The PMBOK guide® – Seventh Edition Summary

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In this article, I show a forecast of the new edition of the PMBOK-7 Guide for Project Management. I have read the new guide and it is important to show everyone how this guide can help us and how we can apply it to our role as project managers.

The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) has been the go-to resource to help Project Management professionals use best practices to add value to their work.

However, rapid improvements in technology and the need for organizations and professionals to adapt more quickly to changes in the market, have made our profession evolve incorporating agile approaches in projects. Professionals now have the responsibility to select the most appropriate management approach (predictive, agile, or hybrid) to do their job and deliver value.

Therefore, for the new PMBOK Guide® – to remain useful, it must reflect this flexibility and help the professional in decision-making and the management of their projects, in a way that allows them to obtain the expected results.

Thus, the PMBOK® Guide supports this need for flexibility by adopting a structure based on principles and domains, rather than groups of processes and areas of knowledge from the above versions.

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Some key facts from the new guide

  1. The PMBOK® Guide provides a framework for applying the ISO-21500 Project Management
  2. This edition reflects the full range of development approaches, with no preference for any of them.
  3. Instead of focusing solely on project deliverables, it also places great importance on the results/value the project brings.

      

Figure 1. PMBOK-7 Changes. Source PMI

Structure and Content

The Guide is separated into two blocks “The Standard for Project Management” and the “Guide to Project Management: Body of Knowledge”.

Figure 2. PMBOK-7 Structure

The main sections of the new guide are described below.

System to deliver value

The main purpose of a project is to deliver value to the organization where it is executed. This value is achieved through customer satisfaction, the creation of a new product or service, the improvement of a process, or the implementation of a new change that can enhance the process and operations.

The approach is that projects are considered as systems to deliver value. That is, the strategies, missions, and objectives of an organization determine the portfolios of projects. In other words, the value that a project brings to the organization has a relevant weight, without excluding the rest of the aspects of the triple constraint triangle that ensure the success of the project (Scope, Time, Cost).

The achievement of benefits in the broad sense is closely linked to value management. Value management is described as “a management approach that focuses on motivating people, developing skills, and fostering synergies and innovation with the ultimate goal of optimizing overall organizational performance.” In a sense, the value that projects brings to an organization is especially focused on those organizations that implement project management at their full capacity. In this case, the business value is achieved through the optimization of business functions in several ways, including:

  1. Alignment of business strategy and execution
  2. Integration of business functions
  3. Navigating, evaluating, and watching environmental and business ambiguity
  4. Achieve enterprise scalability
  5. Distributed collaboration management
  6. Reduced time to profit

Figure 3. PMBOK-7 Factors to consider

Project Management Principles

Figure 4. PMBOK-7 Principles

The guide has 12 generally accepted principles used in project management. A Principle is “A statement, truth or rule that guides and leads our thoughts and actions“. Principles guide the actions, but do not detail how to do things, and are not strict. To ensure the expected results of project delivery, project team members should follow these principles:

  1. (Stewardship) Pay Attention/Care: Be a diligent, respectful, and caring steward. Carry out activities with integrity, care, and trustworthiness while maintaining compliance with internal and external guidelines. They demonstrate a broad commitment to the financial, social, and environmental impacts of the projects they support.
  2. Team: Create a collaborative project team environment. Project teams that work collaboratively can accomplish a shared objective more effectively and efficiently than individuals working on their own.
  3. Stakeholders: Engage stakeholders to understand their interests and needs.
  4. Value: Focus on value. Align the project with the objectives of the organization. Continually evaluate and adjust project alignment to business objectives and intended benefits and value
  5. System thinking: Recognize, evaluate, and respond to system interactions, with the aim to respond to the dynamic circumstances within and surrounding the project in a holistic way to positively affect project performance.
  6. Leadership: Motivate, influence, train and learn. Demonstrate leadership behaviors in areas of honesty, integrity, and ethical conduct and adapting leadership style to the situation.
  7. Tailoring: Adapt the approach of deliveries according to the context. Adaptability is the key through the use of an iterative approach.
  8. Quality: Incorporate quality into processes and results. Maintain a focus on quality that produces deliverables that meet project objectives and align to the needs, uses, and acceptance requirements set forth by relevant stakeholders.
  9. Complexity: Address complexity using knowledge, experience, and learning. Continually evaluate and navigate project complexity so that approaches and plans enable the project team to successfully navigate the project life cycle.
  10. (Risk) Opportunities and threats: Optimize responses to opportunities and threats. Maximize positive impacts and minimize negative impacts to the project and its outcomes.
  11. Adaptability and resilience: Be adaptable and resilient depending on the context to help the project accommodate change, recover from setbacks, and advance the work of the project.
  12. Change management: Enable change to achieve the expected future state.

The adoption of these principles does not mean that the process-based approaches (process groups) of the previous version are no longer relevant or useful, are still valid, and represent a way of applying the previous principles in practice.

Body of Knowledge: Performance Domains

These are areas of knowledge that must be focused on to manage the project. The goal is not only to provide deliverables but also results, regardless of how often this delivery is made periodically or at the end of the project, made through product increments or improvements all over the project life.

 

Figure 5. PMBOK-7 Performance Domains

  1. Team: Develop high-performance teams.
  2. Stakeholders: Build good relationships with Stakeholders.
  3. Life Cycle: Develop appropriate phases and approaches for the project.
  4. Planning: Carry out adequate planning at each precise moment.
  5. Navigating between uncertainty and ambiguity: Analyze the project environment to anticipate risks and seize opportunities.
  6. Delivery: Proportionate value.
  7. Performance Measure: Track to ensure results are achieved.
  8. Project work: Guarantee the activities to facilitate the team the delivery of results.

The way these domains interact and combine among them, it is typically different in each project.

Body of Knowledge: Tailoring

An entire section of the new guide, which significantly improves on what was included in the previous ones, is to have a framework and criteria for the adaptation (tailoring) of the approaches for each project. With conventional cascading project management approaches, it was difficult to address rapidly changing requirements in projects. That is why agile methods and approaches to project management emerged, especially in the IT and software industry. Depending on the characteristics of each project, the specific industry, stakeholder requirements, and the organization, project managers have to apply different approaches to managing projects. These approaches can be predictive, agile, hybrid, or cascading.

Sometimes we get carried away by fashions and it seems like all projects have to use an agile approach. The new project management standard is neutral in this regard, does not favor one approach over another, and provides guidance on how to carry out this “tailor-made” approach.

Figure 6. PMBOK-7 Tailoring Process. Source PMBOK7

Body of Knowledge: Models, Methods and Artifacts

This last part includes a series of models, methods, and artifacts that can be used or implemented to manage projects. Here it includes the group of processes, methods, and artifacts that allow:

  1. Initiate: defines and authorizes the project or a phase.
  2. Planning: clarifies and refines the objectives, planning the necessary actions to carry them out.
  3. Execute: Integrates people and other resources to produce the deliverables and performance information of the project.
  4. Monitoring and controlling: measures and monitors the progress of the project in order to identify possible variations and discrepancies with respect to the original plan and correct them when necessary.
  5. Close: completes all activities of all groups of project management processes to formally complete the project (or a phase) and formalize the acceptance of the product, service, or result.

Shows the range of options that the project team can use to produce or generate project deliverables, organize work, facilitate communications and collaboration. Models, Methods, and Artifacts can be used in the Domains. In fact, the PMBOK in this section shows the crossover between them. Many of these Models, Methods, and Artifacts were mentioned in earlier versions of the PMBOK within the processes.

Figure 7. PMBOK-7 Methods