Summary of proposed changes to The PMBOK Guide, 6th edition

The Project Management Institute (PMI) has just released the exposure draft of The PMBOK® Guide 6th edition for review and comment. I will try to summarize the major changes. I won’t go into the level of detail around specific tools and techniques but instead focus on proposed changes to knowledge areas and processes.

Overall there have been some great updates to The PMBOK® Guide as proposed in the exposure draft of the 6th edition. You can see the body of knowledge maturing in terms of content and consistency, and also greater alignment with ISO21500 and other ISO standards.

Working our way through the exposure draft, which is only the first three chapters, we can see the following proposed changes:

The first chapter has all the usual useful foundational information but it is augmented by more detailed explanation about the following topics:

  • Organizational governance and project governance
  • Project success and benefits realization
  • Project stakeholders
  • Role of the project manager
  • The importance of tailoring
  • The development of an appropriate project management plan
  • Greater focus on Agile and other iterative processes
  • Alignment of the capabilities of the project manager with the PMI talent triangle

There are still 10 knowledge areas but instead of 47 processes there are now 49 processes – two have been removed and their work assimilated into other processes (Estimate Activity Resources and Close Procurements) and 4 added (Manage Project Knowledge, Control Resources, Implement Risk Responses, & Estimate Activity Resources).

The current six processes in the Integration Management Knowledge area are joined by an extra executing process called Manage Project Knowledge.

There are no proposed changes to the process names in the Scope Management knowledge area.

The Time Management knowledge area sees the removal of the Estimate Activity Resources process, and it is shifted to the Resource Management knowledge area which makes sense given the broader focus of this knowledge area beyond just human resources [thanks to Mounir Ajam for spotting an error here which I have corrected].

There are no proposed changes to the Cost Management knowledge process names.

There are still three process in the Quality Management knowledge area but the executing process called Perform Quality Assurance is now Manage Quality.

The Human Resource Management knowledge area becomes the Resource Management knowledge area which is greater alignment to ISO21500. The definition of resources is now the people, equipment, materials and supplies needed to perform project work. There are now two planning processes:

  • Plan Resource Management
  • Estimate Activity Resources (previously part of the Time Management knowledge area)

The three executing processes are now called

  1. Acquire Resources
  2. Develop Team
  3. Manage Team

And finally, there is a monitoring and controlling process called Control Resources which has been one of the glaring and poorly explained inconsistencies in the PMBOK® Guide to date since version 2.

There are still three process in the Communications Management knowledge area but the Control Communications process is now called Monitor Communications. Which brings up a point that there is no clear reason given why some monitoring and controlling processes start with the Control, and some start with Manage. The final version needs to explain the distinction.

The Risk Management knowledge area gains an executing process called Implement Risk Responses which makes perfect sense and recognizes this work. The monitoring and control processes called Control Risks is now called Monitor Risks – see the point in the previous paragraph about this.

The Procurement Management knowledge area loses a process with the Close Procurements process being assimilated into the Control Procurements process which makes sense because in its current form as one of only two closing processes it gives the impression that contractual closure happens at the end of the project lifecycle when it occurs all throughout the project lifecycle.

The Stakeholder Management knowledge area retains its four processes with the Control Stakeholder Engagement process being renamed Manage Stakeholder Engagement.

So overall, there are some great improvements proposed and at the time of writing this blog it is expected that the 6th edition will be released in the 3rd quarter of 2017.