6 Changes to the Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) 6th Edition You Should Know

It is that time for project managers. It comes every 4 to 5 years when Project Management Institute (PMI)® makes a new release of the PMBOK® Guide. It causes fear and anxiety to some, excitement and eagerness to others. PMI released an exposure draft (a sophisticated term to mean a beta draft) of the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition in July 2016.

In this article, let's learn what PMBOK® Guide is, why does it change, what is the reason PMI makes these changes, what specific changes have occurred in the PMBOK® Guide in the 6th edition, and most importantly, how do these changes affect the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification exam. We will also talk about how to prepare for the new PMP exam and efficiently pass the test without unnecessary stress.

What is the PMBOK® Guide?

PMI provides global leadership in the development of standards for the practice of the project management profession throughout the world. One of their significant accomplishments is the Institute's evolving standards document - A Guide to the "Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)". PMBOK® Guide is a globally recognized standard for managing projects in today's marketplace. In September 1991, the PMBOK® Guide was honored as a formal American National Standard by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). PMI is committed to the continuous improvement and expansion of the PMBOK® Guide , as well as the development of additional standards. This standard gets an update roughly every four years. The first draft content was developed by Project Management Training Institute (PMTI) Instructor and Expert, Max Wideman under the name "PMBOK". Later this was updated to a "guide" and thus, in 1996, PMI published the first PMBOK® Guide. The PMBOK® Guide is the most widely recognized standard by project managers across the world and provides guidelines that are industry neutral and can be applied across a wide variety of disciplines, industries, experience levels, budgets and timelines.

Why and how often does the PMBOK® Guide change?

PMI published the first edition of the PMBOK® Guide in 1996 which was based on the earlier work of PMTI expert, Max Wideman. Since the profession of project management is evolving based on recent theories, ideas, ideologies and philosophies, it becomes necessary to update the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge as well. Thus, PMI updates the PMBOK® Guide roughly every four years. Thus, there was a 2nd edition in 2000, a 3rd edition in 2004, a 4th edition in 2008, and a 5th edition in 2012.

What change occurred in the previous PMBOK® Guide editions?

Each of these editions included changes. Some editions had minor and some had major improvements. PMTI Founder and CEO, Yad Senapathy, who was one of the leaders of the 5th edition development team and a significant contributor says, "The 5th edition incorporated a much needed and seeming apparent miss - the stakeholder management into the PMBOK® Guide. The guide now expands its emphasis on the fact that processes alone can't run a project, people do". Each of these PMBOK® Guide edition release causes a major shift in the PMP Exam and the Certified Associate Project Manager (CAPM)® exam including the quality and the type of questions exam takers encounter. The 6th edition of the PMBOK® Guide is due to be released in 2017 and includes some significant changes to reflect the current industry trends.

Tell me the changes to the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition in a nutshell

PMI has made several changes to the PMBOK® Guide . These six changes are the most critical:

1) Agile Addition

Agile is now a big part of all business. This otherwise "lean" or lightweight (mainly software) management philosophy had already made its entrance in the PMBOK® Guide 5th edition. But, the upcoming 6th edition will feature significant additions. These changes are based on PMI's research on the growing influence and use of Agile and Scrum. The changes include
  • a) addition of agile related information within the guide where appropriate
  • b) a separate appendix on Agile
  • c) Although, not part of the PMBOK® Guide, a separate practice guide for agile will be released with the PMBOK® Guide 6th edition release

2) 3 New Processes

No surprises here. The PMBOK® Guide has gone from

  • a) 39 processes in the 3rd edition to
  • b) 42 processes in the 4th edition to
  • c) 47 processes in the 5th edition to
  • d) 49 processes now in the upcoming 6th edition!

Although it can be argued that this does not simplify the PMBOK® Guide, it has made it, without any question, more holistic and fills the gap in areas that were not addressed adequately in previous editions. Specifically, PMI has added the following 3 processes:

  • i.Manage Project Knowledge - this process likely serves to expand the idea of managing information within the project from raw data to integrated information to knowledge and to decision making wisdom. This is, in our opinion, a great addition. We live in a world of Big Data and an information economy regardless of which industry you are in.
  • ii.Implement Risk Responses - This fills the gap that existed between the 5 planning processes and the one monitoring and controlling process group that have existed over several PMBOK® Guides. This process was previously rolled into the "Direct and Manage Project Work". Considering the importance of Risks on projects, this is a welcome addition.
  • iii.Control Resources - Control Resources is a great addition to the PMBOK® Guide. There was the process "Manage Project Team" in the previous editions. However, as every project manager recognizes, it is important to assess actual vs. planned usage of equipment, material, supplies, AND human resources.

3)Change of Name or Moving of Processes.

