PMBOK 6th Edition Is Coming! Your Comprehensive Guide to Pass PMP Exam With PMBOK-5 OR PMBOK-6

pmbok 6th edition While a lot has been written so far about PMBOK 6th edition, and NOW is the time you really should be bothering about it if you are planning for PMP exam in 2017 and beyond.

PMBOK 6th edition guide will be unveiled in little over a month from now, and PMP exam based on PMBOK-6 is just a couple of quarters away. You need to decide whether you want to rush in and take your PMP certification exam before the new exam kicks in. Or not.

This article helps you decide just that.


  • PMP® will be updated on 26 March 2018 to reflect new content in PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition.
  • PMI-ACP® will be updated 26 March to reflect new content in the Agile Practice Guide.
  • CAPM® exam will be available as a pilot from 12 March – 20 May. The new exam will launch on 21 May.

Here’s a strategy guide to help you pass PMP exam before the new PMP exam kicks in.

Here’s what you can expect in this 2-part series –

  • Understand why PMBOK is changing, what is wrong with PMBOK-5?
  • What exactly are the changes being introduced in PMBOK-6? New Process Groups, new Knowledge Areas, new processes?
  • When will PMBOK-6 based PMP exam come into play?
  • A mini-guide to help you decide whether you want to aim for PMBOK-5 based PMP exam or wait till PMBOK-6 based exam comes into play
  • If you wish to get your PMBOK-5 based PMP certification now, I give you the plan to do it in next 6 weeks or so and tips to avoid last minute rush at Prometric test center!
  • And if you decide to wait for PMBOK-6 based exam, I’ll share how to go about it.

Phew, that’s quite a mouthful.

But then I intend to make this guide the only source you’ll need this point onwards to get your PMP. So there is a lot of research that has gone into making this guide, and you can even download a PDF version of this guide at the end of this series.

There is lot of confusion in the minds of PMP aspirants with regards to PMBOK-6 based PMP exam and I am looking to get this guide to as many of them as possible. Help me in this please. Please take a second and share this article using one of the social buttons on the left side bar. Thank you!

With that said, grab your favorite drink (I got my hot cuppa hot Coffee!). Let us dive straight in.


Right, that’s a beautiful question, isn’t it. Why do we need a 6th edition of PMBOK guide, what is wrong with 5th edition?

Cyndi Dionisio

Cyndi Dionisio, PMBOK-6 Chair

As Cyndi Dionisio, who is responsible for bringing out PMBOK-6th edition, explains to Cornelius Fichtner in this podcast episode, American National Standard Institute (ANSI) mandates that you look at updating a standard every 4-5 years (PMBOK-5 came in 2012).

That is only part of the reason.

The real need is that project management has been growing at a much faster pace in recent times than earlier, and it is imperative that you look at existing best practices and make it part of the project management standards – and make it available for project managers across the globe.

For instance, Agile has caught up in a big way and more and more projects – even legacy or long term projects – are running smaller parts of it in an Agile way for the obvious advantages, and with great success.

And practices such as these need to be made available to all in the PM community.

Unlike earlier, PMBOK-6 will be released in English as well as 10 other languages at the same time.

Update: PMI announced the date of commencement of PMBOK-6 based PMP exam!

Where Does the Change Come From?

You probably know that PMBOK guide has a parent. A single parent, if you may say so 🙂 – The PMP Exam Content Outline document. This is the syllabus you should base your preparation for PMP exam on.

Here’s PMI’s Exam Content Outline document, latest at the time of writing this article (June 2015 version).

The last change to PMP exam was in January 2016, at which point of time there was no update to PMBOK guide. The only changes were to the Exam Content Outline document. You can imagine the plight students went through to find the updated content to study from. The only place it came from, officially, was a course or book from a REP (PMI certified Registered Education Providers).

The PMP Exam Content Outline document defines the syllabus in terms of tasks. It defines a bunch of tasks under each of the 5 Process Groups (termed as ‘Performance Domains’). In addition, it also defines the percentage of questions that appear from each of these domains, and the total number of pretest and actual questions on the exam.

Do you still wonder from where on earth does PMI bring about these changes in Exam Content Outline? It is quite fascinating..

