A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) 7th Edition

The basics

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) is a guide providing a comprehensive set of knowledge, concepts, techniques and skills for the project management profession.

Summary

The PMBOK® Guide is a publication from the Project Management Institute (PMI), an entity that is globally recognized as governing the project management discipline. The PMI was founded in 1969 in the US and has become one of the principal professional non-profit organizations in the specialism. The first edition of the guide was published in 1996; the latest English-language PMBOK® Guide – 7th Edition, was released in August 2021.

 

Whereas the PMBOK® Guide 6th edition is process-based, the 7th edition is principle-based. As a result, the 756 pages of the PMBOK® Guide 6th edition has been slimmed down to 274 pages for the 7th edition. The 6th edition is grounded in technical processes, inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs for the project manager, the PMBOK® Guide 7th edition is driven by skills and resources for the team to deliver value-based outcomes. The most significant difference between the PMBOK® Guide 7th and 6th editions is the shift of focus from very technically driven processes and tools to more over-arching principles anyone involved with project management work can use to be successful. This approach is consistent with other management standards such as ISO 21500 for Project management, ISO/IEC 9001:2008 the international norm for quality standards, and the Software Engineering Institute’s CMMI.

In short, the PMBOK® Guide 6th edition was designed by the PMI to be project manager and process-focused, while the new 7th edition is project team and outcome-focused. As a result, the five process groups have been replaced by twelve Project Delivery Principles: Stewardship, Team, Stakeholders, Value, Holistic Thinking, Quality, Complexity, Leadership, Tailoring, Opportunities & Threats, Adaptability & Resilience, Change management.

The ten knowledge areas of the PMBOK® Guide 6th edition have been replaced by a set of eight performance domains in the PMBOK® Guide 7th edition. The PMI defines a domain as “groups of related activities that are critical for the effective

delivery of project outcomes.” These performance domains are: Team, Stakeholders, Life cycle, Planning, Navigating Uncertainty and Ambiguity, Delivery, Performance, Project Work.

Target audience

Although the publication typically targets (senior) project managers, the principles described involve all roles with an interest in project management, such as senior executives, programme and project managers, project team members, members of a project office, customers and other stakeholders, consultants and other specialists. As an introduction, an easy accessible pocket publication is also available, aimed at a broader audience involved in projects.

Scope and constraints

PMBOK® Guide is a generic approach that can be applied to any project.

Strengths

•   Extensive participation by different industry sectors and organi- zations that are using project management all over the world

•   Recognized as a ‘world class’ standard in the profession and, because of that, used as the book of reference for many other project management standards and methods

•   Generic; it can be applied to any project

•   Fully aligned to the latest global project management standard, ISO 21500

•   Evolution and continuous improvement (every four years) in line with modern concepts of quality

•   Certification programmes (PMP and CAPM) associated and guaranteed deployment of accreditation skills from all over the world.

•  Fully aligned with the broader concept of project, programme and portfolio management (PMI provides additional standards for this)

 

Constraints

•   It is essential that the PMBOK® Guide’s pivot from a process focus to a value delivery focus is reflective of the global shift in project management itself.