Last month, the PMI released the sixth edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge, the PMBOK®. So we’ll take a look at the major changes you’ll find in the PMBOK 6th Edition.
If you’re not familiar with the PMI, or the PMBOK:
The PMI, or the Project Management Institute, is the largest membership body for Project Managers in the world. It is US-based, but operates everywhere, and it’s qualifications – principally PMP, or Project Management Professional – are recognized and valued worldwide.
The PMBOK 6th Edition is the PMI’s primary standard document. It is is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and must be updated every four to five years. This update is a significant one. PMI bases it’s PMP and CAPM exams on the content of PMBOK.
There is now more emphasis on strategic and business knowledge. This will include a discussion of project management business documents.
Indeed, the first three chapters have been completely overhauled. There is a far greater emphasis on the sponsoring organization and and a new chapter on the leadership role of the Project Manager. We also see information on the PMI’s Talent Triangle™ and what the PMI considers to be the essential PM skills for success in today’s market.
Significantly, PMI now gives guidance on tailoring the processes to help you prioritise how much focus you put on each one, depending on the nature of your project.
Agile is now a significant part of PMBOK. It features within each Knowledge Area, in an appendix on ‘Agile, Iterative, Adaptive, and Hybrid Project Areas’, and a free-standing but linked ‘Agile Practice Guide’.
The PMI has made a short video summarizing the major changes, which is well worth watching…
There are no new Knowledge areas, but two have changed their names. So we have:
Each Knowledge Area will have four new sections at the start:
There are three new processes, one old ons removed, one moved, and seven name changes.
There are now 49 process in the PMBOK 6th Edition. In my 1996 first edition, I count 37. Although the rise has has not been even (there was a big jump from my 4th edition’s 42 to the 5th edition’s 47), it has averaged at 2.4 new processes per edition.
Three of these changes, 4, 5, an 7, change ‘control’ to ‘monitor’. This is a softening that some will welcome. ‘We don’t want to be control freaks’ they will say. However, plenty of processes do retain their ‘control’ terminology – and rightly so. Though this may be a trend that we’ll see played out in the 7th Edition.
The shift in emphasis seems to passive for my taste. This is especially so with risk management. I don’t want to just monitor my risks; I monitor them, so I can control them. Like the change in the risk process, I also prefer we take control of our communication process and stakeholder engagement process, rather than passively monitor them.
What do you think?
Inputs, Tools, Techniques and Outputs have not change significantly. There are lots of small changes, but in the PMP exam, I suspect they will continue to get less emphasis.
Perhaps the most substantive change is the new emphasis on Agile and related approaches.
Each knowledge area now has a section entitled ‘Approaches for Agile, Iterative and Adaptive Environments’. It describes how these practices integrate in project settings.
In addition, the PMI has partnered with Agile Alliance® to create the new Agile Practice Guide*. There offers further detail on Agile and other adaptive and iterative approaches. Its writers intend it to sit alongside PMBOK 6th Edition, but as a guide in its own right. It comes packaged with PMBOK as part of the cost.
This marks a first step towards a reconciliation between to polar views of Project Management. I’ll steer clear of describing it as ‘integration’. How Successful it is will only emerge with time, but I don’t see this as anything more than a first step in PMI grappling with the issues that Agile throws up for the very definition of Project Mangement.
The Agile Practice Guide is an introductory text. It sets out the basics of Agile project management. Like PMBoK, it is tersely written. This makes it a dense read, but it does contain a lot of information. It also makes good use of diagrams and tables. This means it is a valuable reference work.
Especially valuable are the Annexes (3) and Appendices (also 3). Although why they chose two groups, rather than just 6 Annexes (or Appendices), I can’t figure. I particularly like:
What I don’t like is that, like PMBoK, PMI has chosen to publish this with a hard-to-read-on security background to every page. Aaarrghhh! It spoils a really good book.
If you are not familiar with Agile, this video may help you…
As you’d expect, it also has:
For analysis of this, and the Agile Practice Guide, we recommend Chuck Cobb’s blog, ManagedAgile.com. Chuck has developed a phenomenal suite of Agile Project Management training, which we recommend. His first analysis of the PMBOK 6th Edition integration of Agile and his article on the Agile Practice Guide are well worth reading.
PMI has added a new chapter on the role of the project manager, to focus on leading projects effectively. This covers the competencies, experience and skills that PMI believes are necessary.
As a result of the changes to the PMBOK, the PMP exam will change from 26 March 2018. If you schedule your exam on 26 March or later, you will receive an updated version of the exam that references the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition. So, anyone taking the exam before 26 March 2018 will get the current version of the exam that references the PMBOK® Guide – Fifth Edition.
PMI has not yet made an announcement about the CAPM exam and currently the links on the CAPM exam pages of its site still reference the 5th Edition.
Wondering whether CAPM or PMP is right for you?
Check out our feature article PMP versus CAPM: All you Need to Know
The big difference between these two qualifications as far as PMBOK 6th Edition is concerned is this:
PMP is not intended as a test of PMBOK. It is one of the principal reference sources – maybe the principal source. But the syllabus is driven out of the PMP Examination Content Outline (ECO). Some of the updates you can expect to see respond to changes in terminology. As you’d expect, PMI will also harmonize the process groups, tools, and techniques. So, we’ll be updating our own PMP Exam Prep Guide accordingly.
PMI has announced no changes currently in progress for the ECO; the last set of changes were incorporated into the PMP exam in January 2017. But that is not to say it won’t change.
CAPM, on the other hand, is very much a test of PMBOK. So although we don’t have a date yet, we can expect the exam to be brought into line with the PMBOK 6th edition in the same sort of timeframe.
And, of course, PMI constantly refreshes the questions in its exams; both PMP and CAPM. So this is not a very big deal. In short, study the materials you have, and don’t worry.
I bought the first edition of the PMBOK in 1996. And I still have it on my shelf. It has just:
As Project Managers get better at managing projects, we learn more, develop new ways of doing things, and codify them more clearly. Each new edition of the PMBOK has got better.
The new PMBOK 6th Edition, coming nearly five years after the last, is, to me, very welcome.
Of course, you can get your copy of PMBOK 6th Edition and the Agile Practice Guide directly from the PMI. Indeed, if you are a member, you can download PDF versions at no cost. Alternatively, you can order them from your preferred online book seller. I use Amazon (US|UK).
We’d love to read your opinions and comments. We’ll respond to anything you contribute to the comments section below.
We first published our analysis of the likely changes to the PMBOK 6th Edition in our PMP Exam Prep Guide. Since then, our students have been adding their comments. Here are some of the things they have said:
‘I liked introducing Agile concepts. Also, less emphasis on ITTO’s is a great change indeed!!’
– Pavan Nallamalli
‘I too feel these are relevant and needed updates. Focus is shifted from tools and processes to more on the individual development itself. Enhancement of EQ of the Project Manager is what the new Ed. aims at.’
– Anvil DSouza
‘Welcome changes to the 5th Edition IMO. I like PMI’s use of Talent Triangle, clubbing processes (eg: Close Procurement and Close Projects), emphasizing on PM skills of success and giving importance to Agile PM practices.’
– Abhilash Nair
Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 13 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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