What is PMBOK in Project Management?
Project Management (“PM”) is not a new science. It has been around for thousands of years. The Egyptian pyramid builders must have had some form of PM, as did the Greeks and Romans. The medieval cathedral builders and the Victorian engineers must have used PM. The big difference today is the use of computer software to automate the process, enabling projects to be more closely defined and managed.
As with other fields of study, PM has become formalized, regulated and recognized as a profession in its own right.
In parallel with the codification of the PM process, the certification of PM practitioners is now a key part of demonstrating fitness for purpose. There is a range of major and subordinate qualifications in PM disciplines, including the PMI qualification based on the Project Management Book of Knowledge (“PMBoK”) and in Europe the Prince II certification.
“PMBOK stands for Project Management Body of Knowledge and it is the entire collection of processes, proven procedure, phraseology, and piece of advice that are credit as standards within the project management industry”.
The emergence of certification provides clients with the comfort of knowing that the practitioner is qualified in the field, and practitioners the comfort of having to hand a globally recognized standard for the profession.
Having said that, there is a move afoot to position certified PM practitioners as qualified in any field. That is being fiercely resisted because a PM usually needs practical experience in the field being project managed. A common example is that a PM who’s entire experience is in the pharmaceutical industry is not qualified to manage construction projects. Besides, some areas need other qualifications and registrations outside PM to allow the PM to operate in that field.
The two leading frameworks currently are PMBoK and Prince. PMBoK is owned and managed by the Project Management Institute (“PMI”), an American organization. Prince was developed by the UK Government.
In the case of PMBoK, their major product is the “Project Management Body of Knowledge”, a paper and electronic publication issued to members of the Institute. It sets out a standard terminology and guidelines for the execution of projects. They also hold examinations and award certification online and through agents.
It was first recognized as a standard by ANSI and IEEE in 1996 and has evolved through various iterations to the current level six in September 2017. The Sixth Edition includes for the first time a recognition of the Agile environment.
It is intended to be a generalist guide to PM, but there are three extensions about specific environments recognized by PMBoK:
1. Sofware Extension
2. Construction Extension
3. Public Sector (Government) Extension
While concentrating on aspects of project management unique to the craft, such as critical path analysis and the work breakdown structure, it reaches out into more general management areas relating to the planning and execution of the project, including human resources and budgeting. It also involves an understanding of other management techniques including management science, financial management, and communications.
It also considers the role of Programme Management, an extension of PM into the management of multiple linked projects, and the use of the Project Management Office.
The guide proposes that there are two main areas – Process Groups and Knowledge Areas. In summary, 49 processes fall into five process groups and 10 Knowledge Areas. This is true of most projects, but there will always be those that don’t quite fit the mold.
Process Groups define the various stages of a project, from initiation to closing:
The project-kick-off, the identification of a need for a project, the preparation of an initial statement of work and budget, and obtaining sign-off to start the project
Turning the statement of work into the project plan with:
- A cogent statement of the project’s scope of work and success criteria
- A schedule of project management meetings at a detailed and executive level, including change management
- A coherent work-breakdown structure
- Assigned resources and team structure, including task assignment and reporting
- An agreed and signed-off project charter
- Associated management plans for risk, communications, stakeholders.
The actual running of the project.
4. Monitoring and Managing
The monitoring of project progress, the adjustment of the various project plans to meet changing circumstances. Simply put, the processes needed to support the management of the project to make sure that it stays on time and cost budgets.
Finalizing all tasks, and receiving the formal closure of the project.
The requirements of each are self-evident.