How to Read the PMBOK Guide

February 28, 2011

If you are planning on taking the PMP exam, or if you want to learn more about Project Management, you eventually will have to read the Project Management Body of Knowledge, or PMBOK Guide.

The problem is that reading PMBOK Guide is as exciting as reading the Yellow Pages.  It is structured as a framework, as a reference book.  As such, it was not meant to be read from cover to cover as you would a textbook or a novel.

There is an easy way, however, to actually read the PMBOK Guide from cover to cover AND absorb the information. The solution is to use a companion product.

The PMBOK Guide is divided into chapters and sub chapters.  Companion products such as books and the Project Management Prepcast are usually also divided into chapters that mirror the chapter numbering of the PMBOK Guide.  They make it that way so it is easier for the student to refer to the PMBOK Guide as they are reading or listening to the companion product. For example, the PMBOK Guide chapter 4.1 talks about the “Develop Project Charter” process.  The Project Management Prepcast episode 4.01 explains that process in detail.

So my recommendation is for you to

  1. Get a good companion product such as a book or the Project Management Prepcast;
  2. Read/listen/watch the chapter in your companion product related to a specific subject
  3. Read the PMBOK Guide chapter on the same topic

If you follow this guideline, you will see that the PMBOK Guide will make a lot more sense and you will understand how each chapter fits in with the entirety of the body of knowledge.

If you have any questions, drop me a line!  What has worked for you?