The Upcoming 5th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide—Managing Change Requests

1. Introduction

As mentioned in previous posts, the 5th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide is coming out on December 31, 2012, and there are several topics that PMI is emphasizing in the new edition. One of these is the subject of stakeholder management, which is being elevated to the status of a new knowledge area.

Another is the subject of change requests, which is what I want to write about today. Why is PMI emphasizing this in addition to stakeholder management? They are related by the following cost/influence relationship curve, a typical example of which I found on the website, a construction design firm.

As you can see, the ability of the various stakeholders to influence the cost of a project is at its maximum at the beginning of the project. It goes even before the planning stage into the initiating process when the project charter is drawn up. PMI addressed this issue by increasing the importance paid on stakeholder management, and getting stakeholders engaged in the decision-making process as early as possible in the project.

Conversely, the costs incurred by design changes is at its maximum during the executing process and monitoring & controlling process (which happen concurrently), NOT at the beginning of the project. PMI addresses this issue by increasing the importance of managing change requests in the upcoming 5th Edition of the PMBOK Guide.

2. Change Requests

In the story A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three Ghosts, the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Future.

In an analogous way, the project manager is haunted, I mean, challenged by three types of change requests, the Change Requests of Variances Past, those of Variances Present, and those of Variances Future, better known as defect repair, corrective action, and preventive action. The language of change requests in the 5th Edition has put more emphasis on the differences between these types of action. The preference should be on those changes which prevent defects from occurring in the future, through risk analysis, rather than on corrective action or defect repair.  Corrective action can appear in two types, corrective action which brings the variance in line with the performance baseline, or one which corrects the performance baseline itself if it has turned out to be unrealistic.

However, as Rita Mulcahy points out in her excellent discussion of change requests in the 7th Edition of her PMP Exam Prep book, the best thing a project manager is to prevent change requests from occurring at all by engaging the stakeholders in the decision-making process from the very beginning of the project. This is how these two themes of stakeholder management and change requests are connected.

 I hope that this double emphasis on these topics will assist project managers in reducing scope creep and bringing their projects to a successful conclusion on time and within budget.

 This concludes the discussion of the upcoming 5th Edition of the PMBOK Guide.   Starting in January 2013, I will start analyzing the processes and their reconfigured inputs, tools & techniques, and outputs to help those preparing to take the PMP exam on or after July 31, 2013.

 The next posts will return to my discussion to Six Sigma topics based on the Six Sigma Green Belt course I am currently taking from ASQ.


One Response

  1. Thanks for the preview. I am PMP certified against v4, but I’m looking to v5 as an opportunity to refresh my skills and earn some PDPs int he process.

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