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Watch Out For The Emerging Breakthrough To The New PMBOK Guide

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PMBOK Guide is one of the most important resources you need when preparing for the PMP exam. This is the backbone of the PMP certification and most training providers prepare their study materials based on this resource. 

The practice of project management continuously evolves. Techniques, processes and tools must be updated to keep the practitioners in the loop. Every few years, the Project Management Institute (PMI) updates the PMBOK Guide. And project managers expect that the seventh edition will not be released until 2021.

But just this January 2020, PMI announced the PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition draft so the project management community can review it. The changes aren’t final yet, but this draft can help you streamline what you need to adjust especially if you’re planning to take the PMP exam soon.

What is the PMBOK Guide?

The PMBOK Guide is a manual that identifies the features of the project management process. This is widely recognized as one of the most influential documents in the project management industry.

Also, this is one of the resources you should master if you’re planning to take the PMP exam. This will give you enough knowledge about how project management works, and what skills you need to develop to become an effective project manager.

Developments and changes are inevitable in the project management industry. And with the advent of big industry, technology, commerce and major infrastructures, PMI developed the PMBOK Guide as a consolidated methodology on how the project management lifecycle works.

The PMBOK Guide reflects all the project management knowledge and skills important for a project manager. It’s a collection of standards, best practices, and procedures in planning and executing a project successfully.

Why is the PMBOK Guide Changing?

As the backbone of the PMP exam, the PMBOK Guide must remain relevant to the latest project management dynamics and frameworks. To make sure the PMBOK Guide is relevant, it must reflect a flexible approach and assist the practitioners in managing a project.

All the previous PMBOK editions focus on waterfall project management techniques.

When Will the Changes Take Effect?

Usually, the PMBOK Guide is updated every four years. So, project managers didn’t expect the latest version to be released soon. But according to PMI, the PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition is expected to be released in the fourth quarter of 2020.

However, it is also possible that PMI releases it in 2021 instead since there have been delays in PMI’s releases this year including the postponement of the PMP exam content outline changes until July 2020.

If you’re planning to take the PMP exam soon, keep an eye out for any announcements from PMI regarding the release of the latest PMBOK Guide. This is to make sure you’re on the right track in your exam preparation.

Changes to the PMBOK Guide

The PMBOK Guide discusses what works in project management and what doesn’t. It contains all the methods within the project management community so this can massively help you understand how the cycle works.

The PMBOK Guide contains two resources–the standard for project management and a guide to the project management body of knowledge. As PMI releases the new PMBOK Guide, these two resources will remain intact, but the content changes.

The seventh edition of the PMBOK Guide will focus on principles rather than processes and it will be shorter compared to the previous edition. 

Project management professionals will have the right to choose which approach is suitable for a project–this might be either predictive, agile, adaptive or hybrid approach.

The PMBOK Guide, 6th Edition, 2017

All the previous PMBOK Guides used a process-based standard. This means that the primary and fundamental building blocks were processes, along with their inputs and outputs to create an effective network for every project.

The PMBOK Guide Sixth Edition is based on business processes that can be documented. It’s also prescriptive in nature, and assesses performance against the processes.

The Standard for Project Management

The standard for project management in this current PMBOK Guide reflects through the five domains you can also see in the current PMP exam content outline:

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and Controlling
  • Closing

The PMBOK Guide Sixth Edition also focuses on deliverables. This is also longer compared to the new edition. Project managers opted for a process-based standard for a long time, and it greatly helped them to outline the project manager roles and how the project management lifecycle really works.

However, the difficulty in this approach is that the processes can be either high level, meaning it’s more abstract and practical, or detailed which means they are more dependent on the type of project, making it inapplicable to all.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge

The current PMBOK Guide also consists three chapters of introduction and 10 knowledge areas namely:

  • Integration Management
  • Scope
  • Schedule
  • Cost
  • Quality
  • Resources
  • Communications
  • Risks
  • Procurement
  • Stakeholders

For each knowledge area, there are processes belonging to the five stages of the project life cycle mentioned above.

The PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition

The updated PMBOK Guide PMI plans to release by the end of 2020 solves the difficulty in the process-based standard mentioned above.

Instead of just explaining the processes and activities needed for a certain project, the principle-based standard can describe the most effective way to carry out these activities.

The PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition is now principle-based rather than process-based and shorter than the current edition. This means that project managers must apply a different approach when delivering a project depending on the project characteristics, industry, and stakeholders and organizational requirements.

This will allow project managers to be more flexible and innovative with their approach.

The Standard for Project Management

Instead of using the five project management domains, PMI also updated the PMBOK Guide’s standard for project management and used project delivery principles.

