PMBOK® Guide 7th Edition vs 6th Edition

The Project Management Institute (PMI) has released the newest edition of their A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). The changes in the new PMBOK® Guide reflect changes in the profession since the 2017 PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition was published. PMI members can access a digital copy of the PMBOK® Guide with an active membership. In this article, we will compare and contrast PMBOK® Guide 7th Edition vs 6th Edition.

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Why new editions are created

The PMBOK® Guide is published by the PMI to provide a global standard for all things project management. Each new edition reflects careful consideration of project management profession changes. The standard for project management, which is contained inside of the PMBOK® Guide, 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. Changes to the PMBOK® Guide are driven by PMI research, both with market surveys and working with practitioners around the globe.

The new edition

The PMBOK® Guide – 7th Edition is intended to document high-level principles, across 8 performance domains, and 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.).

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Differences between PMBOK® Guide 7 and 6

Whereas the PMBOK® Guide – 6th edition is grounded in technical processes, inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs for the project manager, the PMBOK® Guide seventh 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.

At the most basic level, one big difference between PMBOK® Guide 7 vs 6 is the sheer size of the printed book: PMBOK® Guide – Sixth edition is 756 pages compared to the significantly slimmed down PMBOK® Guide – Seventh edition at 274 pages.

Structure and Focus

How was the reduction in pages accomplished for the seventh edition? It is in part due to a shift in the structure and focus of the PMBOK® Guide itself.

Refer to the PMI’s handout comparing the 6th to 7th edition PMBOK® Guide for a point-by-point comparison.


In short, the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth edition was designed by the PMI to be project manager and process-focused, while the new seventh edition is project team and outcome-focused.

PMBOK® Guide – 6th EditionProject Manager tailors the knowledge areas, processes, inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs tailored for project environment.
PMBOK® Guide – 7th EditionTeams use principles to inform project outcomes.
Comparing the Structure Between PMBOK® Guide – 6th and 7th Edition

Standards of Project Management

The PMI defines a standard as: “a document established by consensus and approved by a recognized body.” In the context of the PMBOK® Guide, the sixth edition standard is process-based, whereas the seventh edition is principle-based.

Comparing the Standards of Project Management Between PMBOK® Guide – 6th and 7th Edition

According to the PMI, the seventh edition’s 12 principles “…are built around a set of statements that guide the actions and behaviors of project management practitioners regardless of development approach.” The PMBOK® Guide is one example of foundational standards for the profession of project management. Learn more about foundational standards at

Knowledge Areas to Project Performance Domains

The ten knowledge areas of the PMBOK® Guide – 6th edition have been replaced by a set of 8 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.”

Comparing the Project Performance Domains in PMBOK® Guide – 6th and 7th Edition

The PMI has created a “clickable reference guide” for the eight performance domains in support of the seventh edition. When considering the PMBOK® Guide, in terms of 6th vs 7th edition, it is important to know the information included in the 6th edition is still relevant for potential PMP® credential holders’ expected knowledge base. For example, the 10 knowledge areas all contain testable information for potential PMP® certification exam questions.

Value Delivery System

The PMBOK® Guide’s pivot from a process focus to a value delivery focus is reflective of the global shift in project management itself. Organizations of all sizes and in all industries find themselves needing to be flexible to address multiple unexpected market shifts as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact the world’s economy.

Those preparing for the PMP® exam or those PMP® credential holders seeking to keep their skills relevant will benefit from the PMI®’s new Value Delivery System Explainer. Open the resources to click through “the concept of information flow in the creation of value to life.


As noted in the explainer document, within the Value Delivery System, “each function plays a specific role when it comes to communication and information flows both down and up the chain.” The process is about how to maximize the potential for value throughout the project work, not just about following a process to prove it was followed. The Value Delivery System encapsulates the focus on outcomes which is reflected in the seventh edition.

New Platform: Standards Plus

The “PMI Standards +” is a new online knowledge base providing PMI members with instant access to processes, terms, and tools from the PMBOK® Guide. The purpose is to provide project management professionals, PMP® credential holders, and those preparing for the PMP® exam instant access to “PMI standards, guides, and original how-to content that you can apply to real world situations.” It is an evolving resource with knowledge being added over time.

PMBOK® Guide and the PMP® Certification Exam

Although the new PMBOK® Guide takes a radically different approach to detailing the Body of Knowledge 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. Additionally, all the content in the PMBOK® Guide sixth edition should still be considered relevant and testable material for the PMP® certification exam. Training companies who are using exam prep course materials provided by PMI are the best option for ensuring students are getting all the knowledge they need to pass the PMP® certification exam.

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The PMBOK® Guide changes include performance domains, tailoring, and models, methods and artifacts. Changes from the PMBOK® Guide sixth edition include more than a few process tweaks. At a conceptual level, the seventh edition is an update in the way the project management discipline represents itself. Project managers should know the content in terms of the PMBOK® Guide 7th Edition vs 6th Edition, not pick one version and ignore the other.

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 PMBOK® Guide content as they prepare to earn the PMP® credential holder status.

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Megan Bell
Megan Bell
Project Manager & Writer at Project Management Academy
Megan Bell