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The PMBOK and How It’s Used in Project Management 7 min read
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“We’re over budget.” These three words can make even the most seasoned project manager panic and wonder where they went wrong. As a project manager, you’re responsible for meeting detailed requirements regarding scope, budget, and schedule. If you don’t deliver in all three areas, you may not be able to satisfy key stakeholders, leading to tense meetings and expensive change orders.

Fortunately, there’s no need to panic. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is the secret weapon you need to plan and execute projects successfully, regardless of what industry you’re in or how much experience you have. The Project Management Institute developed the PMBOK guide to provide detailed information about project management best practices. It also contains processes and knowledge areas to help you become a more competent project manager.

This article provides an overview of what’s included in the PMBOK guide and explains how you can use the information to advance your project management career. We can’t take away the challenges involved in project management, but reading this article will arm you with the knowledge you need to tackle any project-related problem.

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What is the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)?

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a standard set of processes, guidelines, and best practices used in project management. It’s broken into five process groups, 10 knowledge areas, and 49 processes. Having a set of standard best practices makes it easier for employers to identify project managers with the knowledge and skills needed to plan, organize, and direct projects successfully. Let’s take a look at more specific ways the PMBOK helps with project management tasks.

How can PMBOK help with project management?

PMBOK is helpful for project management because it contains best practices that work on most projects. The Project Management Institute developed the content by conducting research and consulting experts in the field of project management. Therefore, the principles have been tested in a variety of settings.

The PMBOK provides a detailed overview of the project management process, along with guidelines to help project managers make wise decisions. By reading the PMBOK guide, new project managers can improve their skills in cost management, human resource management, and quality management. Experienced project managers can also benefit from using the PMBOK guide to prepare for their PMP certifications, which are based on the PMBOK standards.

Applying the standards outlined in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) guide also makes it easier for project managers to manage projects effectively within the triple constraints of time, scope, and cost.

Following the PMBOK helps project managers and their teams in several ways:

  • Defining the project early on ensures that everyone is on the same page, which helps prevent costly delays as the project progresses.
  • Mapping out the activities required to complete the project makes it easier for the project manager to determine what resources the team needs and how those resources should be used.
  • Estimating project costs helps project managers identify when a specific activity is over budget, making it easier to budget for future costs.
  • Monitoring and controlling let project managers spot small problems before they turn into big ones.
  • Following the closing processes ensures that the project manager has a record of all project-related activities. On future projects, this record can help the team do a better job overcoming project-related challenges.
  • Applying the PMBOK guidelines eliminates the need to reinvent the wheel every time you begin a new project.

What can project managers do with PMBOK?

Project managers can use PMBOK to familiarize themselves with the standardized processes, guidelines, and best practices used in project management, making them more versatile. If you’re familiar with project management best practices, you can also transition to a new company or industry without having to start over from scratch.

The PMBOK guide contains key terms, information about project-related functions, and basic principles of effective project management. No matter how much experience you have, you can use the PMBOK content to gain new knowledge and skills, increasing your effectiveness as a project manager. Additionally, if you run into a problem with a project, you can consult the PMBOK guide to find out what the experts recommend.

Now that you know how helpful the PMBOK can be for project managers, let’s take a closer look first at process groups and then knowledge areas.

The five project management BOK process groups

The PMBOK guide outlines five project management process groups:

  • Initiating: Initiating processes are all the processes involved in getting approval for a new project or starting a new phase of an existing project, along with defining the project’s initial scope and key stakeholders.
  • Planning: Planning processes help establish the full scope of the project. This process group contains 24 processes, such as creating a work breakdown structure, defining what activities are needed to complete the project, estimating how long each activity will take, and estimating project costs.
  • Executing: Executing processes are the processes involved in doing the work necessary to complete the project successfully.
  • Monitoring and controlling: Project managers use monitoring and controlling processes to assess how the project is going and make any necessary changes.
  • Closing: Closing processes are essential for completing a project or a phase. During closing, the project manager is responsible for archiving relevant records, celebrating the project, and holding a meeting to discuss what went well and what could be improved for the future.

PMBOK 10 knowledge areas

The PMBOK guide also contains 10 knowledge areas that can help project managers do a better job planning, executing, and closing their projects.

These 10 knowledge areas are as follows:

  • Integration
  • Scope
  • Time
  • Cost
  • Quality
  • Procurement
  • Human resources
  • Communications
  • Risk management
  • Stakeholder management

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Apply project management concepts from PMBOK with

Monitoring and controlling processes keep projects on track and prevent cost overruns caused by mistakes and delays. offers a project management platform with built-in templates and tools to help you monitor every project. Custom templates make it easier and less time-consuming to track project requests, get approvals from key stakeholders, and plan every project in its own workspace.

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Frequently asked questions

What is PMBOK used for?

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, known as the PMBOK guide, outlines the process groups, knowledge areas, and processes necessary for effective project management. Its publisher, the Project Management Institute, recently replaced the sixth edition of the guide with the updated seventh edition, but many project managers are still using the older version.

This guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge takes project managers and their team members through the key phases of each project. It also serves as a study guide for project managers interested in obtaining the Project Management Professional certification.

What is the PMBOK methodology?

PMBOK isn’t a true methodology. It’s a framework made up of process groups, knowledge areas, and processes. Companies use the PMBOK framework to develop standardized approaches to project management, which may prevent projects from failing.

Is PMBOK the same as PMP?

No, PMBOK isn’t the same as PMP. PMBOK stands for Project Management Body of Knowledge, while PMP stands for Project Management Professional. One is a set of terminology and guidelines used in project management; the other is a professional certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Plan and execute projects with ease

The PMBOK guide has nearly 400 pages of information to help you become a more effective project manager. Now that you’re familiar with the basic principles of project management, it’s time to put them into practice. is standing by to help you streamline key processes and reduce the amount of time spent on manual project tracking.

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