There will be 12 governing principles in the new standard summarizing the accepted actions and behaviors in the project management practices. These principles define the “what” and “why” of a project delivery. They’re not prescriptive–they describe the fundamental truth, norm and value. This principles are:

  • Stewardship – Be a diligent, respectful and caring steward.
  • Team – Build a culture of accountability and respect.
  • Stakeholders – Engage stakeholders to understand their concerns and needs.
  • Value – Focus on value.
  • Holistic Thinking – Recognize and respond to team interactions.
  • Leadership – Motivate, influence, coach and learn.
  • Tailoring – Tailor the delivery approach to the context of each project.
  • Quality – Build quality into processes.
  • Complexity – Acknowledge complexity through knowledge, experience and learning.
  • Opportunities and Threats – Acknowledge opportunities and threats.
  • Adaptability and Resilience – Be adaptable and resilient.
  • Change Management – Allow change to achieve the future goals.

This will help project managers to work and remain aligned with the principles. The updated PMBOK Guide focuses on outcomes rather than deliverables.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge

Also, the knowledge areas in the previous and current PMBOK editions including its processes, inputs, techniques, tools and outputs will no longer be present in the PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition.

Along with the shift from process-based to principle-based standard, the PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition uses performance domains rather than knowledge areas. These performance domains are:

  • Team
  • Stakeholders
  • Lifecycle
  • Planning
  • Navigating Uncertainty and Ambiguity
  • Delivery
  • Performance
  • Project Work

The need to tailor the approach used to manage each project to their specific characteristics is the highlight of these changes. According to PMI, project managers should not follow the same approach for all projects since they are all different in nature.

Value Delivery System

Aside from the 12 project delivery principles, PMI also added a value delivery system to the PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition. This will focus on delivering valuable outcomes rather than deliverables.

The project is the main component of the value delivery system, and the principles will serve as the guide for project managers, team members and stakeholders in achieving the desired outcome for each project.

Based in this system, the project team uses strategies and objectives for the project. Once the project is delivered successfully, organizations must earn the expected business value as well. From there, the organization can derive new strategies and even work on improvements if needed before initiating another project.

How will you benefit from these changes?

The PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition will massively affect the way people do project management. PMI’s main goal in updating the PMBOK Guide is to make the job easier by giving project management professionals and practitioners greater flexibility to be more proactive and innovative.

The new format reflecting the principles of the project management practices instead of processes reflects the current needs of project management practitioners. This will also remain relevant as you discover more ways to identify the right approach for each project and meet the expected outcomes.

This updated version of the PMBOK Guide gives you  easier access and more options for providing feedback. It’s also more beneficial for project managers since it allows different approaches to manage every project.

Keep in mind that these changes are expected to take effect by the end of 2020. If you plan to take the PMP exam soon, keep an eye out for any announcement from PMI so you’re updated with any changes regarding its release. 

Also, it’s important to make sure your training provider knows about this and will adjust your training materials accordingly to keep you on track to success with your certification.

How does the new PMBOK Guide affect the new ECO?

The structural changes in the new PMP exam content outline shifts from five domains down to three: people, process and business environment. This means that the questions will be categorized on the test in a different way.

This outline will take effect on January 2, 2021. So you probably need to incorporate the updated version of the PMBOK Guide if you’re planning to take the new exam content outline next year.

The most notable change in the new ECO is the involvement of agile and predictive approaches. This specifies that the exam will be 50% agile and 50% predictive.

As PMI releases the PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition draft, they also revealed that this edition will be more adaptable and flexible to other project management approaches. This means that the new PMBOK Guide is aligned and tailored to the new ECO since it covers the agile project management approach as well.

Summary of the PMBOK Guide changes

We’ve gone through the details of the PMBOK Guide changes and how it will affect the project management practices. It’s not final yet until its publication by the end of 2020, but it’s important to keep these changes in mind so you know as early as today how you can adjust whether you plan to take the PMP exam this 2020, or early next year.

Here’s a quick recap of what you should expect in the PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition:

  • The biggest change in the PMBOK Guide is the shift from process-based standard to principle-based standard.
  • Project delivery focuses on principles and outcomes instead on processes, input, tools, outputs and techniques.
  • PMI also added a value delivery system to the PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition that will focus on delivering valuable outcomes rather than deliverables.
  • Knowledge areas will no longer be present in the PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition.
  • PMI is planning to release the new PMBOK Guide in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition is not final yet, and it still needs a lot of work before it’s ready for publication this year. But project management professionals and practitioners are looking forward to this new direction.

The biggest change of the PMBOK Guide is the shift from a process based standard to a principle based standard. And since PMI has just released the draft of this new PMBOK Guide, training providers must adjust their study materials to match the new paradigm.

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