Are the PMBOK Guide 6th edition volunteers listening to us?

I struggled with writing or starting this blog since I honestly did not know what to say. Is “I told you so” appropriate? Is it good that some of the PMI volunteers are finally waking up, appropriate?

Maybe the question should be: Is PMI listening to us but we know the real work is by volunteers and they could be better listener than PMI.


In the past, many of the points that we have raised about the PMBOK Guide, via this blog and other means, have been challenged by professionals and even PMI certificate holders who do not really understand the guide. Yes, PMP, PgMP, and other certificate holders and “experts” and “consultant” have challenged us because they did not know how to read the PMBOK Guide or misunderstood it.  The problem has been is that when we tried to explained, we had often been accused of criticizing the PMBOK Guide, or we are ignorant, or wrong on various points.

It is good to see that the new Project Management Standard that is part of the upcoming PMBOK Guide (6th ed) is out for review and it aligns so much to our work and our numerous blogs; to the point where we feel that the volunteers are listening to us. This especially on the numerous points where people challenged us. So maybe we can finally silent the critique and the doubters.

Here are a few points:

PMBOK Guide is NOT a Standard

In a past article about the myths surrounding the guide, one of them was about the point that many professionals think that the guide – the full guide – is an ANSI and PM Standard. We have clearly made the point that the full guide is not a standard but only the Annex in the 5th edition is the standard; about 40 pages.

Well, here is a quotation directly from the PMI website:

The PMBOK® Guide is unique among our global standards because it contains both a standard and a guide, as it has in past editions. The standard presents key concepts—it is the foundation that describes what to do to be successful—while the guide expands upon the foundation with additional information on how to use proven practices.

This is the link to the above quotation. Notice the red font, our emphasis.

Process Groups ARE NOT Project Phases

I have no idea how many times we have addressed this topic, yet people still do not understand it. We think some of them just refused to accept our expertise, for one reason or another. Well, here is what the standard is telling (same as in past editions by the way).

Again – the blue font is direct quotation and the red font is our emphasis of the quotation.

The Process Groups are not project phases. If the project is divided into phases, the Process Groups interact within each phase. In fact, it is possible that all Process Groups could be conducted within a phase”. 

This is another quotation on the same point:

As projects are separated into distinct phases or subcomponents, such as concept development, feasibility study, design, prototype, build, or test, etc., all of the Process Groups would normally be repeated for each phase until the completion criteria for that phase have been satisfied.

Initiating Process Groups and Charter

This is another common area of misunderstanding and once again, the standard is confirming what we have been saying for many years.

The Initiating Process Group consists of those processes performed to define a new project or a new phase of an existing project by obtaining authorization to start the project or phase.”

In such projects, the Initiating processes are carried out during subsequent phases in order to validate the decisions made during the original Develop Project Charter and Identify Stakeholders processes. Revisiting the Initiating processes at the start of each phase helps to keep the project focused on the business need that the project was undertaken to address.


We will now pause and close this post. More posts will continue to address similar points.

All quotations are from the Exposure Draft of the PMBOK(R) Guide--Sixth Edition (standard section) Exposure Draft