The 10 Project Management Knowledge Areas

Updated Aug 3, 2022.
The 10 Project Management Knowledge Areas

Effective project management requires you to be familiar with all the essential project management knowledge areas. Whether you are undertaking project management certifications as a project manager or looking to gain project management knowledge as a business owner, the PMBOK guide is a good starting point.

PMBOK is an acronym for Project Management Body of Knowledge. It is a guideline published by the Project Management Institute (PMI) to serve as a definitive guide for project management.

With so many project management software and tools such as Kanban software and agile project management software, skills, terms, and knowledge in the project management sphere, learning about all can be intimidating. PMBOK was created to unify and establish a standard for effective project management. 

In this article, you will learn extensively about the 10 project management knowledge areas including their processes.

Let’s get started.

1. Project Integration Management 

Project integration management simply involves the coordination of every element of a project together. This knowledge area deals with the tasks, resources, stakeholders, and any other project elements that make up the overall project and the coordination or unification of these elements into a whole.

Sometimes called integrated project management, this project management knowledge area intends to seamlessly create a foundation or system to manage different possibilities arising from a project.

Project integration management looks at the relationships between the different areas of your project as well as the relationships between other areas of your organization and your project. For instance, where a project is not on track, project integration management deals with how other elements relating to the project aid in making an informed decision. 

Every aspect of your project, including the schedule, cost, scope, quality, resources, risks, and stakeholders is unified and tracked. It helps you to avoid project failure by quickly identifying conflicts in advance and being comprehensively informed on how to resolve them.

Processes of Project Integration Management

There are seven major processes to be followed for a successful project integration management:

1. Develop Project Charter

A project charter is a formal and usually short document that describes the whole of your project, including what the objectives are, how the project is intended to be carried out, and who the stakeholders are. Creating this document is one of the two processes during the project initiation phase with authority given to the project manager.

2. Develop Project Management Plan 

Distributed and approved by relevant or key stakeholders, the project management plan contains the steps to be followed to ensure the success of the project with minimal stress. It involves meeting with and between stakeholders, defining goals, creating a project schedule, completing a risk assessment, and organizing a project kickoff meeting. 

You can use work management software such as ClickUp, Monday.com, Wrike, and Smartsheet to efficiently plan your projects.

3. Direct and Manage Project Work 

This involves the determination of what your project’s deliverables are. 

4. Manage Project Knowledge

To effectively transfer knowledge between or through individuals and systems, knowledge management is the strategic administration of people and knowledge representations along with the project’s associated content and information.

5. Monitor and Control Project Work

This includes the activities related to surveying the project, conducting earned value analysis and project status reports, and spotting potential project changes.

6. Perform Integrated Change Control

Integrated change control (also called integrated change management) involves unifying all knowledge, tools, and resources of change in a project, providing an organized strategy of dealing with change, either through adaptation to it, controlling change, or effecting change.

7. Close Project or Phase

This is where the tasks necessary to finish off the project or stages within the project are defined.

Process - Project Phase - Key Deliverables
Source: Smartsheet

2. Project Scope Management

Before you can talk about project scope management, you first have to answer the ‘what is a project scope’ question. Project scope refers to a detailed outline that comprises every aspect of your projects such as resources, timelines, and deliverables. 

Project scope management deals with the project scope, a very important element of a project established at the early stages of the project lifecycle. By setting, directing, and governing the deliverables for a project, project scope management defines the details of the work that will and will not be embarked upon in pursuance of project success. 

With alterations in project scope acting as major reasons for project changes, which could harm the project, this knowledge area involves the study, definition, and close monitoring of boundaries of the project from the outset. 

In project management, making modifications to projects during their performance remains common. Project scope management, when accurately established from the beginning, helps you easily manage and make these required modifications.

This knowledge area is important in avoiding issues like constantly changing requirements and project direction, meeting a different outcome, exceeding the discussed budget, or falling behind the project deadlines, among others. It gives you an informed idea about the minimum and maximum time, labor, and cost required to complete a project. 

Processes of Project Scope Management

By virtue of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), there are six processes involved in project scope management:

1. Scope Management Plan

Planning scope management involves creating a document within the entire project management plan which you refer to while defining, managing, validating, and controlling the project’s scope. This document includes a thorough project scope statement, an analysis of all the project requirements, the anticipated project deliverables, and the change control process.

