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What is PMBOK®? Description

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) is an internationally recognized standard (IEEE, ANSI and ISO 21500) that deals with the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to meet project requirements. The PMBOK® Guide edition 6 defines a Management life cycle with 5 process groups, 10 knowledge areas and 49 processes of the project management profession.

A project team operates in 10 knowledge areas through a number of basic processes as summarized below:

  1. Integration Management. Develop the Project Charter, Scope Statement and Plan. Direct, Manage Knowledge, Monitor and Control Project Change.
  2. Scope Management. Planning, Definition, Work Break-down Structure (WBS) Creation, Validation and Control.
  3. Time Management. Planning, Definition, Sequencing and Estimating activities, Develop and Control.Schedule.
  4. Cost Management. Planning and Cost Estimating, Budgeting and Cost Control.
  5. Quality Management. Quality Planning, Manage and Control Quality.
  6. Resources Management. Planning, Estimating and Acquiring Activities Resources, Developing and Managing Project Team and Control Resources.
  7. Communications Management. Planning, Managing and Monitoring Communications, Reporting.
  8. Risks Management. Risk Planning and Identification, Qualitative and Quantitative Risk Analysis, Plan and Implement Risk Responses and Monitoring Risks.
  9. Procurement Management. Planning, Conducting and Controlling Procurements.
  10. Stakeholders Management. Identification, Planning, Managing and Monitoring Stakeholders Engagement.

For each process, activity, or practice, a description of input, tools and technique and output (deliverables) is made.

Origin of PMBOK®. History

The Project Management Institute (PMI®) was founded in 1969, initially to identify common Management practices in projects across industries.

  • The first edition of the PMBOK® Guide was published in 1987. It was the result of workshops initiated in the early 80s by the PMI®. In parallel a Code of Ethics was developed and guidelines for accreditation of training centers and certification of individuals.
  • Later, a second version of the PMBOK® Guide was published (1996 and 2000), based on comments received from the members. PMBOK was recognized as a standard by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 1998, and later by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
  • The third version of the PMBOK® Guide was published in 2004, with major improvements in the structure of the document, additions to processes, terms and domains of program and portfolio.
  • The fourth version of the PMBOK® Guide was published in 2008 with minor improvements such as a reduction of the number of processes from 44 to 42 and a modification of process effectuation into the process matrix.
  • The fifth version of the PMBOK® Guide was published in 2013 with significant improvements in its structure, adding a new knowledge area “Stakeholders Management” and a fourth process (“Plan”) to the following knowledge areas : Scope, Cost, Time, Stakeholders, as well as a reallocation of a few processes.
  • The sixth version of the PMBOK® Guide was published in 2017 with significant improvements with adaptative project Development Life Cycles from predictive to Agile and Hybrid Methods approaches. Outlines the Role of the Project Manager, competencies and sphere of influence, Adding three Processes, including Knowledge Management, Control Resources, Implement Risk Responses, as well as a reallocation of a few processes.

The launch of PMBOK® Guide edition 6, aligns with ISO standard for Project Management 21500. The PMI® Institute was one of the main contributors to this international standard in early 2013.

Usage of PMBOK®. Applications

All kinds of project, programs and portfolio management. Application areas include :

  • Management programs (general)
  • Departmental projects (functional)
  • Engineering projects (technical)
  • Industry specific processes
  • Product development (marketing)
  • Government programs (public)
  • Development programs (international organizations)

Steps in PMBOK®. Process

A Project is accomplished through the integration of the project management processes. PMBOK® Guide uses a variation of the Deming Cycle (PDCA) (PDCA) for continuous improvement with a 5 -step lifecycle applicable on both the whole project and on each project phase:

