What Is the PMBOK method in Project Management?

Issued by the 'Project Management Institute (PMI),' a renowned project management body, the 'Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK)' is often mistaken for a traditional methodology. However, it is a framework that involves the practices, processes, guidelines, terminologies, and conventions that are the industry standards.
The phases and the best-practices of project management listed in PMBOK help practitioners of any methodology evaluate the way a project is run and successfully complete it, acting as the foundational manual. 
This guide outlines its benefits and phases to help you understand why every project manager must be familiar with it. 

Why Is PMBOK Important?

PMBOK is an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard. The Project Management Book of Knowledge, as the name suggests, is the project manager's bible. It is a credible knowledge base, a compilation of expert practices, conventions, industry standards, guidelines, and terminologies about the ten essential areas of project management knowledge – everything a project manager may need. 

Why it has become one of the most trusted sources of information on the subject of project management is because it lives up to its claims of credibility and genuine authority again and again. Project managers have developed the Guide to PMBOK for project managers. More than a hundred global practitioners, experts, and volunteers that are members of a specialized core team contribute content. Not only so, but it has also been made available in multiple languages – eleven to be precise, excluding English. Let us take a quick look at the content of the Guide to PMBOK. 

Why Should You Use PMBOK Methodology?

PMBOK empowers individuals to tailor the project management process to best suit the requirements of their organizations. It enables them to manage different kinds of projects successfully. Being familiar with PMBOK brings forward the three critical benefits mentioned below. 

1. Facilitates Standardization 
PMBOK employs standardized processes across all departments to align their ways of management. This, in turn, allows project teams to be transparent with each other, thus making the means of communication among one another more comfortable. 

2. Has a Presence Across Companies
Since PMBOK is standardized, it enables individuals to work with the same methods and practices across companies. 

3. Keeps a Record 
PMBOK identifies what works and what doesn't and logs it. This encourages team members to learn from the mistakes of past projects, understand the accomplishments, and assess risks efficiently. 

Bonus: The Ten Knowledge Areas of PMBOK 

Essential in bringing the project to life, the ten knowledge areas of PMBOK listed below form project management's core technical subject matter.

  1. Project Integration Management
  2. Project Scope Management
  3. Project Schedule Management
  4. Project Cost Management
  5. Project Quality Management
  6. Project Resource Management
  7. Project Communications Management
  8. Project Risk Management
  9. Project Procurement Management
  10. Project Stakeholder Management

What Are the Phases of the PMBOK Method? 

In PMBOK, the elements of a project life cycle define the work that must be accomplished, the people that are to be involved, the deliverables to be developed and reviewed, and the information on how each phase is to be controlled and approved. The five phases (aka process groups) of PMBOK mentioned below provide a structured, controlled, and timely process for efficient management of the project. 

1. Initiating 
The first phase of the project lifecycle is where the feasibility and value of the project are measured with the help of a business case and a feasibility study. Relevant stakeholders check and give the go-ahead to the project if it seems viable. Following that, a 'Project Initiation Document' outlining the requirements and the purpose of the project is created. 

2. Planning 
Once the project is approved, its scope is defined, and the project management plan is made. The project plan guides the team by penning down the cost, timetable, risks, and resources. It also establishes the performance metrics, milestones, and baselines of the project. 

Read MoreHow to Avoid Scope Creep?

3. Executing
The aim of this phase is to actualize the project plan by developing deliverables according to the established requirements. This is done by assigning resources, carrying out task assignments, setting up tracking systems, and modifying the project plans as required. 

4. Monitoring and Controlling
This phase uses key performance indicators to monitor the team's performance and the project's progress. Anything that deviates from the project plan is identified and addressed, following which, the plan-of-action is determined. Adjustments in resources and schedules may take place in this phase to keep the project running smoothly and on track. 

Read MoreMeasuring and Monitoring Project Success

5. Closing 
The last stage of the project involves delivering the finished product to the customer. The resources tied up to the project are released, the key accomplishments are noted down, and the failures identified. This phase helps understand the areas of improvement so that the management of future projects can be more efficient.

Is PMBOK for You?

While the PMBOK method of project management can act as the foundation of your project management processes, it is essential to remember that it is theoretical in nature and works more as a reference guide than a methodology in itself. However, by gaining a good understanding of its phases and practices, you can use it to complement your chosen methods and improve the odds of successful completion of the project.