If you’re a project management professional or aspiring to become one, you may be familiar with the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) guide. The PMBOK guide is a recognized standard for project management practices, and it undergoes updates periodically to reflect industry trends and best practices.
In this article, we will explore the key changes and updates introduced in the PMBOK 7th Edition compared to its predecessor, the PMBOK 6th Edition.
When was the PMBOK 7th Edition released?
The PMBOK 7th Edition was released on the 1st of August in 2021. In order to give exam administrators and trainers time to integrate any changes into their curriculum, the PMP exam was not immediately changed. A window of a few months occurred between the PMP seventh edition release and exam or training changes.
By January 2022, trainers were expected to update their training materials to incorporate PMBOK changes and new exam information. Currently, training content should be based on the new PMBOK 7th Edition additions.
Why did the PMBOK® change?
Prior to the August 2021 PMBOK 7th Edition updates, the PMBOK was primarily targeted at waterfall project management methods. Due to the nature of technological advances, competition continues to grow. To meet the demands of shorter product life cycles and stricter product or project requirements, changes are made in the pursuit of progress and efficiency. The latest PMBOK edition includes the latest necessary PM practice guidance.
For example, traditional project management approaches have difficulty meeting the needs of today’s fast-paced world. Therefore, the agile project management approach burgeoned in the early 2000s. The agile framework was well-suited for the growing IT and software industry, and many organizations adopted this newer project management style. The PMBOK 7th edition includes newer approaches such as agile project management, thus offering professionals more PM options to choose from.
Of all the project management certifications in the world, the PMP is the most respected, reputable, and sought-after project management certification in the world. With roughly one million PMP-certified professionals and counting, the PMBOK sets the industry standards for PM, including PMP certification exam content.
Because of changing trends, currently accepted frameworks, and the nuances of project management, the PMBOK should reflect the newest and most useful systems applicable to the profession of project management. To remain relevant and useful, the PMBOK tends to undergo edits and changes every three to five years.
The Latest PMBOK Guide – Seventh Edition— What are the changes?
The changes within the PMBOK 7th Edition aren’t difficult to summarize, but they are significant in today’s project management atmosphere. To be concise, the PMBOK Seventh Edition changes can be reflected in one sentence:
Rather than concentrating on processes as it had in the past, the PMP seventh edition of the PMBOK is based on principles, which also makes the guide much shorter. As you know, project managers must pivot quickly and efficiently, and adapt to the needs of the industry, project, organization, and stakeholders. Whether the approach is hybrid, waterfall, predictive or agile, project managers can’t be married to one single approach.
Being adequately responsive means not favoring one approach over all others, but changing the approach to meet the needs of the project. In project management, the standards should target value delivery and successful project execution rather than the project management theory or approach.
Principle Over Process-Based Project Management
You will notice that the PMBOK 7 is principle-based rather than process-based. In the newest PMBOK, the project management standards are less focused on the process. Instead, the emphasis is placed on the principles.
PMBOK knowledge areas within previous editions of the PMBOK contained tools, techniques, inputs, outputs, and — processes. These processes are not contained in the seventh edition of the PMBOK. Instead, the current PMBOK has principles that are generally standard within the project management industry.
Despite the fact that previous PMBOKs honed in on deliverables, the PMBOK 7th edition matches today’s ever-evolving project management environment — focusing on project outcomes rather than deliverables. A solely process-based approach can be too prescriptive in the modern environment, and project management ultimately thrives in a dynamic and responsive atmosphere.
That’s not to say that a process-based approach is not applicable or useful — they are! Conventional approaches remain a tried and true concept in many organizations and can lead to successful outcomes. Many project management practitioners still utilize conventional project management approaches and see them as indispensable.
Like the current project management landscape, conventional approaches are essential in the context of PMP Seventh Edition as well. That said, projects produce outcomes in the PMBOK 7th Edition, in addition to deliverables. In the end, after all, it’s outcomes that bring value to stakeholders rather than deliverables.
Summary of PMBOK 7th Edition Changes
The following are the changes from PMBOK Sixth Edition to PMBOK Seventh Edition.
The PMBOK contains three chapters for introduction, and the PMBOK 6th Edition holds 10 knowledge areas. In contrast, the PMBOK 7th Edition notes performance domains instead of knowledge areas. There are also chapters for Tailoring, Models, Methods, and Artifacts.
The PMBOK Sixth Edition contains five project management process groups (also known as the five stages of a project lifecycle): initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling, and closing. Each stage is broken down into processes. For example, an estimate cost process is a part of the planning process group within the cost management knowledge area.
In comparison, the PMBOK 7th edition is much less process-heavy. Instead, the focus is on principle. The seventh PMBOK edition lists 12 Project Delivery Principles and a Value Delivery System. The Value Delivery System emphasizes delivering valuable outcomes, instead of deliverables.
