This Guest paper is an updated version of a paper first published in the PM World Journal, January 2018. This revision was presented for publication December 24, 2017
Part 2 published here March 2018

In this paper: IPECC = Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling, Closing OGC = Office of Government Commerce (UK) KAs = Knowledge Areas (in the PMBOK Guide) PGs = Process Groups (ditto) PMBOK = Project Management Body of Knowledge (Guide) PMI = Project Management Institute (USA)

PART 1 | Introduction | Understanding the Confusion
Proposed Changes to the PMBOK® Guide | Option 2: A New Concept for Process Groups
Applying SPAARC to Improve Knowledge Area Definition | Conclusion


These changes and clarifications are designed to provide a consistent, logical model, avoiding the current confusion around the role of process groups. The model is as follows:

  • The project life cycle provides sequential, end-to-end control of a project.
  • Knowledge Areas define the project-related competencies required within the project team.
  • The structure of each KA is described as a logical progression of Knowledge Area Steps.
  • The content of each KA is specified in terms of processes.
  • Each process is characterized by the KAS within its KA, and is defined in terms of Outputs, Tools & Techniques, and Inputs.[9]
  • Life cycles support governance; Knowledge Areas ensure competence; Knowledge Area Steps provide structure; and processes deliver project-related results.

The proposed changes to the PMBOK® Guide should put these concepts on a firmer basis that is also easier to understand and less open to misinterpretation.


International Standards Organization (ISO). ISO 31000:2009 Risk Management Principles and Guidelines. Geneva, Switzerland. 2009.

Office of Government Commerce (OGC). An Introduction to Prince2: Managing and Directing Successful Projects. Norwich, UK: The Stationery Office (TSO), 2009.

PM World Journal. Devil's Dictionary of Project Management Terms. C. Piney, Volume VI, Issue 4 April 2017 (

Editor's Footnotes

This paper results from a serious study and analysis of the PMBOK® Guide and, as a result, suggests a number of changes that are long overdue.

In addition, it is time that the importance of Project Quality Management is recognized for the value it exerts over the success of the products resulting from the project. Therefore should come immediately after Project Scope Management in the Guide. After all, they are both fundamental inputs to the work of the project. Indeed, many companies treat scope and quality as a single entity.

Applying SPAARC to Improve Knowledge Area Definition  Applying SPAARC to Improve Knowledge Area Definition

9. I have chosen to mention Outputs before Inputs, since a process exists to deliver outputs, so these should be determined and defined before anything else.
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