PMI runs a market study called RDS – Role Delineation Study. This research studies the role of project manager closely across different industries across the world.

Also Read: 17 PMP Myths You Must Understand To Increase Your Odds of Passing the PMP Exam

What does Role Delineation Study do?

PMI conducts RDS on a regular basis. It actually is done by an independent agency called ‘Professional Examination Services’.

PES surveys Project Management Professionals across various industries to validate real-life updates to tasks, knowledge and skillset put to use while managing real projects.

If there are significant changes found in this research study, then PMI decides to make changes to the Examination Content Outline.

So we have the understanding of the reason – PMI wants to update PMP syllabus to reflect the skills and knowledge used to manage real projects in the industry.

This in turn keeps PMPs updated with the latest project management practices, so they can make use of the best practices out there and implement in their own projects getting more certain and easier results.

This increases the value of PMPs and their capacity to contribute in the industry, and increases their need.

Figure: How real life project management practices make way into PMP syllabus

What is Changing in PMBOK 6th Edition?

Before we get into specifics, here’s the PMI’s official video explaining high level changes introduced in PMBOK-6 –

It is important to understand this to decide whether you want to get your PMP based on currently PMBOK-5 or the upcoming 6th edition.

For one, PMBOK-6 allows you to take the approach to managing your project. This, I think, is a very critical aspect of project management that PMBOK tries to address, which will make a huge difference to every project that follows PMBOK guidelines.

It’s called tailoring.

According to Cyndi Dionisio, at the beginning of each Knowledge Area you get to ask few fundamental questions as that KA is applicable to your project in a subjection titled ‘tailoring’. Based on your project environment (adaptive or predictive) and organization type (matrix vs projectized, for instance) and maturity of requirements at that point in time some of your Inputs, Tools & Techniques and Outputs (ITTOs) will change.

Each Knowledge Area begins with four sections that help you decide what PMBOK as a guide brings to table as far as your unique project is concerned –

  • Key Concepts
  • Trends and Emerging Practices
  • Tailoring Considerations
  • Considerations for Agile/Adaptive Environments

If this is a bit confusing for you right now, don’t worry – just know that PMBOK-6 helps you make few critical and useful choices at the beginning of the project which helps you manage your unique project better. You get to choose which processes in each of Knowledge Areas you will need for your project and so on. Which, was kind of suggested in earlier version of PMBOK as well, but in 6th edition it actually helps you make that choice actively.

Which itself can save many a projects. Hopefully that’s not an overstatement. 🙂

“People think that PMBOK Guide is the bible of Project Management and it’s not, it’s a guide, guide, guide, guide, guide.”Cyndi Snyder Dionisio, PMBK-6 Chair

That being said, there are… (drum roll)

…no new Process Groups, and

…no new Knowledge Areas.

Did that come across as a relief for you? 🙂

3 new processes introduced. One process is deleted. We’ll see them in a bit.

But they only make it more logical and sensible. So relax. It’s not bad after all.

Cyndi Dionisio says that Chapter 1, 2, and 3 (termed as ‘front end’) is totally redone. I can’t wait to get my hands on PMBOK-6, which by the way is going to be released on 6th September, 2017. You can get a free softcopy by being a PMI member.

The chapter-3 is more about the Role of the Project Manager, which is now aligned with the Talent Triangle that PMI introduced in the CCRS section last year. You can find more details about PMI’s Talent Triangle, here.

ITTO bundling

One of the goals for any Standards is always simplification, and on this front PMBOK-6 has an approach of bundling ITTOs. What this means is simply that there are a bunch of suggested techniques that you can follow to do a type certain work, such as Data gathering, Data analysis, Data representation, communication skills and so on.

These are not new, they are same as given in PMBOK-5 – just naturally bundled together. So for instance, if you have to do Data analysis for your project, you look at the bundle of techniques suggested by PMBOK for data analysis and pick and choose what you want to use for your project.

Yes, that does simplify it a lot.

Changes to processes

Let us look at what has changed in each of 10 Knowledge Areas.

Project Integration Management –

  • Manage Project Knowledge is the new process introduced in Executing process group.

