What does the seventh edition of the PMBOK® mean for project managers?

23 July

The latest edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) can be broadly described as a transition from a process-based perspective to a principle-based approach. This shift reflects a recognition that there are multiple ways to successfully manage projects, with no single method or technique preferred over any other. PMBOK® 7 is the Project Management Institutes (PMI) first comprehensive interpretation of agile and adaptive methods and principles.

The PMBOK® 7 document structure departs from the former prescriptive or “how” direction and defines an agile-like PMI “manifesto” of principles dealing with “what” and “why”. While the historical input/output process and compliance models do not disappear entirely, the emphasis is shifted to Project Performance Domains, which focus on overall outcomes. 
To reflect this change, the book is divided into two sections. The first is the “Standard for Project Management”, which is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved prescriptive content. And the second is “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)”, containing the “new” principle-based framework for applying the standard.

To accommodate this new direction, there was a concerted effort to make the PMBOK® 7 content applicable to any project, not just most projects, most of the time as previous PMBOK® versions disclaimed. This change offers helpful information that can be used in all manner of initiative management environments and contexts regardless of the business sector, geography or development approach. In addition, the audience has been expanded to include not just project managers but key roles within projects like sponsors and product owners. And a separate “tailoring” section has been added to provide specific guidance for customising various delivery and governance methods to a project’s unique characteristics.

Practically speaking, if you are currently certified as a PMI project professional, PMBOK® 7 has zero impact on your credential or ability to earn PDUs. For professionals who are pursuing their PMP or other PMI certifications, PMBOK® 6 still contains most of the material you will need to know come exam time. But studying or receiving training on the Agile and hybrid content in PMBOK 7 is highly recommended as more and more of this material makes its way into the credentialing exams.


Posted by Cris Casey.

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