2. Collect Requirements

At this stage is where the detailed project requirements, expectations, budgets, and deliverables are collected from stakeholders through interviews, surveys, and focus groups.

3. Define Scope

This is the stage where you create a well-defined description of the service or product that you are trying to deliver and list what is in the scope of the project, as well as what is outside of it. A defined scope serves as a point of reference for your project team, helping them avoid engaging in work that is not important.

4. Create WBS

A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) or project breakdown structure is a document containing either a graphically represented or table-style breakdown of all the work which needs to be done in the project. Tasks are also assigned to team members within this document as well as deliverables and respective deadlines.

5. Validate Scope 

This is where the project scope and deliverables you record are sent to project executives and stakeholders for necessary approvals.

6. Control Scope

This is the process of managing changes in projects in such a way that project managers can achieve the goals of the projects. It measures the performance of the project scope and product scope.

Scope Management Processes
Source: Simplilearn

3. Project Schedule Management

Project schedule management, or simply put as scheduling, involves the creation of a schedule or schedules containing the planned start and finish date, duration, and resources assigned to each activity within the project. 

Usually the most time-consuming compared to other knowledge areas, project schedule management involves the project manager listing activities, deliverables, budgets, and milestones within a project, dividing the project into tasks, and creating both a schedule (start and finish dates for tasks) and budget for each task. 

Project scheduling remains a critical determinant of successful time management. The knowledge area includes three types of schedules: a master project schedule (a simplified list of tasks with a project calendar or timeline), a milestone or summary schedule (which helps to track crucial milestones and important deliverables), and a detailed project schedule (which is the most comprehensive project schedule). 

A detailed project schedule identifies and tracks every single project activity. When choosing a scheduling software, project managers or team members select Gantt chart software tools that offer representations through Gantt charts. 

Detailed project schedule
Source: Gantt.com

This is the most common form of schedule visualization as it allows you to set the level of details to be displayed. It cuts through ordinary master schedules to milestone schedules to detailed project schedules, as well as the target audience.

Overall, project schedule management helps you effectively track, report, and communicate progress. This project management knowledge area keeps everyone on the same page with tasks, dependencies, and deadlines. It identifies task relationships and highlights issues. 

Processes of Project Schedule Management

1. Schedule Management Plan

You create a schedule management document containing information relating to how the schedule is to be created, who remains responsible for it, how aggressive it is intended to be, and what makes a change in schedule acceptable or necessary.

2. Define Project Activities

This involves dividing projects into tasks. Although the PMBOK identifies this process as different from creating a WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) within the scope management knowledge area, in practice, they are the same. With schedule management, defining activities means creating a task list of all and not just particular elements of the project.

3. Sequence Activities

Although for minor projects with simple schedules, this is not important. Sequencing activities involves arranging activities in a way that the relationships between them are defined. Relationships fall into four formats: Finish-to-Start (FS), Finish-to-Finish (FF), Start-to-Start (SS), and Start-to-Finish (SF). The aim of sequencing activities is to create the most efficient task flow possible.

4. Estimate Activity Durations

This is where duration is estimated for each task using the project’s resource list.

5. Develop Schedule 

First, a network diagram determining the critical path and floats for each task is created, then you develop a graphical bar chart schedule, with every activity plotted on their respective early start dates. Finally, the resource usage graph is plotted and tasks, through resource-leveling, are moved along their floats to flatten any resource usage spike. 

Network diagram
Source: ResearchGate

6. Control Schedule

This is where earned value analysis is performed at regular intervals. This helps to determine whether the project follows the set schedule and how much difference in time and if any lag or fast track exists.

4. Project Cost Management

Project cost management simply involves the estimation, allocation, and control of project costs. With the project budget serving as one of the most sensitive parts of a project, effective cost management gives a business the chance to forecast future costs and reduce the likelihood of budget overrun. 

Costs are calculated and the budget, through rigorous estimating techniques, is established before work on the project begins. Project cost management is a continuous process. 

While the project plan is executed, expenses are recorded and tracked, ensuring that every element stays within the cost management plan. Upon project completion, the projected costs and actual costs are compared. Such comparison gives you a benchmark for future estimations, cost management plans, and project budgets.

