Now, it is final! PMI- Project Management Institute aims to publish PMBOK 6th edition in 2017 Q3. This is from the horse’s mouth- information on PMI website. But what is changing from the PMBOK 5th edition to PMBOK 6th edition? How will the PMBOK 6th edition change impact me? From when will PMBOK 6th edition come into force? Yes, many questions for a PMP aspirant like you. Let us dig deeper to understand what changes in PMBOK 6th edition and what does not and how and whom it will impact.

PMI announced the high level changes that will be introduced in PMBOK 6th edition recently. We will summarize the changes in PMBOK 6th edition in this article.

pmbok 6th edition

What is PMBOK?

PMBOK or A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge is the defacto standard on project management. It conforms to American National Standard Institute (ANSI) standard and is touted as the GOLD standard in project management.

Why is PMBOK important to you?

Are you aspiring to be a PMP- Project Management Professional? Then, the PMP certification exam is based on the PMBOK though you need to also be knowing concepts from other books and resources.
Even if you are not appearing for the PMP certification exam, if you are working in project management arena, you still would need to know about PMBOK.

How PMBOK helps you?

PMBOK is helpful for all project managers and aspiring project management progessionals including those preparing for PMP certification and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification.

If you are preparing for the PMP certification, your exam will be based primarly on the PMBOK. Therefore, you need to understand what the PMBOK has and hence, the changes from PMBOK 5th edition to PMBOK 6th edition is critical for you in your exam preparation.

What if am a project manager and not right now thinking of PMP certification? Should I still follow PMBOK?

PMBOK is the framework which guides project managers for successful completion of projects according to the project objectives. Therefore, PMBOK and the changes in PMBOK 6th edition are definitely important for you too! Since the PMBOK 6th edition is aligned to the current practices in project management, even if you are not planning for CAPM or PMP, it is imperative to know about PMBOK 6th edtion.

Why does the PMBOK edition change?

PMI revises the PMBOK every few years to ensure the Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge is current and meets the changing trends and practices in project management. As you are aware, PMI is run by volunteers. This change from PMBOK 5th edition to PMBOK 6th edition has been accomplished by the efforts of the volunteer base. These volunteers are practicing project managers from various industries.

PMBOK 6th Edition: When will this happen?

PMI has announced that the PMBOK 6th Edition will be out around September/October of 2017. Moreover, it is going to be released in 10 more languages this time. Therefore, check out if you have a PMBOK 6th edition that is in your native language!

Will the online version of PMBOK 6th edition be released earlier? No, both the hard copy and soft copy will be out at the same time. So, pick the PMBOK 6th edition that you are most comfortable with.

Can I get a sneak peek of PMBOK 6th Edition?

PMI released the draft version of PMBOK 6th edition in 2016. Project Management professionals across the globe could send their feedback on the changes proposed who are members of PMI. But, now it is closed for comments. Therefore, you need to wait for its launch in 3rd quarter of 2017. But, don't worry, we will give you a distilled version of what changes you can expect from the PMBOK 6th edition in this article. So, read on.

PMBOK 6th Edition: What is changing in PMBOK 6?

We will go through the changes in process groups, knowledge areas, processes, project management plan components and project documents.

PMBOK 6th edition Process Groups

There were 5 process groups in PMBOK 5: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling and Closing. These 5 process groups will remain same in PMBOK 6th edition as well. There is essentially the same framework in PMBOK 6th edition too. A few additions in the number of processes and streamlining of processes to reflect current practices has been the focus of change to PMBOK 6th edtion from the PMBOK 5th edition.

What is different in PMBOK6?

In PMBOK 6th edition, the processes are organized around the process groups. Since processes are more relevant to the process group as compared to a knowledge area, PMBOK 6th edition has organized processes by process groups. As already mentioned, PMI listens to the practitioners and hence brought about this change in PMBOK 6th edition.

Change #1: Changes in total chapters in PMBOK 6th edition

We had a total of 13 chapters in PMBOK 5th edition. Chapter 1-3 was to give you an overall picture of project managment framework and the role and skills of a project manager. It covered the concepts of project, program, portfolio and organizational structures in addition to the life cycle of project.

PMBOK 6th edition consolidates these chapters. We have a new chapter on what a project manager is supposed to do. In addition to this, the skills and competencies you should possess as a Project manager are now aligned to the PMI Talent Triangle.

What is PMI Talent Triangle?

As a contemporary project manager, it is not enough if you have technical skills. The dynamically changing project environment and the evolving trends in the industry necessitate the project manager to have additional skills. What are the skills needed?

pmbok 6th edition

Strategic & Business Management

It is not enough to manage the triple constraints of a project. You need to understand the business alignment and fitment of the project. Therefore, you need strategic & business management skills. What does it involve?

With the changes in PMBOK 6th edition, you need to understand skills that help you analyze competition, market, know the legal implications, business models, etc.

Leadership Skills

Though leadership skills were discussed in PMBOK 5, the PMBOK 6th edition gives a greater emphasis to these skills. Leadership skills include emotional intelligence, problem solving, team building and influencing which give you the needed competency to motivate your team.

