10 Project Management Knowledge Areas of PMBOK for PMPs

Date:Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Did you know that there are not one or two, or three but 10 project management knowledge areas in total? But what are they, and how do we define these 10 PMBOK knowledge areas? We aim to give these answers in our article and hopefully help you perfect your knowledge as a PMP. 

Are you excited? You better be, as you’re about to become a pro in project management knowledge areas.


What are the 10 PMBOK knowledge areas?

Firstly, project management knowledge areas are not the same as project management process groups. The latter refers to the stages of a project from initiation on to completion. Knowledge areas are all about dividing up project elements. Much of the best project management software offers some tools to help you utilize this system, even without proper certification. 

So, what are the ten knowledge areas of project management? They are:

  1. Project Integration Management

  2. Project Scope Management

  3. Project Schedule Management

  4. Project Cost Management

  5. Project Quality Management

  6. Project Resource Management

  7. Project Communications Management

  8. Project Risk Management

  9. Project Procurement Management

  10. Project Stakeholder Management


PMBOK knowledge areas chart

Here is the standard project management areas of knowledge chart. It is a table that shows you the roles and responsibilities of PM managers across all the stages of a project. So what you have is a vertical and horizontal axis that structure the project management knowledge areas and process groups, respectively. 


PMBOK knowledge areas chart

Image Source: Project Management Prepcast


The 10 project management knowledge areas of PMBOK explained

Without further ado, here are the definitions and explanations of our ten knowledge areas in project management.

Project Integration Management

In this project management area, project managers set the framework for the entire project management process, and is, therefore, the most important knowledge area in order to manage the first process group of project initiation. 

Integration management is like the glue that holds all the project teams together. Integration management makes sure that other areas of the project all work together, from costs to resources to scheduling. 

Integration managers also ensure that there are proper terms between those working on the project and outside stakeholders who have an interest in seeing the project brought to successful completion according to the project charter and goals. 

The creation of the project management plan is also a key element of project integration management, as this will form the roadmap that is to be followed at every point in the project development. 

Project integration plays a role at every stage of the project management process groups, from initiating, to planning, to executing, controlling, and completing the project, and therefore must be well aware of all the work that is included in the overall project. 

Finally, any elements of project change control fall under this category too.

Project Scope Management

Project scope management is all about having goals and milestones, figuring out which metrics to use to measure a project’s results against the project goals, and successfully producing deliverables. 

This knowledge area of project management is also considered one of the most crucial elements to bring the project off more efficiently based on the work done in the project planning phase. 

It is important to have a clear sense of the project scope changes as this will also help avoid scope creep, which is the phenomenon when a project's goals seem to keep expanding without much regard for things like budgeting and scheduling. 

The project scope manager may not be that involved in the first part of the project management process groups of initiation. 

However, when it comes to the second group of project planning, scope management has many roles. These include, among other things, collecting all project requirements and creating a work breakdown structure, or WBS.

Project Schedule Management

Otherwise known as project time management, this project management knowledge area is about timeframes, and schedules, estimating the duration of time per project task and controlling to make sure everything is on time, or being ready to adapt the schedule if there are changes. 

Likewise with the project work of scope management, managing the project schedule plays a large part in the second process of project management, that is, being part of the planning group. 

Project schedule management must be aware of the project's durations and due dates and, therefore, will determine the activities and their sequences and dependencies. A successful project will therefore have a development schedule for the delivery of the project in place thanks to this knowledge area.

Project Cost Management

Our next project management process group and knowledge area is all about money, budgets, and expenses. Project cost management knows everything about cash flows, estimating pricing, planning for expenses, and making budgets. 

Like time management, one must also be prepared with contingency budgets if costs change. Cost or money management creates the financial guide by which the project activities must be carried out within the boundary of the predefined budget. 

Project cost management, like the knowledge areas of time management and scope management, plays less of a role in the first process stage of initiation and is mainly involved in the planning stage. 

However, in the process group that deals with project monitoring and project controlling, cost management must control costs based on a quantitative measure of purchases, expenses, and instances where spending becomes misaligned with the original budget and expense plans.

Project Quality Management

Project quality managers are responsible for making sure that the desired quality levels are clearly communicated to the team members, that these quality standards are maintained throughout the project, and that quality assurance is there for the final product or result. 

