• project management knowledge areas;
  • critical success processes;
  • project planning;
  • project success


Although A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)—Fourth Edition identifies nine Knowledge Areas that project managers should focus on while managing projects, it does not indicate the relative importance of each of these Knowledge Areas. However, such information can be of great significance in helping project managers determine how to use their available resources most effectively. This article investigates the relative importance of the project management Knowledge Areas used during the planning phase of a project and their impact on project success. Results presented in this article are based on a field study that involved 783 project managers from different countries and industries. The study revealed that the Knowledge Areas with the greatest impact on project success were Time, Risk, Scope, and Human Resources. However, these results have been found to be sensitive to the industry in which projects were undertaken. Differences among industries are described and discussed in the article.