Technical Skills

PMBOK 6th edition continues the need for skills with respect to the domain you are working in. In addition to this, you would need to know the performance management, earned value management, governance, life cycle management, etc. which were part of the earlier edition too.


Change #2: PMBOK 6th Edition Knowledge Areas:

There are 10 knowledge areas in PMBOK 5. These knowledge areas will still exist in PMBOK 6th edition but 2 of these knowledge areas will appear with new names as below in the table::

pmbok 6th edition


What changed in knowledge areas in PMBOK 6th edition?

As you have seen, number did not change but names of two knowledge areas changed to better align with project needs. Now, every knowledge area in PMBOK 6th edition will have 4 additional sections. These are:

  • Key concepts
  • Tailoring considerations: Earlier edition had a mention on need for tailoring but nothing specific was mentioned. PMBOK 6th editon has more detailed guidelines on these and an appendix added that discusses the tailoring considerations. Using these tailoring guidelines, you know which processes to put more focus on that depend on the size of the project you are working on and of course the scope of work!
  • What are the developments and New practices being used in project management is also discussed
  • Focus on Agile and adaptive methodology: keeping with the changing trend in various industries, PMBOK 6th edition has included what a project using agile or adaptive methodology may use

Why Name Change in PMBOK 6th Edition?

pmbok 6th edition

Human Resource Management

Human Resource management knowledge area is renamed as Resource Management knowledge area. Definitely, a logical change that was needed since many project managers have long felt this need. Why only people when we need to also manage other materials, equipment, machines, etc.?

Because, project management does not only deal with human resources but a lot of other types of resources. Physical resources (materials, equipment, licenses …etc) are also part of project management and their management is essential for success.

Often, equipment and tools are shared resources and planning their availability and managing them is a critcal aspect for successful project completion. Therefore, this Resource Management knowledge area now includes human resources and other resources too.

Time Management

Time Management knowledge area is renamed as Schedule Management knowledge area to emphasize the importance of scheduling in project management. Moreover, this now supports the Practice Standard on this published by PMI – Practice standard for Scheduling. Practice standards help you implement the concepts in the PMBOK. These practice standards detail how you can use the tools, techniques and processes given in the foundation standards. PMBOK 6th edition is a foundation standard. Therefore, it makes sense to bring the Time Management in line with the Practice Standard for scheduling.

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pmbok 6th edition


What are the changes in the processes in PMBOK 6th Edition?

There were a total of 47 processes in PMBOK 5th edition. Were processes added or removed from PMBOK 6th edition? How does it impact me for PMP or CAPM exam?
Total Number of processes increased from 47 to 49. But, there were both additions and deletions. Then, how did the final count go up?

pmbok 6th edition

Change #3: Three New Processes in PMBOK 6th Edition:

Here is the tally of the processes: There will be three new processes in PMBOK 6th edition.

pmbok6 changes

Close procurement in Procurement Knowledge area has been removed as a process and the content of this process clubbed with control procurement and close project. Close procurement dealth with closure of contracts of vendors which was generally not performed by project managers in most organiations. Hence, PMI implementing Kaizen and feedback into its processes has modified to reflect the reality.

Therefore the tally is PMBOK 5th edition 47 processes to which 3 added = 50 from which 1 removed, essentially becomes 50-1=49 in PMBOK 6th edition.

Manage Project Knowledge in PMBOK 6th edition:

This is the new process added to Integration knowledge area under execution process group and the total count in integration becomes 7. What is this process meant for in PMBOK 6th edition? Execution in Integration is where the deliverables are being created. This is where there is a need for decision making. Hence, there is a need for processing data to information to knowledge & wisdom based on which decision are taken. Keeping with the current trends, knowledge is power which will help project manager use the data crunching technologies and make informed decisions.

Implement Risk Response in PMBOK 6th Edition:

In risk management, earlier editions had planning risk response & control of risk (now monitor risk) while there was no explicit mention on implementation. Though the implementation was part of the execution process of integration, the need for explicit implementation was realized in the PMBOK 6th edition.

PMI survey also stated that many project failures are due to improper risk management. Hence, this implement risk response in execution is a needed addition in the risk management knowledge area.

Control Resources in PMBOK 6th edition

This is the new process which is for monitoring and controlling the different resources that are there in the project. This is aligned to the change in the knowledge area from Human Resources to a broader ‘Resource’ management. Hence, keeping track of the various resources and their utilization becomes imperative. Therefore, this control resources gets added to PMBOK 6th edition.

pmbok 6th edition


Change #4: Six Changes in Existing Processes in PMBOK 6th Edition:

There are slight changes in existing processes in PMBOK 6th Edition.

Estimate Activity Resources was belonging to Planning Process Group and Time Management Knowledge area. In PMBOK 6th editon, it is still belonging to Planning Process Group but now it will be part of Resource Management knowledge area.

