What is the PMBOK Methodology in Project Management?

Project management is one of those roles a business cannot (and shouldn’t) do without, regardless of type and size.

However, effective project management can be challenging without a structured approach to analyzing project needs, resources, and scheduling.

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a widely used standard that allows organizations to professionalize the role of project management resulting in better-managed projects.

In this guide, we’ll discuss what PMBOK is, how it came to be, as well as the PMBOK methodology and how you can use it to manage your projects.

Let’s get started.

What is PMBOK in Project Management?

PMBOK stands for Project Management Body of Knowledge and is a process-based project management methodology (actually a framework, but more on that later), developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI).

PMBOK constitutes a collection of project management processes, best practices, terminologies, guidelines, and tools accepted as standard within the project management industry.

PMBOK: A Brief History

PMBOK was created by the PMI, which was established in 1969 to provide project management professionals with a forum to discuss their experiences and problems.

In 1984, PMI issued its first certification: the Project Management Professional (PMP). The certification is recognized as a critical tool for project managers to prove their ability to carry out their duties.

In 1987 PMI released the “Project Management Body of Knowledge” whitepaper, followed by the PMBOK guide in 1994.

In 2007 the PMBOK Guide earned the ANSI/ISO/IEC.

The PMI has published several editions of the PMBOK guide since 1994, with the latest one—the 6th edition—published in 2017.

What is the PMBOK Project Management Methodology?

History lesson aside, what exactly is the PMBOK project management methodology, and what makes it unique?

PMBOK is more of an industry framework than methodology because it incorporates best practices, a set of guidelines, processes, and tools in project management. Unlike other project management methodologies, PMBOK is an internationally recognized standard that establishes the fundamentals of project management.

Being a framework, you can tailor PMBOK to suit various project management situations. As the project manager, you select what you need for your team and project. For instance, you could integrate Waterfall or Agile methodologies within PMBOK.

Why Use PMBOK?

With so many other PM methodologies available, why should you consider using PMBOK?

The primary goal of project management is simple; to increase project success within the set timeframe and budget. PMBOK enables you to do precisely that by providing the best practices for project management.

PMBOK allows companies to standardize practices across departments. So it doesn’t matter whether a project belongs to the development team or the operations team. All projects are managed in the same manner.

Additionally, PMBOK can help project managers to work with a standardized system across companies. If you leave your organization for another, you’ll still be able to use the same practices described by PMBOK.

Think of PMBOK as a project management handbook that you can refer to whenever you need guidance. The methods documented within the PMBOK methodology can help you manage potential project risks. The guide discusses what works, giving you an idea of what you need to do to steer your projects towards success. It also discusses what doesn’t work, giving you the power to prevent the failure of projects.

The PMBOK Structure for Project Management

The PMBOK® structure includes five process groups, ten knowledge areas, and 47 project management processes—the knowledge areas group the project management processes by content.

Let’s take a look at what each of these mean.

5 Process Groups

The 47 project management processes are grouped into five groups areas:

1. Initiating

The first process group in the PMBOK framework is initiating. This group involves setting the vision of what the project hopes to achieve. It answers the question; what do you need to accomplish to term the project a success?

In this process, you define the project scope, set clear phases for work to be completed, set up teams, and allocate a budget.

2. Planning

Now that you know the project scope, how will you hone it? The planning process group defines the activities you need to refine your scope, such as identifying risks, milestones, and budget.

The PMBOK Guide outlines 24 discrete processes that are involved in planning. These include creating strategic plans, setting priorities, planning team needs, and more. This group also involves progressive elaboration, where you develop detailed project documents providing more refined estimates of items such as project scope description, planning, budget, and more.

3. Executing

The executing process group ensures that teams execute project activities within expected timelines. In addition, the project manager should address team concerns or other complex situations associated with getting the work done as expected. For instance, are you overworking your resources to ensure they complete the project within the set deadline? If that’s the case, you may need to do some resource leveling or resource smoothing.

A tool like Mission Control can give you a clear overview of what the entire team is working on at a particular time. Hence, letting you identify overworked teams and reassign tasks accordingly.

In addition to ensuring the project is running smoothly, you also need to communicate project progress regularly to all stakeholders.

4. Monitoring and Controlling

Monitoring and controlling involve tracking, reviewing, and regulating the project’s progress and performance. It’s here where you identify any necessary changes to the project plan and initiate the corresponding changes.

