What is the PMBOK and which knowledge areas and process groups does it contain?

The US Standard for Project Management

PMBOK stands for Project Management Body of Knowledge. The PMBOK is a guideline which is revised approx. every four years by the editor, the Project Management Institute (PMI). The guide is closely linked to the American National Standard Institute (ANSI), which approved the PMBOK Guide as a standard in 1999. It is recognised worldwide as a reference work for project management. The ISO 21500 standard is also based on the PMBOK and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has also recognised the Guide as a standard (IEEE Std 1490-2003).

The first edition of the PMBOK was published in 1996, the currently valid 6th edition was published on September 6, 2017. The guideline is industry-neutral, industry and method-independent and can be applied to projects of any size and scope. It follows the idea that the project manager decides individually which contents he wants to use from the PMBOK for the concrete project. The work is structured into knowledge areas, process groups and processes as well as descriptions of inputs, outputs and suitable tools and methods.

Knowledge areas and process groups in the PMBOK

The following ten areas of knowledge exist:

  • integration management
  • content and scope management
  • time management
  • cost management
  • quality management
  • human resources management
  • communications management
  • risk management
  • procurement management
  • stakeholder management

The following five process groups exist:

  • initiation
  • planning
  • execution
  • monitoring and control
  • closing

The knowledge areas and process groups are linked with a total of 47 processes. The resulting matrix assigns each process to a process group and an area of knowledge. Members of the PMI receive the PMBOK free of charge.

Besides its importance as a guideline for project management, the PMBOK is the basis for the project management certifications of the PMI – Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) and Project Management Professional (PMP).

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The 7th edition of the PMBOK will be published at the beginning of 2021. You can get a first insight here.

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