PMBOK 7th Edition. What’s new

In case you’ve missed it, PMI recently released the PMBOK 7th Edition as well as an update to the Project Management Standards. A lot of people have been asking me for a summary of the core differences/ changes between the two editions, and I wanted to put everything in one Blog Post.

How do I get access to the 7th Edition?

If you are a PMI Member you can download it for free. Click here to get your copy (you’ll need to login and there will be a secure PDF Download). PMI did a really smart Change Management with the publishing of this new guide, by delivering a lot of different webinars around the subject. A good one on the topic is: Getting under the hood.

What’s new?

  • It’s shorter! The PMBOK 6th Edition was a mighty 978 pages (Including the Agile Practice guide which was 186 pages). whereas the PMBOK 7th Edition is a very slim 370 pages.
  • There is an updated Project Management Standard.
  • There is a change and focus on the principle concepts used in Project Management today and not just process based project management.
  • The 7th Edition is changing towards a systems view of Project Management. So instead of having “Knowledge areas” like Stakeholder Management, Communication Management etc. this becomes 8 core project “performance domains”. PMI defines a Performance domain as a “group of related activities that are critical for the effective delivery of project outcomes”.
    • In theory, by having performance domains rather than knowledge areas, these principles can be applied to any methodology
    • The Performance domains include: Stewardship, Team, Stakeholders, Value, Systems thinking, Leadership, Tailoring, Quality, Complexity, Risk, Adaptability and Resilience and Change.
    • All of these performance domains are explained in detail in the PMBOK but the adapted cahn
  • The changing emphasis from Knowledge Areas to Performance Domains is something that you’ll need to get used to! It does make a difference for how you’ll approach your use of the guide.
PMBOK Front Cover. Copyright: Project Management Institute

How does PMI decide what goes in/ out?

It’s not an easy, quick or simple process. There are countless online surveys, discussions with SMEs, interactive workshops with Project Management Professionals across the globe and then plenty of peer reviews. I have been involved in the reviewing of the Project Management standards as part of my Volunteer role within the Standards Consensus Committee. Within the group, we have critically analysed the changes, different versions and had lots of critical questions to both the authors and PMI. One of the biggest changes that I have seen in the development of the standards as well as the PMBOK itself has been the user centric attitude that PMI has taken. In addition, they have really tried to look at how the industry is changing and tried to make a guide that is relevant for the Project Management industry that exists now and in future.

What does this mean for the PMP Exam?

The PMP Exam and the PMBOK are different. Dani Ritter explains it really well in this webinar for the differences betwee the two and why you need to be looking at more than just the PMBOK for the exam. It is likely that the changes to the PMP Exam will not be changing until early 2022, but this is not confirmed as of writing this blog post.

What do I think?

I think it’s quite a refreshing change! I always found the PMBOK to be a “doorstop” of a book and it was extremely comprehensive for everything related to Project Management but I found it too much to be really digestable for the Project Management audience. I think that it is definitely a bold new approach to move to the Performance Domains and I will definitely be reviewing this in more detail to see how I can become a better Project Manager with this new guide. I am really happy that they have taken the time to include the domains around: Stewardship and Adaptability and Resilience as I think that this is a really important topic for Project Managers and leaders. I think that this PMBOK, is the PMBOK needed for 2021.

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