Project Management Course


 This pre-reading provides background information on the project management framework, describes key concepts, definitions, and processes on which the PMBOK® Guide is structured, forming a basis of common understanding and vocabulary of these principles that will discussed at the in-class workshop.


Foundational Concepts

Before starting to get into the specifics of project management content it is important to get an understanding of some basic concepts and terminology used throughout the course. These foundational elements include information on the Project Management Institute and the  PMBOK® Guide, definitions (such as what is a project, and what is project management), what is the purpose of projects, what is the role of the project manager, how do projects fit in organizations, and what is the Project Management Body of Knowledge.


The Project Management Institute (PMI)

Founded in 1969, PMI® is the leading not-for-profit professional membership association for the project management profession.

  • More than 267 chapters worldwide, in 185 countries
  • Provides globally recognized standards
  • Project certifications for project managers

Project Management Professional (PMP)® – The most important industry-recognized certification for project managers.

The PMP® credential offers recognition to experienced practitioners demonstrating competence and a solid foundation of project management skills. The PMP® recognizes the competence of an individual to perform in the role of a project manager and experience in leading and directing projects.

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®

The CAPM® credential offers recognition to those who are starting a career in project management as well as project team members who wish to demonstrate their project management knowledge. The CAPM® certification denotes that the individual has the knowledge in the principles and terminology of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), the Project Management Institute (PMI®) standard of project management which provides generally recognized good practices. With this credential you’ll stand out to employers and be poised to move ahead.

Visit for more information on PMI and project management certification.

The PMBOK® Guide

The PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition is a globally recognized standard that provides guidelines for managing projects using generally accepted best practices for most projects as and when applicable. The PMBOK® Guide includes the tool & Techniques for managing projects and this standard is a globally recognized standard and guide for the project management profession. The Standard is also referred as The Project Management Body of Knowledge. It is not intended to provide specific processes that must be followed on every project, instead it provides a guide to the project manager.


What is a project?

The PMBOK® Guide definition of a project is

“A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service”

This means that projects are temporary, with a start and finish, and they also create something unique. Projects are distinct from operations, which are ongoing endeavors.


What is Project Management?

The PMBOK® Guide definition of project management is

“Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements”

Project management from a PMI® perspective is managing the project activities, using the guidelines, knowledge, skills, processes, and best practices outlined in the PMBOK® Guide to deliver the project and meet the customer’s needs.


The Triple Constraint

This concept describes the required balance between SCOPE, TIME, and COST on projects.

When a project is properly planned, there is a balance between the project scope, project schedule, and project cost. A change to any sides of the triangle, impacts the other sides. For example, a change in the project schedule (time) would impact either the cost or the scope. If a house builder is asked to reduce the completion schedule, it would either require addition costs or reduced scope to meet this new schedule.


Portfolio, Program, and Project Management

Organizations use different management structures and disciplines for delivering their projects. Each type of structure offers particular benefits towards achieving the organization’s strategic goals. Projects could be managed individually or as part of a program or portfolio using the following disciplines.

Portfolio Management – collection of programs, projects, and other work grouped together to facilitate efficient management to meet the organization’s strategic objectives

Program Management – group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to achieve benefits and control not available from managing them individually

Project Management – the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities, in order to meet the project requirements

PMI offers credentials in each of the discipline areas.

  • Credential for portfolio management – Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)
  • Credential for program management – Program Management Professional (PgMP)
  • Credential for project management – Project Management Professional (PMP)


What is the Purpose of Projects?

Projects are used to achieve an organization’s strategic goals and provide business value. The reasons for initiating projects could include:

  • To meet a legal requirement
  • To meet a particular market demand
  • To reply to a customer request
  • To take advantage of a strategic opportunity
  • To take advantage of technology advancement


Role of the Project Manager

The project manager is the person assigned by the organization to lead the team that is in charge of getting the project done, and achieving the required objectives. Typically it is the project sponsor (person accountable to the organization for the project) that selects the project manager. Project managers have the responsibility of satisfying the needs of the project tasks, project team, and other stakeholders.


Key Project Manager Skills and Competencies

The PMBOK® Guide identifies several skills and competencies which the project manager requires. These include:

  • Area specific skills – knowledgeable in specific sector
  • General management skills – planning, organizing, managing
  • Knowledge competency -  about project management
  • Performance competency – to accomplish the project
  • Personal competency – personality characteristics and leadership to guide the project team


Projects in Organizations

An important part of managing projects is understanding the organizational context in which projects are delivered and the organization’s influence and impact on projects. This section describes how an organization’s culture, style, and structure can influence its projects, along with the typical composition of project teams, and the characteristics of project phases.


