Project Management Knowledge Areas

Project Management Knowledge Areas

Project Management Knowledge Area

Project Management Institute has categorized the knowledge required for managing a project into various 'knowledge areas'. The project manager must have adequate knowledge in these areas to be able to manage the project successfully. These knowledge areas have specialized terminologies, concepts, tools, and techniques. These knowledge areas are as follows:

Project Integration Management: The knowledge areas in project management impact each other. For example, if the scope of work involved in the project increases, it will in turn impact the cost and schedule of the project. Similarly, if a risk occurs, the cost of the project and timelines may get altered. Owing to this factor, the project manager needs to manage these knowledge areas in an integrated manner. This know-how of integrating different knowledge areas is termed as Integration Management. In other words, you can consider all other knowledge areas as subsidiary areas of integration management.

Project Scope Management: The scope of a project determines the work that the project team needs to do to create the deliverable of the project. While defining the scope, the project manager needs to define:

  1. Product acceptance criteria
  2. Project deliverables
  3. Project exclusions
  4. Project constraints
  5. Project assumptions

The project scope is broken down into a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The WBS is used for subsequent planning processes.

The scope of the project changes (mostly expands) during the project. This results in delays in the completion of project, increase in costs, and increase in risks. Uncontrolled changes to the scope are known as scope creep. The project manager must manage and control the scope of the project well, in order to meet the project completion timelines and budget.

Project Schedule Management: It involves the development of project schedule showing the completion time of all the tasks and the project. The tasks (or activities) are defined from the scope of work. These defined tasks are arranged in a sequence along with their interdependencies. This is called as the schedule network diagram. The resources required for each of the tasks are determined. The completion time of each task is determined. Finally, the critical path in the project schedule is ascertained. The tasks, their dependencies, timelines, and critical path can also be shown on Gantt chart.

As the work progresses in the project, changes may occur at various phases in the project. During monitoring and controlling, the project manager needs to make sure that the schedule is adhered to, and any change to the schedule is managed properly.

Project Cost Management: It comprises the determination of costs and the creation of budget to ensure that there are sufficient funds available at the required stages, to complete a project. The project costs are constantly monitored and controlled to update the stakeholders and sponsors.

The accuracy of project costs depends upon the information provided by the project team. During the beginning of the project, there is lack of information. Therefore, the project team creates rough estimates of the project budget. At the later stages, when there is enough information available, more accurate estimates can be made.

The accuracy of cost estimates keeps on improving as the project progresses from conceptualization, design, construction, to finishing. It is the responsibility of the project manager to ensure that the project team develops reliable cost estimates and updates them on constant basis. He/she is also accountable for tracking the actual costs against the budgeted costs, to determine the deviations and take the corrective measures.

Project Quality Management: It includes defining the quality specifications, and then ensuring that the deliverables of a project meet the required quality specifications. The project manager is accountable for creating a quality management plan that describes the expected quality and ensuring that the quality requirements are met. He/she must also control the quality of the deliverables as detailed in the plan.

Project Resource Management: The most crucial resource for any project is the project team. There are other resources required for the project, such as material and equipment. The project manager must develop a resource management plan to make a clear description of the roles and responsibilities of all the project team members. Also, he/she needs to estimate the resources required for performing the work and define how these resources will be acquired and from where. The team must also be continuously monitored for their performance, and an environment must be created to promote harmony among the members.

Project Communications Management: The project manager needs to assess the information requirements of the stakeholder. Some stakeholders may need the project progress at a summary level without getting into the details, while others may need the detailed information about each and every activity. The vendors may need technical and other documents, and the team may need clear instructions for the work to be done. These communication needs have to be fulfilled during the project. For effective communication, various devices, software programs, and the Internet are used to connect with stakeholders who might be globally spread. A communications management plan is created to ensure the effective communication.

Project Risk Management: Risks are integral to all projects. In a project, there are many types of risks which affect the different aspects of the project. Risks can affect the project cost and schedule. Apart from this, the project may face many other types of risks, such as technical risk, legal risk, natural calamities, accidents, failure of equipment and machines. A risk register is created to enumerate and respond to the risk events, with a view to either eliminate or reduce the impact or chance of occurrence of an event that may affect the project. Risks are monitored actively during the project and responded to if and when they materialize.

Project Procurement Management: It involves the procurement of materials and services for project work. To plan the procurement, the resource requirements of a project and the sources to fulfil these requirements are identified. The contracting processes are performed to get these resources on board at the appropriate time during the project. Once the project is over, the materials, machines, equipment, and other supplies are disposed of by returning them to their owners or selling them. Project Stakeholder Management: The stakeholders are defined as "persons or organizations that can impact the project or get impacted by the project in a positive or negative manner". There are different types of stakeholders, such as:

  1. Sponsor
  2. Customer
  3. End user
  4. Project Management Office (PMO)
  5. Project manager
  6. Project management team members
  7. Project team members
  8. Operations managers
  9. Functional managers
  10. Suppliers and business partners
  11. Regulatory authorities
  12. General public

The stakeholders are the most important entities in the project, as they can make or break the project. Managing the stakeholders is one of the toughest jobs that a project manager handles, but at the same time, the success of the project depends on how well the stakeholders' needs and expectations have been understood and fulfilled. To manage the stakeholders, a stakeholder management plan is created in order to keep them updated on a regular basis.

All the interactions between the project manager and stakeholders are recorded in a stakeholder register, which is updated regularly based on the changes arising in their needs and interests.

At a broad level, the project management knowledge area can be divided into two categories:

1. Knowledge areas where the project manager defines what needs to be achieved in terms of:

  1. Scope
  2. Schedule
  3. Cost
  4. Quality

2. Knowledge areas where the project manager defines what needs to be done to achieve these objectives of scope, schedule, cost and quality, which include:

  1. Resources management
  2. Procurement
  3. Stakeholder management
  4. Communications management
  5. Risk management
  6. Integration of all the knowledge area

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