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PMP Syllabus: Detailed Overview of Knowledge Areas

Table of Contents

    - Project Management Processes

    - Project Management Knowledge Areas

    - The 10 Knowledge Areas

8 hours ago

The PMP latest syllabus covers a comprehensive set of topics and knowledge areas that are essential for effective project management. The PMP syllabus is mainly based on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide, which is the global standard for project management.

Over the past few years, the Project Management Institute (PMI) was updating the PMBOK on regular basis. Today, we are using the PMBOK 7th edition, that is mainly based on the principles, domains, models and methods. However, an essential part of the PMP certification syllabus is the project management process groups and knowledge areas. 

Project management processes are mainly categorized using the five process groups. In addition, processes are also categorized by project knowledge areas. A knowledge area is an identified area of project management defined by its knowledge requirements and described in terms of its component processes, practices, inputs, outputs, tools, and techniques.

Project Management Processes

The project life cycle is managed by executing a series of project management activities known as project management processes. Every project management process produces one or more outputs from one or more inputs by using appropriate project management tools and techniques. The output can be a deliverable or an outcome. Outcomes are an end result of a process. 

Project management processes are logically linked by the outputs they produce. Processes may contain overlapping activities that occur throughout the project. The output of one process generally results in either an input to another process, or a deliverable of the project or project phase.

A project management process group is a logical grouping of project management processes to achieve specific project objectives. Process groups are independent of project phases. Project management processes are grouped into the following five project management process groups:

  1. Initiating Process Group. 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.
  2. Planning Process Group. 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.
  3. Executing Process Group. Those processes performed to complete the work defined in the project management plan to satisfy the project requirements.
  4. Monitoring and Controlling Process Group. 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.
  5. Closing Process Group. Those processes performed to formally complete or close the project, phase, or contract.

The project management processes are linked by specific inputs and outputs where the result or outcome of one process may become the input to another process that is not necessarily in the same process group. Keep in mind that process groups are not the same as project phases.

Project Management Knowledge Areas

The PMI guide to project management group the project management processes into 10 categories that it calls the project management knowledge areas. These groupings, or knowledge areas, bring together processes that have characteristics in common. These knowledge areas are the core for the PMP syllabus. 

For example, the project cost management knowledge area involves all aspects of the budgeting process, as you would suspect. Therefore, processes such as costs estimation, determining budget, and controlling costs belong to this project management knowledge area. These processes don’t belong to the same project management process groups (cost estimation, and determining budget are part of the planning process group, and controlling costs is part of the monitoring and controlling process group). 

Project management knowledge areas bring together processes by commonalities, whereas project management process groups are more or less the order in which you perform the processes (although remember that you can come back through these processes more than once).

The PMBOK® guide names the 10 project management knowledge areas as follows: integration management, scope management, schedule management, cost management, quality management, resource management, communications management, risk management, procurement management, and stakeholder engagement.

The 10 Knowledge Areas

The project life cycle is managed by executing a series of project management activities known as project management processes.

1. Project Integration Management

The project integration management knowledge area is concerned with coordinating all aspects of the project management plan and is highly interactive. It involves identifying and defining the work of the project and combining, unifying, and integrating the appropriate processes. 

It is concerned with choosing among alternative projects and performing trade-offs among the competing objectives of several projects. This project management knowledge area also takes into account satisfactorily meeting the requirements of the customer and stakeholder and managing their expectations.

2. Project Scope Management

Project scope management knowledge area is concerned with defining all the work of the project and only the work needed to successfully produce the project goals. These processes are highly interactive. They define and control what is and what is not part of the project. 

Project scope management encompasses both product scope and project scope. Product scope concerns the characteristics of the product, service, or result of the project. It’s measured against the product requirements to determine successful completion or fulfillment. The application area usually dictates the process tools and techniques you’ll use to define and manage product scope.  Project scope involves managing the work of the project and only the work of the project.

3. Project Schedule Management

This project management knowledge area is concerned with estimating the duration of the project activities, devising a project schedule, and monitoring and controlling deviations from the schedule. Collectively, this knowledge area deals with completing the project in a timely manner. Time management is an important aspect of project management because it concerns keeping the
project activities on track and monitoring those activities against the project management plan to ensure that the project is completed on time.

4. Project Cost Management

The activities in the project cost management knowledge area establish cost estimates for resources, establish budgets, and keep watch over those costs to ensure that the project stays within the approved budget. The earlier you can develop and agree on the scope of the project, the earlier you can estimate costs. The benefit of this practice is that costs are more easily influenced early in the project.

5. Project Quality Management

The project quality management knowledge area assures that the project meets the requirements that it was undertaken to produce. This Knowledge Area focuses on product quality as well as on the quality of the project management processes used during the project. These processes measure overall performance and monitor project results and compare them to the quality standards set out in the project-planning process to ensure that the customers will receive the product, service, or result they commissioned.

6. Project Resources Management

This project management knowledge area includes the processes to identify, acquire, and manage the resources needed for the successful completion of the project.

7. Project Communication Management 

The processes in the communications management knowledge area are related to general communication skills, but they encompass much more than an exchange of information. Communication skills are considered interpersonal skills that the project manager utilizes on a daily basis.

The processes in the communications management knowledge area seek to ensure that all project information—including plans, risk assessments, meeting notes, and more—is collected, organized, stored, and distributed to stakeholders, management, and project members at the proper time. When the project is closed, the information is archived and used as a reference for future projects. This is referred to as historical information in several project processes.

Communication management is probably the most important project management knowledge area on any project, and most project managers understand the importance of good communication skills and making sure stakeholders are informed of project status.

8. Project Risk Management 

Risks include both threats to and opportunities to the project. The processes in this project management knowledge area are concerned with identifying, analyzing, and planning for potential risks, both positive and negative, that might impact the project. This means minimizing the probability and impact of negative risks while maximizing the probability and impact of positive risks. These processes are also used to identify the positive consequences of risks and exploit them to improve project objectives or discover efficiencies that might improve project performance.

9. Project Procurement Management 

The procurement management knowledge area includes the processes involved with purchasing goods or services from vendors, contractors, suppliers, and others outside the project team. As such, these processes involve negotiating and managing contracts and other procurement vehicles and managing changes to the contract or work order. 

When discussing the procurement management processes, it’s assumed that the discussion is taking place from your perspective as a buyer, while sellers are external to the project team. Interestingly, the seller might manage their work as a project, particularly when the work is performed on contract, and you as the buyer become a key stakeholder in their project.

10. Project Stakeholder Engagement 

The stakeholder Engagement knowledge area is concerned with identifying all of the stakeholders associated with the project, both internal and external to the organization. These processes also assess stakeholder needs, expectations, and involvement on the project and seek to keep the lines of communication with stakeholders open and clear. This management knowledge area processes assure that stakeholder expectations are met and that their satisfaction is a successful deliverable of the project.

Conclusion

Project Management Professional syllabus is heavily based on the knowledge areas, and that is something you need to keep in mind while preparing for the PMP exam. Although the project management knowledge areas are interrelated, they are defined separately from the project management perspective. The ten knowledge areas are used in most projects most of the time. The needs of a specific project may require one or more additional knowledge areas, for example, infrastructure projects may require financial management or safety and health management.

If you are keen to learn more about the PMP certification syllabus, I highly recommend you check our PMP Mastery Prep Course.

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