Projects are thought of as vital parts of the Value Delivery System. These principles will guide stakeholders, Project Managers, and Team Members — serving as a way to cultivate and achieve intended outcomes, therefore delivering value to stakeholders.
Project Delivery Principles
The PMBOK 7th edition contains 12 principles. These principles describe the “what” and “why” of project delivery. Project delivery principles are not prescriptive nor are they set in stone. Instead, they outline a norm, truth, or value that binds the project team members and guides decision-making. The following 12 principles in the PMBOK 7th Edition are:
1 Stewardship: Behave as a respectful and caring steward.
2 Team: Create a culture of respect and accountability.
3 Stakeholders: Involve and engage stakeholders to get to know their needs and interests.
4 Value: Hone in on value.
5 Holistic Thinking: Develop awareness, recognize, and respond to the system’s dynamics and interactions.
6 Leadership: Coach, mentor, motivate, and learn.
7 Tailoring: Tailor and customize the delivery approach based on context and needs.
8 Quality: Incorporate and integrate quality into processes and results.
9 Complexity: Approach complexity through experience, knowledge, and learning.
10 Opportunities & Threats: Address and resolve opportunities and threats.
11 Adaptability & Resilience: Become flexible, adaptable, and resilient.
12 Change Management: Facilitate change to meet envisioned goals and missions.
PMBOK Seventh Edition’s New Platform: The Standards Plus™ Interactive Digital Content Platform
The PMBOK 7 includes an interactive digital content platform called The Standards Plus™. This platform is linked within the PMBOK 7th Edition through the Models, Methods, and Artifacts. Standards Plus offers a “How To” about current and emerging methods and practices, and also contains relevant information for project management.
PMBOK: How is it updated?
The following are the six steps utilized by PMI to update the PMBOK.
- A volunteer committee is chartered by PMI to develop, review, or update a standard.
- The volunteer committee drafts a new standard or reviews and refines an existing standard.
- Selected subject matter experts review the initial drafts of the standard, then offer their feedback to the committee.
- A revision of the draft is made and sent to the public for review and feedback. The committee may revise the standard depending on public comments. At this point, the PMBOK exposure draft is released.
- The finished standard is sent to the PMI Standards Consensus Committee for final review.
- The finished standard is submitted to the PMI Director for approval for publication prior to release.
Summary of PMBOK Seventh Edition Changes
The most significant change in the PMBOK 7th Edition is the move from a “process-based” to “principle-based” project management. Instead of the conventional processes, inputs, and outputs, the focus of project delivery is on principles and outcomes. The knowledge areas in the PMBOK have been removed. Instead, there are performance domains.
The Standards Plus, connected to the PMBOK 7th Edition, is a new digital platform that serves as a “How To” for current and future project delivery activities geared towards project practitioners. The PMBOK 7th Edition has undergone significant and useful changes for project management practitioners.
The newest PMBOK moves away from waterfall project management techniques and towards agile and holistic project delivery systems. Because of these major changes, we recommend taking Brain Sensei’s Self-Paced PMP exam prep course — they also offer live virtual instructor classes — before taking your PMP certification exam.
1. Agile Emphasis
The most significant change in the PMBOK 7th Edition is the increased emphasis on agile methodologies. Agile has gained widespread adoption in project management, and the new edition reflects this by integrating agile practices and principles throughout the guide. It introduces Agile as a separate approach and includes agile tools and techniques in various knowledge areas.
2. Tailoring and Flexibility
The PMBOK 7th Edition emphasizes the importance of tailoring project management approaches to suit the specific needs of each project. It acknowledges that one size does not fit all and encourages project managers to adapt and customize project management processes and practices based on the project’s unique characteristics and requirements.
3. Performance Domains
The new edition introduces performance domains, which replace the knowledge areas in the PMBOK 6th Edition. The performance domains align with the project management profession’s performance expectations and cover areas such as people, process, and business environment. The goal is to provide a holistic view of project management beyond the traditional knowledge areas.
4. Updated Processes
The PMBOK 7th Edition introduces new project management processes while also updating existing ones. The processes are organized into three categories: initiating, planning, and implementing, and closing. The new processes reflect the evolving needs of project management and incorporate agile and hybrid approaches.
5. Inclusion of Value Delivery
The concept of value delivery is given more prominence in the PMBOK 7th Edition. It emphasizes the importance of delivering value to stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle. The guide provides guidance on how project managers can align project outcomes with stakeholder expectations and deliver value in a changing and dynamic environment.
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The PMBOK 7th Edition brings significant changes and updates to the project management landscape. With its increased focus on agile methodologies, tailoring, and value delivery, the new edition reflects the evolving needs of the profession. As a project management professional, it is essential to stay updated with the latest industry practices and standards. Familiarize yourself with the changes in the PMBOK 7th Edition to enhance your project management knowledge and skills.
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