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Project manager at a meeting with his team.

Category: Expertise strategy

What has changed in PMBOK 7?

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a world-renowned guide that serves as the standard for project management professionals, helping them to plan, implement, monitor, and control projects. How much has it changed between iterations?

The best way to develop is by continual learning and honing your skillset, in whichever field you work. This is no less true for project managers, who operate across all industries and sectors. One of the tools used by project managers is the PMBOK.

It has become the ‘bible’ of good practice across the field, and the go-to for those studying for their Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) and Project Management Professional (PMP) exams.

Compiled by the Project Management Institute (PMI), PMBOK is regularly updated to accommodate new trends, best practices, and developments in the field. In 2021, the PMI released its latest – seventh – edition (PMBOK 7), marking major moves away from the content, structure, and approach of its predecessors.

 

What is different about PMBOK 7?

So, how much has changed in project management in the three short years between editions?

Project manager at a meeting with his team.

In short, a lot. Instead of a focus on processes, PMBOK 7 is more concerned with performance, and is designed to be more adaptable, flexible, and relevant to different types of projects and industries.

Where PMBOK 6 had covered the project environment, the role of the project manager, and the ten essential ‘knowledge areas’ within project management, PMBOK 7 is based on three foundational principles; value delivery, tailoring, and the three dimensions of project management – the process, people, and business environment.

 

Performance over knowledge

"Knowledge is power" is a well-known saying often attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, but the essence of PMBOK 7's philosophy could appropriately be summarized as "Performance empowers." By prioritising project success over mere delivery, the ten 'knowledge areas' featured in PMBOK 6 - Integration, Scope, Schedule, Cost, Quality, Resource, Communications, Risk, Procurement, and Stakeholder - have undergone a complete transformation.


 

Instead of a focus on processes, PMBOK 7 is more concerned with performance, and is designed to be more adaptable, flexible, and relevant to different types of projects and industries.

 


Instead, PMBOK 7’s eight ‘performance domains’ – Stakeholders, Life Cycle, Planning, Uncertainty and Ambiguity, Delivery, Performance, and Project Work – focus on determining the value that a project delivers. You can see how it is preferable to plan a project, whilst also determining what will denote its success and how to measure this.

What’s more, a new section ties a range of resources, such as articles, videos and templates, to each of the performance domains, for added value to aspiring and working project managers.

 

Tailoring and standards that provide value

Tailoring marks another significant shift in the positioning of PMBOK 7, based on the idea that project managers need to be flexible in their strategy. As the famous author John C. Maxwell once said, "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way." Similarly, project managers must be agile and adaptive, adjusting their approach to lead projects effectively. Instead of being bound rigidly to a predefined plan, project tailoring empowers managers to modify and refine project parameters, ensuring successful outcomes that align with evolving demands and project requirements.

Two content team members

PMBOK 7 also moves away from the ‘standard’ processes that project managers needed to apply to deliver a successful project. The five comprehensive domains listed in PMBOK 6 – initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing – have been dropped, and replaced by 12 new standards that match the performance mantra, pivoting from processes to project delivery principles. Tailoring is one of these, as is value; PMBOK 7 integrates projects and operations, where PMBOK 6 had considered them separate, to ensure the project delivers maximum value.

So, it’s out with the old and in with the new; the addition of tailoring ensures project managers stay agile, and the new standards offer guidance for achieving results. All in all, PMBOK 7 represents a significant shift away from the process-driven focus of its predecessors, instead bringing performance to the fore.


 

  PMBOK 7 integrates projects and operations, where PMBOK 6 had considered them separate, to ensure the project delivers maximum value.

 


emagine Ireland is an authorised training partner of the PMI, and continues to provide the most up-to-date training to professionals seeking to stay current with the latest project management practices.

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