PMBOK Guide to Project Management

By Nandini

Last updated on Jan 29 2020

PMBOK Guide to Project Management

PMBOK Guide to Project Management Book

Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) – In the words of Project Management Institute (PMI ) - “ Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) is PMI's flagship publication. The PMBOK book is a fundamental resource for effective project management practices in any industry.

In simple terms, PMBOK is the project management guide that consists of process steps, terminologies, best practices and guidelines which are widely accepted and implemented by the project management industry from all over the world.

We work with project environments where projects have deadlines or completing the tasks within a specified time is a priority without compromising on the quality. For a really long time, we have known the importance of best project management practices and implementing them to meet those deadlines is crucial. The best practices from the PMBOK guide include the implementation of various tools and effective usage of resources.


All of the concepts discussed in PMBOK 6th edition help project professionals achieve or complete the projects at a specified time.


Irrespective of scale or complexity of the project — may it be constructing a bridge, designing a product or any other project for that matter — all projects share similarities and common steps mentioned in the project management body of knowledge can be applied to achieve end results.


All these steps, best practices, tools, and techniques come combined in the PMBOK book.


It solely depends on the project manager how he/she uses the best practices or standards suggested in the PMBOK Guide to create different methodologies and strategies in order to make a project successful.

PMBOK – project management body of knowledge never specifically suggests or exactly mentions how to run a project. The PMBOK book only offers an effective framework and tools. It is the project manager who has to make decisions and run the project in accordance with the best practices and framework.  


Now, let’s talk about when the PMBOK® Guide originated and how every edition  has evolved over the years,


PMBOK Guide History


  • The first PMBOK Guide was released in 1996 with 9 knowledge areas and 37 processes.
  • PMBOK Guide 2nd edition was released in 2000 with 39 processes.
  • PMBOK Guide 3rd edition was released in 2004 with 44 processes.
  • PMBOK Guide 4th edition was released in 2008 with 42 processes.
  • PMBOK Guide 5th edition was released in 2012 with 47 processes.
  • PMBOK Guide 6th edition was released in 2017 with 49 processes.
  • PMBOK Guide 7th edition will be effective from 20th June 2020.


DISCLAIMER –  The terms PMP, PMBOK, PMI, CAPM, and PgMP,  are registered marks of the PMI - Project Management Institute, Inc.


Historically we can see there was a new edition released every 4 years

Each PMBOK® edition was released to overcome challenges the previous edition couldn’t focus on. The latest PMBOK 6th edition provides better standards and best practices for the project management industry. Every update was made to combat new challenges faced by project managers and project professionals in the ever-changing project environment.



Major Update in the PMBOK Guide:


There was no major update until the 5th edition. With the launch of PMBOK® 6th edition, there was the inclusion of agile concepts. In the new announcement for June 2020 PMP Exam Change – PMI mentioned that the exam will be changing and one of the major changes is the inclusion of agile related questions in the syllabus.


The most recent version of PMBOK is PMBOK® 6th edition, so let’s have a look at major changes that happened in PMBOK 6th edition.


These were the major changes in PMBOK 6th edition compared to the PMBOK 5th edition


  • Focus on Effective Leadership


Although there was a mention about effective leadership in the PMBOK 5th edition, in the PMBOK 6th edition it is being combined as one section and this shows how PMI is stressing the importance of leadership. 


The newly added section about leadership talks more about project management leadership and PMI’s expectations from the project leader. The 6th edition also talks about skills and competencies project professionals should possess. It was a good move by PMI to add a section on effective leadership as the PMP exam focuses more on the leadership, this can be seen throughout the years.


  • Terminology Changes in PMBOK Guide 6th Edition


Change in terminology to maintain consistency was a big step in PMBOK® 5th. This change was done to match the PMI Lexicon of terms and exam content outline and match it with the same terminology. This step will be benefiting students and project managers as the terms they consider in one area will replicate everywhere.


The PMBOK 6th edition aims to continue the terminology consistency and here were the changes made,


  • Change of human resource management to resource management. This clearly indicates that we do not manage people or teams but nuts, bolts, and everything.
  • Time Management will now be schedule management. This could really make sense as we don’t manage time but we plan, manage and control schedule.


