6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Tailoring PMBOK to Your Project

I am starting a project of going through the 6th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide and blogging about its contents.    The 6th Edition was released on September 22nd by the Project Management Institute, and the first chapter is a general introduction to the framework in which project management exists, starting with section 1.2 Foundation Elements (section 1.1 describes the purpose of the Guide).

The section I am going over in this blog post is section 1.2.5 Tailoring.   After the components of a project were presented in the previous section, this short section focuses on the following simple but important truth:   not every tool, technique, input or output identified in the PMBOK® Guide is required on every project.    The PMBOK® Guide was not created in a vacuum; it is the sum total of knowledge from experience on projects that is generally recognized as good practice.

What this means in practical terms is that each organization has to decide what elements of project management from the PMBOK® Guide will be used; PMI cannot give specific recommendations for what to include.

A good analogy to explain this is to think of the PMBOK® Guide as a hardware store that is visited by people with various needs for tools.    A homeowner who wants to fix a kitchen sink is doing a project that will require a very limited range of tools and materials.   On the other hand, a building contractor who is going to remodel a kitchen is going to require a lot more extensive set of tools and materials.   The hardware store caters to all, and includes all of the tools and materials you would need on any type of project, no matter what the scope.    Similarly, the PMBOK® Guide contains tools and techniques to be used on projects with budget anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several million dollars.    It is up the person doing the project to know what tools and techniques will be needed.

This shows the importance of the project management plan, because this will describe, out of the entire arsenal of project management tools and techniques that are described in the PMBOK® Guide, which ones the organization plans to use for any given knowledge area.

Now for the test taker, the practical import of this is that, no matter what tools and techniques you have used in the past, you will have to learn the tools and techniques available in the entirety of the PMBOK® Guide, no matter whether you ever plan to use them on a project or not.    Because some day, you may need to use them, and this knowledge will become practical.

The next post will talk about project management business documents.   In reality, these documents are artifacts from the field of business analysis, which intersects with project management at the very beginning of the project.   This has been a very fruitful area of growth for PMI since the last edition of the PMBOK® Guide, so make sure to look at it!



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