On September 6, 2017, the 6th edition of the PMBOK Guide was published by the PMI. The PMI publishes a new version of the PMBOK Guide every four years. The last time was in December 2012, when the PMI published the 5th edition of the PMBOK Guide.
Though the PMI has made many changes to the PMBOK Guide, first I would like to discuss the two most important changes that you are going to see in the current version of the guide.
These changes are as follows:
- Addition of the Agile framework
- Counterfeit Measures
Addition of the Agile Framework
In the past there were some additions, subtractions, and expansions of knowledge areas; however, this time it is different. This time the PMI has added a different framework to it: the Agile framework.
Agile methodology is quietly gaining popularity and so the PMI has started the PMI-ACP certification to cater to the needs of this niche. As the PMI did not have any Agile guide in their library, they developed a practice guide for it and named it the Agile Practice Guide. This guide consists of 168 pages and provide a general explanations of the Agile concepts.
This was expected as the PMI has acknowledged in the past that there has been a gradual increment in the adoption of Agile methodologies in project management.
The PMI has developed this guide with the Agile Alliance.
The purpose of this guide is to give project management teams a better understanding of Agile tools, techniques, and approaches to deliver a better result.
Now you might be wondering how this will impact the PMP exam.
The situation is not yet clear. The PMP Exam Content Guidelines have not been updated yet. The situation will be clearer when they update it.
The digital version of the PMBOK Guide includes the Agile Practice Guide. If you buy the hard copy, you will only get the PMBOK Guide; if you need to read the Agile Practice Guide, you will have to buy it 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 PMI used different types of counterfeit measures for the digital and printed version of the PMBOK and Agile Practice Guide.
Counterfeit Measures for the Digital Version
In the digital edition of the PMBOK Guide, PMI inserted a watermark “Not for Distribution, Sale or Reproduction” on each page.
They have done this to avoid duplication and unauthorized distribution.
You cannot open the file without your password, and once you open it your name and PMI ID is printed on every page. These measures were enough to discourage unauthorized distribution.
Adding a watermark on each page is irritating.
You are also not allowed to make printouts of the PMBOK Guide. This is again a nuisance as many people prefer reading a hardcover book than reading something on a computer screen. This is a big blow to them.
I strongly believe that the 7th digital version will be online and you will not be able to download it, and the 8th edition will have an OTP feature. Every time you need to access the guide, PMI will send you a code on your mobile to verify your identity.
Anyway, if you prefer reading a hardcover book, I suggest that you buy it 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 and the Agile guide was free with purchase for PMI members. After receiving the package, I opened the cover and on the first page I found the following notice:
“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 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 of the book are gray, it looks cheap, and reading it was not a good experience.
Anyway, let’s discuss the structure and the changes in the PMBOK Guide 6th edition.
Structure of the PMBOK Guide
The 6th edition of 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. These sections are as follows:
- Key Concepts
- Trends and Emerging Practices
- Tailoring Considerations
- Considerations for Agile/Adaptive Environments
The first section explains key concepts for the knowledge area, and the second section explains 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 process according to the scope of the project.
The last section helps you consider if Agile methodologies can help you achieve your objective.
In this edition, the PMI divides the processes into three categories:
- Process used once or at predetermined points in the project
- Periodically used or as needed processes
- Process that are used throughout the project
Moreover, this is the first time that the PMBOK has discussed the benefit management plan. The benefit management plan begins at an early stage of the project and it describes how and when the project will deliver the benefits and a mechanism to measure those benefits.
This time Net Present Value, IRR, benefit cost ratio, payback period, etc., were placed in the PMBOK Guide.
In this edition, the PMI introduces a new section devoted to the environment in which projects operate. Here the PMBOK discusses the enterprise environmental and organizational process assets in detail. New content on governance has also been added.
A new chapter on the role of the project manager has also been added, where PMBOK describes the project manager’s role in the team. This section explains how the Talent Triangle helps an organization to achieve its objectives efficiently.
In this chapter, the PMBOK explains the sphere of influence of the project manager, the competencies of the project manager, 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 let’s discuss the changes in the PMBOK Guide knowledge areas and processes. Before we move on, please note that this time no new knowledge areas were removed or added.
Changes in Processes
The PMI has made the following changes to processes:
Deleted: Close procurement process.
Added: Manage project knowledge, control resource, and implement resource response.
Renamed: Perform quality assurance to manage quality, estimate activity resources is relocated in project resource management knowledge area.
The PMI has also 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 all 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.
Changes in Knowledge Areas
Now let’s see what changes have been made to each knowledge area.
A new process “Manage Project Knowledge” was added.
In this process, PMBOK emphasizes using existing knowledge and creating new knowledge to achieve project objectives and contribute to organizational learning.
It used to be known as the time management knowledge area. Now the PMI realizes that only schedules can be managed, time cannot.
They moved the “Estimate Activity Resources” process to the project resource management knowledge area.
Here the “Perform Quality Assurance” process is renamed “Manage Quality”. This is done to bring consistency to the terminology; moreover, this term is more prominent in quality management.
The “Human Resource Management” process is renamed to “Resource Management”.
This is done because, in projects, the project manager has to manage all resources: manpower, machines, and materials. So, resource management is more suitable than human resource management.
A new process “Control Resources” has been added here, and as mentioned earlier, estimate activity resources was also moved here from the schedule management knowledge area.
A new process called “Implement Risk Responses” was added here. The control risks process is renamed monitor risks.
The close procurement process has been deleted.
In summary, the changes to the PMBOK Guide 6th edition are as follows:
- The total number of process is now 49. The 5th edition has 47 processes.
- The following table shows old and new names of knowledge areas.
- The following table shows the newly added and/or deleted processes:
- The name of following processes have been changed:
Before I end this blog post, I will provide answers to a few FAQs.
Should I base my preparation of the 5th edition of the PMBOK Guide or wait till the exam content changes?
First, please note that 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 26 March or after this date, your preparation should be based on the 6th edition of the PMBOK Guide.
There is still more than three months’ time to change the exam and this is enough time for you to prepare and pass the exam.
When the exam content changes, it takes time for publishers to include the feedback of exam takers into 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.
Put simply, 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.
Moreover, there is a chance that the price may go up as well.
If you want to pass the PMP exam, I suggest you start your preparation now, attempt the exam before 26 March, and become a PMP.
I have 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, nor is any upgrade test required.
As long as you are able to maintain your CCR cycle, you will be a PMP in good standing. To complete a CCR cycle, you have to earn 60 PDUs in three years, which should align with the PMI Talent Triangle, and report to the PMI.
If you fail to maintain your CCR cycle, you will lose your credentials and will be required to sit for the exam again.
Although there has been no addition of any new knowledge area, this version can be considered a major update. The inclusion of Agile Practices, changing the names of a few knowledge areas, removing and adding a few processes, and the relocation of a few processes are a few updates that took place in this edition.
This edition brings more consistency, is aligned with the latest project management practices, and is the most polished version to date.
The only problem with this guide is the anti-theft measures adopted by the PMI, which seriously affect the user experience in reading the guide. I believe PMI will take some action to address these concerns in the near future.
I strongly suggest you read Appendix X1 (page 639) in the PMBOK Guide 6th edition to learn more about the 6th Edition Changes.
If you have any comments or questions, you can do so in the comments section below.