The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a set of standard terminology and guidelines (a
body of knowledge A body of knowledge (BOK or BoK) is the complete set of concepts, terms and activities that make up a professional domain, as defined by the relevant learned society or professional association.Oliver, G.R. (2012). ''Foundations of the Assumed B ...
) for
project management Project management is the process of leading the work of a team to achieve all project goals within the given constraints. This information is usually described in project documentation, created at the beginning of the development process. Th ...
. The body of knowledge evolves over time and is presented in ''A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge'' (''PMBOK Guide''), a book whose seventh edition was released in 2021. This document results from work overseen by the
Project Management Institute The Project Management Institute (PMI, legally Project Management Institute, Inc.) is a U.S.-based not-for-profit professional organization for project management. Overview PMI serves more than five million professionals including over 680, ...
(PMI), which offers the CAPM and PMP certifications. Much of the ''PMBOK Guide'' is unique to project management such as critical path method and
work breakdown structure A work-breakdown structure (WBS) in project management and systems engineering is a deliverable-oriented breakdown of a project into smaller components. A work breakdown structure is a key project deliverable that organizes the team's work into ...
(WBS). The ''PMBOK Guide'' also overlaps with general management regarding planning, organising, staffing, executing and controlling the operations of an organisation. Other management disciplines which overlap with the ''PMBOK Guide'' include financial forecasting, organisational behaviour,
management science Management science (or managerial science) is a wide and interdisciplinary study of solving complex problems and making strategic decisions as it pertains to institutions, corporations, governments and other types of organizational entities. It is ...
budgeting A budget is a calculation play, usually but not always financial, for a defined period, often one year or a month. A budget may include anticipated sales volumes and revenues, resource quantities including time, costs and expenses, environment ...
and other planning methods.


Earlier versions of the ''PMBOK Guide'' were recognized as standards by the
American National Standards Institute The American National Standards Institute (ANSI ) is a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems, and personnel in the United States. The organ ...
(ANSI) which assigns standards in the United States (ANSI/PMI 99-001-2008) and the
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is a 501(c)(3) professional association for electronic engineering and electrical engineering (and associated disciplines) with its corporate office in New York City and its operat ...
(IEEE 1490-2011). The evolution of the ''PMBOK Guide'' is reflected in editions of the Guide.


''The PMBOK Guide'' is intended to be a "subset of the project management body of knowledge that is generally recognized as a good practice. 'Generally recognized' means the knowledge and practices described are applicable to most projects most of the time and there is a consensus about their value and usefulness. 'Good practice' means there is a general agreement that the application of the knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques can enhance the chance of success over many projects." This means that sometimes the "latest" project management trends, often promoted by consultants, may not be part of the latest version of ''The PMBOK Guide''. However, the 6th Edition of the PMBOK Guide now includes an "Agile Practice Guide"


''The PMBOK Guide'' is process-based, meaning it describes work as being accomplished by processes. This approach is consistent with other management standards such as
ISO 9000 The ISO 9000 family is a set of five quality management systems (QMS) standards that help organizations ensure they meet customer and other stakeholder needs within statutory and regulatory requirements related to a product or service. ISO 9 ...
and the
Software Engineering Institute The Software Engineering Institute (SEI) is an American research and development center headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Its activities cover cybersecurity, software assurance, software engineering and acquisition, and component capabi ...
CMMI Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) is a process level improvement training and appraisal program. Administered by the CMMI Institute, a subsidiary of ISACA, it was developed at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). It is required by many ...
. Processes overlap and interact throughout a project or its various phases. * Inputs (documents, plans, designs, etc.) * Tools and Techniques (mechanisms applied to inputs) * Outputs (documents, plans, designs, etc.) A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge — Sixth Edition provides guidelines for managing individual projects and defines project management related concepts. It also describes the project management life cycle and its related processes, as well as the project life cycle.Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute Inc., 2013, Page 2. and for the first time it includes an "Agile Practice Guide". The PMBOK as described in the Guide recognizes 49 processes that fall into five basic process groups and ten knowledge areas that are typical of most projects, most of the time.

Process groups

The five ''process groups'' are: # Initiating: processes performed to define a new project or a new phase of an existing project by obtaining authorization to start the project or phase. # Planning: Those processes required to establish the scope of the project, refine the objectives, and define the course of action required to attain the objectives that the project was undertaken to achieve. # Executing: Those processes performed to complete the work defined in the project management plan to satisfy the project specifications # Monitoring and Controlling: Those processes required to track, review, and regulate the progress and performance of the project; identify any areas in which changes to the plan are required; and initiate the corresponding changes. # Closing: Those processes performed to finalize all activities across all Process Groups to formally close the project or phase.