Project managers are responsible for cost management, implementing tools for budgeting, time tracking, and analytics. They have the overall goals to prevent overruns by allocating costs in the early planning stages, avoiding risks through the establishment of a risk appetite, and aiding future resource optimization planning through reports.

Processes of Project Cost Management

There are four steps involved in project cost management.

1. Resource Planning

This is where the cost management plan is established. This plan includes the methodologies with which the project budget is to be established, the criteria which permit changes, and the control procedures to be implemented. It also involves the allocation and scheduling of the resources needed for each stage of a project

Plan Cost Management - Inputs, Tools & Techniques and Outputs
Source: Project Engineer

2. Estimate Costs

The cost of each task is measured. This cost consists of the financial resources, labor, materials, equipment, and any other cost item necessary to complete each task.

3. Determine Budget 

All task budgets are collated into an overall project budget. This is the final cost management step before work on the project is started.

4. Control Costs

Just like in schedule management, earned value analysis is performed at regular intervals, helping to determine the status of expenses in relation to the projected budget. 

Status of expenses in relation to the projected budget
Source: Clockify

5. Project Quality Management

The American Society for Quality (ASQ) defines quality management, also known as quality assurance, as “the planned and systematic activities implemented in a quality system so that quality requirements for a product or service will be fulfilled.” 

With a major focus on consistency, quality management is the control or regulation of delivered products and services relating to the project, in a way that the required quality level is attained and maintained.

Quality management processes involve establishing standards, determining the steps to achieving and conforming to those standards, continually measuring the quality of all activities, and taking corrective actions where necessary. 

Where effective, quality management greatly reduces the possibility of unhappy customers by ensuring the project delivers the best-in-quality products and services. 

Processes Of Project Quality Management

Project quality management involves three steps or processes.

1. Quality Management Planning

Quality management starts with a precise description of the goals of the project through which you identify and define your quality requirements or standards. Within a section of the project management plan or a separate document, you identify (for instance):

  1. What the product or deliverable is expected to attain
  2. What it looks like
  3. How you gauge customer satisfaction
  4. How do you determine whether or not meeting project quality standards was successful?

With quality reporting and tracking tasks delegated to team members, you assess your risks to success, set high requirements, document all activities, and define the strategies and tests to forecast, control, and attain success.

2. Quality Assurance 

This process involves the project manager or team regularly inspecting the quality of the project deliverables. The project manager presents the report to the stakeholders, with certain quality metrics used to measure if these quality standards are being met acceptably.

3. Quality Control 

Quality control involves operational techniques used to guarantee that quality standards are maintained. It includes identifying, analyzing, and correcting problems, with the deliverables or specific project outputs inspected. This process also ensures that the project is on budget and schedule.

6. Project Resource Management

Project resource management is the area of project management that involves the planning, organization, measurement, management, and allocation of a company’s resources as efficiently as possible. This helps project managers to maximize project resource utilization.

The major concern of project resource management remains to get the best use of your organization’s resources. All its activities are centered around proper resource optimization and efficiency by doing more with less. 

When talking about resources, we refer to the finances, staffing, office spaces, equipment, and technologies available to you to work with.

Project resource management is often made the exclusive duty of the resource manager. Resource managers are then accountable for allocating the available resources to make sure the project is a success. 

Effective resource management helps you avoid unforeseen hitches by recognizing your resources upfront and planning how to use them. It helps you avoid over-allocation of or over-dependency on resources by giving you insight into your team’s workload. 

Another benefit of effective resource management is that it gives other teams visibility into your team’s bandwidth. You can also use it to effectively plan and measure ROI and utilization against efficiency.

There are tons of resource management software available in the market that helps simplify and automate your project resource management needs. They include Monday.com, Mavenlink, Wrike, 10,000ft by Smartsheet, Forecast.app, and Float.

Processes Of Project Resource Management

There are six processes involved in project resource management:

1. Resource Management Planning

A resource management plan, where human resources are to be utilized, for instance, identifies the roles required for the proper administration of the project. It also takes note of the minimum prerequisites for those positions and how they fit into the project’s overall framework.

2. Activity Resource Estimation 

This process involves the determination or estimation of the appropriate amount of resources for the project. This ensures that the necessary resources are always available during the project.

