Program Management Forum

The PMBOK Basic Guide for Beginners

PMBOK is an acronym which on being expanded reads
as Project Management Body of Knowledge’ and a book which
offers this knowledge in form of terms and guidelines is known as the
PMBOK Guide.

Published for the first time in 1996 by the Project Management Institute,
this book has gone through several revisions, the latest in the series being the
fifth edition which was released in 2013.

Given the growing nature and expansion of the field of project management, there was a need to set a standard that would act as a defining guideline for all those who are likely to be involved in it. Launching of PMBOK Guide could be described as an outcome of this need wherein the book was meant to serve as an encyclopedia listing out what is regarded as good practice in project management.

While the term ‘good practice’ refers to the minimum acceptable standard in terms of knowledge and skills for a project of any dimension to take off, much of the information provided in the book has been compiled owing to its application in majority of projects. These ideas have also been subjected to in-depth discussions wherein their value and usability has been thoroughly adjudged prior to being added to the book. Another aspect that has been focused on pertains to tools and techniques that could lead the project to successful and timely completion.

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On turning the pages of PMBOK Guide, you will realize that the modules are process-oriented, meaning not only is the modus operandi of each process described but also the path leading up to the objective and the final outcome. Something that the founders of this book ensured is that the approach adopted towards the subject remains consistent with standards set by other regulatory authorities related to project management.

Processes are explained via the medium of a project wherein these are spread across various phases in form of inputs, outputs and tools and techniques. Inputs and outputs refer to the initial plans, designs and documents, tools and techniques are indicative of the mechanisms that are applied to inputs in order to produce outputs.

In the latest version, namely the fifth edition that was released in 2013, this knowledge base has been further expanded to include the life-cycle of the project as well wherein the number of groups have been stretched to five and the number of processes have risen to 47. The five groups that are treated as the foundation are initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and last of all, closing. Together these process groups encompass the entire project from start to finish and define all activities included in it.

The latest edition also comprises of ten knowledge areas, each of which is a discipline in itself and comprises of processes that would lead to effective management of the project. These knowledge areas are integration, scope, time, cost, quality, human resource, communication, procurement and stakeholders. Being general in nature, the PMBOK Guide has been provided with three extensions on an official scale namely software, construction and government.

Ultimately, users of PMBOK Guide need to be made aware of the fact that this book does not dwell upon the latest trends in project management like critical path drag and hence should be relied upon only in the event of preparing for certification.