What is the current edition of the PMBoK Guide and when will the new edition be released? - updated! -

Written by pmp_ admin. Posted in PMBOK® Guide


Every five to seven years, the Project Management Institute (PMI)® performs a “Role Delineation Study (RDS)”. This is basically a big survey among project managers like you and me from around the world with the goal to identify what it is that we do on our projects. As a result of the most recent RDS, PMI now has a pretty accurate picture of the tasks that we project managers perform, as well as the knowledge and skills required for our job.

PMI has used this information to update the PMP Examination Content Outline. This document is the basis for the PMP Exam. And because this document changed, the PMP exam also had to be updated.

The update to the PMP exam was scheduled for 11 January 2016. For information about these changes and what the mean to you in detail, please refer to this article: "The PMP Exam Changes After 11 January 2016. Here’s What This Means For You."

In the run-up to this date and also after the changes took place a lot of people are asking me: "Is there also a new version of the PMBoK Guide released?" or "When will the new PMBoK Guide reflecting these changes coming?".

Well, short answer is: No! There is no new PMBoK Guide version coming along with those changes! The PMBoK Guide 5th Edition is and will still be valid. So, next question would be: "And when is than the next Version of the PMBoK Guide being released?"

Well, according to the history of PMOBK Guide, PMI® would release an updated version of the PMBOK® Guide every 4 to 5 years.

Since the most current PMBOK Guide update was on December 2012, it could have been guessed that PMBOK Guide 6th Edition may be released at around end of 2016 or early 2017.
Actually PMI has initiaited the public exposure draft process and while doing that the release date for the new version was postponed to the end of 2017 for the online version and the beginning of 2018 when the printed version will become available (of course these dates are not guaranteed yet).

Based on the history PMI will allow current PMP® Certification aspirants to continue taking the PMP Exam based on the current version of the PMBOK Guide for up to half a year. Therefore it is safe to begin your PMP Exam preparation based on PMBOK Guide 5th Edition as of now.

PMI has already started the review of the PMBOK 6th edition draft with volunteers and industry experts and on Monday, 6 March 2016, the PMBoK® Guide—Sixth Edition will be open to the public for review and comment.

As a PMP aspirant you may also refer to the following guide:

PMBOK Knowledge Areas for Project Management Guide 5th Edition - Process Groups and Processes - The Complete Guide



The PMBOK Guide

PMBOK is an acronym for “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge”. It is the single most important publication by the PMI for PMP Certification aspirants to study and prepare for the PMP Exam.

Most PMP Certification aspirants have the misconception that the PMBOK Guide is the syllabus for the PMP Exam. In fact, the exam syllabus for the PMP Certification is outlined in the PMP Exam Content Outline. While there are many exam topics in the PMP Exam Content Outline covered by the PMBOK Guide, PMI has made it clear that the exam syllabus is “not bound by the PMBOK Guide”.

PMBOK has been considered as a primary source of preparation for all the PMP exam takers and industry veterans to acquire Project Management related knowledge and wisdom. PMBOK also has been a primary source to bring common understanding on the Project Management Lexicon being used by project management professionals across the globe.

PMBOK Guide 1st Edition [1996]

The first ever edition of the PMBOK Guide was first published in 1996 by PMI. PMI saw a need to put together an official document and guide to advance the development of the project management profession. It initiated a project in 1981 to develop the procedures and concepts necessary to support the development of the project management as a profession. In 1983, a special report titled the “Ethics, Standards, and Accreditation Committee Final Report” was published and the guideline for the Project Management Professional Certification was also created (the first ever PMP certification was awarded in 1984). The special report underwent further development and expansion during the subsequent years and in 1987, “The Project Management Body of Knowledge” was published as a standalone document. It was an attempt to document and standardize accepted project management information and practices. Finally after extensive consultation and revision, the PMBOK Guide (A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge) was published  in 1996 to supersede the previous documents. This was known as the PMBOK Guide 1st Edition.

PMBOK Guide 2nd Edition [2000]

It was based on the work in the PMBOK Guide 1st Edition. New materials reflecting the growth of the project management profession were included in the new edition. It aimed to include knowledge and practices that were generally accepted in the field of project management that were useful and valuable to most projects. Errors in the previous edition were corrected.

PMBOK Guide 3rd Edition [2004]

After the publication of the PMBOK Guide 2nd Edition, thousands of recommendations for improvements of the PMBOK Guide were received by the PMI. The PMI formed an editorial committee to review each recommendation and tried to incorporate the suggestions into the new PMBOK Guide as appropriate. One major change to the PMBOK Guide in this edition is to evaluate project management practices based on “generally recognized as good practice on most projects most of the time”. This essentially means that the project management practices included in the PMBOK Guide would be useful to most projects.

PMBOK Guide 4th Edition [2009]

This edition aimed to make contents the PMBOK Guide more consistent and accessible. Clear distinction between the project management plan and project documents was made. The widely recognized “triple constraints” for project management were expanded to six, namely, scope, quality, schedule, budget, resources and risk. New processes were added while obsolete processes were deleted.

PMBOK Guide 5th Edition [2013]

As usual, PMI received quite a lot of comments and recommendations to the PMBOK Guide 4th Edition and the 5th edition represents PMI’s continual efforts to update and upgrade the body of knowledge for the project management profession. The update team of PMI tried very hard to achieve consistency and clarity of the PMBOK Guide by standardizing the terms, processes, inputs and outputs. This edition also attempts to include advancements in the field of project management, in particular, rolling wave planning and adaptive lifecycle, in its contents. 

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