A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) was first published by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in 1996. That document was to some extent based on earlier work that began with a white paper published in 1983 called the "Ethics, Standards, and Accreditation Committee Final Report." The second edition was published in 2000.
In 2004, the PMBOK Guide — Third Edition was published with major changes from the previous editions (pdf). The Fourth edition was published in 2009. The latest English-language PMBOK Guide — Fifth Edition was released in 2013.
"The PMBOK Guide identifies that subset of the project management body of knowledge that is generally recognized as a good practice. "Generally recognized" means the knowledge and practices described are applicable to most projects most of the time and there is a consensus about their value and usefulness. "Good practice" means there is a general agreement that the application of the knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques can enhance the chance of success over many projects."
This however means, that the latest project management trends are normally not available in PMBOK (e.g. critical path drag is not included yet in PMBOK guide).
The PMBOK Guide is process-based, meaning it describes work as being accomplished by processes. This approach is consistent with other management standards such as ISO 9000 and the Software Engineering Institute's CMMI. Processes overlap and interact throughout a project or its various phases. Processes are described in terms of:
Inputs (documents, plans, designs, etc.)
Tools and Techniques (mechanisms applied to inputs)
Outputs (documents, plans, designs, etc.)
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge — Fifth Edition provides guidelines for managing individual projects and defines project management related concepts. It also describes the project management life cycle and its related processes, as well as the project life cycle.
The Guide recognizes 47 processes that fall into five basic process groups and ten knowledge areas that are typical of most projects, most of the time.
The five process groups are:
Initiating : Those processes performed to define a new project or a new phase of an existing project by obtaining authorization to start the project or phase.
Planning : Those processes required to establish the scope of the project, refine the objectives, and define the course of action required to attain the objectives that the project was undertaken to achieve.
Executing : Those processes performed to complete the work defined in the project management plan to satisfy the project specifications
Monitoring and Controlling : Those processes required to track, review, and regulate the progress and performance of the project; identify any areas in which changes to the plan are required; and initiate the corresponding changes.
Closing : Those processes performed to finalize all activities across all Process Groups to formally close the project or phase.
The ten knowledge areas are:
Project Integration Management : Project 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.
Project Scope Management : Project 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.
Project Time Management : Project Time Management includes the processes required to manage the timely completion of the project.
Project Cost Management : 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.
Project Quality Management : Project 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.
Project Human Resource Management : Project Human Resource Management includes the processes that organize, manage, and lead the project team.
Project Communications Management : Project Communications 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.
Project Risk Management : Project Risk Management includes the processes of conducting risk management planning, identification, analysis, response planning, and controlling risk on a project.
Project Procurement Management : Project Procurement Management includes the processes necessary to purchase or acquire products, services, or results needed from outside the project team
Project Stakeholders Management : Project 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.
Each of the ten knowledge areas contains the processes that need to be accomplished within its discipline in order to achieve effective project management. Each of these processes also falls into one of the five process groups, creating a matrix structure such that every process can be related to one knowledge area and one process group.
The PMBOK Guide is meant to offer a general guide to manage most projects most of the time. There are currently two extensions to the PMBOK Guide: the Construction Extension to the PMBOK Guide applies to construction projects, while the Government Extension to the PMBOK Guide applies to government projects. The PMBOK Guide is also used as a support to prepare the Project Management Institute (PMI) certifications, such as the CAPM and PMP.