Lessons Learned Register is an important part of ITTOs, which emphasizes on continuous learning and using it as a feedback as project progresses. Something similar to ‘Retrospective meetings’ in Agile terminology.

Project managers are not the authority to close the contract. They can support closure, but are not solely responsible for closing contracts. Did you know that? Such differentiation is drawn out clearly in PMBOK-6. I see it already makes a project manager’s life easier. 🙂

Project Scope Management –

Changes to this KA stress the fact that while Project management and Business analysis are two different entities, they need to coexist and feed on each other and work together.

Project Schedule Management –

Wait, did you say Schedule management?

Yes, Project Time Management is not rechristened to Project Schedule Manaagement.

You create, manage and maintain a schedule under Schedule management, rather than Time management. Sort of intuitive, isn’t it?

In Cornelius’s words, “you cannot manage time, time jut flows”. You nailed it, Cornelius.

According to Merrium-Webster’s dictionary the word ‘management’ is defined as, ‘the act or skill of controlling and making decisions about XYZ‘. We, of course, cannot control time, but we sure can control Schedule.

The process Estimate Activity Resources is taken out of this Knowledge Area and added into Project Resource Management KA.

Wait a minute, did you say Project Resource Management?

Yes, we’ll get to it in a second.

Project Cost Management –

Almost no changes here.

Project Quality Management – 

Perform Quality Assurance process is renamed as Manage Quality.

The distinct tone of manufacturing to this process name is changed to make it more generic across industries, according to Cyndi Dionisio.

Project Resource Management – 

Now PMBOK guide now recognizes the fact that there are humans involved in a team and there are physical resources such as servers, equipment and so on – so there has to be a differentiation between the two. Hence, now human resources are team resources, and other resources are physical resources.

Did you notice that Knowledge area name is changed from Project Human Resources Management to Project Resource Management?

Control Resources process is newly added now in Executing process group.

Project Communications Management – 

No changes here.

Project Risk Management – 

  • Implement Resource Responses is the new process introduced in Executing process group.

In general, Control as a word is replaced with Monitor.

Hence, Control Risks process is renamed as Monitor Risks.

Risk response strategy has a new technique – Escalate!

As a project manager, you did employ technique at least once but PMBOK was not recognizing escalation as one of the risk management techniques. Now it does.

There is also a component about overall project risk.

Project Procurement Management – 

Some major changes here, confirms Cyndi Dionisio, to make this lot more relevant and robust for international projects, as initially this KA was written more for American government.

As we saw earlier a PM is not responsible for closing a contract. But she has to plan and manage it well, and help of course in closing. Then make a note of all the lessons learned as a knowledge management exercise.

  • Close Procurements process is removed!

Project Stakeholder Management – 

Not many changes here.

And the whole new section on Agile!

PMI found that more and more projects are either using Agile, or using a mix of Waterfall and Agile to some extent.

Did you know?

A project that uses Waterfall and Agile combination and results in an Agile outcome is called Blended approach.

A project that uses Waterfall and Agile combination and results in a non-Agile outcome is called Hybrid approach.

The Agile Practice Guide has a bunch of some lovely content.

Sample these –

  • Introduction to Agile
  • Life cycle selection
  • Implementing Agile: Creating an Agile environment
  • Implementing Agile: Delivering in Agile environment
  • Organizational considerations

All in about 180+ pages of content.

I understand PMBOK-6 has way too much content over PMBOK-5. But if you are compelled to take PMBOK-6 based exam, the brighter side is that this makes your PMI-ACP exam a breeze!

So that’s about the changes introduced in PMBOK 6th edition guide.

Now the million dollar question,

When Will PMBOK 6th Edition Based Exam Kicks In?

It is essential to know this to decide whether it is worth aiming for PMP exam right now (if you believe in ‘known devil is better than unknown angel’), or wait till PMBOK 6th edition based exam kicks in the first quarter of 2018.

That, we will see in the second part of this series, here.

Not just that, I will share with you a 6-week proven prep plan. This can catapult your PMP prep to stratosphere and almost guarantee that you ace the exam with ease.

Click here to continue to part-2

(You can also get this entire guide as a pdf at the end of the page there).

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