What is PMBOK for Project Managers?

Planning and Control using Microsoft Project and PMBOK GuideIn general, a “body of knowledge” would usually refer to gathered knowledge from different sources that is about one idea or topic.

For project managers, there is PMBOK, which refers to all the standards they need to adapt and practice. Just by the scope of knowledge required to manage projects, this particular guide covers a much broader spectrum of content than you might expect to find in other bodies of knowledge publications.

The acronym stands for “Product Management Body of Knowledge”.

This is not a system, per se, but rather a guide published by the Project Management Institute and for project managers to practice and master.  It is also a qualification that can be acquired via the testing and exams provided by PMI, and available from Prometric testing centres around the world.

PMBOK Guide

This guide got its debut in 1987 and was published as a collection of the “body of knowledge” that project managers could follow; thus, a guide. Its formal book launching was on 1996, and now, it is in its 4th edition.

The guide is a compilation for standards that every project manager worldwide considers the ultimate source of essential information and practices. It is not a “how-to” guide that gives step-by-step instructions as to what should be done. Rather, it is a handbook that explains the five basic process and knowledge areas involved in managing a project.

Five Processes & Nine Knowledge Areas

The five processes discussed in PMBOK are the following:

  1. Initiating – It involves the discussion of how to successfully initiate a project; usually, this is the brainstorming phase in project management
  2. Planning – This process is a crucial part of a project. This includes everything that has to be taken care of to make a project successful. In PMBOK, this phase is discussed thoroughly.
  3. Executing – As the term may imply, it is the execution of the plan.
  4. Controlling and Monitoring – This is the phase where project managers are starting to feel if the project is winning or losing. If it should be stopped, revised, continued, etc.
  5. Closing – This serves as the finale – whether the project was a success or a failure.

The nine knowledge areas discussed in the same guide are the following:

  1. Project Integration Management
  2. Project Scope Management
  3. Project Time Management
  4. Project Cost Management
  5. Project Quality Management
  6. Project Human Resource Management
  7. Project Communications Management
  8. Project Risk Management
  9. Project Procurement Management

These nine knowledge areas are very insightful in making a successful project.

For PMI, being able to know these areas can have a great impact in the projects that project managers are handling.  As project managers, they need to have knowledge about these areas so that they will be able to execute projects with ease, confidence, and pride.

The PMBOK® Guide is now considered to be the sole resource for project managers when it comes to handling projects. Organizations such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and the International Organization for Standardization Technical Report refer to PMBOK for all of their projects.

For project managers who have been in the profession for quite some time, the PMBOK serves as their Bible – an ultimate guide. Perhaps, smaller organisations and simple projects, handled by less experienced project managers, should also study this guide to help improve their knowledge and skills about project management.

Eastwood Harris has published a number of books related to using project management software, like Primavera P6 or Microsoft Project, to design and manage the project within the PMBOK framework.

Tips for Scheduling Projects

Scheduling is an essential part of managing any project.

Project Planning and Control Using Oracle Primavera P6 - Versions 8.1, 8.2 & 8.3 Professional Client & Optional Client

Great books for Oracle Primavera P6

It is the reason for the success of the project itself and can help identify the duration of the whole project as well as the various milestones that are put in place.

The project schedule acts like a map that helps you manage each piece of the project in a timely and logical order based on specific outcomes. Without a properly prepared project schedule, no project can be expected to be completed on time or within budget.

No matter how grand or how small your project may be, it is very important that you include the schedule as part of the project planning phase. It tells you when something is completed, what has already been done, and in which order certain tasks must be undertaken.

The following are some tips on scheduling projects:

1. Know how important the schedule is

An experienced project scheduling manager must be concerned with every aspect of the project. The schedule is the foundational tool for all project managers.

Once the managers know the importance of the schedule, then they able to better control their projects and implement the areas, phases, and resources accordingly.

2. Know the availability of your members

You must know the availability of your project team members so that you can integrate this in your scheduling plan. Also, knowing the availability of your team members can help you identify the duration of the project and who should be assigned each task.

Having plotted a schedule without knowing the availability of your team members can cause a lot of stress and adjustments would have to be made. This could result in the delay or failure of your project as a whole.

As a matter of fact, knowing the availability of your team members is absolutely critical to all project scheduling.

3. Create the schedule based on deliverables

Scheduling a project based on tasks can cause a lot of problems. It is, therefore, more advisable that the schedule should revolve around the deliverables. Meaning, the schedule is dependent on the dates of the deliverables, which act as deadlines for the completion of tasks comprising each phase.

Project managers should plot a schedule on deliverables since these are tangible and verifiable. As a result, you are sure that you would be able to complete the task or make the delivery.

4. Include Milestones

Milestones are also an essential aspect of any project as they signify important events or mark an end of a task.

It can also identify how far you are in the project plan. It serves as a checkpoint to make sure that you are on the right path and all resources are in place.

