Where is the beef (in the context of the PMBOK Guide)?

Here we go again, the craze about the PMP6 is here

PMP Exam in relation to PMBOK Guide Changes

We are only in January 2017, the PMBOK® Guide sixth edition is not even out yet, and we are starting to hear about PMP6. Obviously, there is no such a thing as PMP6 – the PMP is the PMP. However, people use this term, PMP6, to refer to the updated exam that will be based on the 6th edition of the guide.Here is what we are hearing and have been hearing for years with every change of the guide.

  • You should do the exam now, the new guide is more difficult
  • You should do the exam before the change because the change is substantial
  • You should do the exam now because the new book has more pages

Well – all of these are marketing games that lead to a spike in exam takers before every change. Take a look at this image and see for yourself.

PMI Certifications

PMBOK Guide is Changing Again

Now are the changes substantial from one edition to another?

Here we want to ask the readers – especially those who are familiar with past editions – can you tell us what are THE MAJOR – CRITICAL CHANGES between the various editions? The following table presents a general comparison between the editions.

PMBOK Guide Changes

In our opinion, there has been no MAJOR change in the guide CORE content since the first edition in 1996. Yes, there have been many changes in terms of adding definitions on things like program and portfolio management, etc.

Even the changes from 4th to 5th, with the addition of a knowledge area, were not significant in term of content. Refer to this old post. Although the number of pages has more than tripled, there are NO history-making changes

The Sixth Edition

Now with the sixth edition, what is changing?

Well, the official version is not out yet, but we saw in the exposure draft and what PMI is marketing is the following:

  1. Changing the name of a knowledge area – from time to scheduling
  2. Replacing (or rather expanding) the HR chapter to cover Resources in general and not only HR
  3. I believe they are replacing chapter 3 with a chapter on the PM role
  4. They are incorporating a section in each chapter on agile — this is probably the most significant of the changes, but we are yet to see if this is revolutionary or wordsmithing.

We welcome the reader to challenge us on the above by highlighting the key – major – substantial – history-making changes.

In our view, the guide should be completely re-written and stripped of too many tree-killing papers. It can be down to less than 300 pages, if not 200, without any loss of valuable content. This can be done, easily, if PMI just references sources where that information is available instead of copying or get info through “volunteers contribution” from other sources.

Why do we need the ITTO? These are, or can be included in the practice standards on risk, estimating, scheduling, and others. By itself, this change can remove at least 200 pages of boring repetitions.

Where is the Beef

The current guide reminds me of an old commercial in the USA by Wendy’s. The commercial has an old lady getting a burger (from non-Wendy’s) where you cannot see the beef and the lady is asking “where is the beef” (in a Wendy burger you can see the beef because it is rectangular, not circular.

So where is the beef in the guide?

The beef is there, but you cannot see it because of so many papers.

Advise to Certification Aspirants

The exam is changing? So what?

The PMBOK Guide is changing? So what?

Instead of studying the 5th edition study the sixth – what is the difference? In term of hours, days, nights, and months – you still have to invest your time and money to get a certification, that might have lost its shine.  Is this investment in time and money paying you off? Is it profitable?

You know in projects when given a choice between two projects we should pursue the one that is most profitable or beneficial. Think about this – if you invest months or a year in your life (what you do know for the PMP) into reading and studying the numerous books on project management today. Or, invest in implementing or enhancing your organizational methodology or OPM System – what would give you more benefit in the long run?

Managers

The above are critical questions for managers that are investing in PMP certifications for their staff. You know, the fees for the PMP, without training, is about $550 per person. For that money or less than $2000 you can establish a good library with a variety of books and instead of 2 or 4 people benefiting – you and your team will benefit.

You might say people do not read. Well, establish a mini-book club in your team where you all will read, discuss, and apply the learning. Would that be more beneficial? For sure it is not more effort than the PMP.

You might say – people study on their personal time. Really? Do you believe that?

Closing Comments

I know the above may seem critical, and it is – but of PMI and not the Guide itself. All of these changes and the hypes about them is to drive business to a not-for-profit organization. Agile has been around for 20 years or so – now that it is very popular, PMI launched an Agile certification, and now it adds it to the guide.

However, in term of the PMBOK® Guide, the beef is there and is good. I cannot even imagine managing a project without using the processes in the guide (they are also in ISO 21500). In the SUKAD CAMMP™ Model (The Customizable and Adaptable Methodology for Managing Projects™), one of the three dimensions depends on the processes (as modified by SUKAD).

What do you think?