A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: A Book Review

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge PMBOK Book Review

Instead of writing a bland overview of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, I chose to write a book report. Know that some of what I say here is meant to be a little cheeky, and I hope it helps you stick around and learn the basics of the PMBOK Guide.

Thanks to readwritethink.org for the book report template!

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: A Book Review

Hello, class! Today I’ll be presenting my book review on A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. It’s friendlier name is the PMBOK Guide. By the end of my book review, you’ll know:

  • An overview of the PMBOK Guide and why it is important for project managers
  • How many times you should read the PMBOK Guide to pass the PMP exam
  • Some recommendations on how to get started on reading the PMBOK guide

Introduce the book

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, Fifth Edition, is the definitive guide to project management published by the Project Management Institute (PMI). PMI is a not-for-profit global company dedicated to advancing the project management profession, and PMI offers the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. (Fun fact: PMI actually offers eight certifications, including the PMP.)

Tell about the book, but don’t give away the ending!

But the ending is the best part! Okay, okay… I won’t give it away.

The PMBOK Guide has 13 chapters, each of which focus on a different part of project management. The chapters have exciting titles and offer guidance on everything from time to scope to risk management. If I were editing the PMBOK Guide, I would further subdivide the chapters as follows:

  • Part 1 – Chapters 1 – 3: Welcome to Project Management!
  • Part 2 – Chapters 4: The Maybe-You-Should-Read-Me-Later Chapter
  • Part 3 – Chapters 5 – 13: The Nitty and Gritty Details of Project Management

If I were to study for the PMP and read PMBOK again, I would read Chapter 3, Project Management Processes, very closely on my first read-through. The Project Management Processes are so crucial to all parts of project management that I wish I thoroughly understood them on my first read through. Instead, I inefficiently gathered the knowledge as I read, making some mistakes along the way.

I might even skip Chapter 4, Project Integration Management, entirely on my first read-through! It is almost as if Chapter 4 should come after Chapter 13, because it is so important to understand all of the processes in the PMBOK Guide on their own before integrating them.

Chapters 5 through 13 include all of the details of project management. What I enjoyed most about these chapters were the practical tools and techniques they offered to help me be a better project manager.

Tell about your favorite part of the book or make a connection.

While the PMBOK Guide is a fun read in its own right, it is most critical for folks who want to take and pass the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification offered by PMI. Most PMP prep sites recommend you read it twice (oh boy!) to ensure that you really understand it.

When I was studying for the PMP exam, rather than read the entire PMBOK Guide cover to cover on its own, I created a study plan. For a little more than four months, I read a chapter each week and then I started taking practice exam. Once I started taking practice exams, I went back and re-read chapters that I felt like I didn’t understand. Technically speaking, I read the PMBOK twice but not in a way that felt too overwhelming. I read one chapter each week for thirteen weeks, then I intensely read chapters when I felt like my understanding was lacking.

I recommend breaking down the PMBOK Guide into more manageable chunks. For me, that was one chapter per week. By reading one chapter per week, I felt like I really absorbed the material so that when I began my practice tests, I wasn’t overwhelmed.

Give a recommendation (e.g., If you like…, you will love this book or I recommend this book to anyone who likes…).

If you like getting your PMP certification, you will love this book! I recommend the PMBOK Guide to anyone who likes long, technical definitions, exhaustively comprehensive chapters, and tedious examples.

I am joking, of course. Though some parts of the PMBOK Guide are technical and tedious, if you are really interested in getting your PMP for the right reasons, the PMBOK Guide is a genuinely fascinating read.

If you work for a company that has a Project Management Office (PMO), then you’ll likely find the PMBOK an easy read that validates all of the great work you already do.

If you work for a functional company with little project management experience, you’ll find the PMBOK Guide to be much more than just something to study. You’ll draw experience from your work to make connections about the processes it describes, and you’ll also find new strategies to try to make work on your current projects even more effective.

For my report, I give the PMBOK Guide five out of five stars. Not only should every project manager read it, they should use it to earn their PMP certification.

Do you have more questions about the PMBOK Guide, or was my book report an A+? Share your thoughts below.

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