5. Have a backup plan as schedules can change

Do know that plotting schedules require only estimates. They act only as guides in finishing your projects on time.

Unfortunately, there are circumstances that are beyond our control. Thus, it is always best to have a backup plan and to have enough time in case the schedule might really change.

This will create leads and lags which are a part of every type of project.  People get sick, machinery breaks down and contractors are not always able to supply labour as planned.

So any experienced project manager should build a project well knowing that a project is like an organic being that will change over time.

Applying these five simple tips in scheduling your project should help in improve the success of your project.

Related Article

How to Create Milestones in Your Project Using MS Project

planning-and-scheduling-with-microsoft-project-2010All of us have our own personal milestones that we want to achieve like owning a home or investment property or starting up a business.  A milestone refers to a different type of achievement in project management however.

A milestone is placed at the end of a particular phase in a project to signify that the said phase/project has been completed successfully.

In the project management framework, it is the only event that receives special attention due to its nature. Another purpose of a milestone, as regards project management, is to indicate an important decision that needs to be taken immediately before the end of a work phase or a project. Thus, with this, a milestone can be considered to show both the distance traveled and the direction of the travel.

How, then, does a project manager or specialist add a milestone event in his or her project plan? The following section lays out the steps in successfully making a milestone event using Microsoft Project 2010.

Creating a Milestone

Upon opening your Microsoft Project, you will find the different tabs in the menu bar, which is found at the topmost part of the Microsoft Project interface. Once you have successfully located this, do the following steps in order to end up with a milestone:

  • Choose the Gantt Chart found on the Task Views group in the View tab.
  • Enter the desired name for you milestone on the first empty row in the Task Name field.
  • Type “0” (zero) in the field that is labelled as “Duration”.
  • Once you are done, press the “Enter” key.

A milestone usually does not have any duration (or 0 duration). However, if you wish to add a duration to the milestone your are putting, another set of steps can be followed in order to end up with it.

Creating a Milestone with Duration

Follow the first two bullets/steps outlined above and then do the following steps:

  • Go to Task Information found at the Properties group of the Task tab.
  • Click on the Advanced button on the Task Information. You will find the Duration field here.
  • Input your desired Duration for the particular milestone.
  • Check the Mark task as milestone
  • Click “OK”.

However, do take note that when you are changing a task into a milestone, you may not need to go through adding a name in the Task Field (both for “with” and “without” duration) as the task is considered to be the label for the milestone.

Project managers have to remember that although milestones can be effective in monitoring the progress of your projects, there are still limits to its effectiveness as they show only the progress in the critical areas.

Adding a project milestone is particularly easy once you follow the outlined steps above. However, if you are using other project management software, a different set of instructions may be given in order for you to come up with the milestone.

Eastwood Harris produces project management training materials and online training courses on Primavera P6, MS Project and PMBOK.

5 Tips for Using MS Project 2010

99 Tips and traps for microsoft project - ebookMicrosoft project is everything a project manager needs to develop a plan, resources and tasks assignment, progress updates, budget management, and manage overall workloads.

Microsoft has been known as the giant company when it comes to office applications, and Microsoft Project is one of its most used products since it has features that make planning and implementing a project easy to handle.

This article will help you understand the pros and cons of Microsoft Project, before you go out and buy the product.

Microsoft designed MS Project as an easily adaptable program, but take note of these tips first before you forge ahead:

1. Take note of the prerequisites To get started on MS project, you need a name. Keep it as straightforward as possible, and avoid overly intricate wordplay. Next two things you need are a.) start date and b.) end date. Also, you might need to highlight information about your client i.e name, background and location.

2. Make use of the shortcuts For everyone familiar with Microsoft, well, software keystrokes and commands are a necessity for everyday use. MS Project utilizes the ALT Key and certain keystrokes for those folks who prefer to use a keyboard instead of a mouse.

3. Filters, filters, filters. This isn’t an Instagram thing, just in case that’s what you had in mind. Filters display tasks for particular scenarios that a manager might find handy. These help him/her delve into the task at hand, and hopefully understand the task more. Most filters are built-in, or simply came with the software. But managers also have the ability to customize them by simply downloading them from Microsoft.

4. Progress is key in every Project, a project manager has the capability to track and monitor different activities’ progress at a keystroke. These are simply outlines tagged to let you know where you are project-wise. Named accordingly, they are: A.) Not Started

B.) In-progress

C.) Complete.

5. Costs are everything. A budget is worth taking note of The Fixed Cost Function is Microsoft’s golden lining. Making everything easier and more practical by giving the manager the ability to simply assign costs to tasks, and illustrate them with the Resource Graph function.

These five tips would help you realize if Microsoft Project is really the right tool for you and for your company to use when it comes to project management.

Because at the end of the day, it is still how applications help you do your job faster and more efficiently that really counts.