Update to the PMBOK Guide

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

The Project Management Institute (PMI)® plans a new edition of the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) for release on August 1, 2021. The changes for the PMBOK® Guide are reflective of changes in the profession since the 2017 PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition with shifts to valuing delivery over deliverables and the use of different project methodologies within a single organization.

PMBOK® Guide Changes

Although the PMBOK® – Seventh Edition will have a different approach to detailing the best practices with which all project managers should be familiar, it does not invalidate nor replace the technical knowledge previously released in the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition. The PMBOK® Guide – Seventh Edition is intended to document high-level principles, across eight performance domains, to inform all project practitioners about the key concepts which are influential to running a successful project, regardless of the methodology used to administer that project (i.e., predictive, incremental, iterative, etc.).

How often is the PMBOK® Guide updated?

Using industry research from job bank data, PMI.org data, and member surveys, the PMI® updates the PMBOK® Guide about every 3 to 5 years to ensure alignment with where the profession is and is headed. The Standard for project management is an American National Standards Institute or ANSI standard, which means that every four to five years, it has to be updated, reaffirmed or retired.

Using the PMBOK® Guides

The planned new edition is not a complete replacement for the current one; more a companion that expands the resources available to project managers. Whereas the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth edition is grounded in technical processes, inputs, tools, and techniques for the project manager, the PMBOK® Guide – Seventh edition is driven by skills and resources for the team to deliver value-based outcomes.

PMBOK® - Seventh Edition Changes

One aspect of the PMI® is the effort to accurately reflect and support the evolving profession of Project Management. With their publications, such as the PMBOK® Guide, each new edition reflects careful consideration of changes in business needs and industry shifts. Changes to PMBOK® Guide content for the upcoming edition are based on PMI® research, with market surveys and input from practitioners around the globe.

PMBOK® Guide from Sixth to Seventh edition

Changes from the PMBOK® – Sixth edition are more than some process tweaks. The upcoming PMBOK® Guide – Seventh edition has updates including performance domains, tailoring, and models, methods, and artifacts. At a conceptual level, the PMBOK® Guide– Seventh edition is an update in all things project management for all PMP® credential holders.

Changes from PMBOK® Guide Sixth to Seventh edition

For Project Managers most familiar with the earlier editions, refer to the PMI®’s handout mapping changes for the Seventh edition. With the release of the PMBOK® Guide – Seventh Edition, the PMI® moves the focus to over-arching principles anyone involved with project management work needs to be successful. Key changes for the PMBOK® Guide include:

  • The Standard for Project Management moves from processes to principles
  • Knowledge areas move to performance domains
  • Single project manager to team members and roles
  • Single approach to tailored approach for work

What is included in PMBOK® Guide – Seventh edition

One consideration for the forthcoming new edition of the PMBOK ® is that includes both:

  • The Standard for Project Management, which carries the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) designation, and
  • A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), a framework for applying the standard based on the broad body of knowledge within the project management profession.

Staying current on PMBOK® Guide changes

The passionate PMP® credential holder will connect with the PMI® to learn about progress in this forthcoming resource: email PMI® at standards@pmi.org.

PMBOK® Guide and the PMP® Certification Exam

For the first time in PMI® history, the PMP® certification exam will be sourcing questions from multiple versions of their PMBOK® Guide. To earn the PMP® certification, the exam takers will need to successfully answer questions about the technical aspects of project management including Inputs, Tools, Techniques, and Outputs (ITTO’s) and demonstrate an understanding of the way to guide a team towards desired outcomes and organizational value delivery. All content in the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth edition is still relevant and testable material for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification exam.

Studying for the PMP Exam?


Connection between e PMBOK® Guide and the PMP® certification exam

For both the current and the soon-to-be-released version of the PMBOK® Guide, students intending to sit for the PMP® exam should understand (not just memorize) the concepts laid out in the Guide and be able to apply them to a given scenario to determine the BEST course of action to be taken. The scenarios provided on the PMP® exam may lend themselves to having more than one plausible answer to the question, but when sitting for the PMP® exam students will be asked to choose the BEST answer among the choices given. 

Impact of PMBOK® Guide – Seventh edition on PMP® exam

The PMI® states the PMP® exam will not change with the publication of the PMBOK® Guide – Seventh Edition, according to the FAQ document published by PMI®. The questions found on the PMP® exam are based on an Exam Content Outline (ECO) and this document is not changing any time soon, so there is no need for students to wait to take the exam.

Content sources for PMP® certification exam questions

Again, reading and understanding the information shared in the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth edition and Seventh edition (when released) is hugely beneficial for preparing to take the PMP® exam. However, it is not the only publication used to create questions for the PMP® exam. PMI® has published a list of sources their exam creators use to base their questions on and this list, along with the current Exam Content Outline (ECO), should be used to prepare to take the PMP® certification exam. According to PMI®, this is not the complete list of source material, but it does provide a large cross-section for students to base their studies on.

If obtaining the PMP certification is a career goal, get focused training and ensure your training provider is PMI Authorized Trainer; you want to ensure your financial investment and your time investment is protected. As a Premier partner of PMI’s Authorized Training Partner (ATP) Program, Project Management Academy (PMA) teaches the PMI Authorized Exam Prep course materials, with exclusive lessons to ensure PMA students have a deep understanding of the PMBOK® Guide content.

Upcoming PMP Certification Training – Live & Online Classes

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Megan Bell
Megan Bell