Project Management Knowledge Areas

This article reviews and explains the 10
project management Knowledge Areas from the PMBOK®
Guide
– Sixth Edition. You can view a PowerPoint of the Knowledge Areas and
grab a PDF download below.

Knowledge Areas: Definition

What exactly are ‘Knowledge Areas’? And why
are they so important they have capital letters?

PMI defines a Knowledge Area in the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition Glossary
like this:

An identified area of project management defined by its knowledge requirements and described in terms of its component processes, practices, inputs, outputs, tools, and techniques.

Basically,
each Knowledge Area (which you might see abbreviated to KA) is a category of
concepts and processes with a common goal. All the things you need to know and
do for successful risk management, for example, are bundled under the Risk
Management Knowledge Area.

So how many knowledge areas are there in project
management?

According to the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition, there are 10. However, as with any discipline that requires working with cross-functional teams, you may find in reality you need to draw on other areas in order to get the job done.

These are all covered extensively in PMP® training like that from iZenBridge .

What are the project management Knowledge Areas?

The 10 Knowledge Areas of project
management are:

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

They appear in that order as there is some
logic to how they map to the project lifecycle. For example, it helps to know
the scope of a project before you plan the schedule. You need to know the
resources before you communicate to them.

However, I don’t understand why Stakeholder
Management is last – possibly because it got added in the PMBOK® Guide – Fifth Edition and was tacked on the end then. To me,
it would make more sense to be addressed earlier.

Regardless – if you are going for the PMP®
exam, you will have to memorise the Knowledge Areas and make sure you know them
in the correct order (i.e. the order in the list above).

Knowledge Areas PPT & PDF

You can view a super-quick overview of each
of the project management Knowledge Areas in this Slideshare PowerPoint deck.

You can also download a PDF version of this
presentation inside my project management resource library.

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Let’s look at each of those in a bit more
detail.

PMP Exam Prep

1. Integration Management

Project Integration Management is the
hardest KA to get your head around because (in my opinion) it feels so vague.

The point of this whole Knowledge Area is
to make it clear that everything about project management overlaps and needs to
be managed as a holistic whole.

In other words, you can’t “do” schedule management and ignore what the impacts of that might be on people, risk , communications, cost and the rest. This is the domain where you have to manage interdependencies between pretty much everything on the project.

I have always thought having a whole KA to
make this point was excessive, but it is a really important concept.

This video gives you an overview of what
it’s all about.

2. Scope Management

This Knowledge Area looks at everything to
do with managing project scope. Ultimately, the end result is that once you
have worked through the relevant processes, you know what the project is going
to deliver.

That includes requirements (full or as full
as is appropriate at this point in time) and a work breakdown structure if you
use one.

Tip: Don’t get hung up on creating a WBS.
If it isn’t a helpful tool for you, in real life you don’t have to use it! But you will need to know about them if you intend to go for the PMP® exam.

3. Schedule Management

Project Schedule Management is all about making a detailed plan to tell everyone when the project will deliver what is in the requirements.

Schedule management overlaps heavily with comms, as the timeline for the project is of major interest to stakeholders. It’s a key document that you’ll use to manage stakeholders’ expectations . And you use it to track progress.

There are a number of different techniques for tracking schedule progress including earned value management and percent complete . There is a whole other PMI practice standard for scheduling , so this KA doesn’t have a ton of detail in about the ‘how’.

In this KA, you cover everything to do with
defining the work required to deliver the scope, putting those tasks in the
right order, estimating how long they will take to do and building the project
schedule.

The domain also covers keeping the schedule up to date.

You’ll often see schedule management and cost management (see below) on project management job descriptions , because they are the technical skills employers want to know you can do.

Monday.com screenshot

4. Cost Management

Cost management is basically managing
project funding.

Under the umbrella of cost management, you
will:

Many project managers on smaller projects don’t have the final say on how much money is allocated to their project, or final sign off on how it is spent. I think that’s unfortunate. If you are going to do the job, you should have authority to do it all.

However, I think many managers in the sponsorship role prefer to hold the purse strings themselves. It’s a shame, as they could delegate this to their project managers.

My personal feelings on whether you should have access to the budget or not aside, do what you need to do to understand how your organisation expects you to handle finances on your project.

Whether it’s you raising purchase orders and approving invoices or your sponsor, get the process clear in your own head so that funding isn’t a cause of delay.

Elizabeth on the phone

5. Quality Management

It would be nice to think that quality was
something formal covered on every project, but in my experience, and the
experience of the project managers I mentor, quality isn’t often considered
formally.

Obviously it depends on your project. If you are opening a factory that makes bricks, you want every single brick to adhere to quality criteria that make it safe for building works.

Many ‘knowledge-work’ related projects don’t take the same regimented approach to quality. However, it’s an important Knowledge Area to be aware of and use as appropriate to ensure a quality result on your project.

Project Quality Management involves preparing a quality management plan with metrics. Then you implement the plan, carrying out quality-related tasks and making course-corrections as necessary to keep your project delivering the outputs you expect.

6. Resource Management

Project Resource Management is so
important! It’s the domain where you work out what you need to get the project
done.

