The Guide to the PMBOK classifies the processes that make up each project management process group into nine Project Management Knowledge Areas. These groupings, or knowledge areas, bring together processes that have things in common.
For example, Project Cost Management involves all aspects of the budgeting process, as you would suspect, such as Resource Planning, Cost Estimating, Cost Budgeting, and Cost Control. These processes belong to different project management process groups, but because they all involve costs and budgeting, they share many aspects in common.
We will look at all nine Project Management Knowledge Areas and look at how their role works within the five process groups as defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI): Initiation, Planning, Executing, Controlling, and Closing.
Project Integration Management
Project Integration Management is comprised of three processes: Project Plan Development, Project Plan Execution, and Integrated Change Control.
The Project Integration knowledge area is concerned with coordinating all aspects of the project plan and is highly interactive. Project planning, project execution, and change control occur throughout the project and are repeated continuously while working on the project. Project planning and execution involve weighing the objectives of the project against alternatives to bring the project to a successful completion. Change control impacts the project plan, which in turn impacts execution, so you can see that these three processes are very tightly linked. The processes in this area also interact with other processes in the remaining knowledge areas.
Project Scope Management
Project Scope Management has five processes: Initiation, Scope Planning, Scope Definition, Scope Verification, and Scope Change Control.
Project Scope Management is concerned with the work of the project. All of the processes involved with the work of the project, and only the work that is required to complete the project, are found in this knowledge area.
Scope Planning, Scope Definition, Scope Verification, and Scope Change Control involve detailing the requirements of the product of the project and the activities that will eventually comprise the project plan, verifying those details using measurement techniques, and controlling changes to these processes.
Project Time Management
The Project Time Management knowledge area also has five processes: Activity Definition, Activity Sequencing, Activity Duration Estimating, Schedule Development, and Schedule Control.
This knowledge area is concerned with estimating the duration of the project plan activities, devising a project schedule, and monitoring and controlling deviations from the schedule. A tool like Seavus Project Viewer can truly aid the project manager in this area allowing for team collaboration and task updating. Collectively, this knowledge area deals with completing the project in a timely manner.
In many cases, all of the activity processes described here along with schedule development are completed as one activity. Sometimes, only one person is needed to complete these five processes, and they’re all worked on at the same time. Time management is an important aspect of project management as it concerns keeping the project activities on track and monitoring those activities against the project plan to assure the project is completed on time.
Project Cost Management
As its name implies, the Project Cost Management knowledge area around costs and budgets. The processes that make up this knowledge area are as follows: Resource Planning, Cost Estimating, Cost Budgeting, and Cost Control.
The activities in the Project Cost Management knowledge area establish estimates for costs and resources and keep watch over those costs to ensure that the project stays within the approved budget. Depending on the complexity of the project, these processes might need the involvement of more than one person. For example, the finance person might not have expertise in the Resource Planning area, so the project manager will need to bring in a staff member with those skills to complete the Resource Planning process.
Project Quality Management
The Project Quality Management knowledge area assures that the project meets the requirements that the project was undertaken to produce. These processes measure overall performance, and monitor project results and compare them to the quality standards set out in the project-planning process to assure that the customer will receive the product or service they thought they purchased. It's critical that you build project quality checkpoints into your project schedule and be sure to manage them jointly with your team and even your client using a viewing and collaboration tool such as Seavus' Project Viewer that works seamlessly and cost-effectively with Microsoft Project.
Project Human Resource Management
Project Human Resource Management involves all aspects of people management and personal interaction including leading, coaching, dealing with conflict, and more. Some of the project participants whom you’ll get to practice these skills on include stakeholders, team members, and customers. Each requires the use of different communication styles, leadership skills, and team-building skills. A good project manager knows when to enact certain skills and communication styles based on the situation.
Project Communications Management
The processes that make up the Project Communications Management knowledge area are as follows: Communications Planning, Information Distribution, Performance Reporting, and Administrative Closure.
The processes in the Project Communications knowledge area are related to general communication skills but aren’t the same thing. Communication skills are considered general management skills that the project manager utilizes on a daily basis. The processes in the Communications knowledge area seek to ensure that all project information including project plans, risk assessments, meeting notes, and more is collected and documented. These processes also ensure information is distributed and shared with appropriate stakeholders. Using a tool like Seavus Project Viewer to ensure that everyone on the delivery team side as well as the customer team side is on the same page even if they don’t have access to MS Project is a great way to collaborate without spending enormous licensing fees.
Project Risk Management
Project Risk Management contains six processes: Risk Management Planning, Risk Identification, Qualitative Risk Analysis, Quantitative Risk Analysis, Risk Response Planning, and Risk Monitoring and Control.
As the name of this knowledge area implies, these processes are concerned with identifying and planning for potential risks that may impact the project. Organizations will often combine several of these processes into one step.
For example, Risk Identification, Qualitative Risk Analysis, and Quantitative Risk Analysis might be performed at the same time. The important thing about this process is that you should strive to identify all the risks and develop responses for those with the greatest consequences to the project objectives.
Project Procurement Management
The Project Procurement Management knowledge area includes the processes involved with purchasing goods or services from external vendors, contractors, and suppliers. When discussing the Procurement Management processes, it’s assumed that the discussion is taking place from the perspective of the buyer. As the project manager, you would be the buyer purchasing the goods or services from a supplier or contractor, so these processes should be examined from that perspective.
The processes in the Project Procurement Management knowledge area are as follows: Procurement Planning, Solicitation Planning, Solicitation, Source Selection, Contract Administration, and Contract Closeout.
Projects are executed in process group order, but the knowledge areas allow a project manager to think about groups of processes that require specific skills. This makes the job of assigning resources easier because team members with specific skills might be able to work on and complete several processes at once.