5. Closing

Since projects have a clearly defined start and end date, they must be closed at some point. In the closing group, the project manager must formally close the project by:

  • Getting acceptance from the customer
  • Archiving records
  • Making final payments
  • Closing contracts
  • Reviewing lessons learned
  • Celebrating success

10 PMBOK Knowledge Areas

You should fully grasp certain fundamentals if you want to be an exceptional project manager and deliver high-quality projects. These fundamentals are defined in The PMBOK ten knowledge areas:

1. Integration

Integration is the ability to bring together everything you know so that you’re managing your project as a cohesive whole rather than a collection of isolated entities. A great way to achieve this is using Project Service Automation (PSA) to access and manage all your project processes from one central place.

2. Scope

Scope defines what your project will deliver. As the project manager, you need to ensure that all stakeholders clearly understand the project’s purpose. This involves collecting requirements and preparing the work breakdown structure. The better you define your scope, the better everyone will understand what the project is supposed to deliver.

3. Time

How are you and your team spending your time? Is it adding to or stealing from the project? Time management is a must-have skill for every project manager worth their salt. The time knowledge area elaborates on the value of time tracking and how to do it. It’s crucial that you track how much time people spend on tasks and how long the project takes overall. Knowing how long tasks take helps you allocate reasonable deadlines, thereby completing projects within set timeframes.

4. Cost

Ultimately, you want to deliver your project within budget. Thus your ability to handle the project’s finances is vital. This knowledge area goes over working out how much each task will cost and then forecasting your project’s overall budget.

5. Quality

A project has to meet specific standards to satisfy your customers. Here, you’ll learn about setting your project’s quality control and quality management requirements. This gives you the confidence that you’ll deliver your project according to customer expectations.

6. Procurement

Are your resources and supplies adding value and minimizing waste? In the procurement knowledge area, you understand how to plan your resources including what you need to buy, the tendering and purchasing process, managing suppliers,, and closing vendor contracts when the project is delivered.

7. Human resources

Before you put together a team, you first understand what human resources you need to complete your project successfully. Once you have the right team, you have to manage it. It’s also essential to continuously encourage your resources to grow the skills necessary to get to the finish line.

8. Communications

Communication is the backbone of every project. The project manager is responsible for keeping all stakeholders informed about the project’s progress or any challenges.

9. Risk management

This knowledge area involves identifying and assessing project risks. It helps to understand how to perform quantitative and qualitative risk assessments. With this knowledge, you are better equipped to identify or predict potential threats and prevent them from happening.

10. Stakeholder management

This last group walks you through identifying stakeholders, understanding their role and needs in the project. With this knowledge, you can lead your team towards delivering those needs.

47 PMBOK Processes

47 processes are classified under the five process groups as outlined in the following table:

Initiation Planning Execution Monitoring and Controlling Closing
Project Charter Project Management Plan Cost Management Plan Project Status Report Change Request Lessons Learned
Stakeholder Register Requirements Management Plan Activity Cost Estimate Deliverables Status Change Log
Scope Management Plan Cost Baseline Change Request Earned Value Status Report
Requirements Documentation Project Funding Project Team Directory
Requirements Traceability Matrix Quality Management Plan Team Performance Assessment
Project Scope Statement Process Quality Checklists Enterprise Environment Factors
Scope Baseline Product Quality Checklists Procurement Agreement
Schedule Management Plan Quality Metrics Issue Log
Activity Attributes Process Management Plan
Activity List Human Resource Management Plan
Milestone List Communications Management Plan
Project Schedule Network Risk Management Plan
Activity Resource Requirements Risk Register
Resource Breakdown Resource Change Request
Activity Duration Estimates Make-or-Buy Decisions
Project Calendar Procurement Management Plan
Project Schedule Procurement Statement of Work
Schedule Baseline Stakeholder Management Plan

Put PMBOK into Practice with Mission Control

As a project manager, you need to be on top of a host of things at any one time. From managing the project workflow to tracking progress to managing risk to reporting to stakeholders. This can get overwhelming if you don’t have the right tools for your exposure.

Mission Control offers many features to support and standardize your daily processes.

For instance, the Console is the hub where you can create new project frameworks, add team members, assign tasks and create milestones and deadlines. This hub is a reference point for project stakeholders whenever they need a detailed guide on executing tasks.

The Gantt chart feature gives complete visibility of the project plan, clearly showing what needs to be done when and by whom to complete the project as planned. Here you can make any changes that arise during project execution.

As part of a standardized process, tracking how a project progresses is vital. Mission Control’s PMO dashboard lets you (and stakeholders) track how a project is going against key metrics—providing valuable insights for all.

If you want to bring a higher level of sophistication and standardization to your projects, the Project Management Body of Knowledge guide is an excellent place to start.

Better yet, put it into practice with a powerful PSA that enables you to manage your projects from one central place. With this, you can leverage the best elements of a project and complete them within budgets and deadlines.

Request a demo to see how Mission Control can help your organization standardize its project management.