6 processes are renamed in PMBOK 6 although their content remain same mainly. Table below shows the changes of process names from PMBOK 5 to PMBOK 6th edition.

pmbok 6th edition

The table shows the processes where there is either a name change or a new process added/moved.

pmbok 6th edition


Why have these done? If you look at the changes that have been happening in the PMBOK over the years, one major reason is to bring uniformity while another is bridging the gaps that were there. These changes to the process names in PMBOK 6th edition reflect the reality in terms of what happens there.

Control to Monitor: While the project is executed, we observe (monitor) to understand what is happening and customize the strategy to meet changing needs. This is the realignment that has been done in communication, risk and stakeholder knowledge areas for the processes in monitor and controlling process group in PMBOK 6th edition.

Quality Management: While quality assurance is one way to manage quality during execution, there are also other aspects to be taken care of. This management of quality is what the name change reflects.

Stakeholder: During the project, it is essential to understand how to involve stakeholders, their participation to ensure all the stakeholders are in consensus with the progress and results. Hence, the change to engagement in PMBOK 6th edition from management makes sense.

Comparison of processes by Knowledge Area in PMBOK 5th edition and PMBOK 6th edition:

pmbok 6th edition


Change #5: PMBOK 6th Edition Changes in Project Management Plan Components and Project Documents

  • In PMBOK 5, project management plan components (procurement management plan, stakeholder management plan … etc.) were depicted as inputs/outputs to a process. In PMBOK 6th Editon, project management plan itself will be depicted as input/output.
  • Beneath the input/output table, a list of potential project management plan components is identified. However, the components of the project management plan that will be inputs or updated depends on the needs of the project.
  • Project documents are listed as an input and project documents updates is listed as an output, as appropriate. Beneath the input/output table, there is a list of potential project documents that may be inputs, or may be updated as an output. The needs of the project will determine the actual project documents that should be inputs or updated as an output.

Change #6: Agile in PMBOK 6th Edition

Again an addition to keep up with current practices is, adding more information on the iterative and adaptive methods. Therefore, this includes the agile methodology in PMBOK 6th edition. Many projects are embracing the agile methodology to deliver their projects. Hence, PMI has updated the PMBOK 6th edition with the relevant agile practices that are needed for each knowledge area. Moreover, an appendix containing practices used in adaptive environment is a great change in PMBOK 6th edition.

Chnage #7: Other notable changes in PMBOK 6th Edition:

Escalate Response: During project execution, you may not be able to handle all the risk and the many need to be escalated to others to be addressed appropriately. You can do this in PMBOK 6th edition using ‘Escalate Response’

Scope: Though you may have seen the mention of project scope as part of the total scope, PMBOK 6th edition emphasizes the importance of both product and project scope.

Many processes are renamed from control to monitor, bringing commonality in terms of tools and techniques used for each process are a few changes.

What changes can I expect in PMP Exam with PMBOK 6th edition?

Will there be a drastic change in the PMP exam when the PMBOK 6th edition comes? To answer this, we need to understand what impacts the PMP Exam:

PMP Exam will change in two instances:

  • When PMBOK edtion gets updated: As you have seen, there are quite a few changes in PMBOK 6th edition. The names of knowledge areas, processes, etc. have changed. A few new concepts added. Therefore, the exam has to be aligned to the modified/updated content.
  • Role Delineation Study: PMI advocates and practices continuous improvement. Therefore you see the PMBOK edition changing every few years, as it has now changed to PMBOK 6 th edition.
  • Exam Content Outline: The outline upon which the PMP Exam is based depends on the Role Delineation Study. The most recent study was conducted by PMI in 2015 and hence major changes in exam content may not be expected.

Therefore, exam terms may be realigned to reflect the PMBOK 6th edition changes.

pmbok 6th edition


What about CAPM Exam?

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) is for beginners in project management. CAPM exam is more dependent on the PMBOK. While the application of project management knowledge is tested in PMP, it is more conceptual in CAPM. Therefore, you may expect greater changes in CAPM exam with updation to PMBOK 6th edition.

How does change to PMBOK 6th editon affect me?

Are you an aspiring PMP or CAPM? Then, what we have given above will apply to you.

When will the PMP Exam change?

PMP exam will be aligned with the PMBOK 6th edition. But, this change will happen only after the 1st quarter of 2018. Until then, though the PMBOK 6th edition is released, you will be allowed to write the PMP certification based on the existing pattern based on PMBOK 5th edition.

What if I am already certified?

You too need to be aware of the changes in PMBOK 6th edition. As a practising project manager, you definitely will find this very helpful to guide you in the projects.

PMP renewal

On top of that, attending an upgrade workshop on the PMBOK 6th edition changes will give you the Professional Development Units (PDUs) required for your PMP Renewal. Moreover, as part of the PMI code of ethics which you abide by, you need to appraise yourself of the latest changes and trends in the project management profession.

In a nutshell, PMBOK 6th edition has filled many gaps, made terms, processes more uniform across the knowledge areas. Therefore, expect to see the PMBOK 6th edition around Sep/Oct 2017 but exam change only in 2018.


PMP 2018
Review by: Andy
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