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PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition: What’s New and (Almost) Exciting

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Are you ready for the newest guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge? PMI is poised to release the new version of the PMBOK Guide before the end of 2012. Product management consultant Joseph Phillips describes in detail how PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition has added and removed project processes, clarified previous edition, and includes a completely new project knowledge area.
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If you’re like me, and I suspect you are, you’ve been counting down the days until the new and improved Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide, 5th Edition is due to release. It’s like waiting for the next episode of The Walking Dead, football season to start, or gosh, even waiting for Disney on Ice to roll into town. Well, maybe. But it’s starting to become a tradition for the Project Management Institute (PMI) to update its book, the PMBOK Guide, every three or four years. It’s like waiting for the seven-year cicada to come out again.

Hey, I’m no critic of the PMBOK Guide—it a wonderful book for project managers to use as general guide to project management. It’s written by a host of volunteer writers, volunteer editors, and hundreds of people chip in every few years to review the book. To those people who’ve written, edited, and reviewed the PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition for free, I say, “Thank you!” And when you consider the hundreds of thousands of project managers, want-to-be project managers, businesses, and PMI-exam candidates who will be reviewing the work, it’s a real achievement—especially when you consider the cost of the PMBOK Guide is about $35, depending on when and where you buy it. Cha-Ching!

I’ve been one of the fortunate thousands who have a copy of the PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition in draft mode. If you’ve never read the earlier versions of the PMBOK before (lucky!), you’ll be pleased to know that this version follows the same drone as its predecessors. Again, not mocking, just giving you a fair warning. For example, you’ll read zingers like this one in the new PMBOK Guide: “A project management office (PMO) is an organizational body or entity assigned various responsibilities related to the centralized and coordinated management of those projects under its domain.”

If you’re preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP), the Certified Associated in Project Management (CAPM), or you want to really dig into the PMI approach to project management, you’ll need a copy of the PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition. It’s expected to be released in the fourth quarter of 2012 (makes a nice Christmas present!). If past experiences are any indicator of future expectations, PMI usually changes its certification exams about six to eight months after a new PMBOK Guide is released. So, if you’re currently working towards your PMI certification I’d wager you have until September of 2013. Keep studying PMBOK Guide, 4th Edition until you hear otherwise.

PMBOK 5: What’s in It?

In the draft version of the PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition, you will find some juicy changes. Most notably is a completely new knowledge area: stakeholder management, which I’ll discuss in a moment. This means there are now 10 knowledge areas—something that’s caused a little bit of controversy on the blog roll and in my PMP Boot Camps. Wasn’t stakeholder management important all along? Did stakeholder suddenly become more important? While stakeholder management has been in the PMBOK Guide, in some form all along, the acknowledgment to the importance of stakeholder involvement is now stressed.

This version of the PMBOK Guide now has 47 processes identified, instead of the 42 project management processes you know and love now. Most of the new processes are linked to the new stakeholder management process, but you’ll also find that project planning for each knowledge area of a project have been added. For example, there’s now planning as a process for scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, communications, procurement, and stakeholder management. In the last edition of the PMBOK Guide, this was just all tucked into one knowledge area rather than spread around among the knowledge areas. All of these planning components help create the comprehensive project management plan and its subsidiary plans.

The project management office (PMO) now plays a more significant role in this PMBOK edition. You’ll find that the PMO will be supportive, controlling, or directive. And depending on which flavor of the PMO your organization has implemented, you’ll find rules and characteristics that affect how you get to manage your project. Even if you don’t have a PMO, you’ll find more information about policies and project governance. Gotta follow the rules! Rules apply to all of the project team members (full-time or part-time members), the project manager, the project sponsor, and the new classification of stakeholders.

The PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition writers have added some general information about other project management methodologies. Specifically, there’s an overview of Agile, Waterfall, and the Adaptive approach. This is nice, but I think it’s really an attempt for PMI to dovetail the PMBOK Guide into its PMI-Agile Certified Professional (PMI-ACP) designation. The writers also give some insight into how to actually calculate the critical path of a project network diagram—something that was sorely needed, but I think their explanation is a bit lacking.

A nice addition to this version is that there’s (finally!) a table of all the earned value management formulas. Earned value management (EVM) is a suite of formulas that help a project manager evaluate how well the project is performing and make predictions of how well the project is likely to finish on time and on costs based on the current measurements. EVM is a fine approach to tying a dollar amount to project performance based on what was planned and what was experienced.

Now let’s dig a little deeper and examine the expected changes to the meat of the PMBOK: the project management knowledge areas.

The Big Change: Project Stakeholder Management

The biggest change in the PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition is the addition of a knowledge area: Project Stakeholder Management. Previously, stakeholder management was part of project communications management. It’s grown over the years and is now its own knowledge area full of goodness and things project managers—good project managers—were doing all along. First, a stakeholder is anyone or group who is affected by your project.

Think of a project to install a new piece of software in a company with 1,200 users. Stakeholders in this scenario would be the project manager, the project, the project sponsor, vendors, managers of the 1,200 people, the IT department, the people who would eventually support the software, the help desk, and the guy in accounting who holds up the purchase. All of that is even before the 1,200 people directly affect by the project. These people are all stakeholders—and you might even think of more stakeholders in your company.

Project stakeholder management is broken down into four processes that you’ll do as a project manager:

  •   Identify the project stakeholders: You must identify all of the stakeholders as early in the project as possible. The longer you wait the worse it’ll be—like most things in life. Identifying the project stakeholders includes documenting who’s who and what their needs, wants, perceived threats, and expectations are.
  •   Plan stakeholder management: You need a strategy on how you’ll manage the different types of stakeholders, engage the stakeholders in the project, when the stakeholders need to participate, and what the stakeholder concerns may be as the project is in motion.
  •   Manage stakeholder engagement: The project manager must lead the charge on getting stakeholders involved in the project. This is especially true when you need stakeholder input on decisions, actions, and choices to allow your project to move forward. This process meshes with project communications management.
  •   Control stakeholder engagement: Some stakeholders will want to, or need to, be more engaged in the project than others. This means the project manager will need to evaluate and strategize on which stakeholders should be involved at different points in the project, the depth of engagement needed from the stakeholders, and the challenges that may be linked to the stakeholder engagement or resistance of the stakeholder to be engaged.

What’s Next

Yes, project stakeholder management is the big addition to PMBOK 5, but it’s not the only change. In my next article, I’ll run down the changes for each of the other project management knowledge areas.

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