The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is an inclusive term that de-scribes the sum of knowledge within the profession of project management. As with other professions such as law, medicine, and accounting, the body of knowledge rests with the practitioners and academics who apply and advance it. The full PMBOK in-cludes knowledge of proven, traditional practices which are widely applied as well as knowledge of innovative and advanced practices which have seen more limited use.

1.1  Purpose Of This Document

The primary purpose of this document is to identify and describe that subset of the PMBOK which is generally accepted. Generally accepted means that the knowledge and practices described are applicable to most projects most of the time, and that there is widespread consensus about their value and use fulness. Generally accepted does not mean that the knowledge and practices described are or should be applied uniformly on all projects; the project management team is always responsible for determining what is appropriate for any given project.

1.2  What Is A Project?

Organizations perform work. Work generally involves either operations or projects, although the two may overlap. Operations and projects share many characteristics; for example, they are:

  • Performed by people.
  • Constrained by limited resources.
  • Planned, executed, and controlled.

Operations and projects differ primarily in that operations are ongoing and repetitive while projects are temporary and unique. A project can thus be defined in terms of its distinctive characteristics—a project is a temporary endeavor undertak-en to create a unique product or service. Temporary means that every project has a definite beginning and a definite end. Unique means that the product or service is different in some distinguishing way from all similar products or services.

Projects are undertaken at all levels of the organization. They may involve a sin-gle person or many thousands. They may require less than 100 hours to complete or over 10,000,000. Projects may involve a single unit of one organization or may cross organizational boundaries as in joint ventures and partnering. Projects are of-ten critical components of the performing organization’s business strategy. Exam-ples of projects include:

  • Developing a new product or service.
  • Effecting a change in structure, staffing, or style of an organization.
  • Designing a new transportation vehicle.
  • Developing or acquiring a new or modified information system.
  • Constructing a building or facility.
  • Running a campaign for political office.
  • Implementing a new business procedure or process.


1.2.1 Temporary

Temporary means that every project has a definite beginning and a definite end. The end is reached when the project’s objectives have been achieved, or when it be-comes clear that the project objectives will not or cannot be met and the project is terminated. Temporary does not necessarily mean short in duration; many projects last for several years. In every case, however, the duration of a project is finite; pro-jects are not ongoing efforts. In addition, temporary does not generally apply to the product or service creat-ed by the project. Most projects are undertaken to create a lasting result. For ex-ample, a project to erect a national monument will create a result expected to last centuries. Many undertakings are temporary in the sense that they will end at some point. For example, assembly work at an automotive plant will eventually be discontinued, and the plant itself decommissioned. Projects are fundamentally different because the project ceases when its declared objectives have been attained, while non-project un-dertakings adopt a new set of objectives and continue to work.

1.2.2 Unique Product or Service        

Projects involve doing something which has not been done before and which is, therefore, unique. A product or service may be unique even if the category it belongs to is large. For example, many thousands of office buildings have been developed, but each individual facility is unique—different owner, different design, different location, different contractors, and so on. The presence of repetitive elements does not change the fundamental uniqueness of the overall effort.

Because the product of each project is unique, the characteristics that distinguish the product or service must be progressively elaborated. Progressively means “pro-ceeding in steps; continuing steadily by increments” while elaborated means “worked out with care and detail; developed thoroughly” [1]. These distinguishing characteristics will be broadly defined early in the project and will be made more explicit and detailed as the project team develops a better and more complete understanding of the product.

1.3  What Is Project Management?

Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities in order to meet or exceed stakeholder needs and expectations from a project. Meeting or exceeding stakeholder needs and expectations invari-ably involves balancing competing demands among:

  • Scope, time, cost, and quality.
  • Stakeholders with differing needs and expectations.
  • Identified requirements (needs) and unidentified requirements (expectations).


1.3.1 The Project Management Framework

1.3.2 The Project Management Knowledge Areas

1.4  Relationship To Other Management Disciplines

General management encompasses planning, organizing, staffing, executing, and controlling the operations of an ongoing enterprise. General management also in-cludes supporting disciplines such as computer programming, law, statistics and probability theory, logistics, and personnel. The PMBOK overlaps general manage-ment in many areas—organizational behavior, financial forecasting, and planning techniques to name just a few.

1.5  Related Endeavors

Certain types of endeavors are closely related to projects. These related undertak-ings are described below. Programs. A program is a group of projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually. Many programs also include elements of ongoing operations.

This figure is a conceptual view of theserelationships. The overlaps shown are not proportional. Programs may also involve a series of repetitive or cyclical undertakings, for example:

  • Utilities often speak of an annual “construction program,” a regular, ongoing operation which involves many projects.
  • Many non-profit organizations have a “fundraising program,” an ongoing effort to obtain financial support that often involves a series of discrete projects such as a membership drive or an auction.
  • Publishing a newspaper or magazine is also a program—the periodical itself is an ongoing effort, but each individual issue is a project.

In some application areas, program management and project management are treated as synonyms; in others, project management is a subset of program management. Occasionally, program management is considered a subset of project management. This diversity of meaning makes it imperative that any discussion of program management versus project management be preceded by agreement on a clear
and consistent definition of each term.

Projects are frequently divided into more manageable components or subprojects. Subprojects are often contracted out to an external enterprise or to another functional unit in the performing organization. However, from the perspective of the performing organization, a subproject is often thought of more as a service than as a product, and the service is unique. Thus subprojects are typically referred to as projects and managed as such.