Project Management Body of Knowledge is the framework of best practices, processes and terms that are practiced as standards within the project management industry.
In 1996, the practice of project management was formalized in the Project Management Institute's A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide). Several milestones led to the publishing, including the first credential for the Project Management Professional (PMP) and certifications being awarded in 1984.
The guide has continually been updated to reflect new knowledge, methods and best practices. The American National Standards Institute recognizes it as the source for project management standards, as does the International Organization for Standardization. Just as important, the higher education community and business schools embrace the framework and train aspiring project managers in it.
What Is Project Management?
Project management is the practice applied across industries of collaborating on specific goals. Unlike a routine business operation, a project has uniquely defined objectives, outcomes and benefits and is undertaken in accordance with an agreed-upon timeframe and budget. A wide range of skills is often required with a collaborative project, including leadership, technical and management.
The Project Manager's Go-To
If you aspire to work as a management or leadership-level project manager, PMBOK will likely become a daily reference. The guide covers the project management lifecycle from beginning to end and organizes 47 elements into five groups of processes:
- Initiating: Deciding on a project, selecting a manager and creating a charter.
- Planning: An iterative process that allows project managers and the team to revise as needed.
- Executing: Project team's actual execution of the plan.
- Controlling: Project manager's driving and oversight of the project.
- Closing: Finalizing the project's deliverables, finances and reports.
The PMBOK guide describes 10 knowledge areas, or key considerations, in project management:
- Human resources
- Risk management
- Stakeholder management
What differentiates educated and highly trained — or trained through experience — project managers from neophytes is expertise in these knowledge areas and the wisdom to avoid costly mistakes that can jeopardize projects.
Why PMBOK Matters
For project managers, a universal set of best practices is vital because PMBOK is the standard by which PMP certification is attained. For employers, PMBOK is crucial because it helps them identify professionals who can step in and apply standardized practices within the business and across departments. The alternative is retraining employees who are hired from outside or promoted from within in highly complex proprietary processes; these employees will not have been vetted and refined by the experiences of project managers across industries and over time.
Standardizing project management is highly beneficial, as it establishes compatible practices between departments and makes collaboration efficient. PMBOK addresses risk management and teaches which practices work, which don't and why. This reduces guesswork and inordinate risk-taking. Project managers can make educated decisions about how and when to break the rules, if that is ever necessary.
If the idea of applying time-tested, proven best practices and refining them for your team appeals to you, then mastering PMBOK on the way to your specialized project management MBA should be a highly rewarding experience.
Learn more about SIUE's online MBA program with a Project Management Specialization.
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