Project management is the ultimate juggling act — project managers are in charge of planning a project from beginning to end. And a lot of things can go wrong — employees become sick, an unexpected cost arises, or a poor quality deliverable happens. Life happens, but as a project manager, you should be prepared when complexity and risks occur.
The PMBOK Guide is a useful tool for project managers to have in their toolbox. It contains the latest information on what project managers around the world are doing to successfully manage a project from start to finish. It can help guide project managers on what course of action to take next.
In this article, you will learn the ins and outs of the PMBOK Guide, as well as how you can implement its resources into your product team.
PMBOK stands for Project Management Body of Knowledge, and it’s a guide on standard terminology and guidelines for project management. The PMBOK Guide addresses good project management practices that apply to most projects. It gives you the tools to decide what process is best for your situation.
The PMBOK Guide is created by the Project Management Institute (PMI). Over 100 people participated in contributing content and the PMI received over 8,500 comments to make the sixth edition of PMBOK.
Such a high level of participation from project managers and related roles means the PMBOK Guide is consensus-based and has extensive research to find what processes work best for project managers.
The PMBOK Guide is popular because it contains standards and methodologies that apply across the project management spectrum. While project managers can work in different roles, projects, and industries, the PMBOK works to condense the wide range of knowledge into one acceptable guide.
The PMBOK Guide is also a popular book among people studying to take the Project Management Professional (PMP) or Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) exams. Both of these exams are offered by PMI, the same organization that writes the PMBOK Guide.
The first variation of the PMBOK Guide was created in 1996 and was based on a white paper entitled, “Ethics, Standards, and Accreditation Committee Final Report”. Since then, the PMBOK Guide has been updated every few years based on how project management evolved.
For example, Agile practices were first introduced in the Sixth Edition which was published in 2017. In 2021, the Seventh Edition was published and contained major structural changes to shift to a principle-based approach instead of a process-based methodology.
However, the PMBOK Guide is more than a useful study tool. It’s a representation of how project management has evolved over the years. The PMBOK generally avoids documenting new, trendy processes within the project management world. Instead, it focuses on the core principles that endure over the years.
Two versions of the PMBOK Guide are referenced by professionals today and both are recommended to study for the PMP or CAPM exam. The Sixth Edition was released in 2017 and the last version (the Seventh Edition) was released in 2021. Here is a general overview of the PMBOK methodology taught in both editions.
The Sixth Edition has a more process-based approach and identifies 49 project management processes. The guide breaks down these processes into five process groups and ten knowledge areas. Some of these processes can overlap, so a project manager must understand how some processes affect each other.
The five process groups of the PMBOK Guide are as follows:
Alongside these, the ten knowledge areas of the PMBOK Guide are:
The Seventh Edition leaned away from a process-based guide and shifted toward a principles-based guide. For example, you won’t find the five process groups in the Seventh Edition of PMBOK. Instead, you’ll find a set of project management principles:
Another difference from the Sixth Edition is the knowledge areas were realigned into eight project performance domains. A performance domain is a group of related activities crucial for project outcomes. Here are the performance domains and some topics they cover:
In addition, the Seventh Edition contains extensive information on tailoring, or how to adapt processes to fit your organization. There is also a section on models, methods, and artifacts which covers good practice in project management.
The PMBOK Guide is geared toward project managers, not product managers. However, understanding core project management principles can be beneficial to product managers, especially if you don’t have a designated project manager on your team. You may find some project management tasks end up as part of your job responsibilities.
If you do have a project manager, you can still find use for understanding PMBOK methodology. It can help you ensure that your project managers are doing what they need to do. You can also learn from the project management principles and performance domains and apply them to your product management work. For example, you may find the knowledge surrounding stakeholder engagement useful.
Beyond being a useful study guide for the PMP and CAPM exams, the PMBOK Guide contains all of the relevant processes and principles that are used by project managers around the globe today. It allows the reader access to project management standards used by project managers in varying industries, roles, and locations.
If you’re looking for a deep understanding of project management, the PMBOK Guide is a book to have in your library. Product managers may need to reference project management principles for their job responsibilities or to provide aid to project managers on their team.
Featured image source: IconScout
LogRocket identifies friction points in the user experience so you can make informed decisions about product and design changes that must happen to hit your goals.
With LogRocket, you can understand the scope of the issues affecting your product and prioritize the changes that need to be made. LogRocket simplifies workflows by allowing Engineering, Product, UX, and Design teams to work from the same data as you, eliminating any confusion about what needs to be done.
Get your teams on the same page — try LogRocket today.
Product marketing helps you determine the goals and go-to-market strategy of your product and helps you better adapt to market shifts.
Carlos Jimenez, VP of Product at KingMakers, dispels the “dangerous” misconception that product- and sales-led cultures can’t coexist and thrive together.
A marketing plan is a structured guide for a company’s marketing activities across a specific period.
Alan Fliegelman shares how his work at DHI is transforming the job search process and the various transitions he’s seen in his time there.