Well, there are quite a few of these changes of this nature in this PMBOK® Guide. They fall into two categories:

  • a. Change of Name of Knowledge Areas - When these happen, these are notable changes.
    • i. The change of "Project Time Management" to "Project Schedule Management" is a synonymous switch.
    • ii. However, change of "Project Human Resource Management" to "Project Resource Management" represents a pro-active stance from PMI for project managers to keep an eye on all resources - not just human resources. This includes physical - equipment, supplies, and material, and of course, human resources.
  • b. Change of Name of Processes -
    • i. Plan Stakeholder Management to Plan Stakeholder Engagement (good change!)
    • ii. Plan Human Resource Management to Plan Resource Management: This follows the change of the knowledge area above.
    • iii. Control Communications to Monitor Communications
    • iv. Control Risks to Monitor Risks
    • v. Control Stakeholder Engagement to Monitor Stakeholder Engagement
    • vi. Perform Quality Assurance to Manage Quality. This is a shift of name that does not gel with the industry standard terminology of "Quality Assurance".

4) PMs are no longer "Control" freaks!

PMI has made a conscious attempt to move away from the phrase "Control' to "Monitor" where applicable. Here are the changes of names:

  • i. Control Communications to Monitor Communications
  • ii. Control Risks to Monitor Risks
  • iii. Control Stakeholder Engagement to Monitor Stakeholder Engagement

However, the following processes continue to have the word control in them for good reason -

  • a) Monitor and Control Project Work,
  • b) Control Schedule,
  • c) Control Costs,
  • d) Control Quality,
  • e) Control Procurement, and
  • f) the newly added process of Control Resources.

5) Closing Procurement is closed out from PMBOK® Guide

This is another major change in our opinion. PMI opined that several project managers do not have the authority to close contracts and/or procurements and thus, the actions that are related to closing procurements have been rolled into control procurement.

6) Addition of Emerging Trends and Practices

PMI has stretched the PMBOK® Guide to include not only generally accepted good practices, but, also emerging tools, trends, techniques, and practices. This is also a wonderful addition for those who are looking for industry specific or modern but somewhat untried approaches to project management.

How do these changes affect the PMP Exam?

Clearly, there are quite a few changes. There are several things to consider to determine how big the impact would be of these changes on the exam. Let's consider them.

  • i. The number of processes has gone up from 47 to 49. While that in itself does not predict a difficult exam, any good PMP certification training must target to train for more "functions" within project management and their details.
  • ii. There are three new processes. Thus, there will be at least 5-10% of new content to acknowledge in your PMP exam preparation.
  • iii. Most importantly, there is Agile and Scrum related content strewn all over the PMBOK® Guide and a brand new appendix to expand its coverage. Your PMP Certification depends on learning the terminology, processes, and application of Agile. There is a good chance that PMI will borrow content from the PMI-ACP exam and incorporate it into the PMP certification test.
  • iv. There are several miscellaneous changes that are mentioned above that will affect the exam in small and possibly big ways.

The first three points alone promise to make the exam based on the new PMBOK® Guide more difficult than it already is. Further, when combined with the changes PMI made to the PMP exam itself in January 2016 based on the new PMP Exam Outline (Role Delineation Study), the exam requires meticulous, extensive, and laser-sharp preparation. Choose your PMP exam prep method carefully.

Should I rush to take the PMP Exam now?

PMTI recommends you get PMP certified before the official launch of the exam. The goal of project managers must be to expand their knowledge. PMI's new PMBOK® Guide will provide extra fodder to expand your horizons and continue learning. Even if you have a PMP certification now, PMTI recommends you enroll in our PMP certification training courses if you want to stay current with project management standards an guidelines.

When is PMI launching the new PMP Exam and How should I prepare?

  • 1. PMI has released the exposure draft (beta version) of the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition
  • 2. PMI has tentatively planned to launch the official PMBOK® Guide 6th edition in the 3rd quarter of 2017 in English and 10 other languages. This usually addresses the largest segment of PMP exam takers.
  • 3. The PMP Exam is expected to be updated to the new PMBOK® Guide material sometime around the 1st Quarter of 2018.
  • Note, this timeline also applies to the CAPM exam!

When will PMTI update their material to reflect the new PMP Exam content?

PMTI has already began updating their course material based on the exposure draft of PMI. The fine-tuning and refinements will continue through the end of 2017 to ensure the course continues its ability to produce the 99% pass rate that PMTI has maintained since its 13 years of PMP certification training in nearly 80 locations across US and Canada.

What has been PMTI's experience with PMBOK® Guide and PMP Exam changes?

PMTI has been through 8 major changes including 3 major PMBOK® Guide edition changes and 5 PMP exam changes. So, we are highly experienced in recognizing patterns of change and affect of such change. PMTI instructors have taught using the third, fourth, fifth editions of the PMP exam and have thus, phenomenal experience in dealing with major changes in content, structure, and philosophy as it relates to the PMP exam.

We recognize the fear and anxiety that accompanies such a major change. We created this document to build the confidence in you that you can indeed pass the PMP exam in five days by trusting the most recommended PMP exam boot camp provider.

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