Title: A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), Fifth Edition,
Published by: Project Management Institute, Inc.
If you are wondering why I decided to review a book that has been around for more than 30 years, let me answer that question by saying I am doing so because I believe the PMBOK® Guide should one of the primary books used to prepare for the PMP-certification examination. I know that some disagree and say that they passed the exam without using it. I simply want to point out why I think the PMBOK® Guide is useful and why it should be studied in addition to the PMP-prep textbooks that are currently on the market.
So, here are my top five reasons why I think you would benefit from studying the guide.
- It’s the Global Standard for Project Management and for the PMP Test. The PMBOK® Guide is published by the Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI), and PMI is the organization that manages the PMP test and issues PMP certifications. In addition, it is a reference book. That is, it is a type of book which as defined in the Oxford English Dictionary is “a book intended to be consulted for information on specific matters.” It is not meant to be read from cover to cover. From this perspective you use the guide to find and review what PMI says about specific project management matters. Sometimes when you are studying different textbooks, you find that the authors present varying or ambiguous viewpoints. When you encounter conflicting information, consult the PMBOK® Guide because it is the global standard and thus, the tiebreaker. The bottom line is that you are being tested on facts and understandings found in the PMBOK®.
- “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.” According to Wikipedia “A picture is worth a thousand words” is an English idiom that refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image or that an image of a subject conveys its meaning or essence more effectively than a description does. The PMBOK® Guide contains useful tables and figures that graphically convey the process. For every knowledge area, the Guide begins the chapter with three useful figures – an Overview diagram; an Inputs, Tools & Techniques and Outputs diagram; and a Data Flow Diagram. Together, these figures illustrate valuable information about the project management process. The Data Flow Diagrams show where inputs come from and where outputs flow. Instead of learning the inputs and outputs as a list, visually learning the flow and context can better facilitate your understanding of these important elements.
- Project Management in a Nutshell. The PMBOK® Guide contains a chapter entitled “Annex A1 – The Standard for Project Management of a Project” that reviews the knowledge areas covered throughout the guide. This chapter starts on page 417 and ends on page 461. So, in about 44 pages you get a summary of the 10 knowledge areas.
- What Interpersonal Skills Does a Project Manager Need? The answer to that question is in the PMBOK® Guide in “Appendix X3 Interpersonal Skills.” Here you will find the 11 skills reviewed and situational details on how project managers use those skills. In six pages (513-519), you get a great summarized overview of each skill. So, if you are running short on study time, your anxiety is high, and you do not have time to search through multiple textbooks for this information, turn to the PMBOK® Guide because you can find it in one chapter.
- Get Familiar with the Language of Project Management. The PMBOK® Guide contains a very useful glossary that is broken into three categories. First, it covers “Inclusions and Exclusions” detailing what the glossary contains and why; second it presents “Common Acronyms” used in project management; and third it provides “Definitions.” I created flash cards based on my review of the PMP-prep books that I used. However, I also used the glossary found in the PMBOK® Guide so that I was familiar with the language according to PMI.
These are my top five reasons for suggesting that PMP seekers consider studying the PMBOK® Guide in preparation for the PMP exam. The Guide is not a novel, so it does not have cliffhangers and interesting characters. The Guide is complex and can be challenging to read. The Guide may not be logical at first glance. However if you give it a chance and review it, it makes sense and the information memorable.
How did I use the guide? I read a chapter on a knowledge area, and then I read the same chapter in my PMP exam prep textbooks. I found this approach worked for me. By reading the chapters together, the information was reinforced, and I was able to understand and retain the information. Oh yes, and I never fell asleep while reading the PMBOK® Guide because I just read one chapter at a time!
We have all learned that project planning and management should be tailored according the needs of the project. Preparing for the PMP examination takes effort. The exam is not easy and thus, the preparation should not be easy. So, tailor your studies accordingly and consider looking at and using the PMBOK® Guide because it has more useful information than you may know about.
I wish you all success!
Evelyn F., PMP