What the New PMBOK(r) Guide, Sixth Edition Means for the Future of Project Management

Project Management Institute published the sixth edition of the PMBOK(r) Guide back in September 2017. As such, the Project Management Professional PMP(r) certification exam was updated to comply with the new release of the guide on March 26, 2018. While there have been significant changes to the guide, which you can read about on the PMI website, I will be outlining the major shifts in project management focus that will without a doubt change the future of project management.

Increased Focus on Agile

The PMBOK(r) Guide sixth edition is now paired with a complement, The Agile Practice Guide, that is developed in partnership with the Agile Alliance. In addition to this Agile Practice Guide, each knowledge area includes a section highlighting considerations for Agile/adaptive environments. There is also a new appendix covering the full spectrum of life project environments -- Agile, Iterative, Adaptive and Hybrid.'

Agile graphic

These additions to the PMBOK(r) Guide signal an industry-wide acceptance of the growing use of Agile in organizations globally. Project Managers will have to acquire some knowledge on how to deal with teams and projects in an Agile environment. As the prevalence of Agile grows, Project Managers will need to embrace the "collaborate and support" form of management and learn the best way to create the appropriate environment for their project teams.

Emphasis on Delivering Value & The Business Strategy

The traditional measures of success of scope, within budget and schedule are no longer sufficient -- it's equally about the value that completed project contributes to the organization's mission and strategy. This new edition of the PMBOK(r) Guide emphasizes the importance of aligning projects with the business strategy, and Project Managers will need to learn the necessary skills to ensure the alignment of their projects with the organization strategy.

To further emphasize the need for Project Managers to understand how a project fits into organizational strategy and what benefits that organization is trying to realize, the new PMBOK(r) Guide prescribes the involvement of Project Managers in pre- and post- project activities. Project Managers are now involved in the development of the benefits management plans, and, in addition to the traditional project management activities, should monitor the benefits realization, during and after project completion.

office workers sitting at conference table

This shift in focus highlights the importance of the business case document and benefits management plan. The business case tries to answer the question, "Is the project worth the investment?" while the benefits management plan highlights the necessary work to be done, as well as the tools, the timing, and the resources to achieve the benefits, the project is set out to realize.

Ultimately, it means that for tomorrow's Project Managers, success isn't just about the project; it's about the value that project delivers.

Predictions for the Future of Project Management

PMI has updated new PMBOK(r) Guide to meet the changing trends in the project management profession and to standardize the terms, the organization and the presentation of the inputs, tools and techniques and outputs, across the processes, and the knowledge areas. The body of knowledge is constantly evolving, which provides the necessary knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques for Project Managers to succeed in the changing environments.

person on laptop surrounded by illustrations

Based on the changes I've seen in the PMBOK(r) Guide, as well as through my experiences as a project manager and instructor, my predictions for the future of project management are:

    • More and more projects will be managed in change-oriented environments, and success will require a lot more than just traditional project management skills.
    • Project Managers of the future will:
        • Be agile
        • Support their teams in an agile organizational framework and empower them
        • Embrace changes that provide customer advantage
        • Be aware of their project's role within the organizational strategy
        • Create opportunities for their teams by finding ways to add value to the customer
        • Develop the skills to manage remotely, locally, globally and across cultures

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AUTHOR: Hamid Aougab