Before beginning any phase of a project, project managers must review which processes require more attention and which don’t. The Project Management Institute (PMI) breaks down fields of specialization that are applied during the entire process in its Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) and calls them the 10 knowledge areas of project management.
These knowledge areas occur during the five project management phases and are the core technical components that bring a project to life.
10 Knowledge Areas of Project Management
1. Project Integration Management
This knowledge area contains the tasks and activities that hold the project together and is part of the initiation phase. Following all the tasks under this knowledge area allows the first phase of a project to run smoothly. At the start of this phase, the company must have a business case that answers questions about feasibility, organizational approval and project purposes. This results in two documents: a project charter and a project plan.
- Project charter: a living document that provides the project’s purpose, scope, assumptions and constraints.
- Project plan: a document that includes the purpose, plan, direction, guidelines, timing and budget, along with other subsidiary plans, such as the communication plan, risk management plan, etc.
2. Project Scope Management
The first phase of a project requires the review of all its processes. This means outlining the work that must be included within the project. The range of a project is often the leading cause for project changes, so it’s important that the boundaries of the project are well defined. Project scope management typically results in the collection of the project requirements and the work breakdown structure (WBS).
During the scope revision, project managers need to make sure that project tasks will be monitored rigorously. Oftentimes, people may include unauthorized work into the project because it seems financially feasible. This isn’t the case most of the time. Termed “scope creep,” this unwanted action can affect time and budget estimates, leaving less time for the approved project scope.
3. Project Schedule Management
This process is not to be taken lightly. This is usually the most time-consuming knowledge area because it includes the order of the project’s tasks. Project managers must divide the processes required to ensure the completion of a successful project.
During planning, project managers use earned value management, a project control technique, to determine and keep the project status on schedule. Projects can come with unexpected changes, so managers will likely need to schedule revisions too. Lastly, managers should invest in tools that offer time tracking and let them view it over specific periods of time, according to Inc.
4. Project Cost Management
Project cost management includes budgeting, funding, financing and controlling costs so the project adheres to the approved budget. Companies seek a budget that has a cushion for unexpected changes, but that isn’t always the case for projects.
Project managers need to understand and adopt this knowledge area with rigor. They must practice the best monitoring techniques and keep stakeholders up to date with unsurprising estimations. The project manager can break down the WBS low enough to estimate the indirect and direct costs for each component. The project manager can then create a budget from those estimates, which helps control the project based on the budget when using earned value management.
5. Project Quality Management
Without knowledge of a product’s quality, budgeting becomes less accurate. This management area includes the processes that deal with:
- Planning: Involves the creation of a document that contains the details of the product or service’s quality.
- Managing: Involves the maintenance and inspection of the product or service.
- Controlling: Involves the inspection of deliverables to ensure they follow quality standards
6. Project Resource Management
This knowledge area is focused on acquiring the right team for the successful completion of the project. To assure maximum productivity, every process within this knowledge area involves tracking each team member’s performance. Leadership skills are important here. The specific tasks that a company’s human resources department gets done include:
- Estimating activity resources
- Acquiring resources
- Developing a team
- Managing a team
- Controlling resources
7. Project Communications Management
As unexpected changes can occur to a project, proper communication is essential for project managers. Project communications management focuses on what information the stakeholders need and when and how they need it delivered. The processes within this section ensure that communication about a project’s status is effective, and stakeholders are kept “in the loop” throughout the project.
The steps begin with a communication management plan that identifies the appropriate planning and distribution of project information. The communication can include information such as progress updates, investor news and so forth. Inc. advises project managers to sync all their documents to ensure that key team members always have access to them.
8. Project Risk Management
A risk management plan focuses on the anticipation of a company’s service or product life cycle. Without risk management, an organization cannot define future objectives. Operational, qualitative and governmental factors make projects inherently risky. They depend on the risk knowledge area to survive. Project managers should create their risk management plan at the start of each project cycle and address two levels of risk:
- Individual risk: uncertain events or conditions that have a negative or positive effect on project objectives
- Overall risk: effect or uncertainty on the project, arising from individual risks and other sources of ambiguity
9. Project Procurement Management
Projects, at any phase, may have a form of outside recruitment. Hiring contractors can help get the job done with expertise, but this process can make the company sacrifice the ability to control the quality and scheduling of the tasks. Project managers need to make sure they identify:
- The services or products that are needed from outside the project team
- The results needed to mark a task as complete
After project managers devise a procurement management plan that identifies the needs of the project, they must manage the contractors and monitor the contracts to provide any warning of project changes, if they arise.
10. Project Stakeholder Management
Managing stakeholders is a tricky task. In theory, you can declare a project a success if the stakeholders are satisfied with the results, although it was a failure in practice. With this area of knowledge in mind, project managers need to actively manage stakeholders. The successful management of stakeholders will depend on the following strategies:
- Identifying stakeholders: During this period stakeholders and their concerns are identified.
- Creating a stakeholder management plan: The plan lists each stakeholder and prioritizes their concerns and potential impacts on the project.
- Managing stakeholder engagement: During the project execution phase the stakeholders must have their needs addressed. Communication lines are crucial during this period and must stay open.
- Monitoring stakeholder engagement. During project intervals all stakeholders must be considered to determine if their needs are being met and if changes need to be made to ensure satisfaction.
Managing projects is not an easy task. Project management has various steps and phases within a process. Understanding the 10 knowledge areas helps managers conceptualize the entire structure of a project. This broad perspective can ensure that projects meet the required criteria.
PMBOK® is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.