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All About PMBOK

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 9/23/2009

This article describes PMBOK - what it is, what it is used for, and why you should be aware of it.

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    What is PMBOK?

    PMBOK is an acronym for "Project Management Body of Knowledge." This guide attempts to standardize project management tasks so that all employees and project managers are on the same page when it comes to overseeing the project process. This guide is produced by the Project Management Institute. The PMBOK Guide, third edition is available at their website for $49.95 (nonmembers) and $39.95 (members). It prepares project managers for the Project Management Institute's certification exams.

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    What is PMBOK used for?

    PMBOK divides processes up into five main categories. These five categories are:

    • Project Initiation
    • Project Planning
    • Project Execution
    • Controling and Monitoring the Project
    • Closing the Project

    Project initiation involves setting the project in motion, gaining the proper authorizations, and obtaining the required resources to carry the project out. Project planning invovles setting objectives, milestones, and determining deliverables. It also requires the project manager to schedule and budget the project - and it should involve risk identification. Project execution is just that - getting the project done. The project ought to be monitored and controlled carefully in order to ensure its successful completion. When the deliverables have all been produced, then the project should be closed and a report of the project process should be made.

    PMBOK is a formal project management process tool. It, like Six Sigma or Scrum, requires that project managers follow a specified process for undertaking project management duties. In addition to the five main process categories, the guide lists nine knowledge areas:

    1. Integration Management - deals with the activities in the project and how they are managed.
    2. Scope Management - deals with deliverables, and the final product of the project.
    3. Time Management - deals with productivity and scheduling.
    4. Cost Management - deals with budgeting activities.
    5. Quality Management - deals with the end product.
    6. Human Resource Management - deals with hiring, training and allocating employees.
    7. Communications Management - deals with the way that information will be distributed among project stakeholders
    8. Risk Management - deals with minimizing the chances of project failure.
    9. Procurement Management - deals with how equipment necessary for project completion will be obtained.
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    Why is PMBOK Important?

    While PMBOK seems like a lot to handle, putting it into effect can help streamline processes that project managers might stumble through. Because it takes a thorough approach to project and process management, utliizing PMBOK methods can ensure that the project manager does not leave anything out during the project cycle. For more information on PMBOK processes, you may wish to read the following two series by BrightHub's Deanna: Project Management Basics and Phases of Project Management.