Here a BoK, There a BoK


Everywhere you turn these days there’s another group publishing their own BoK guide. A BoK, referring to a ‘Body of Knowledge’, of course. You’ve got your BABoK, the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge – a staple in the library of any self-respecting BA. There’s the SWEBok, the Software Engineering BoK for developers, architects and software practitioners; the QBok for the QA’ers; the UBoK for Usability professionals, and of course everyone’s favourite (Ok, maybe just my favourite), the Project Management Body of Knowledge, or PMBoK.

Before I proceed any further into this post I feel compelled to mention that if you work in any of the above noted areas and aren’t familiar with your respective BoK (or perhaps weren’t even aware there was such a thing) – don’t fret! It is entirely possible to be competent in your field without having your field’s BoK committed to memory!

I can’t speak for any of the aforementioned BoK guides other than the PMBoK, but the PMBoK – when outlining its purpose in its first few pages – is quick to note that is absolutely not a prescriptive ‘how to’ for managing projects. Rather, it is a culmination of ‘knowledge, processes, skills, tools and techniques’ that are ‘generally recognized’ as being ‘good practice’.

The PMBoK goes on to note what should be fairly obvious, that the concepts in the PMBoK guide are not intended to be uniformly applied and that the organizations and project teams delivering the projects are the ones responsible for determining what is appropriate for the individual projects being undertaken.

Whew! We’re not all going to be replaced by robots, mindlessly executing steps out of the PMBoK. That’s a relief!

As anyone who has ever worn the PM hat (whether it is was formally recognized as your role or not) knows, that while BoK guides and other theoretical tools can be handy (as paper-weights or door-stoppers, some might say), when looking for a consolidated view of industry best practices, quite often the real difference between a successful project and an unsuccessful project comes down to things like the intuition, judgment and experience of the team during the delivery of the project. Adaptation over adoption. Art vs. science.

That said, a little theory never hurt anyone either. Why not benefit from the collective knowledge of your peers and arm yourself with some knowledge and best practices that may just prove useful along the way?

With this dichotomy in mind, I thought I would create a few posts that will outline some of the core concepts from the PMBoK (and/or some other PM literature) in order to share some project management best practices. For the PMs in the house, most of this will be a refresher. For the non PMs out there, I definitely encourage you all to continue reading as well, as my hope is that doing so will give you a greater understanding and appreciation for all of the things bouncing around inside the head of your project managers!

As a starting point here is a quick overview Project Management Knowledge Areas and their PMBoK definitions. As I noted, in future posts I’ll do a deeper dive into some of them, weaving in some of my thoughts and experiences along the way.

  • Integration Management – includes the processes and activities needed to identify, define, combine, unify, and coordinate the various processes and project management activities within the Project Management Process Groups.
  • Scope Management – includes the processes required to ensure that the project includes all the work required, and only the work required, to complete the project successfully.
  • Time Management – includes the processes required to manage the timely completion of the project.
  • Cost Management – includes the processes involved in planning, estimating, budgeting, financing, funding, managing, and controlling costs so that the project can be completed within the approved budget.
  • Quality Management – includes the processes and activities of the performing organization that determine quality policies, objectives, and responsibilities so that the project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken.
  • Human Resource Management – Project Human Resource Management includes the processes that organize, manage, and lead the project team.
  • Communication Management – includes the processes that are required to ensure timely and appropriate planning, collection, creation, distribution, storage, retrieval, management, control, monitoring, and the ultimate disposition of project information.
  • Risk Management – includes the processes of conducting risk management planning, identification, analysis, response planning, and controlling risk on a project.
  • Procurement Management – includes the processes necessary to purchase or acquire products, services, or results needed from outside the project team.
  • Stakeholder Management – includes the processes required to identify all people or organizations impacted by the project, analyzing stakeholder expectations and impact on the project, and developing appropriate management strategies for effectively engaging stakeholders in project decisions and execution.

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