PMI PMBOK Processes
  1. Initiating. Main elements:
    • Authorize the project
    • Commit the organization to a project or phase
    • Set the overall direction
    • Define top-level project objectives
    • Secure necessary approvals and resources
    • Validate alignment with overall business objectives
    • Identify and Analyse Stakeholders
    • Assign project manager
    • Develop project charter
  2. Planning. Main elements:
    • Define project scope
    • Refine project objectives
    • Define all required deliverables
    • Create framework for project schedule
    • Provide forum for information sharing for team members and stakeholders
    • Define all required activities
    • Sequence all activities
    • Identify required skills and resources
    • Estimate work effort
    • Risk analysis and avoidance
    • Define and estimate all required costs
    • Obtain project funding approval
    • Communication plan
  3. Executing. Main elements:
    • Manage Resources
    • Direct and develop Team
    • Manage Knowledge
    • Manage Quality
    • Implement Risk Responses
    • Select and approach subcontractors
    • Distribute information
    • Execute the plan
  4. Monitoring and Controlling. Main elements:
    • Manage team, stakeholders engagement, subcontractors
    • Measuring progress and monitoring performance (overall, scope, schedule, costs, quality)
    • o Control Resources
    • Take corrective actions if and where needed. Issue resolution and escalation
    • Change request management
    • Risk Management (technical, quality, performance, project management, organizational, external)
    • Performance reports. Communications
  5. Closing. Main elements:
    • Finalize activities
    • Administrative close out (gather, distribute, archive information to formalize project completion, acceptance/signoff, evaluation, member appraisals, lessons learned)
    • Contract close out (completion of the project contract including resolution of open items and final formal acceptance)

The Project Manager is responsible for the project objectives to deliver the final product that has been defined, within the constraints of project scope, time, cost and required quality.

Strengths of PMBOK®. Benefits

  • PMBOK® Guide is a framework and a de facto standard.
  • It is process-oriented.
  • It states the knowledge needed to manage the life cycle of any Project, Program and Portfolio through their processes.
  • It defines for each process the necessary input, tools, techniques and output (deliverables).
  • It defines a body of knowledge on which any industry can build specific best practices for its application area.

Limitations of PMBOK®. Disadvantages

  • Complex for small projects.
  • Has to be adapted to the project's size
  • Has to be adapted to the application area industry.
  • Has to be adapted to the scope, time and budget and quality constraints.

Assumptions of PMBOK®. Conditions

  • Project management needs a standard that is applicable to any kind of project scope, industry and culture.

Book: PMI - PMBOK Guide (Sixt Edition 2017)

Special Interest Group

PMBOK Special Interest Group.

Special Interest Group
Special Interest Group (1635 members)


Forum discussions about PMBOK. Below you can ask a question about this topic, share your experiences, report a new development, or explain something.

topic Why Projects are Risky?
There are some factors which are found in all or most projects, and which make them inherently risky. These risk factors of projects include: 1. Uniqueness 2. Complexity 3. Assumptions and constrai...
Comments1 comments
topic When Used for Software Development
This is an extension of Deming's work. Deming's is definitely a top-down management style. Do not make changes in implementation unless the change has been vetted through change control which includes...
topic Agile Project Budgeting
THE PROBLEM WITH TRADITIONAL PROJECT BUDGETING Traditional project budgeting uses a bottom-up approach that requires a forecast of all involved tasks for the entire project development process and es...
Comments1 comments
topic What is Project Lifecycle?
What is exactly is meant with Project Lifecycle in the management of projects? Do you have a good definition? Can I have your reactions please......
Comments2 comments
topic PMO in Human Resources
How can I apply the PMO to a recruiting process in the human resources field? Does anybody have an implemented model? Thanks a lot!...
Comments1 comments
topic PMBOK Edition 6: What's New?
Edition 6 of the PMBOK from PMI was launched on September 2017. This new edition has lots of improvements based on worldwide up to date practices in Project Management, for example: The addition ...
Comments2 comments
topic Presenting Lessons Learnt
I am looking for a good way of presenting "lessons learnt" to the customer during the project closure meeting. Any advise from this forum?...
Comments2 comments
topic Life Cycle Costing Analysis
What is life cycle costing analysis all about and what are the advantages and disadvantages of the Life Cycle Costing approach? Given a situation like network upgrading and the project team chooses t...
topic The 3 Processes to Manage the Quality of Projects
Schwalbe seems to follow the definition of PMBOK when he describes the three processes that are involved in project quality management: QUALITY PLANNING: the first process refers to the identifica...
topic Project Management Knowledge Standard(s)
Being completely new to project management and seeing all sorts of different qualifications advertised for what are various approaches based on different commercial areas of activity, I am wondering i...
🔥 Gold Plating in Project Management
Gold Plating in project management is the error of continuing to work on a project or task well past the point where the extra value it generates (if any) is worth the effort. The term goldplating ref...
topic The Meaning of 'Scope' in Project Management
Because the word 'scope' is a verb, a noun, a process and a description, when specifying its elements, it confuses students unnecessarily. So lets start to use clearer language: To scope = to spe...
topic Managing Organization Culture
Most managers have experiences with positive and negative effects of culture on the plans and strategies of the organization. How can we manage the culture so that company objectives are met. What met...
Comments1 comments

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Best Practices

The best, top-rated topics about PMBOK. Here you will find the most valuable ideas and practical suggestions.

