On September 6, 2017, the PMI published the 6th edition of the PMBOK Guide. The PMI publishes a new version of the PMBOK Guide every four years. The last update was in December 2012, when they published the PMBOK Guide 5th Edition.
The PMI has made many changes to the latest version First, let’s discuss the two most important changes:
- Addition of the Agile framework
- Counterfeit Measures
Addition of the Agile Framework
It is common for the PMI to add, remove, or expand knowledge areas, but this time is different. The PMI has added a different framework to the PMBOK Guide: the Agile Framework.
Agile methodology is gaining popularity these days, so the PMI has started the PMI-ACP certification and they developed the Agile Practice Guide with help from the Agile Alliance. This guide has 168 pages and provides general explanations of Agile concepts.
The PMI has acknowledged that there has been a gradual increase in the adoption of Agile methodologies in project management, so this update was not entirely unexpected.
The purpose of this guide is to give project management teams a better understanding of Agile tools, techniques, and approaches.
Now, you might be wondering how this will impact the PMP exam.
Well, that’s not clear just yet. The PMI has not updated the PMP Exam Content Guidelines, yet.
The digital version of the PMBOK Guide includes the Agile Practice Guide. If you buy the hard copy, you have to purchase the guides separately.
If you are a PMI member, you can buy both guides for 49 USD, after a 50% discount from the PMI store.
This time, the PMI has updated counterfeit measures for the digital and printed version of the Guide.
Counterfeit Measures of the Digital Version
The PMI has placed a watermark that states “Not for Distribution, Sale or Reproduction” on each page. They did this to avoid duplication and unauthorized distribution.
You cannot open the Guide file without your password, and once you open it your name and your PMI ID are printed on every page. These measures are enough to discourage unauthorized distribution. Adding a watermark on each page is irritating.
You cannot print the PMBOK Guide. Many people prefer to read from a printed page, so this nuisance may be a big blow to them.
I am afraid that the 7th digital version will be online only, with no opportunity to download, and the 8th edition will have an OTP (One Time Password) feature. Every time you need to access the guide, the PMI will send you a code to your mobile to verify your identity.
If you prefer reading a hardcover book, I suggest that you buy one from the PMI store or Amazon, because you cannot print the digital edition.
Counterfeit Measures for the Printed Version
I purchased the print version of the PMBOK Guide from the PMI store.
The price was 49 USD after a 50% discount. After receiving the package, I opened the cover and found the following notice on the first page:
“This book was printed utilizing a potential anti-counterfeit print technology designed to prevent unauthorized reproductions. The paper color is gray instead of white. When the pages of the book are copied or scanned a hidden warning message will appear in the background. This security feature is intended to discourage anyone from attempting to illegally reproduce or counterfeit the book.”
I hope you get the idea.
The pages are gray, it looks cheap, and reading the book was not a good experience.
Anyway, let’s discuss the structural changes to the PMBOK Guide 6th edition.
Structure of the PMBOK Guide
The PMBOK Guide is divided into three sections:
- A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge
- The Standard for Project Management
- Appendix, Glossary, and Index
And lastly, you will find the Agile Practice Guide.
Four new sections have been added to the beginning of each knowledge area:
- Key Concepts
- Trends and Emerging Practices
- Tailoring Considerations
- Considerations for Agile/Adaptive Environments
The first explains key concepts of the knowledge area, and the second covers trends and emerging practices.
The third section explains tailoring conditions you should consider while developing processes for your project: e.g. how much emphasis you should give to each according to the scope.
The last section helps you consider if Agile methodologies can assist you in achieving your objectives.
All processes are divided into three categories:
- Used once or at predetermined points
- Periodically used or as needed
- Used throughout the project
In this edition, the PMBOK discusses the benefits management plan. This begins at an early stage of the project and it describes how and when the project will deliver the benefits. It also provides a mechanism to measure those benefits.
Net Present Value, IRR, benefit-cost ratio, payback period, etc., have all found a place in the PMBOK Guide.
The PMI introduced a new section devoted to the environment in which projects operate. Here, the PMBOK discusses the enterprise environmental and organizational process assets. Governance is also discussed.
