Andy’s Predictions for The 5th Edition PMBOK® Guide

Home The Savvy PM Blog Andy’s Predictions for The 5th Edition PMBOK® Guide

Although it seems like the ink just dried on the 4th edition PMBOK® Guide, the 5th edition is slated to come out as an exposure draft early in 2012. The team is currently working hard on this revision, which takes place every 4 years. It would then go into effect roughly a year later. Even though the first most of you will see of this is a year away, I have some predictions for you.

First of all, don’t expect any major process changes. The core team has adopted the position that “the 4th edition got it right.” This, by itself, is a big deal, and it means that the 5th edition should look highly similar. If there is a change in the core number of processes or the nature of those processes, expect it to be slight. For those who were around to witness the seismic shift that occurred when the 2nd Edition was revised to the 3rd (2004/2005), this should come as some relief.  That said, every team who revises the PMBOK® Guide deals with the urge to leave their impression on it, and more often than not, that results in new processes being added.

Second, expect to see Agile take a more prominent role. This is overdue, due to the fact that quite a few project managers now use (or at least experiment with) Agile. There is a lot of discussion taking place behind closed doors on how to integrate the primarily execution-oriented Agile practices with the more deliberate planning bent that makes up the PMBOK® Guide. I predict that will result in quite a bit of vague language.

Also I expect to see an “AgileBOK” appear in 2012. There are a few reasons I believe this might happen. First, PMI will be offering an Agile exam, and where there is an exam, there is going to be some kind of standard to codify the body of knowledge. Also, there is only so much you can say about Agile in the PMBOK® Guide. It needs its own document. Trying to shoehorn all of the Agile knowledge into the PMBOK® Guide would just be too awkward (although believe me, there are people who want it done that way). The documents will be separate but compatible. Still not convinced? Go back and read the Agile Manifesto, and ask yourself how you would make all of this fit inside The PMBOK® Guide (without dismantling or radically changing The PMBOK® Guide, which would not be an option).

Finally, I expect to see changes in the way The PMBOK® Guide deals with initiating processes. If you look back over the history of The PMBOK® Guide, this area has been in flux more than most of the others. The reason is this: while projects must be initiated, project managers are rarely the ones who initiate them. We’re all still struggling to get this right and to determine what a project manager’s responsibility is in initiation.

I’ll be monitoring these developments very closely, and rest assured that the PMP® exam book will undergo numerous revisions between now and then and will stay lockstep with the PMBOK® Guide and the exam.

How about you, readers? What is on your wish list for the 5th edition?