Knowledge Area Changes in the PMBOK 6th Edition Guide
  • Trends & Emerging practices
  • Tailoring Considerations
  • Key Concepts
  • Considerations for Agile/ Adaptive Environments


One of the major changes in PMBOK 6th edition compared to PMBOK 5th edition was the inclusion of agile concepts. PMI has made efforts to align all the traditional concepts with agile and ensured that in all the knowledge areas, agile concepts have been implemented.

It would be the first time ever PMBOK book includes and explains about agile practices. This important change in the project management body of knowledge guide was made taking into consideration the implementation of agile concepts that will broaden the scope of project delivery approaches.


All these updates from the project management body of knowledge guide provide clarity on how these practices can be applied to any project in the best way possible.


These changes also affect PMP Certification applicants. Those preparing for the PMP exam must consider the new changes in the syllabus and follow PMBOK 6th edition guide. With tools and techniques discussed in the PMBOK 6th edition guide, not only is a candidate's knowledge enhanced but also they learn how to implement best practices even in complex situations.


Learn in-depth about the content and topics covered in the PMBOK® Guide before taking up the PMP certification. It is suggested to take up a PMP certification training if you need help with an explanation of the PMBOK book.  You can consider taking up our expert-led PMP training as our courseware is closely aligned with the new PMBOK 6th edition. Our trainers are highly experienced and offer in-person and live online sessions as well. You can see the demo of our PMP training in the below video. 

Expert-led PMP Certification Training on Our YouTube Channel. For FREE training, hit SUBSCRIBE. 


What are the Process Groups & Knowledge Areas in PMBOK® Guide?

Every Project has 5 process groups 

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring
  • Controlling

The role of these processes is to bundle all the processes that operated at a time or with the same input. These processes give us a background to successfully execute, run and manage projects. The PMBOK 6th edition focuses on each of these in detail. 


PMBOK Knowledge Areas

The PMBOK Guide covers 10 project management knowledge areas in the 6th Edition. Each Knowledge Area is made up of a different set of the process with tools, techniques and more. Below is the updated list of knowledge areas from the PMBOK 6th edition. 

  • Integration Management
  • Scope Management
  • Time Management
  • Cost Management
  • Quality Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Communications Management
  • Risk Management
  • Stakeholder management


Important note to PMP Aspirants

PMBOK® Guide cannot be replaced with any other study material. Most aspirants make mistake by not referring to the PMBOK guide and fail to clear the exam in 1st attempt. From intensive research and years of expertise, it is safe to advise that a candidate preparing for the PMP certification exam must have a thorough understanding of the PMBOK guide. In short, ensuring you are well-versed in the PMBOK 6th guide is essential.

It’s mandatory that you have to go through and understand the concepts explained in the project management body of knowledge book as there would be many direct questions in the exam from it.

The PMBOK book which is a called guide was and will always be the go-to option for project professionals who aspire to get certified and enhance their careers in the field of project management.


A quick tip: Make sure you thoroughly study the PMBOK 6th edition guide at least 2 times before you take the PMP exam. 


In-demand and high paying project management courses

PMP® Certification Training

PRINCE2® Foundation

PRINCE2® Practitioner

PRINCE2® Foundation Practitioner

CAPM® Certified Associate Project Management

PgMP® Exam Prep training


The PMI - Project Management Institute religiously updates the PMBOK guide to help project management professionals with industry best practices and techniques. It provides a project framework to carry out projects successfully and get desired outcomes. The PMBOK guide can give you knowledge that can be applied to projects from any industry.


If you are a project professional and you are aware of the importance of the PMBOK guide, it is advised to continuously stay updated about the upcoming changes in project management. For more resources on project management keep following Sprintzeal Blog and sign up for the newsletter for regular updates about project management.


For courses from the project management field or other popular fields, you can explore our all courses page and find your best fit. If you find something interesting, be sure to reach out to us for more info at

About the Author

Sprintzeal   Nandini

Content Creator at Sprintzeal

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