🥇 Who Initiates and Plans a Project?
It's very interesting to read about PMI processes, but I am wondering whether the initiating and the planning stages are carried out by top management (before choosing a project manager) or is it the ...
Comments7 comments

🥈 PMBOK <> PMBOK Guide
The 'PMBOK' refers to all published knowledge, where as the 'PMBOK guide' refers to the document published by PMI that refers to a smaller subset of the PMBOK. This is a frequent point of confusion. ...
Comments4 comments

🥉 I am a project, my life is a program
I am a project, my life is a program and this world is a portfolio....
Comments4 comments

topic Task Reminder Tool / Task Reminder Software
Task reminders - I am looking for some tool wherein I can remind all task owners in advance, based on tasks that are over due, due and task expected to complete in future date. MS Project?...
Comments8 comments

topic Project Budgeting Best Practices
I love to know please how budgeting can contribute to the success or failure of a Project? Specific steps and attentions on the Project....
Comments3 comments

topic What are the Common Reasons Why IT Projects Fail?
In my view, the common reasons for failure of IT projects are: 1. Lack of risk management 2. Lack of proper scheduling 3. Lack of communication 4. Lack of integration while going live 5. Lack of...
Comments12 comments

topic Looking for Internet Collaboration Project Software
I'm looking for a collaboration software (preferably open / free) to manage the implementation of non-technical (non-IT) projects over the internet (saas soft) We like Basecamp but is not free and do...
Comments5 comments

topic Is the 2013 Version of PMBOK V5 a Real Improvement?
Do you think the PMBOK V5 new version launched 01/2013 is a major improvement: - adding "Stakeholders Management" as a new knowledge area, and - adding a Plan process where it was missing....
Comments3 comments

topic Why Project Risk Management?
How do risk management processes contribute to project success? I am studying project management and would like to find out how risk management processes contribute to project success. Thanks for your...
Comments7 comments

topic Shortfall in the PMBOK Framework
I believe there is a major shortfall in this framework - the lack of the concept of Governance, which might be an addendum to the 'control' lozenge. Most PMs success is measured on delivering project...
Comments8 comments

topic Why use Project Management Software?
Why is support software required in project management processes? What types of software are most useful? Why? ....
Comments3 comments

topic 9 Knowledge Areas in PMBOK
With reference to the nine knowledge areas, how may a project manager carry out project analysis?...
Comments6 comments

Expert Tips

Advanced insights about PMBOK. Here you will find professional advices by experts.


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Information Sources

Various sources of information regarding PMBOK. Here you will find powerpoints, videos, news, etc. to use in your own lectures and workshops.


Introduction Into Project Management Body of Knowledge: PMBOK

Project Management
This presentation gives an introduction into PMBOK and includes the following sections: 1. Contents 2. Introduction 3...

Introduction to PMBOK

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First Introduction to Project Management. Essentials

Project Management Primer, Project Management 101, Basics of Project Management
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Introduction to Project Quality Management

Quality Management, Project Quality Planning, Project Quality Assurance, Project Quality Control
Presentation about Project Quality Management. A large part of the presentation is about Six Sigma as a quality manageme...

PMBOK4 Updates from V3

Differences V3 and V4
Lately Project Management Institute(PMI) has changed the "Project Management Body Of Knowledge" PMBOK version from 3rd ...

Project Management of Information Technology Projects

Project Management, Information Technology, Three Sphere Model
This presentation provides information about project management, thereby especially focusing on a context of information...

Project Communication Management

Project Communications Plan, Project Management, Project Communication Plan, Project Stakeholder Analysis
This presentation is about communication, specifically focusing on communciation during projects. The presentation inclu...

Introduction to Project Risk Management

Understanding the Importance of Project Risk Management
Project Management is Risk Management. From maintaining the customer relationship to protecting the critical path. The c...

9 Knowledge Areas

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PMBOK Diagram

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Download and edit this 12manage PowerPoint graphic for limited personal, educational and business use. Republishing in ...

Research Links

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Compare with PMBOK: OPM3  |  MSP  |  PMMM  |  IPMA Competence Baseline (ICB)  |  Team Management Profile  |  Stages of Team Development  |  Belbin Team Roles

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