5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 1: What is Project Management?

In this blog post, I discuss the second of the topics that need to be paid particular attention to when studying the 5th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide, Chapter 1, namely section 1.3 called What is Project Management?

1. Definition of project management

First let’s look at the official definition of a “project management” according to the 5th edition of the PMBOK® Guide:

Project management: Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.”

2. Five Process Groups

The knowledge, skills, tools and techniques that you need to know to for effective project management are organized into 47 logically-grouped project management processes, which are categorized into the following five Process Groups.

The names of these 5 Process Groups and their order, going from Initiating to Closing, should be one of the first you things you memorize for the PMP or CAPM exam. There are several cute mnemonics or memory tricks for helping you with this, my favorite being:

In Projects, Every Monkey Counts Coconuts

You can feel free to share this with your project team members, as long as you make sure to let them know this is simply a mnemonic device and not an editorial comment about how you feel about them and their contribution to the project.

NOTE: In going from the 4th to the 5th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide, the Project Management Institute has increased the number of formally-recognized project management processes from 42 (in the 4th Edition) to 47 (in the 5th Edition).

3. Elements of Project Management

After stating that the knowledge base you need to apply to projects is contains in the 47 processes divided into 5 Process Groups, the PMBOK® Guide goes on to describe the major elements that typically make up project management:

Category Element
1. Requirements Identifying requirements
2. Stakeholders Addressing needs, concerns, expectations of stakeholders during planning and executing of project
3. Setting up, maintaining, carrying out communications among stakeholders
4. Managing stakeholders towards meeting project requirements and creating project deliverables
5. Constraints Balancing competing project constraints, some of which are
  • Scope
  • Quality
  • Schedule
  • Budget
  • Resources, and
  • Risk

The first element deals with the category of identifying requirements, which is the beginning of the process of Scope Management. The next three elements deal with aspects of Stakeholder Management, from a) addressing their needs, concerns, and expectations, to b) setting up, maintaining, and carrying out communications with them, and finally c) managing them towards creating project deliverables and finally meeting project requirements. The last element deals with balancing competing project constraints, six of which are listed in the PMBOK® Guide. The subject of project constraints is SO important that it deserves a blog post of its own, which I will include on this series about Chapter 1.

NOTE: In going from the 4th to the 5th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide, the Project Management Institute has expanded the number of elements organized around the category of “stakeholders” in the above chart from one (element #2) to three (elements #2, #3, and #4, of which #3 and #4 are new), which shows the increased focus by PMI on Stakeholder Management in the 5th edition, to the point that it has become its own knowledge area separate from Communications Management.

4. 10 Knowledge Areas

Buried in this list of 5 elements of Project Management is the core of the other dimension of the 47 project management processes besides the 5 Process Groups, and that is the 10 Knowledge Areas. Here is a chart of all 10 Knowledge Areas, giving the Chapter of the PMBOK® Guide which covers that Knowledge Area. The first element of project management given in the table above, that of identifying requirements, is the core of Scope Management, which is covered in Chapter 5, and is the first Knowledge Area going counterclockwise from the top. The second, third, and fourth elements given in the table above, are those devoted to Stakeholder Management, which is covered in Chapter 13, and is the first Knowledge Area going clockwise from the top. The last element in the table above, that of balancing project constraints, covers all of the other 7 Knowledge Areas from Chapter 6 through 12 between Scope and Stakeholder Management. The Knowledge Area at the top, Integration, pulls all of the other 9 Knowledge Areas all together.


NOTE: In going from the 4th Edition to the 5th Edition PMBOK® Guide, the Project Management Institute added Chapter 13: Stakeholder Management as the 10th Knowledge Area. In the 4th Edition, this was considered part of Chapter 10: Communications Management, and there were only 9 Knowledge Areas, but in the 5th Edition, Stakeholder Management has been broken out into its own Knowledge Area in consideration of the increasing importance the Institute places on this Area.

So in conclusion, the definition of Project Management contains within it the core of both the 5 Process Groups and the 10 Knowledge Areas in which each of the 47 Project Management processes belong.

The subject of project constraints, the fifth element of Project Management in the chart above, is so important in relationship to the amount of text it receives in the PMBOK® Guide that I am devoting the next blog post to it.

2 Responses

  1. […] Project Management Body of Knowledge or PMBOK defines project management as “The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to […]

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