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PMBOK v5 summary - The top-10 learnings and the secret to getting the PMP certification

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Know...

A summary of PMBOK v5

The project management body of knowledge (PMBOK) is THE reference for project managers. This post is a summary and braindump with all the most important points of the PMBOK. I also give you the secret to succeed in the PMP certification: the elements of the PMBOK on which most PMP questions focus as well as the page in which they are detailed in the PMBOK!

I have worked several years has a PM before reading the PMBOK and have achieved good results. Yet, I am convinced that I should have read it before. The cons of the book: it's a standard... And standards are overly verbose. That's why I think this summary of the PMBOK v5 is very useful.

The summary of PMBOK's most important vocabulary and concepts

I have summarized the key take-aways from the PMBOK v5 below. You can use this summary to identify the critical things you must know prior to registering for the PMP exam. 
  1. Operations vs Project: a project is unique, temporary and elaborated progressively
  2. Hierarchy of projects:
    • portfolio = set of programs. Achieve business strategical goals and manage associated risks.
    • program = set of projects. Bundle of projects that are interesting to link.
  3. The basic dimensions of a project
    1. cost, time, scope
    2. can be extended with: risk, resources, quality
  4. Project management system = tools, software, templates used for project management, etc.
  5. Types of organization:
    1. functional = traditional, you have one boss and project managers have no power
    2. matrix = modern, you have two bosses, project manager have some power
    3. projectized = project managers own the budget and have a lot of power
    4. All types of organization (p24)
      • projectized
      • strong matrix
      • balanced matrix
      • weak matrix
      • functional organization
  6. OPA= organization process assets => assets of the company such as processes, procedures, templates, information from past projects etc.
  7. EEF= enterprise environmental factors => condition not under project  team immediate control and that can affect the project.
  8. OPA and EEF are input to all process groups detailed below
  9. The 5 process groups (phases of a project) can be memorized with IPEMC menmonics
    • Initiating - purpose= stakeholder list, high level project description
    • Planning - purpose= define the schedule 
    • Executing - purpose= direct the work to carry out the activities
    • Monitoring and Controlling - purpose= mesure compare and track project metrics (cost, time, scope)
    • Closing - purpose= verify that activities are finished, hand over results, close procurement contracts...
  10. Process = complex, with inputs outputs triggers, etc. 
  11. Procedure = simple sequence of operations
  12. Project stakeholders: all entities/people who can impact or be impacted by the project (end user, customer, functional managers, project team, suppliers, project sponsor...)
  13. Stakeholder management: identify stakeholders and manage their influence/expectations/engagement in the project
  14. Project lifecycle: 
    1. Project lifecycle describes how the process groups are sequenced (for instance you can have following sequence: Initiating (Planning, Executing, Controlling and Monitoring) x 3, Closing
    2. 3 types of project lifecycles: 
      1. Predictive: lot of info is avaiable from start so you can predict everything
      2. Iterative and incremental: the project progresses with iterations
      3. Adaptive: the project starts with a high level vision, then a subset of the activities is carried out
  15. The key project management documents : 
    • project charter: the output of Initiating
    • project management plan: the output of Planning
  16. The project manager code of ethics (PMI's vision)
    1. aspirational (try to achieve) - be a good boy
    2. mandatory (must be done) - be honest, respect property, laws, and regulations
    3. 4 values:
      1. Responsibility: be accountable 
      2. Respect: treat people correctly
      3. Fairness: avoid conflicts of interest
      4. Honesty: say the truth
  17. Outputs of any process group are tangible and measurable
  18. Tools are tangible, techniques are procedure (less tangible)
  19. Inputs are documents required by a process group
  20. Risk is high at project start and decreases
  21. Cost is low at start and increases over the course of the project
  22. Deming wheel for continuous improvement: Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA). Very similar to the PMI process groups: Planning, Executing, Controlling and Monitoring, Closing 
  23. PMI defines:
    1. 5 process groups
    2. 10 knowledge areas 
    3. 47 management processes
  24. The methods for project planning: 
  25. Earned value analysis (p219)
    • Definition of Actual Cost (AC), Planned Value (PV), Earned Value (EV), schedule performance index (SPI), etc.
To conclude, I strongly advise you to read several times the PMBOK and to practice as many PMP certification exam questions as you can! To help you, I provide you the links to more than 500 free PMP questions in another post!


About Gilles


  1. As we all know the PMBOK® Guide is the global standard for project management. It provides fundamental practices needed to achieve organizational results and excellence in the practice of project management. I also took my PMP Classes from PMstudy. You can have a look at their offerings.