A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)—New Sixth Edition just published!

On September 22nd, the Project Management Institute (PMI) published their newest 6th Edition of their Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (or PMBOK® Guide for short).

I received it yesterday and have been looking it over to compare it with the previous 5th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide which was published in January 2013.    It has been therefore almost five years since the last edition, and I wanted to outline the main changes I have seen between the old 5th Edition and the current 6th Edition.

1. Agile Methodologies

The biggest change in the 6th edition is that it not only comes with a companion volume called the Agile Practice Guide, which was a collaborative effort by PMI and the Agile Alliance, but that each knowledge area of the 6th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide comes with a section on applying that knowledge area in an agile work environment!

This reflects a huge sea-change from the 5th Edition, where agile methodologies were noted almost in passing in the general sections on project life cycle, but not discussed elsewhere in the Guide.   Now they are woven into the very fabric of the Guide itself, which reflects the reality that the future of project management is not in an “agile vs. traditional” framework, but rather an “agile AND traditional” framework.

Here are some additional changes I noted.

2.  ANSI standard

A lot of the foundational elements of project management that were included in chapters 1-3 of the old edition have been moved into the second part of the 6th edition PMBOK® Guide in a section called the ANSI Standard for Project Management.   Information on the different project life cycles, for example, is now in this second part.    This contains a lot of reference material that project managers will need to be aware of in order to get full use out of the information contained in the Guide.

3.  Process Groups and Knowledge Areas

Well, the good news is that the 5 process groups and 10 knowledge areas that were in the 5th Edition have not changed–they are still the same in the 6th Edition.    There is only one change in the title of a knowledge area–Project Human Resources Management has become Project Resources Management (see paragraph 5 below).

4.  New Processes

There are 49 processes in the 6th Edition, as opposed to 47 in the 5th Edition.   This is a net increase of 3 processes, which comes about by the elimination of one process

  • Close Procurements, which has now been folded into Control Procurements

and the creation of 3 new processes:

  • 4.4 Manage Project Knowledge–this new process in the Integration Management knowledge area moves the creation of Lessons Learned from the Close Project process done once at the end of the project to the creation of a Lessons Learned register which is created and updated throughout the project during the Executing Process Group.   This can be seen as an influence from the world of agile project management methodology.    For example, one of the key questions asked in a Sprint Retrospective, a process set up by the Scrum Alliance in its agile methodology, is “what could we do differently to improve?”   The benefits of continuous improvement during a project are now harnessed rather than simply being applied from project to project.
  • 11.6 Implement Risk Responses–this is an additional process in the Risk Management knowledge area done in the Executing Process Group.   It implements the risk responses that were planned earlier in 11.5 Plan Risk Responses.
  • 9.6 Control Resources–I was just listening to a CD that came with Andy Crowe’s book The PMP® Exam–How To Pass On Your First Try, and one of the commentators on the CD said there was no “Monitoring and Controlling” process for the Human Resource Management knowledge area–but that there should be!   Well, he now has his wish because there IS such a process in the 6th Edition, called “Control Resources”.

5.  Human Resources → Resources

Called me old-fashioned, but I’ve seen the change from “staff” to “personnel” to “human resources” to “resources.”  Don’t let the terminology change fool you, though, because the newly titled “Project Resource Management” is still dealing with people!   In fact, I think this knowledge area has the largest increase in the number of processes.   There are two new processes, the first one 9.2 Estimate Activity Resources moved from Project Schedule Management to Project Resource Management in the Planning process group, and the second one described above (9.6 Control Resources) in the Monitoring and Controlling process group.

I plan to start blogging again to describe the contents of the 6th Edition, section by section, until I cover the entire PMBOK® Guide, the ANSI Standard, and the new Agile Practice Guide.  However, the one question I am dying to find the answer to is:   now that the 6th Edition is published, when will the actual PMP® exam be available from PMI?







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