Organizational Influences on Project Management

The organization in which the project is delivered will have a direct influence on the project, and the project manager must take this into consideration. Organizations have their own unique vision, policies, procedures, systems, communications style, and other characteristics which must be incorporated into project planning and delivery. Examples of these could include an organization’s: mission, values, expectations, regulations, reward systems, risk tolerance, hierarchy, authority structure, code of conduct, and many other influences. A project manager should therefore understand these influences and work within these requirement in order to achieve the project objectives and meet the organizational needs.


Organizational Structures

The project manager will have a different amount of authority for decision making on projects depending on the structure of the organization. The following are the main types of organizational structures, along with the level of project manager’s authority.

Functional Organization – This organization is structured into functional areas (such as accounting, finance, and engineering) with a function manager in charge of each area. Decision making in this type of organization is typically made by the functional manager, with project managers having little to no authority.

Projectized Organization – This organization is structured into projects, with a project manager in charge of each project. In this type of structure the project manager has the greatest amount of authority.

Matrix Organization – This organization is structured into functional areas (such as accounting, finance, and engineering) with a function manager in charge of each area. However, projects are assigned to a project manager who could be either outside or inside one of the functional areas. Decision making in this type of organization is typically shared between the functional manager and the project manager. There are three types of scenarios in this organizational structure:

  • Weak Matrix – project manager has less authority than the functional manager
  • Balanced Matrix – project manager and functional manager have equal authority
  • Strong Matrix – project manager has more authority than the functional manager.

For the purpose of the exam it is important to know what the project manager’s authority is for each type of organizational structure.


The Project Team and Stakeholders

There are many stakeholders involved in managing projects. The PMBOK® Guide defines a stakeholder as ………”Individuals, groups, or organizations who may affect, be affected by, or perceive themselves to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a project”.

The key stakeholders on projects include the following:

  • Project Sponsor – person responsible for authorizing the project, selects the project manager
  • Customers and Users – persons involved in approving and using the project’s product
  • Project Manager – person accountable for managing the project
  • Project Team -  persons who collectively work on the project tasks and activities, under the direction of the project manager, to achieve the project deliverables
  • Project Management Team – members of the project team who are directly involved in the project management activities
  • Other Stakeholders – could include functional managers, regulatory organizations, other organizations


The Project Phases and Life Cycle

A project life cycle is a series of phases that a project goes through, from initiation to closure. Projects are divided into phases to improve management control. The phases are time bound, with a start and ending or control point. The project life cycle provides the basic framework for managing the project regardless of the specific work involved. The project life cycle is typically an integral part of the project management methodology.

 Characteristics of project life cycles include:

  • Typically project costs are less at the project start, as you are still in the planning/design phase. Costs are more significant during the execution phase (such as the build phase) where the main expenditures on the project are made.
  • The ability to influence and add value to the project outcome is greatest at the start of the project, as changes become much more costly at later phases of the project and should be avoided.

Project phases are typically sequential, but can also overlap in some project situations.


The Project Management Processes

The PMBOK® Guide defines project management processes that make sure the project flows efficiently from start to completion. These processes are organized into Project Management Process Groups (which are categories of project management processes) and Knowledge Areas (which include specific inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs).

The Project Management Process Groups include:

  • Initiating Process Group – processes performed to define a new project or phase
  • Planning Process Group – processes required to establish the project scope, objectives, and define the activities required to achieve the project objectives
  • Executing Process Group – processes performed to complete the project work
  • Monitoring and Controlling Process Group – processes required to track and control project performance
  • Closing Process Group – processes performed to finalize all project activities and formally close the project

The project management processes are further grouped into ten Knowledge Areas. A Knowledge Area includes a complete set of concepts, terms, and activities that make up a professional field, project management field, or area of specialization.

The project management Knowledge Areas include (these are described more fully in later modules of the course):

  • Project Integration Management – processes that coordinate the various project management activities within the Project Management Process Groups
  • Project Scope Management – processes required to make sure that the project includes all the work required
  • Project Time Management – processes required to manage the timely completion of the project
  • Project Cost Management – processes involved in managing and controlling costs on projects
  • Project Quality Management – processes that make sure the project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken
  • Project Human Resources Management – processes involved in managing the project team
  • Project Communications Management – processes involved in managing communications on projects
  • Project Risk Management – processes involved in managing risk on projects
  • Project Procurement Management –processes involved in buying goods and services the project requires
  • Project Stakeholder Management – processes involved in managing stakeholder involvement in projects


 This concludes the pre-reading for the course.


Please also take some time to review our videos and other reading materials on project management at our Project Management Resource Center