The new 6th Edition PMBOK® Guide and the future of Project Management


On Friday, September 22nd, I received my copy of the 6th Edition of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (or PMBOK® Guide for short).

I did a brief review of the individual changes from the 5th to the 6th edition with yesterday’s post on September 23rd.   Before I start going through the new PMBOK® Guide from cover to cover, I wanted to say that my first macro-impression was that this new Guide truly represents not just the current state-of-the-art of project management, but also of future of project management as well.

This is because, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, not only does the new PMBOK® Guide come with an Agile Practice Guide companion, but each knowledge area comes with a section that explain how to adapt the contents to an agile project management environment.    This is why I feel it represents the future of project management, which is not a mindset that thinks of “agile vs. traditional” methodologies, but a hybrid “agile + traditional” mindset.  I have watched several presentations by thought leaders describing what project management will look like 10 to 15 years from now, and they concur with this prediction.

The other positive development I see in an institutional one, because the Agile Practice Guide that accompanies the PMBOK® Guide is written by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in collaboration with the Agile Alliance®.   There is a tendency with institutions like PMI that are setting standards to want to build their “brand” as being the authoritative one, and this goal, understandable as it is, could have led PMI to decrease, rather than increase, their cooperation with those other institutions.    I’m relieved to see evidence of this cooperation because in my opinion that focuses on the needs of the members.   Many of those members are going to be either members of other standard-setting groups and/or alliances or they are going to interact with those members, and the Agile Practice Guide will encourage those interactions.

What does this mean for MY particular future?    I got the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) back in October 2012, and this certification has a five-year lifespan.    In the meanwhile, I have been volunteering on projects for my local PMI chapter here in Chicago and more recently with PMI Global in preparation for their Project Management Global conference that will take place next month (October) in Chicago.   I have been using this volunteer experience towards the experience requirement for getting the top-level certification, the Project Management Professional or PMP certification.

But as October 2017 came closer and closer this year, I heard the rumor that the new 6th Edition PMBOK® Guide had a lot more content related to agile methodologies and I decided that rather than taking the PMP based on the 5th Edition, I would wait until the 6th Edition came out in late September so that when I passed the test, I could tell prospective employers that my PMP certification was “state-of-the-art” because it was based on the latest edition of that PMBOK® Guide.

However, there is still no certain date of when you can go and take the PMP exam based on the new 6th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide, although rumors have it that it will sometime in the first quarter of 2018.    So I decided to do the following:

  • Retake the CAPM exam now, so that in case my first attempt at taking the PMP doesn’t work out, I’ll still have a project management certification to fall back on.  (This is basic risk management…)
  • Blog on the contents of the 6th Edition, not only to understand them for myself but also to help those in my local PMI chapter and elsewhere who aim like to me to take the PMP exam based on the new material.
  • Wait until PMI announces an official date for the exam.   If it’s in the first quarter of 2018, then three to six months time would be enough to cover the contents of the new 6th Edition in my blog, and then to look to one of the exam prep companies (Velociteach, RMC, etc.) to see when they come out with their preparation materials.

If PMI decides to put out the PMP certification exam material in the second quarter or later, then I may have to rethink this strategy, perhaps by going ahead with the PMP exam based on the 5th Edition material which I know backwards and forwards (not just because of my blog, but because I ran a PMP exam study group for my local PMI chapter when I was the Director of Certification there).    I would in that case have the certification but still be able to tell prospective employers that I’m aware of the new 6th Edition contents as well because of my work in the next few months to blog about them.

So as you can see, the new 6th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide has helped me map out my future in my deepening relationship with the world of project management, and I hope that you can use it to do the same!

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