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Changes in PMP Certification and PMBOK® Guide – 7th edition

Ana Aranda Diaz

Ana Aranda Diaz

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For those new to this subject, let me clarify that the PMP® (Project Management Professional®) certification is, nowadays, and has been for many years, the most important certification in project management.

It is recognized and demanded by organizations around the world, which validates the skills that a good project manager must have in leading and managing projects and teams.

To obtain this certification, you must undergo thorough preparation that will help you pass the exam. Interestingly, the focus of this certification is not to “create” new project managers. The real focus is to “validate” that you are already a project manager. Hence the difficulty of the exam. You have to demonstrate that you know your profession and that you can answer purely theoretical questions (Earned Value calculation), situational questions (What would you do if…?), or professional ethics.

The community of “PMP Managers” and those aspiring to belong to this community, are somewhat puzzled by the coexistence of the two versions of the PMBOK® Guide, the Sixth and the Seventh Edition.

First, I want to clear up that the coexistence of two versions is something that has traditionally been happening. The fundamental difference now is that the Seventh Edition of the Guide has radically changed its approach, and while the previous editions were very similar in form and substance, the Seventh Edition is a real revolution.

Traditionally, the changes between the different editions of the Guide were, for example:

  • Including the name of one of the knowledge areas (the last was stakeholder management). 
  • Increasing the number of processes or changing the name of one of the processes in a process group.

Before, the backbone of the Guide was the knowledge areas, process groups, and processes. But the seventh edition is no longer “about processes”. This new edition has not only considerably reduced the number of pages but has completely changed the concept of what the PMBOK had been until now.

Processes, techniques, resources, inputs, and outputs have lost prominence to make way for a manual that focuses on delivering value and seeks a global approach rather than being a mere compendium of processes, techniques, and tools.

This is why this seventh edition can be understood as a complement to the sixth edition or as a base to be completed with other methodologies and tools.

Moreover, on the first page of the PMP Examination Content Outline (PMP Examination Content Outline, also known by its acronym PMP-ECO) PMI makes the following clear (textual):

Does this mean that PMBOK is no longer considered for the exam? Absolutely NOT, but what is clear is that the PMP certification has entered a new cycle in which the PMBOK Guide is one of several possible references and inputs to prepare for the PMP exam.

For more information, you can visit the exam recommendations page, along with reference literature for exam preparation, both of which are official PMI links. I note again that in this bibliography, courtesy of PMI, they state the following:

“*The exam is based on the PMP (ECO) certification exam content outline, not the (PMBOK® Guide) or other reference books.”

By the way, as of March 31, 2022, PMI has begun withdrawing the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition. But since PMI is aware that many professionals, especially those preparing for the CAPM® exam, still refer to and use the Sixth Edition in their daily work, the Project Management Institute (PMI®) will continue to provide options for those interested to access the Sixth Edition content, at least for the foreseeable future.

Remember that PMI members can download a free PDF of the edition, and non-members can still purchase it in eBook format.

I hope I have clarified your doubts regarding the coexistence of the two versions of the PMBOK® Guide.

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About the Author

Ana Aranda Diaz

Ana Aranda Diaz

Ana Aranda, PMP®, PMI-ACP®, SAFe® SPC, AgilePM® and PRINCE2® Instructor, is a Lead Expert and Operations Manager for Netmind's US office. With more than 25 years' experience in Product Management, Project Management, and business development , she is comfortable helping others overcome challenges and manage cultural diversity. Ana has worked as a business consultant as well as an instructor in various multinational companies across the globe. She is passionate about fostering an organization's Project Management culture and improving their human skills aspect. Ana telecommunication engineer with an executive Master's Degree in Human Resources Management. She has strong business and technical background that allows fast learning and enables immediate value generation. Connect with Ana on LinkedIn.

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