3. Resource Acquisition 

After the appropriate amount of resources needed for the project is estimated, this appropriate amount is then acquired. The next two steps are put in the context of human resource management.

4. Team Development 

Upon acquiring the services of your project team members, you then train them to develop the necessary competencies to complete the project, develop relationships between team members, and manage these relationships.

5. Team Management 

This process involves where your project team is actively managed, so you ensure maximum satisfaction among them and, consequently, maximum productivity.

6. Resource Control

Resource control is important where resources are not meeting requirements or are in excess. The process aims to monitor and streamline the whole resource utilization process through constant monitoring and optimization.

Resourcing process in project management
Source: Silverbucket

7. Project Communications Management

Project communication management is simply the utilization of procedures with which you make sure that information is collected, sent, and understood by the right individuals. It involves the processes that ensure the quick and proper planning, collection, production, distribution, storage, recovery, management, and final disposition of project information. 

Whether internal or external to the organization and through both formal and informal methods, project communication management makes the exchange of information between team members and other project stakeholders as seamless, effective, and efficient as possible. 

Effective project communication management helps to improve important communication skills. These skills include strong active listening skills, proficient writing skills, excellent speaking ability, probing, motivation skills, conflict resolution skills, and summary skills, among others.

Processes Of Project Communication Management

Project communication management involves you following three steps.

1. Communications Management Plan 

The communications management plan identifies the traditional communication specifications of each stakeholder and also any specific communications procedures for unusual issues or project disruptions. Here, project managers clearly define how they intend to operate communications across their projects. Creating a project management plan involves following some steps. 

  1. Firstly, you decide your communication objectives
  2. Determine your audience (which includes team members, sponsors, customers, and other interested parties)
  3. Write your message
  4. Select your communication channel (either formal or informal),
  5. Set a timeline for delivery. 

For communications management planning, getting your stakeholders involved is important as you understand their communication preferences and objectives. 

Plan Communications Management
Source: Fireband

2. Manage Communications

This is the stage where the project communication management plan is executed and managed. It includes the collection and analysis of data, creation of information for communication, distribution of communications, storage of any communication reports, files, or documents, the retrieval of any stored communications, and the disposal of any old communications upon project closure or a set date.

3. Monitor Communications

Project communications are reviewed to see if they served their purpose. You check if communications were sent out as planned, if they were received by the appropriate stakeholders, if messages were understood, and if any important feedback was presented to the relevant project members, among others.

Identify Key Stakeholders, and Build Communication Channels
Source: PMI

8. Project Risk Management

Project risk management is the practice of identifying, evaluating, mitigating, and preventing potential risks to a project and its desired outcomes. These risks intended to be managed come in three forms: 

  • Cost (which includes risk events that impact the budget)
  • Schedule (which includes the risk of unplanned scheduling conflicts or delays)
  • Performance (which includes risk events that influence the project into producing results that conflict with the project objectives).

Managing project risks is one of the most important aspects of project management, as the emergence of risk events majorly determines how the entire project shapes out. 

Where risks are accurately forecast and analyzed within the project management plan, you easily maneuver around them. Where they are not maneuverable, you know how to mitigate how much they affect your entire project.

Processes Of Project Risk Management

In project risk management, there are 6 processes to be followed.

1. Risk Management Plan

Like other knowledge areas, the first step in the whole process is to create a plan on how you manage your risks. Your risk management plan defines your methods for identifying and prioritizing risk, your risk appetite, how your team responds to risk, and how you will communicate risk, among others. It simply contains a list that identifies how your risks are itemized, categorized, and prioritized.

2. Identify Risks

The next process is to point out the risks that have the potential to influence your project. Doing this, the major risks are identified and inputted into a risk register (list of risks), with the most significant risks with the most impact given more attention.

3. Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis 

Once the risks are identified, they are classified based on their possibility of happening and the amount of impact. The probability of each risk happening is identified as well as the impact this risk could have. This helps to rank risks according to their priority.

4. Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis

After risks are organized according to priority, with the major risks which have been given priority numerically analyzed. Quantitative analysis is done based on impact to the project budget, schedule, or any other measurable aspect of the project.

5. Plan Risk Responses

This is important for instances where risk events eventually arise during the project. Here, response plans are drafted for the major priority risks, with these plans communicated to all interested parties so they know how to respond.

