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Episode 470: The PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition - First Impressions (Free)

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In this episode, Cornelius Fichtner gives you his initial executive overview of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Seventh Edition.

Learn how PMBOK 7 was developed, by looking at a brief history of the guide. You'll also get an introduction to both the new project management principles and performance domains. This includes a review of how this document fits into the overall world of PM standards in the world -- or rather, how it doesn't.

In part two of the review, Cornelius also answers the question: "Should I use the PMBOK Guide 7th Edition or 6th Edition for my PMP exam preparation at this time?"

This episode was recorded live and, as usual, we got some insightful questions and comments from the audience!

Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam: PMP Exam prep
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Episode Transcript

Video Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: In this episode, I will give you my first impressions of the The PMBOK® Guide Seventh Edition.

Hello, and welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™ at This is the live stream for Episode #470 and I’m Cornelius Fichtner. Always nice to be with you. Thank you for joining me today.

And for those of you who are not joining me today and who are accessing this episode recorded, not live, please do remember this is a video episode. So if you are only getting the audio and not the video then please do look for the “Play video episode” link in your podcast app, or visit

So, what are we going to be doing today?

Video Presentation

Cornelius Fichtner: On July first of this year, the electronic version of the PMBOK® Guide Seventh Edition was released by the Project Management Institute. In its structure, the seventh edition marks a major departure from all previous versions because this new addition is principles based, whereas all previous versions were process oriented. My goal today is to give you my initial executive, high-level overview of the PMBOK® Guide Seventh Edition. In other words, we’ll go into the details.

And here in part one as you can see on the screen, we’ll see how this new version was developed. We’ll introduce the principles and the domains. And we’ll take a look at how it fits in.

And then in part two, we’ll take a look at how the Project Management Professional (PMP) Exam and also PMP Exam preparation studies are affected by this new version of the PMBOK® Guide.

Also, a few days ago, I put out a survey. I was asking for your questions about the new seventh edition and I received over, and I read this, checked before I started this live stream here, 71 questions from you. And I think I have them all covered today because so many people were asking the same question. But if you have any additional questions for me during the live stream, then please don’t hesitate. Put that into the chat. I’ll bring them up and I’ll answer them right now.

So I did mention that survey that I have and now what we’re going to do is let me show you the number one question that I got from you for this live presentation here today.

This is the number one question: My exam, my PMP Exam is very soon. Which PMBOK version do I use? And here is the answer to that question. If you are taking the exam in 2021 then use the PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition, okay? For those of you taking it in 2021, use the PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition. I will get back to this. In part two, we’ll look at the details. I’ll explain exactly how this works and why you should be using the PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition.

The first people have joined us here. Uma is here: “Hello, Cornelius.” And we also have Cor Scheepers joining us from Johannesburg in South Africa. Hello, everybody!

Okay! Let’s go on to part one of today’s live stream --- The PMBOK® Guide Seventh Edition where I want to give you my executive overview and first impressions. Here they are: All the seven editions of the PMBOK® Guide. So the PMBOK® Guide is officially called A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, PMBOK® Guide. It is a publication by the Project Management Institute, by PMI, and it documents the standards and good practices for the field of project management.

The first edition to the sixth edition, they were very much focused on describing how a project is managed using processes like process of how to develop a work breakdown structure, for example. You can see this here on the screen like the third edition, it had 44 processes then the fourth edition for two processes and so on.

But the big break comes this year with the PMBOK® Guide Seventh Edition because PMI is going away from this process focus. And instead, we are now discussing the how a process, how a project should be done. We’re not discussing that any longer. We are discussing the ‘what,’ the principles. You can see this at the bottom right there where you can see the seventh edition now has 12 principles and 8 performance domains as what they call them. No more any processes described in the PMBOK® Guide.

Okay! So, let’s go on. Let’s talk about this. So we’re going from the processes to the principles. But we’re also going from the ‘how’ to the ‘what,’ okay? So, the ‘what’ is now what PMBOK® Guide seven describes. It is a high-level, executive overview of what you’re supposed to be doing in project management. The principles that underly your actions in project management as you’re executing your projects. Whereas, in PMBOK six, five, four, three, two, one, PMIstandards+, Prince2, Scrum, Agile, the ISO Standards, the old ANSI standards, pick up any project management methodology, right, that’s where they go. So they go on the second level there under the ‘how do we do project management.’

Let’s jump in and take a look what this looks like in comparison here, the ‘how’ to the ‘what.’ What you see here is taken from the PMBOK® Guide Seventh Edition. Many of these graphics that you see are from the seventh edition, and what you see here is on the left-hand side, you see a run-down of the PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition; that’s the orange block. And on the right side, the purple block, that is the seventh edition.

Now, what many people don’t actually realize is the PMBOK® Guide, since I believe the fourth edition, consisted of two documents. It consisted of the PMBOK® Guide itself and also the ANSI standard for project management, okay? And this is what you see here on the left-hand side. The top slightly salmon, is that what that color would be, with the background there? That’s the PMBOK® Guide. And the white block underneath that, that is the standard for project management.

Now, in the PMBOK® Guide Seventh Edition, they flipped this around. At the top, the white block on the right-hand side, that is the ANSI standard for project management. And this is where PMI introduces the 12 project management principles, okay?

And then below that, you can see this slightly purple, light purple block right there, this is the actual guide to the project management body of knowledge. SO that is the PMBOK® Guide in which PMI now introduces us to eight project performance domains.

And then at the very bottom, you see two arrows pointing to the very bottom there, that’s where PMI is now introducing PMIstandards+. This is the digital content platform. The idea behind this is that the PMBOK® Guide no longer includes all the detailed information about, for example, what goes into a project charter. That information used to be in PMBOK one to six, but PMBOK seven because it is now a very high-level, executive overview of project management, that information is no longer in the PMBOK® Guide. It doesn’t mean it’s no longer valid or true. So PMI had to figure out a way of well, where do we put this, okay? They put it online. So they’ve taken all the detailed information about the ‘how’ for project management. So how do you create a charter? How do you create a work breakdown structure? What is included in a charter? All of that information is now on PMIstandards+. I believe PMIstandards+ is free to all members at this time. Okay.

Alright! I’m starting questions already about how does this impact the Simulator? What about the PMP Exam? As I said early on, in part one, we’re looking at the PMBOK® Guide and in part two, we’re going to jump into the PMP Exam. So give it some time, we’ll get there eventually. Okay!

So, let’s zoom onto the right-hand side here, onto the right block there. As you can see those two blocks, the white block at the top, that is part one of the PMBOK® Guide. This is the ANSI standard, okay? The ANSI standard of project management or for project management rather. And this is where PMI introduces those principles. And then at the bottom, you see the actual PMBOK® Guide. That’s kind of where PMI goes in and says: Okay, let us translate these principles and show you, you know, what that means on real-life projects. That’s what’s happening here. Okay, so we now start with the standard and then we go into those eight performance domains.

And how exactly does this work? PMI has these graphic here for us. At the top, we have the principles. So it’s basically the same as this one right here, right? So the white block becomes the table at the top and the purple block becomes your circles, right, so it’s the same idea here, the top and bottom block.

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

PDUs: Ways of Working, PMBOK Guide, PMBOK Guide 7th Edition

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Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP® Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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