A pocket companion to PMI’s PMBOK® Guide sixth edition

PMBOK ® Guide – in 3 minutes


Title: A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK ® Guide) – Sixth Edition


The basics

The PMBOK ® Guide, short for ‘A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge is the worldwide recognized foundational reference for the project management profession, providing a comprehensive set of knowledge, concepts, techniques and skills.


Summary of the method

The PMBOK ® Guide is a publication from the Project Management Institute (PMI), an entity that is globally recognized as governing the project management discipline. PMI was founded in 1969 in the US and has become one of the principal professional non-profit organizations in the specialism of project, program and portfolio management and governance. The first edition of the guide was published in 1996; the latest PMBOK® Guide– Sixth Edition, was released in September 2017, in 11 Languages.


The PMBOK® Guide is more a framework than a method. It’s process-based, describing all project management related work as being accomplished by a structured set of processes which are applicable to most projects and are generally recognized as good project management practice. This approach forms a solid basis for collaboration of the various project stakeholders as they speak the same ‘language’, use the same terminology and establish a common understanding. This approach is consistent with other management standards such as ISO 21500 for Project management, ISO/IEC 9001:2008 the international norm for quality standards, and the Software Engineering Institute’s CMMI.


In the PMBOK® Guide the project management processes interact and may overlap throughout the project’s life cycle and are described in terms of inputs (documents, plans, designs, etc.), tools and techniques (mechanisms applied to inputs) and outputs (documents, products, etc.). This makes the rather abstract concept of project management very tangible.


The guide identifies 49 processes that fall into five basic process groups and ten knowledge areas that are typical for almost every project.


The five process groups are Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing.


The ten knowledge areas are Project Integration Management, Project Scope Management, Project Schedule Management, Project Cost Management, Project Quality Management, Project Resource Management, Project Communications Management, Project Risk Management, Project Procurement Management and Stakeholder Management.


Each of the ten knowledge areas contains the processes that are applicable to most projects most of the time to achieve effective management of a project. Each of these processes also falls into one of the five basic process groups, creating a matrix structure such that every process can be related to one knowledge area and one process group.


Target audience

Although the publication typically targets (senior) project managers, the processes described involve all roles with an interest in project management, such as senior executives, program and project managers, project team members, members of a project office, customers and other stakeholders, consultants and other specialists. As an introduction, an easy-to- understand pocket publication is available, aiming at a broader audience involved in projects.


Scope and constraints

PMBOK® Guide is a generic approach (framework) that can be applied to any project. It covers the complete project life cycle; not only the classical (waterfall) but also Iterative, Incremental and even agile life cycles. It provides a good reference description of the Role of the Project Manager, linked to project manager competences in three skills sets: Technical, Leadership, Strategic and Business Management skills, the so-called Talent Triangle.

Next to that it provides a good understanding about how projects interact with the non-project environment, driven by the Benefits Management Plan (mostly realized post-project) for realizing the project’s value, and clearly linked to the organization’s strategy

As it is a generic model, it should always be tailored to the needs of the project, the team and other stakeholders.



  • • Extensive participation by different industry sectors and organizations that are using project management all over the world
  • • The preferred project management reference for organizations working in international environments
  • • Recognized as a ‘world class’ standard in the profession and, because of that, used as the book of reference for many other project management standards and methods
  • • Generic; it can be applied to any project
  • • Focus on processes, similar to other frameworks and standards in use such as ITIL®, COBIT® and ISO*. Fully aligned to the global project management standard, ISO 21500
  • • Evolution and continuous improvement (every 4 years) in line with modern concepts of quality
  • • Certification programs (PMP and CAPM) associated and guaranteed deployment of accreditation skills from all over the world.*
  • • Forms a well-integrated component of the broader concept of project, program and portfolio management and governance (PMI provides additional standards for this)



  • • The PMBOK® Guide is not exhaustive: although the PMBOK® Guide provides tools and techniques for the application of processes. The PMBOK® Guideis more of a framework a (conceptual over-arching and generic model) than a method (for direct practical application).
  • • The PMBOK® Guide does not provide real life examples of tools and templates for practical application. However, given the fact that it’s a worldwide standard, many templates, well aligned to this framework, can be found on the internet for free, as well as software applications containing a project management toolkit with many automated functions, for supporting the PMBOK® Guide project management framework.


Relevant website:


Relevant reading

Also available in Dutch (publication … ) and German (publication …).

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