PMBOK® Guide Changes

careerdirection161015On December 31, 2012 the fifth edition of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) was released, and once again the profession of project management moved forward. As we wrapped up the four-year review cycle and anticipated the new, refreshed outcome, we had an opportunity to identify what had changed and how it may affect the professional practice of project management throughout the world.

The PMBOK® Guide has been around for a long time and has followed a pattern of updates approximately every four years. The Project Management Institute (PMI®) has taken us through an ever-changing series of new editions in which we have seen the number of processes grow and shrink. The first edition of the PMBOK® Guide defined five process groups (the very familiar Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling, and Closing), nine knowledge areas, and 37 processes. While the process groups and knowledge areas remained essentially constant (except for the addition of Monitoring to the title for the Controlling Process Group in the Third Edition, rendering it Monitoring and Controlling ever since), the number of processes has varied with each new edition from the original thirty-seven up to the current forty-seven in the fifth edition. The new fifth edition not only increases the net number of processes but expands the number of knowledge areas from the nine we have known since the first edition of the PMBOK® Guide. The tenth and newest knowledge area is Stakeholder Management.

As we begin to identify and examine the specific changes between the fourth and fifth editions of the
PMBOK® Guide, it is appropriate to take a moment to remind ourselves of the intention and focus of the guide. Through the PMBOK® Guide, the PMI provides a recognized standard for project management. “The PMBOK® Guide identifies a subset of the project management body of knowledge that is generally recognized as good practice.” [A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), Fourth Edition, page 4.] This means that the PMBOK® Guide is focused on those processes and their related inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs that practitioners typically agree are necessary on most projects most of the time to achieve or enhance project success. The PMBOK® Guide does not purport to be the whole of the project management body of knowledge; rather, its focus is on clearly identifying and defining those elements of the overall body of knowledge that form the foundation for successful practice in the discipline of project management.

The PMBOK® Guide—Fifth Edition was only one of several updated standards scheduled for release at the end of 2012. Others included The Standard for Program Management—Third Edition and The Standard for Portfolio Management—Third Edition. The changes between the fourth edition and fifth edition of the PMBOK® Guide can be grouped into three general categories.

  • Harmonization
  • Additions
  • Reorganization


In this update, the PMI strives to achieve a consistency of terminology and business rules throughout the PMBOK® Guide and other foundational standards, as well as the PMI Lexicon. The definition of terms found in the PMI Lexicon was used as the prevailing definition in all cases of discrepancy in how a term is used or defined.

The Introduction of the PMBOK® Guide—Fifth Edition is also reworked to align it with the corresponding sections of the latest editions (Third Edition in both cases) of the practice standards for program management and portfolio management. This alignment ensures and reinforces a consistent understanding of the relationships among, and distinctions between, projects, programs, and portfolios.

Another significant example of the harmonization of terms is found in the redefinition of the terms “work performance data,” “work performance information,” and “work performance reports.” The fifth edition of the PMBOK® Guide accepts guidance from the discipline of knowledge management, using the Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom (DIKW) model to reshape the definitions as follows.

  • Work Performance Data – The raw observations and measurements identified during activities being performed to carry out the project work
  • Work Performance Information – The performance data collected from various controlling processes, analyzed in context and integrated, based on relationships across areas
  • Work Performance Reports – The physical or electronic representation of work performance information compiled in project documents, intended to generate decisions, actions, or awareness

The last area of harmonization is in the creation of business rules to guide the consistent treatment of Inputs, Tools and Techniques, and Outputs (ITTO) information for the range of project management processes. These ITTO business rules fall into six rules.

  • ITTO Fundamental Rules
    • Inputs are documents that are key to the process.
    • Outputs must map to an input of another process. There are exceptions made to this rule if the output is a terminal output, or if it is a subcomponent of another input.
    • Inputs must map from a process output, unless the input comes from outside of the project.
  • Project Document Rules
    • Inputs of major project documents must be specifically listed.
    • The outputs list specifies a project document as an output the first time it is cited, but subsequent references to the document as output from other processes will simply be made as “project document updates.”
  • Project Management Plan Rules
    • Subsidiary plans and baselines that are inputs to a process must be specifically listed.
    • Subsidiary plans and baselines that are outputs from a process will be grouped together and listed as “project management plan updates.”
    • For planning processes whose output is a subsidiary plan, the project management plan will be listed as an input.
    • For control processes, rather than specifically listing the relevant subsidiary plans as either inputs or outputs, the project management plan will be listed as the input, and project management plan updates will be listed as the output.
  • EEF/OPA Referencing Rules for Process Inputs
    • References to Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEFs) or Organizational Process Assets (OPSs) will include “Described in Section …” and cite section 2.1.4 for OPAs or 2.1.5 for EEFs.
  • Other Consistency Rules
    • “Project document update” and “organizational process asset updates” are renamed to “project document updates” and “organizational process assets updates”
    • Document titles will not be capitalized in the PMBOK® Guide text.
  • Sequencing Rules
    • When listing inputs and outputs, the order of precedence will be project management plan, subsidiary plans, and then baselines.
    • In the inputs list, work performance data, work performance information, and work performance reports will be listed before EEFs.
    • EEFs and OPAs will be listed last.
    • Meetings will be listed last in the Tools and Techniques lists.
    • In the outputs list the order of precedence will be project management plan or subsidiary plan updates, project document updates, EEFs updates, OPAs updates.

Next week we’ll wrap up with Additions and Reorganization.

Reproduced from Global Knowledge White Paper: Change is Constant

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