Top 6 Updates in the PMBOK Guide 6th Edition


PMBOK Guide 6th Edition Project Management
The PMBOK Guide 6th Edition has been released with some major changes for project managers

It’s official:

The Project Management Institute (PMI) finally released PMBOK Guide 6th Edition on September 6, 2017.

While the 5th edition of PMBOK was 616 pages, PMBOK 6th edition was capped at 978 pages.

Quite an update.

Plus, it includes the Agile Practice Guide which is 183 pages long.

This large of an update raises many questions, such as:

  • What are the key changes in PMBOK Guide 6th Edition?
  • What are the differences between PMBOK 5th and 6th edition?
  • How can you prepare for the PMP Exam using PMBOK 6th Edition?

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the answers to these questions so that by the end, you’ll know what makes PMBOK Guide 6th Edition different from the last edition and how to use it to become a better project manager.

But first, for those who are new to project management, let’s quickly review the definition and purpose of PMBOK.

What is the Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide?

PMBOK is an acronym for A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge.

It’s the gold standard for the terms, practices, strategies, and methodologies you need to know to be an effective project manager.

Since 1996 – when the first edition of PMBOK was published – the Project Management Institute has updated the PMBOK every 4 or 5 years to help keep all project managers up-to-date on the latest standards and practices in the industry.

To this day, the PMBOK Guide has provided industry-neutral guidelines to project management so that they can be applied across a wide variety of disciplines, industries, experience levels, budgets, and timelines.

What are the Key Changes in the 6th Edition of the PMBOK Guide?

PMBOK Guide 6th Edition has 362 more pages than PMBOK Guide 5th Edition.

That means a lot has changed.

We can’t go over everything here, but we’ll show you the key changes to the current edition you must know.

Let’s dive in.

New Structure of the PMBOK Guide

The PMBOK Guide is divided into 3 major sections:

  1. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge
  2. The Standard for Project Management
  3. Appendix, Glossary, and Index

At the beginning of each Knowledge Area, you’ll see 4 new sections:

  1. Key Concepts
  2. Trends and Emerging Practices
  3. Tailoring Considerations
  4. Considerations for Agile/Adaptive Environments

Lastly, as far as the structure of the guide is concerned, Processes have been divided into 3 distinct categories:

  1. Processes used once or at predetermined points in the project
  2. Periodically used or as needed processes
  3. Processes that are used throughout the project

The new structure of PMBOK Guide 6th Edition was designed to make it easier for you to both understand the material better and to use the information more efficiently.

Addition of the Agile Practice Guide

Agile project management has quietly gained acceptance and widespread adoption amongst project managers.

This prompted PMI to include an entire guide to agile best practices.

The guide is broken into 5 sections. The following comes directly from PMI’s website:

  1. An Introduction to Agile – which describes the Agile Manifesto mindset, values, and principles and covers the concepts of definable and high-uncertainty work, and the correlation between lean, the Kanban Method and agile approaches.
  2. Life Cycle Selection – which introduces the various life cycles discussed in the practice guide and covers suitability filters, tailoring guidelines and common combinations of approaches.
  3. Implementing Agile: Creating an Agile Environment – which talks about critical factors to consider when creating an agile environment such as servant leadership and team composition.
  4. Implementing Agile: Delivering in an Agile Environment – which discusses how to organize a team and common practices the team can use for delivering value on a regular basis.
  5. Organizational Considerations for Project Agility – which explores organizational factors that impact the use of agile practices, such as culture, readiness, business practices and the role of a project management office (PMO).

The Agile Practice Guide is intended to give project managers an in-depth dive into the agile framework and demonstrate how it can be used to successfully complete projects faster, at a lower cost, and with less waste.

Changed Names of 2 Areas of Knowledge

Sometimes names have to be changed to accurately reflect the meaning of the names.

Such is the case with 2 major areas of knowledge:

  • Project Time Management
  • And Project Human Resource Management

“Project Time Management” was changed to “Project Schedule Management” to make it clear that PM’s don’t manage “time” they manage people’s “schedules.”

“Project Human Resource Management” was changed to “Project Resource Management” which suggests PM’s don’t just manage people, they manage equipment, supplies, materials, machines, etc.

