The 5th Edition of the PMBOK Guide

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If you are a project manager or if your work involves project management tasks, this is the book for you. The Project Management Institute (PMI) has recently released its fifth edition of its ever-popular “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge” or PMBOK Guide. While I recognize that not every project manager loves this book or uses it to its fullest, I still believe that the knowledge and skills provided in this book will make anyone a better project manager. I’ve been studying, using, and teaching from the PMBOK Guide since its third edition, and I am happy to report that the fifth edition has included some great improvements over the fourth edition. While it’s impossible to list all of them here, I thought I would provide you with my top four major improvements.

First, PMI has increased the number of processes from 42 to 47. Five new processes have been added to the previous 42, and 13 of the existing 42 have been renamed, changed, moved, or modified in some way. Four of the new processes primarily relate to planning: Plan Scope Management, Plan Schedule Management, Plan Cost Management, and Plan Stakeholder Management. These were added to ensure consistency with the processes that contribute to the creation of the overall Project Management Plan. The fifth new process is Control Stakeholder Engagement. This was added as part of a new knowledge area, which I will discuss in a moment. The other 13 modifications are almost all related to ensuring consistency with naming conventions (especially within the Monitoring and Controlling process group).

Second, PMI has added a brand new knowledge area, Project Stakeholder Management. Rest assured that PMI has kept the same 5 process groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing. The fifth edition has also kept the previous nine knowledge areas: Project Integration Management, Project Scope Management, Project Time Management, Project Cost Management, Project Quality Management, Project Human Resource Management, Project Communications Management, Project Risk Management, and Project Procurement Management. The new knowledge area, Project Stakeholder Management, brings the knowledge area count to ten. This new knowledge area is the result of splitting out some of the previous Project Communications Management knowledge area into its own knowledge area. Additionally, this new knowledge area reflects PMI’s belief that stakeholder management is a vital aspect of successful project management. There are four processes in the Project Stakeholder Management knowledge area: Identify Stakeholders (in the Initiating Process Group and previously part of Project Communications Management), Plan Stakeholder Management (a new process in the Planning Process Group), Manage Stakeholder Engagement (in the Executing Process Group and previously part of Project Communications Management as the Manage Stakeholder Expectations process), and Control Stakeholder Engagement (a new process in the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group).

Third, PMI has greatly improved its consistency in the use of Work Performance Data, Work Performance Information, and Work Performance Reports. These three inputs and outputs have been consistently named throughout the entire PMBOK Guide to align with the Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom (DIKW) model that is used in other Knowledge Management fields. The confusion among these terms has always been a sore spot in my courses, and I have had to spend quite a bit of time explaining how they relate–and how they differ. The changes made to the fifth edition of the PMBOK Guide should greatly reduce this confusion.

Fourth, PMI continues to strive to be relevant in agile project management. While I have never personally seen the challenge of integrating the PMBOK Guide’s framework into an agile environment, many people believe that the framework in the PMBOK Guide is just too burdensome for agile. While PMI has not reduced the rigor of the PMBOK Guide, there are now more references to how the framework can be tailored in an agile environment. Although not part of the PMBOK Guide, PMI has also recently introduced an agile project management certification, which signifies its belief in the growth of agile project management.

Overall, I am very happy with this new edition. Surely, there are many more changes than what I could possibly list here. Nevertheless, I believe that these four improvements should give you a sense of what the new edition has to offer. I would highly recommend it to anyone in the field of project management.

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About Author

Scott Fabel is a senior corporate training consultant with Computer Aid, Inc. He has over 18 years of experience working with various Fortune 1000 companies on Help Desk Implementations, Microsoft Technologies, Business Analysis, and Project Management. This includes both consultative services and customized training programs. He is HDI certified, PMP certified, CBAP certified, and a MCT. Scott has been teaching others business skills, professional skills, and technical skills for more than 13 years. He is a faculty fellow at the University of Delaware and is currently pursuing his doctorate in education for which his dissertation will focus on the benefits of corporate training and mobile learning. He speaks three languages and was recently inducted into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame. His communication skills, combined with his martial art skills, provide him with a unique combination for keeping his sessions informative, lively, and interactive.

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