As a natural continuation from time and cost, this is one of the PMI knowledge areas crucial to ensure the project meets the objective standards laid out in the plan and charter. There are one or more processes belonging to the knowledge area of quality control. 

While taking a back seat during the initiation process, quality management has an important impact during the planning phase, the executing phase, and the monitoring and controlling phase. 

As for staying on top of any qualitative risk, some of these responsibilities are split between quality management and risk management, to be discussed below in more detail. 

Project Resource Management

The next of our PMBOK 10 knowledge areas is all about resource analysis and execution. Project resource managers normally deal with human resources, that is, the number of staff and the workload for each team member. 

Human resource management picks teams, coaches them, and ensures everyone is on board and happy with their role; if not, HR management should be ready to make changes. That is not to say that resource management is always just about human labor, but it can sometimes also cover elements of equipment and other capital resources. 

This PM knowledge area is similar to quality management and communications management, as most activity of this knowledge area takes place in the PM process groups of planning the project, undertaking the project's activities, and monitoring its progress. 

To run the project more efficiently, resource management must keep measuring the uses of its resources based on availability and possibly budget too, and to keep referring to the plan to stay in line with the stated outcome of resource use.

Project Communications Management

The communication manager decides how the team will be communicating, with which software, how frequently, and what is expected in regular team communications. It is also important to monitor communication to make sure everything is understood. 

Project communications managers must decide how frequently and regularly to have checkups, meetings, and other communications reports between the various parts of the project team, from the managers to the team leaders and individual employees.

Project communications take place mostly during planning, execution, and project control. 

Project Risk Management

When planning a project, one does not just need to know how to bring it off without a hitch but to have a ready response in case things go wrong to ensure that the project can never be totally derailed. 

And this is where risk management comes into play. Risk management means attempting to foresee all possible risks, making sure the team is aware of risks for different project phases, and having backup plans to deal with risks if they occur. 

Risk management is part of the core PM knowledge areas along with quality control, resource management, communications management, and procurement, as the bulk of the activity from this knowledge area takes place over the phases of planning, execution, and project monitoring and control. 

Project Procurement Management

Procurement managers must think through the eyes of the end-user or customer whenever they are in charge of procuring materials or other goods and services which will be consumed throughout the project lifecycle. 

Procurement managers should be aware of all the projects in terms of what needs to be sourced from outside parties and how to acquire those needed products best. 

Again, there is not much done in this project knowledge area during initiation nor during the closing of the project.

Instead, like with many of the other areas, procurement management is a core technical subject during planning and is also key during the actual work of doing the project and keeping tabs on project progress. 

Project Stakeholder Management

A stakeholder manager first of all defines who is a stakeholder and gets all the stakeholders together at the beginning of the project’s life cycle. Then, it is up to these managers to make sure all stakeholders stay engaged. 

Some of the core elements of stakeholder project management knowledge must be conducted during the very first phase of the project management process, that is, during initiation and kickoff. 

However, stakeholder managers continue to play a big role throughout planning, execution and controlling. Only during the closing phase of the project work process do stakeholder managers take more of a backseat.


Our key takeaways on the 10 knowledge areas of project management

As you can see, when you organize any project along the lines of knowledge areas and process groups, you will have much greater planning abilities and controlling capacities to ensure project success on time and within budget. 

In the meantime, it's always smart to learn more about things like certification for PMBOK areas of knowledge or other facts about PMBOK methodology. There are many online editions about what it means to certify project management practitioners as well. 

In the end, not every project will have the time, money, and team to implement the PMBOK system fully, but knowing what you now know after reading this, you can certainly take advantage of these knowledge areas and process groups to be the best project executioner you can be.


FAQs on the PMBOK project management 10 knowledge areas

How many of the ten project management knowledge areas include planning tasks?

Every single one of the ten project management knowledge areas has roles to play in the planning phase of project management process groups. In each case, the project manager of that specific knowledge area must create a plan and define project activities associated with their domain. 

How many knowledge areas are part of the monitoring and controlling processes group?

In project management planning, the process group that is all about project monitoring and project controlling involves every single one of the project management knowledge areas, from initiation, scope, scheduling, and costs, down to quality control, resource management, communications management, risk management, procurement, and stakeholder management.

What are the 5 most important knowledge areas?

Out of the ten project management knowledge areas, one might argue that the five most important ones are integration management, scheduling management, cost management, resource management, and procurement management, although this list is not official. All ten areas play an important role in project management.