Changed Names of 9 Processes

Old Name

New Name

Control CommunicationMonitor Communication
Control RiskMonitor Risk
Control Stakeholder EngagementMonitor Stakeholder Engagement
Perform Quality AssuranceManage Quality
Plan Human ResourcesPlan Resource Management
Plan Stakeholder ManagementPlan Stakeholder Engagement
Acquire Project TeamAcquire Resources
Develop Project TeamDevelop Team
Manage Project TeamManage Team

3 New Processes Added to PMBOK Guide 6th Edition

PMI consistently adds new processes to each edition of the PMBOK Guide.

The 3rd edition had 39 processes. The 4th had 42 processes. The 5th had 47 processes. And now the 6th edition of PMBOK has 49 processes in total (because in addition to adding 3 processes, PMI got rid of the Close Procurements process).

Here are the 3 new processes:

Manage Project Knowledge

This process was designed to facilitate a logically sound process of collecting, integrating, and converting raw data into useful knowledge for more informed decision-making.

It includes a “lessons learned register” as an output you can use to track your progress during projects and know when to change your tactics or strategies in the midst of a project.

The emphasis of this process is on continual learning throughout the project, and on capturing knowledge and information so that it can be reused and passed on without getting lost.

Control Resources

Project managers have to be able to assess actual vs. planned usage of people and any other resources.

This process separates resources into 2 categories:

  • “Team resources” which means human resources
  • “Physical resources” which means equipment, material, and supplies

Implement Risk Response

Every project carries with it certain risks that have to be weighed alongside the potential rewards.

The addition of this process will help project managers be aware of the risks they’re undertaking with each project.

“Implement Risk Response” also includes a new risk response called Escalation, which will help PM’s identify risks that fall outside the scope of the project so they can be transferred to the right person on the outside.

Expanded Role of the Project Manager

The role of the project manager is constantly changing as projects become more complex and demanding.

To keep up with the changing nature of projects and their managers, PMI included a new section on defining the ever-expanding role of the PM.

The section also addresses PMI’s “Talent Triangle” which covers the leadership, strategic, and technical skills that every modern project manager should possess (or develop).

Let’s take a look at each segment of the triangle.

Strategic and Business Management

The head of the triangle is called Strategic and Business Management.

In addition to managing the triple constraints of a project, you need to understand how it aligns with overall business goals (which equally applies to government agency goals).

Which means you’ll be expected to develop these skills:

  • Benefits management and realization
  • Business and organizational acumen
  • Business and organizational models and structures
  • Competitive analysis
  • Customer relationship and satisfaction
  • Industry knowledge and standards
  • Legal and regulatory compliance
  • Market awareness and conditions
  • Operational functions
  • Strategic planning, analysis, and alignment

Leadership Skills

The bottom right of the triangle is called Leadership Skills.

PMBOK Guide 6th Edition gives much greater emphasis on leadership skills than the 5th edition.

The leadership skills you should possess as a project manager are:

  • Brainstorming
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Conflict management
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Influencing
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Listening
  • Negotiating
  • Problem-solving
  • Team building

Technical Skills

The bottom left of the triangle is called Technical Skills.

This means you should possess the skills required in your industry along with these skills:

  • Agile practices
  • Data gathering and modeling
  • Earned value management
  • Governance
  • Lifecycle management
  • Performance management
  • Requirements management and traceability
  • Risk management
  • Schedule management
  • Scope management
  • Time, budget, and cost estimation.

Where Can You Buy PMBOK Guide 6th Edition?

By now you’re probably wondering where you can buy PMBOK Guide 6th Edition.

It’s pretty simple. Go here to buy it directly from PMI.

How Can You Download the PDF Version of PMBOK 6th Edition?

If you’re a member of the Project Management Institute you can download the PDF version of PMBOK 6th edition for free.

How Can You Prepare for the PMP Exam Using PMBOK 6th Edition?

The PMP exam was already changed on March 26, 2018 to reflect the updates in the PMBOK Guide 6th Edition.

Since PMBOK Guide 6th Edition has added 3 new processes, put greater emphasis on the dynamic role of project managers, and focuses heavily on agile and adaptive environments (Scrum, Kanban, etc.) the PMP exam will no doubt be more difficult.

Which means you’re going to need a study guide that will help you navigate these complexities with ease.

So what study guide should you use?

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