small?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Tracking a Risk

Dial showing three levels of risk management

Risk management is a vital part of project management. Learn four key steps to help you evaluate and mitigate any risks on your project.

Project Management Checklists


Checklists are underused in the planning and managing of projects. Here is a high level twelve-point checklist for use during project planning.

How to Avoid Project Burnout

Exhausted businessman resting on a pile of paperwork with tongue hanging out from overwork

Resources on projects can be susceptible to burning out before the project finishes. Here are a few ideas to prevent burnout in project teams.

A Brief History of SMART Goals

Set your goals written on blue paper

In this history of SMART goals, I look at where the acronym came from, who developed it, what the critics say and why it has become popular.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.

Latest Comments

Alick Nyangulu commented on…
The Role of the Project Manager
- Thu 20 October 8:14pm

Duncan commented on…
Project Planning a Step by Step Guide
- Thu 20 October 5:04pm

Karim commented on…
Project Planning a Step by Step Guide
- Thu 20 October 12:48pm

Latest tweets

RT @LeanneM_INV: Eternally grateful for the existence of @ProjectSmart getting me through my MSc #speakinginplainenglish about 2 days ago

General Project Management • Re: What is a main priority when looking for PM Software? #pm #projectsmart about 4 days ago

General Project Management • Re: Project Managment Software #pm #projectsmart about 4 days ago