6. Implement Risk Responses

Where risks arise, this step involves the implementation of the risk response plan.

7. Monitor Risks

This involves regular monitoring and optimization of the risk register, where it is examined and risks that have ceased are taken out.

Develop & Document the Risk Management Plan - Project Initiation-Planning-Execution
Source: The Project Management Blueprint

9. Project Procurement Management

Simply put, project procurement management is concerned with all the processes involved in successfully obtaining the required goods, supplies, and/or services for your project. 

Project procurement management involves processes to ensure that the process of sourcing, ordering, expediting, requisitioning, inspecting, and reconciling procurements is done efficiently and productively by both internal parties and external vendors.

Although the management of procurements is typically left to the project manager to take care of, some companies employ a separate procurement manager who works alongside the project manager. Your project procurement team is expected to only be responsible for the transactional tasks to obtain goods, supplies, or services.

During procurement management, the question of whether procurements from external vendors are necessary is first answered before these external partnerships and purchases are made.

Processes Of Project Procurement Management

Project procurement management involves three processes.

1. Procurement Management Plan

The first step in successful project procurement management is making a plan which identifies the outside procurement needs of the project and measures under which the internal or external contractors are procured. This plan includes:

  1. Provisions for which materials and services you require for the project
  2. What can be provided by your company
  3. Your contract requirements for outside purchases
  4. Whether you want a fixed price contract or cost-reimbursable 
  5. If key milestones are to be included
  6. Legal terms and conditions

Once all these are determined, then a written procurement management plan is brought into existence. Your plan could also come in other formats such as RFP forms, vendor selection criteria, statements of work, documented make-or-buy decisions, or change request forms.

Procurement Management Plan Template
Source: TechnoPM

2. Conduct Procurements 

This is the execution phase where you implement the procurement management plan. Negotiations are embarked upon, contractors are hired, and the receipt of and payment for goods and services is carried out. 

3. Control Procurements

During this process, there are two important steps carried out for productive project delivery. You closely monitor the status or progress updates from vendors and engage in constant quality checks of products or services delivered.

10. Project Stakeholder Management

Project stakeholder management is one area of project management that could be very challenging as it deals with how conflicts between different key stakeholders are resolved. Even though the satisfaction of customer needs proves to be very important in the success of a project, the satisfaction of the needs and expectations of stakeholders is also pivotal. 

You may be wondering who key stakeholders are. Key project stakeholders are the internal and external individuals or groups who have the authority to decide whether a project is successful or not. These include the project sponsor, customers, project advisory committee, the executives, project manager, resource manager, and project team members.

During stakeholder management, you engage in stakeholder analysis wherewith you identify the information they are expected to need, the sources for this information, and the methods and technology through which this information is delivered to stakeholders. This would be elaborated more on in the stakeholder management processes.

Processes Of Project Stakeholder Management

There are four steps in project stakeholder management.

1. Identify Stakeholders

The first step is to identify all key stakeholders in your project. Identifying internal and external stakeholders is a prerequisite move that lets you better execute your project plan as you ensure that every stakeholder is informed with the most appropriate information, keeping them satisfied throughout the project. This stage is also where the concerns of stakeholders are established.

2. Stakeholder Engagement Plan

A stakeholder management plan is created, with this plan containing a list of each stakeholder and prioritizing their concerns and potential impacts of these concerns on the project.

3. Manage Stakeholder Engagement

This is a stage during project execution where the needs, requirements, or concerns of stakeholders are addressed and communication lines are maintained.

4. Monitor Stakeholder Engagement

Just like other areas of project management, here, you maintain constant monitoring of the whole stakeholder management process to determine if these needs are met and ensure that they are actually met.

Stakeholder Management Plan Example
Source: Smartsheet

These are the ten project management knowledge areas that do not just ensure the comprehensive success of a project but also assure you of a seamless and systematic project management experience.

Anastasia Belyh

Editor at FounderJar

Anastasia has been a professional blogger and researcher since 2014. She loves to perform in-depth software reviews to help software buyers make informed decisions when choosing project management software, CRM tools, website builders, and everything around growing a startup business.

Anastasia worked in management consulting and tech startups, so she has lots of experience in helping professionals choosing the right business software.