A chapter on the role of the project manager in the team has been added, and how the Talent Triangle helps an organization achieve its objectives.
It explains the project manager’s sphere of influence, their competencies, and their performance as an integrator.
The role of the project manager is now aligned with the PMI Talent Triangle concept, which was introduced in 2016.
Now we will discuss the changes in knowledge areas and processes.
Before we move on, please note that no knowledge areas were added or removed.
Changes in Processes
The PMI has made the following changes to processes:
Deleted: Close procurement process.
Added: Manage project knowledge, control resources, and implement risk responses.
Renamed: Perform quality assurance to manage quality, estimate activity resources are relocated to the project resource management knowledge area.
The PMI changed the name of two knowledge areas: project time management to project schedule management and project human resource management to project resource management.
To get a glimpse of the processes and knowledge areas, please refer to the “Project Management Process Group and Knowledge Area Mapping” chart, available on page 25 of the PMBOK Guide 6th Edition.
Changes in Knowledge Areas
Now let’s take a look at the changes to each knowledge area.
A new process called “Manage Project Knowledge” was added.
Here, the PMBOK emphasizes using existing knowledge and creating new knowledge to achieve project objectives and contribute to organizational learning.
This used to be known as the time management knowledge area. Now, the PMI recognizes that only schedules can be managed, time cannot.
They moved the “Estimate Activity Resources” process to the project resource management knowledge area.
The “Perform Quality Assurance” process was renamed “Manage Quality.” They made this change to bring consistency to the terminology; moreover, this is more prominent in quality management.
The “Human Resource Management” process was renamed “Resource Management”.
The project manager manages resources—manpower, machines, and materials—so, resource management is more suitable than human resource management.
A new process called “Control Resources” has been added, and as mentioned earlier, Estimate Activity Resources was also moved to this knowledge area from the schedule management knowledge area.
A new process called “Implement Risk Responses” was added here. The control risks process was renamed to monitor risks process.
The close procurement process has been deleted.
In summary, the changes to the PMBOK Guide 6th Edition are:
The total number of processes is now 49. The 5th edition had 47 processes.
The following table shows the old and new names of knowledge areas.
The following table shows the newly added and/or deleted processes:
The name of the following processes have been changed:
I have received many emails regarding this update, so before ending this blog post, I will answer a few FAQs.
Should I base my preparation of the 5th edition of the PMBOK Guide or wait till the exam content changes?
Please note, exam content will change to the 6th edition of the PMBOK Guide on 26 March 2018.
If you are planning to take the exam before 26 March, prepare with the 5th edition of the PMBOK Guide. However, if you are planning to take the exam on or after this date, your preparation should be based on the 6th edition.
You have over three months until the exam changes. This time is enough for your preparation.
When the test changes, it takes time for publishers to include the feedback of exam takers in the new study materials.
The first edition of any book or course will have some typos, errors, and mistakes, which they correct in the next edition.
This process takes time.
After 26 March, it will take a few months for updated content to align with the exam pattern and for a more polished version to be published.
The price of study materials may go up.
If you want to pass the PMP exam before it changes, I suggest you start your preparation now, attempt the exam before 26 March, and become a PMP.
I passed my PMP Certification based on the 5th Edition of the PMBOK Guide. Do I have to take the exam again, or am I required to attend any test to upgrade myself when the exam content aligns with the PMBOK Guide 6th Edition?
You do not have to take the exam again or any upgrade test.
If you fail to maintain your CCR cycle, you will lose your credentials and will be required to take the exam again.
Although no new knowledge areas were added or removed in this update, this change is major. The inclusion of Agile Practices, changing the names of a few knowledge areas, removing and adding a few processes, and the relocation of processes are a few updates that took place in this edition. This edition brings consistency, is aligned with the latest project management practices, and is the most polished version to date.
The only problem with this guide, from my perspective, is the anti-theft measures that affect the user experience. I believe the PMI will address these concerns soon.
I suggest you read Appendix X1 (page 639) in the PMBOK Guide 6th edition to learn more about the changes.
If you have any comments or questions, you can leave them in the comments section below.