What should you know about the PMP changes?

This week PMI announced the changes to the PMP Exam from the role delineation study. Consequently, we are starting to see many posts on the PMP changes and it is like we have discovered a solution for global warming. Keep in mind that many of these posts are from people and companies trying to SELL certification. If you are interested in pursuing the PMP, ignore the NOISE. All you need to know is that if you can take the exam before 16 December 2019, continue to study with the existing materials. If you are going to take the exam after that date, continue to study using the same materials, with some changes.


Let us put things in perspective with a bit of history.

PMP Exam History

  1. Years ago, the PMP exam was structured around 6 domains and people would know their score.
  2. Then it became 5 domains but the exam did not change, only restructured more and less the same database around 5 instead of six domains.
  3. Then PMI started to hide the overall score but kept the domains score.
  4. Finally, the started to hide all scores and only pass or fail with a score along a continuum.

Throughout these changes, the base content did not change drastically, since the field of project management did not change drastically. Sure, many questions change because of process names changes or restructuring. For example, prior to the six edition you could see questions with “Control Risk”, which changes with the 6th ed to “Monitor Risk”. Other changes were to emphasize one concept or another, such as program and portfolio management after 2006 and agile after 2013 or more so after 2017.

The key message here is that people need to distinguish between content and scoring.

The new change

On the surface, the new change seems to be drastic since now instead of 5 domains, we will have three. However, there are no changes in the PMBOK Guide. So what are the differences? In our opinion, currently, you have changes about the project manager role, leadership, management etc. These questions are now scored within the old five domains. In the new exam, they will be considered part of the leadership domain (42%). Currently, business related questions might be linked to the initiating domain, in the new exam they would most likely be in the business domain (8%).

Will there be new questions?

Based on what I read, the only real – content change – is the agile practice guide is now in the exam. Currently, there are many agile questions but the agile guide was NOT included, now we understand it will be included.

Merging PMP with ACP?

One colleague commented on an online post that it might appear that the PMP and ACP are merging and maybe PMI will indeed merge them. I do not believe so for a simple reason, these are the two leading cash cows for PMI and no one kills a productive cow. So in my opinion, including agile in the PMP (it appears the new exam will give agile a lot of focus) does not make sense but I could be wrong. This is part of PMI being a follower, not a leader, see next.

Is PMI leading or following?

I wrote about this in the past and I am of the opinion that PMI is following not leading. Following who? It is membership. PMI membership is predominantly IT, software development and technology. So agile make sense for this community but Agile is limited in use outside the software domain. Please do not confuse agility with Agile. Agility, lean, and other general process improvement practices are not Agile and Scrum. For example, I came from a capital project backgrounds and in this sector poor performance results in billions if not trillions in losses, yet we barely hear anything from PMI on this topic.

I have to be clear, this is not a criticism, I am only describing the reality of PMI and its membership. PMI is catering to its membership base and that is a strategic choice for them since it generates the highest revenues.

Changes & PMBOK Guide

If project management is changing drastically, that would have been reflected in the recent PMBOK Guide. However, now we hear PMI is planning a drastic change to the PMBOK Guide. Let me leave that topic for another article. The fundamentals of project management have not changed. We always had and I think we will always follow a project life cycle to manage projects adequately. We always have functions to consider and we will always have processes for stage management.

What is changing is the organizations’ perceptions and acceptance of project management. Whether you need to make an organizational change or build a power plant, we need project management and its relevant processes and we need the product oriented processes, which are unique to an industry or domain.

But … AI, Blockchain …

I know the focus of this post is on PMP but we also keep hearing about the changes to project management. I will only say here the following: project management is driven by three engines, process, people, and tools. AI and other technology affects the tools, they would allow us to be more efficient or effective but they DO NOT change the fundamentals of management and project management.

So, how to pass the PMP Exam?

Maybe this old article can help.

Final Comment

If you really want the PMP, relax. Just make sure you are studying the latest exam prep book and you will do well. Once again, ignore the noise.

PMP Exam, PMP Certification

Did you know?

Did you know SUKAD is transforming and is working on developing the Uruk PPM Platform? We are looking for investors and supporters for this initiative. To learn more start here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8772052/. You Can also check this post.

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About Mounir Ajam

A Project Management thought leader, who believes that project management touches all people, in all aspects of life; personal and professional.Initiated and led the formation of SUKAD Corp to develop the Uruk PPM Platform.An advocate of real-world, practical and applied project management.Champion of adaptive project management, tailored methods, and organizational project management.Available anywhere in the world to advise executives and organizations on the strategic value of project management. Ready to help organizations build and sustain the Project Management Function and the capacity to lead projects successfully.