Resources are typically people but could
also be other things like:

  • Equipment
    or vehicles
  • IT
    hardware and software
  • Materials
    like sand, gravel or other components
  • Facilities
    e.g. an office you have to rent for the duration of the project
  • Office
    gadgets like projectors.

I would count money as a resource as well.
If you don’t have the funding, you won’t be doing your project.

This Knowledge Area covers planning how you are going to do resource management , estimating what resources you need, acquiring the resources you need and ensuring the physical resources you’re using are available as necessary.

You’ll also track the utilisation of resources and take corrective action if necessary – for example if you’re getting through your resources at a quicker-than-planned rate.

The Resource Management Knowledge Area also
covers developing your project team and managing the team.

Developing the team means:

  • Helping
    them improve their skills
  • Ensuring
    they can work together effectively
  • Creating
    an environment where the team can do their best work.

Managing the team means:

  • Tracking
    individual performance against planned work
  • Providing
    them with feedback on their contributions
  • Resolving
    problems individuals may have
  • Managing
    starters and leavers in the team so the team stays cohesive and changes don’t
    affect project performance.

That’s actually quite a lot for a project manager to do, especially if the people don’t work directly for you. Just do your best and be aware that you set the tone for the team’s culture.

Teamwork is so important , so focus on what you can do to make your project team a great place to work. Keep morale and enthusiasm high.

Read next: Team building ideas: Online scavenger hunt

Buzzword bingo can be a fun way to keep engagement high during meetings

Communications Management

In this Knowledge Area, you:

  • Create a
    communications management plan
  • “Do”
    communications i.e. carry out your plan, send briefings out, give presentations
    or whatever
  • Monitor
    the success (or otherwise) of those
  • Make
    changes as appropriate to ensure your next communications are effectively
    received and acted on.

Risk Management

There’s a whole PMI credential on risk
management, so that tells you risk management is a big deal for project
managers.

The Risk Management Knowledge Area covers
an adequate overview of what you need to do to manage risk on your project. If
you want more detailed guidance, there are plenty of books on the subject.

Within this KA, you’ll be:

  • Planning
    how to manage risk on the project and creating a risk management plan
  • Identifying
    risks
  • Analysing
    risks (both qualitatively and quantitatively)
  • Planning
    the risk response based on your analysis
  • Carrying
    out the risk response activities
  • Monitoring
    risk to check the success (or otherwise) of your response activities, and
    taking action as necessary.

Basically, that’s the risk management
process in a nutshell. You’ll be managing risk the whole way through the
project. Anyone can raise a risk or take action to manage a risk. Risk
management is a team effort and this is a KA you’ll be using over and over
again until it becomes second nature.

Elizabeth Harrin working together

Procurement Management

If your project isn’t buying anything, you
can skip this whole Knowledge Area in real life, although you’ll need to know
it for the PMP® exam.

In the Procurement Management Knowledge
Area, you:

  • Plan the
    procurements required and create a statement of work
  • Plan how
    you will make decisions about vendors
  • Carry out
    the procurement exercise to select a vendor
  • Manage the
    relationship with the vendor while they do the work
  • Close the
    procurement contract at the end of the work.

Depending on what you are buying, and the
type of organisation you work in, you may have access to a specialist Purchasing
team who can help with all of this. There is a lot of contracting involved and
those negotiations can be quite challenging if you aren’t used to being in that
environment.

Stakeholder Management

Project Stakeholder Management is my favourite Knowledge Area because I believe that projects are done through people.

I also believe that managing people is a slightly arrogant way to think about the work we do in this domain, so it’s preferable to think about it as stakeholder engagement.

In this KA you:

  • Identify the people involved and affected by the project – the stakeholders
  • Plan how you are going to engage them in your work: create a stakeholder engagement plan
  • Manage the activities you are going to use to engage them, and gather feedback on whether the activities were successful or not.
  • Act on the feedback to improve your stakeholder engagement work for next time.

This is also the area of the project where you are likely to have the most challenges, because people don’t act the way you sometimes expect them to. You’ll be dealing with conflict , negotiating, managing office politics.

Elizabeth presenting

For me, this is the most interesting part of project management and can also see you at the table with the most senior managers in the company.

This is also the domain where you are likely to be planning change management activities, if you don’t have a dedicated business change manager on the team.


Stakeholder Management is the most interesting part of project management and can also see you at the table with the most senior managers in the company.
Click To Tweet


So it’s worth spending some time learning
the tools and techniques to support how you get work done through others,
because they are so critical to your success and the project’s success!

Knowledge Areas Mnemonic

Struggling to remember all of this, in the
right order? This video from covers five quick ways to memorise the 10
Knowledge Areas in the PMBOK Guide
Sixth Edition.

Takeaways

  • There are
    10 project management Knowledge Areas, according to the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition
  • They cover
    the major domains you need to know and use as a project manager
  • You might
    not use them all on each project
  • You’ll
    need to know them all for the PMP® exam.

iZenBridge has been reviewed and approved as a provider of project management training by the Project Management Institute (PMI). As a PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.), iZenBridge has agreed to abide by PMI-established quality assurance criteria. Find out more about their range of online and classroom courses on their website .


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