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What’s new in the 2021 PMI PMBOK 7th Edition? 

 January 11, 2021

By  Dave Litten

The New PMI PMBOK 7th Edition

If you are looking to get your PMI PMBOK PMP certification, PMBOK is one of the most important resources when getting ready for the PMP exam, and our new PMP Masterclass 2021 is based upon that.

PMI research shows that many projects today are using some form of an agile or hybrid approach, so there is a definite need to shift away from the process-based way of presenting the Guide and the Standard.

The new approach keeps the PMBOK® Guide relevant to the changing dynamics of the project management profession.

The New PMBOK 7th Edition

The PMI Changes

The old PMBOK 6th edition was mainly focusing on predictive waterfall project management techniques. This does not mean that the waterfall life cycle is no longer needed, rather, that both frameworks have their place.

Indeed, there has been rapid growth in the use of Hybrid methods based on both predictive and adaptive frameworks.

With today’s rapid rate of change and development of new technology, competition is rife leading to shorter product and service development times coupled with swift and frequent changes during the project lifetime.

This has led to an increase in the use of adaptive lifecycles such as agile, with the application of agile project management methods and approaches iterative and incremental development frameworks.

Such agile frameworks using adaptive methods have been adopted by many industries, certainly software industries and IT, but also industries that develop non-software products and services.

PMBOK 7th Edition predictive adaptive, agile and hybrid

The Project Management Professional Certification (PMP) with around one million certified professionals is the most sought-after worldwide project management certification, the PMI PMBOK Guide needs to reflect these changing dynamics by being updates every handful of years.

There are various project environments that drive the need for differing project approaches, and these include, the industry, project requirements, and stakeholder needs. Such approaches include predictive, adaptive, agile, scrum, or hybrid.

As always, the choice of approach is driven by the need for a successful project and value delivery.

Why The PMI is important?

The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers a professional certification for project managers, known as the Project Management Professional (PMP)®. PMI’s professional certification examination development processes stand apart from other project management certification examination development practices.

PMI aligns its process with certification industry best practices, such as those found in the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. The PMP® certification is also accredited against the internationally recognized ISO 17024 standard.

PMBOK Role Delineation Study

A key component of this process is that organizations wishing to offer valid and reliable professional credentialing examinations are directed to use a Role Delineation Study (RDS) or Job Task Analysis (JTA) as the basis for the creation of the examination.

This process utilizes knowledge and task-driven guidelines to assess the practitioner’s competence and determine the levels of salience, criticality, and frequency of each of the knowledge, tasks and skills required to perform to the industry-wide standard in the role of a
project manager.

PMI conducted a Global Practice Analysis market research study, which produced several trends in the profession previously unaddressed in the PMP exam. These trends were used as inputs into the Job Task Analysis and ensure the validity and relevance of the PMP examination.

Thus, the Job Task Analysis guarantees that each examination validly measures all elements of the project management profession in terms of real settings, so that PMP certification holders can be confident that their professional certification has been developed according to best practices based upon input from the practitioners who establish those standards.

PMP 2021 Exam Content PMBOK 7th Edition

The PMP examination is a vital part of the activities leading to earning a professional certification, thus it is imperative that the PMP examination reflect accurately the practices of the project management practitioner.

All the questions on the examination have been written and extensively reviewed by qualified PMP certification holders and tracked to at least two academic references.

Half of the examination will represent predictive project management approaches and the other half will represent agile or hybrid approaches.

Predictive, agile, and hybrid approaches will be found throughout the three domain areas listed above and are not isolated to any specific domain or task.

A domain is defined as the high-level knowledge area that is essential to the practice of project management.

Tasks are defined as the underlying responsibilities of the project manager within each domain area.

Enablers are illustrative examples of the work associated with the task. Please note that enablers are not meant to be an exhaustive list but rather offer a few examples to help demonstrate what the task encompasses.

Here is an example of the new task structure:

  • Manage Conflict
  • Interpret the source and stage of the conflict
  • Evaluate/recommend/reconcile the appropriate conflict resolution

Principle-driven Project Management

The PMBOK Seventh edition, project management standards will be principle-based rather than processes. Such principles are drawn from current best practice project management.

Rather than a focus on project deliverables, the PMBOK 7th Edition is based on outcomes.

Thus, the PMBOK 7th Edition includes not just projects producing products or service deliverables, but also outcomes bringing value to the organization and its stakeholders.

Here is a summary of the PMBOK 7th Edition:

PMBOK 7th Edition

PMBOK Project Delivery Principles

PMBOK 7th Edition, has replaced knowledge areas with performance domains. There are Tailoring, Models, Methods and Artifacts chapters as well.

The PMBOK 7th edition, shifts from the process-based approach to the principle-based approach.

Instead of processes, inputs, outputs, tools, and techniques, project delivery focuses on principles and outcomes.

Knowledge areas do not exist in PMBOK anymore as they are replaced by performance domains.

Projects are fundamental components of the Value Delivery System and principles will guide the Project Managers, Team Members and stakeholders on how to achieve intended outcomes to deliver value to the organization and stakeholders.

PMBOK Business Value Realization

Projects are fundamental components of the Value Delivery System and principles will guide the Project Managers, