PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition: Changes

06 September, 2017


Kaizen, or continuous improvement, is recommended for anyone managing a business process. The Project Management Institute (PMI)® certainly endorses this advice, having updated its flagship Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) every four or five years since its first appearance in 1991.

So it is not surprising that September 2017 sees the publication of the sixth edition of the guide, as the PMI® strives to remain relevant in the emerging world of project management. If you are planning to take the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® or the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exams, or are simply interested in keeping up to date on developments, this article provides a brief overview of the sixth edition – emphasizing the differences from the previous version.

The most obvious difference is seen in the first three chapters. These have been completely restructured and the language used has been simplified. By using shorter sentences and bulleted lists, the material has become a lot more accessible. The restructure also helps as there is now a more logical arrangement of the material, as a look at the top-level table of contents shows:

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Overview and Purpose of this Guide

1.2 Foundational Elements

Chapter 2: The Environment in which Projects Operate

2.1 Overview

2.2 Enterprise Environmental Factors

2.3 Organizational Process Assets

2.4 Organizational Systems

Chapter 3: The Role of the Project Manager

3.1 Overview

3.2 Definition of a Project Manager

3.3 The Project Manager’s Sphere of Influence

3.4 Project Manager Competencies

3.5 Performing Integration

But the biggest concern of project managers out there is what has changed with the knowledge areas and the process groups. Well, the good news is that we still have the same five process groups and we still have ten knowledge areas. However two of the knowledge areas have had name changes:

  • Project Time Management has become Project Schedule Management
  • Project Human Resource Management is now Project Resource Management

While the change from Time to Schedule is a logical change – we already had processes called Plan Schedule Management and Develop Schedule – the move from Human Resources to Resources is more profound. This knowledge area now deals with all of the resources – staff, equipment and materials – thus filling an obvious gap in that non-personnel resources had been neglected before.

However, one change that is a direct consequence of changing the knowledge area is that Estimate Activity Resources has now been relocated to Project Resource Management.

As for the processes themselves, nine processes have been renamed:

  1. Perform Quality Assurance -> Manage Quality
  2. Plan Human Resource Management -> Plan Resource Management
  3. Acquire Project Team -> Acquire Resources
  4. Develop Project Team -> Develop Team
  5. Manage Project Team -> Manage Team
  6. Control Communications -> Monitor Communications
  7. Control Risks -> Monitor Risks
  8. Plan Stakeholder Management -> Plan Stakeholder Engagement
  9. Control Stakeholder Engagement -> Monitor Stakeholder Engagement

While the Fifth Edition had forty-seven project management processes, the Sixth Edition has jumped to forty-nine. This is due to the addition of three new processes and the retirement of one:

  • Manage Project Knowledge.
    • This has been added to Integration / Executing.
    • Its purpose is to ensure that lessons learned during the project are applied during the project and institutionalized into standard operating procedures.
  • Control Resources
    • This has been added to Resource / Monitoring & Controlling.
    • This ensures that physical resources (i.e. equipment and materials) are employed according to the Resource Management Plan. Any deviation from the plan needs to be controlled.
    • An interesting peculiarity of this process is that control of personnel resources is in the purview of Manage Team, suggesting that a Control Team process is on the cards for the Seventh Edition.
  • Implement Risk Responses
    • This has been added to Risk / Executing.
    • An obvious addition this – we have planned risk responses, but never explicitly did anything with them.
  • Close Procurements
    • This has been retired from Procurement / Closing
    • Its work is now mainly done in Control Procurements, with a follow-up check being carried out in Close Project and Phase.

The chapters covering the knowledge areas have been revamped too. At the beginning there are four new sections entitled:

  • Key Concepts
  • Trends and Emerging Practices
  • Tailoring Considerations
  • Considerations for Agile/Adaptive Environments

You will also note that the inputs, tools/techniques and outputs have been reorganized, so that more generic terms are used, with these being expanded into the actual artefacts as shown:

Please note that the exams are not changing until Q1 of 2018 (the exact date has not been published). So there still is a window to obtain a PMP® or CAPM® credential using the Fifth Edition. Contact us for details.

By Velopi Seamus Collins

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