PMBOK® Version 5

What's New and Who Cares?

Christine Moore, PMP, CPF - December 2012

In January, the Project Management Institute® (PMI®) will begin shipping version 5 of it’s globally recognized standard known simply as “the PMBOK”. Whether you welcome changes to this well-known standard or not, they will impact many people and their organizations.

Who’s Impacted?

As in any project there are many stakeholders for the new PMBOK, and some will be impacted more than others. Those seeking certifications based on the PMBOK® (PMP®, CAPM®, PMI-SP®, PMI-RP®) will definitely be impacted: “Which version do I study?” Also impacted are those of us in the business of delivering training services based on the PMBOK®: “Which version do I teach?”.

Also impacted are organizations who encourage certification and base their internal project practices on the PMBOK®. Organizations advocating and enforcing project management practices based on the PMBOK® really should pay attention to the changes.

The current economic environment makes it critical to demonstrate our value and keep ourselves sharp so as to stand out from the rest of the very competitive crowd. This means that if you’re a current holder of a PMI credential and you haven’t glanced at the PMBOK® in awhile, now might be a good time to get current.

What’s Changing?

Late last spring PMI® published a draft of the proposed changes in order to gain feedback. Based on this early draft, rumbling in the community, and what is currently posted on, here’s what we know and my commentary:

  • Added a knowledge area: Stakeholder Engagement
    This is a very good change, and long overdue. Also, because Stakeholder is now its own knowledge area, the Communication knowledge area, where stakeholder management used to reside, is crisper.
  • Better aligned PMBOK® with other standards including the new Agile Project Management standard.
    If the changes I’ve seen proposed by the agile community actually make it in, there will be some very good additions regarding adaptive life cycles, rolling wave planning, and schedule control. This is really good for the reported majority of PMI members who are involved in I.T projects because it brings the PMBOK® closer to their reality.
  • Added (gone back to?) planning steps in the Scope, Schedule, and Cost knowledge areas which means new activities associated with planning each of these areas. This is also good because it emphasizes the need for every project to think about a fit for purpose approach.

Ripple Affects

PMI® has confirmed the exams based on the PMBOK® will change mid-2013 according to the following schedule:

Credential Date of Exam
Change to PMBOK®
Version 5
Professional Project Manager
July 31, 2013
Certified Associate in Project Management
July 31, 2013
Program Management Professional
July 31, 2013
Risk Management Professional
August 31, 2013
Scheduling Professional
August 31, 2013

Also Changing!

The PMI® standard for Program Management and the standard for Portfolio Management are also both being updated to their respective version 3’s in January, and should clear up some of the issues we saw in earlier versions of both. Program and Portfolio Management are key to implementing and exectuing strategy in our organizations, and these standards should be much better aligned to reality than the previous versions.

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