Project Management Knowledge Areas

The 10 Project Management Knowledge Areas

What are the project management knowledge areas?

The project management knowledge areas are essentially what you need to know about effective project management. Whether you’re a project manager 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.

Below we’ll cover each of the 10 knowledge areas of project management at a high level along with a few of the process groups or action items associated with each of them.

1. Project integration management

Project integration management is the umbrella that covers all other project management knowledge areas. It knits together 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.

Learn more about project integration management

2. Project scope management

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.

Learn more about scope management

3. Project time management

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. But, these variables are exactly why effective time management is 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.

Learn more about time management

4. Project cost management

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.

Learn more about cost management

5. Project quality management

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.

Learn more about quality management

6. Project resource management

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.

Learn more about resource management

7. Project communications management

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.

Learn more about communications management

8. Project risk management

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.

Learn more about risk management

9. Project procurement management

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 knowledge 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 knowledge area you use every time or even very often, but it’s incredibly valuable when you do need it.

Learn more about procurement management

10. Project stakeholder management

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.

Learn more about stakeholder management

Ebook: What IT Execs Want Most from Project Manager

On-Demand: Marketing Project Management 101

Understanding the project management knowledge areas

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.

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