Knowledge areas

The ten ''knowledge areas'', each of which contains some or all of the project management processes, are: # Project Integration Management : the processes and activities needed to identify, define, combine, unify, and coordinate the various processes and project management activities within the project management process groups. # Project Scope management : the processes required to ensure that the project includes all the work required, and only the work required, to complete the project successfully. # Project
Schedule A schedule or a timetable, as a basic time-management tool, consists of a list of times at which possible tasks, events, or actions are intended to take place, or of a sequence of events in the chronological order in which such things are i ...
Management : the processes required to manage the timely completion of the project. Until the 6th edition of the PMBOK Guide this was called "Project Time Management" # Project Cost Management : the processes involved in planning, estimating, budgeting, financing, funding, managing, and controlling costs so that the project can be completed within the approved budget. # Project
Quality Management Quality management ensures that an organization, product or service consistently functions well. It has four main components: quality planning, quality assurance, quality control and quality improvement. Quality management is focused not on ...
: the processes and activities of the performing organization that determine quality policies, objectives, and responsibilities so that the project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken. # Project
Resource Management In organizational studies, resource management is the efficient and effective development of an organization's resources when they are needed. Such resources may include the financial resources, inventory, human skills, production resources, or i ...
: the processes that organize, manage, and lead the project team. Until the 6th edition of the PMBOK Guide this was called "Project Human Resource Management" # Project Communications Management : the processes that are required to ensure timely and appropriate planning, collection, creation, distribution, storage, retrieval, management, control, monitoring, and the ultimate disposition of project information. # Project Risk Management : the processes of conducting risk management planning, identification, analysis, response planning, and controlling risk on a project. # Project Procurement Management : the processes necessary to purchase or acquire products, services, or results needed from outside the project team. Processes in this area include Procurement Planning, Solicitation Planning, Solicitation, Source Selection, Contract Administration, and Contract Closeout. # Project Stakeholder Engagement : the processes required to identify all people or organizations impacted by the project, analyzing stakeholder expectations and impact on the project, and developing appropriate management strategies for effectively engaging stakeholders in project decisions and execution. Each of the ten knowledge areas contains the processes that need to be accomplished within its discipline in order to achieve effective project management. Each of these processes also falls into one of the five process groups, creating a matrix structure such that every process can be related to one knowledge area and one process group.


While the ''PMBOK Guide'' is meant to offer a general guide to manage most projects most of the time, there are currently three official extensions: * ''Software Extension to the PMBOK Guide'' * ''Construction Extension to the PMBOK Guide'' * ''Government Extension to the PMBOK Guide''

Criticism and alternatives

The PMBOK is a widely accepted standard in project management, however there are alternatives to the PMBOK standard, and PMBOK does have its critics. One thrust of critique has come from the critical chain developers and followers (e.g. Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Lawrence P. Leach), as opposed to critical path method adherents. The PMBOK Guide section on Project Time Management does indicate Critical Chain as an alternative method to Critical Path. A second strand of criticism originates in Lean Construction. This approach emphasises the lack of two way communication in the PMBOK model and offers an alternative which emphasises a language/action perspective and continual improvement in the planning process.Koskela, L. & Howell, G. (2002) 'The underlying theory of project management is obsolete', Proceedings of the PMI Research Conference 2002, 293-302


See also

* ISO 10006 for Quality Management on Projects *
ISO 21500 ISO 21500:2012, Guidance on Project Management, is an international standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO starting in 2007 and released in 2012. It was intended to provide generic guidance, explain core pr ...
for Project Management * ISO 31000 for Risk Management * Pmhub * PMP *
PRINCE2 PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is a structured project management method and practitioner certification programme. PRINCE2 emphasises dividing projects into manageable and controllable stages. It is adopted in many countries wor ...


External links

PMBOK webpage
by the
Project Management Institute The Project Management Institute (PMI, legally Project Management Institute, Inc.) is a U.S.-based not-for-profit professional organization for project management. Overview PMI serves more than five million professionals including over 680, ...

PMBOK Summarized - A remarkbly concise guide to the PMBOK (PDF)

US DoD extension to PMBOK Guide (PDF)
{{Authority control 1987 documents 1996 non-fiction books 2013 non-fiction books 2017 non-fiction books Project management Bodies of knowledge