10 Project Management Knowledge Areas: What You Need to Know
Project management isn’t just about assigning and following up on tasks. But, do you know all the Project Management Knowledge Areas and how they work together?
Whether you’re studying for your Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam, freshening up your knowledge, or just looking to streamline and understand your project management knowledge, the Project Management Knowledge Areas found in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) are a good place to start.
See our SlideShare called "A Beginner's Guide to Project Management Methodologies" to learn about various ways to manage projects.
The Project Management Knowledge Areas are essentially what you need to know about effective project management. Below we’ll cover each of the 10 areas at a high level along with a few of the process groups or action items associated with each of them.
Once you know and follow these areas, your projects will start to run smoother, delight your stakeholders, and you’ll be fighting fewer fires.
- Project Integration Management
- Project Scope Management
- Project Time Management
- Project Cost Management
- Project Quality Management
- Project Human Resource Management
- Project Communications Management
- Project Risk Management
- Project Procurement Management
- Project Stakeholder Management
Project Integration Management is the umbrella that covers all your other project management knowledge areas. It knits together all your individual processes and tasks into one project with defined goals and deliverables.
If you’re looking at the big picture and how your project fits into your larger organization, this is the project management knowledge area you need.
Because this is the broadest area, you may want to save it for last or at least revisit it at the end of your project plan.
How many times have you started a project just to have extraneous tasks slipped in, making your completion times creep? This is why project scope must be well-defined and defended throughout the process.
As you complete your scope process groups, you’ll create a management plan that defines, validates, and controls scope. These processes will ensure you stay on task and that everyone, including the project requester, understands what tasks will be included in the project to prevent frustrating changes and unmet expectations.
Nearly all projects rely on several different timelines and the schedules of multiple people. Some team members may overestimate how much time it will take to complete a project in order to leave a cushion and not feel hurried. Others may underestimate their time. And, of course, unexpected problems will throw off your timeline as well.
See our SlideShare "Helping Your Team Manage & Track Time" for tips on how to manage time more effectively.
But, these variables are exactly why the processes in this project management knowledge area are so critical.
Your plans will determine which tasks can be adjusted and how the team’s resources will be allocated and managed throughout the project. When those tricky problems surface, you’ll be glad to have a plan to refer back to and quell the panic.
With or without a budget, your project will cost money. Keeping costs low or at least at an expected or reasonable level is a fundamental part of showing ROI on a project. After all, if you can’t definitively lay out how much a project will cost, how will you be able to quantify if you’ve made any money?
Your role in cost management isn’t just a one-and-done task of creating a budget. You’ll need to continuously evaluate your costs to avoid any surprises at the end of a project.
In project management, quality isn’t the same as perfection. It’s not practical to spend the time and resources to take a project to perfection; and in many cases, that’s not even attainable. The goal of project quality management is to achieve consistency across your projects.
If you know and understand the expectations of your stakeholders and have created reasonable agreements with them and your team, quality control will ensure you’re delivering great work every time.
If you notice projects aren’t meeting results, you can adjust course and implement changes to the process or product to get back on track.
See "How to Manage Multiple Projects" for ideas on how to successfully juggle more than one project at a time.
Working with people is part of the reason you signed up for project management, right?
One of the most rewarding parts of this process is creating teams that click and helping individual team members grow and learn new tasks. That’s why this project management knowledge area is more than just setting schedules and assigning tasks.
Effective resource management requires you to know and work with the bandwidth of your team, identify their individual strengths and weaknesses, and their synergy with other team members.
And, back to that part about helping team members grow. You should also identify knowledge gaps and opportunities for continued training for individual team members and the entire team based on current and upcoming projects. You’ll set your team up for success and increase commitment as you invest in their skills and growth.
How many times have you heard the phrase, “Keep me in the loop?” And yet, when changes happen, maybe important stakeholders were left out? There is a fine line between under and over communication and your communications management plan is crucial to identifying who needs to know what and when before your project starts.
See "Problems all Project Managers Face in Communicating with Senior Management" for insight into how to improve internal communications.
The truth is that no project goes off without a hitch, and it’s unrealistic to look at a project and assume that everything will go smoothly.
If you can manage your firefighting by identifying major project risks and the mitigation plans associated with them, your team and project requesters will be prepared and more forgiving when issues in a project come up.
As an added bonus, you’ll have the benefits of time and energy upfront rather than trying to troubleshoot at the eleventh hour when your team is stressed and up against a deadline.
In some cases or areas of a project, you won’t have the resources or team members in house to complete a task. If you hire contractors or vendors to take on certain tasks, you’ll want them to be seamlessly integrated into the team.
This project management area gives the blueprint for which tasks or services will be completed by outside contractors. It also builds and plans the legal paperwork and coordination process ahead of time.
This may not be a project management knowledge area you use every time or even very often, but it’s incredibly valuable when you do need it.
Watch our video "Adding Structure without Killing Creativity" for expert advice on maintaining structure while letting creativity flow.
Ultimately, the success or failure of a project depends on the delivery of your project to the stakeholders. But, who are your stakeholders?
Stakeholders include not only the project requester, but also team members who have worked on the project, contractors, suppliers, customers or the public, and many other people internal and external to the organization.
Not all stakeholders are equal in the eyes of the project. Identifying who is a stakeholder in a project and how they are involved in the process will make sure everyone gets the information they need to know—no more, no less.
These project management knowledge areas cover a lot of ground. It can be intimidating to look at this list of processes and tasks, and you might even wonder how you’ll fit any of it into your schedule.
But, implementing these skills into your projects will keep you out of—or at least drastically reduce—crisis management and move you into forward thinking and proactive decision making. And as you refine and iterate them in your projects, you’ll become a master at managing projects and the people involved in them.
Download our free guide "Herding Cats and Broken Processes: 3 Ways to Fix Your Project Management" for more about improving your project management skills.