10 Knowledge Areas of Project Management: A Helpful Guide

The 10 Project Management Knowledge Areas

Effective project management requires planning, communication, and task management. But do you know all the main project management knowledge areas and how they work together?

These 10 project management knowledge areas will provide you with the essential information and skillsets you need to run smoother projects, delight your stakeholders, and fight fewer fires.

In this 10-knowledge area guide for project management you will discover,

What are the 10 knowledge areas of project management?

The project management knowledge areas are essentially what you need to know about effective project management. The project management knowledge areas found in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) are a good place to start.

Whether you’re a project managerstudying for your Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam, freshening up your knowledge, or just looking to streamline and understand your project management knowledge, understanding each area can help improve your skillset.

Below we 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.

How will this help me?

Project integration management helps by co-ordinating all the various parts of a project, ensuring different team members follow one overall plan. It helps to keep the project running smoothly and efficiently.

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 up? 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.

How will this help me?

Project scope management helps you to stay on top of extra tasks that might be added during the course of the project. Therefore, it makes dealing with any expected or unexpected increases in costs or workflow much more manageable.

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.

How will this help me?

Project time management will help you to manage the project within the deadlines and schedules originally set. With this, you’ll be better able to ensure the project moves smoothly to completion in a timely manner.

Learn more about project 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.

How will this help me?

Project cost management is critical to make sure you remain within budget. Financial challenges that arise during a project can throw up unplanned surprises and affect profitability — project cost management can help avoid this.

Learn more about project 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 deliver great work every time. Should projects not meet results, you can adjust course and implement changes to the process or product to get back on track.

How will this help me?

Completing a project on time is one thing — but completing it to a high standard of work is arguably more important. Project quality management allows you to make sure what you deliver meets with client approval.

Learn more about project 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, weaknesses, and synergy with other team members. It all comes 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 will this help me?

Project resource management is a benefit for knowing who, and what, you need in place for the project to be a success. You can check that you have enough people, the right people, and project team — and look for extra resource if there are any gaps.

Learn more about project 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. Your communications management plan is crucial to help identify who needs to know what and when before your project starts.

How will this help me?

On any large-scale project, communication is key — making sure everyone involved is informed on changes, updates and issues at the right time. A breakdown in communications can be problematic, so it’s not an area where you want to be weak.

Learn more about project 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 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.

How will this help me?

It’s rare that a project doesn’t come up against a stumbling block or two. Project risk management can flag upcoming problems and equip you with the means to work around and through them, rather than causing major complications.

Learn more about project 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 seamlessly integrate into the team.

This project management knowledge area provides 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.

How will this help me?

You may not have the expertise and experience you need in-house for every aspect of a project — project procurement management allows for quick onboarding so any contractors hit the ground running.

Learn more about project procurement management

10. Stakeholder project 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.

How will this help me?

There’s a lot of people to keep happy during the course of a project, and any stakeholders are right up there in terms of the most important. Making sure they have the information they need throughout is crucial and could save you problems further down the line.

Learn more about project 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.

Frequently asked questions.

How many different phases are there in project management?

As well as the 10 knowledge areas, according to the PMBOK® Guide there are 49 processes, incorporated into five phases of project management. These are the:

What are the 49 processes of project management?

The PMBOK® Guide lists 49 processes within the 10 knowledge areas, with different processes falling under each area. Consult the guide to learn all 49, but an example would be Project Cost Management, which comprises four processes:

Can project management knowledge areas change?

As technology continues to develop and methods are enhanced and improved, it’s no surprise that project management processes and best practices will also change. The PMBOK® Guide is frequently updated to reflect these, so modern marketers and project managers should make sure they monitor the latest innovations.

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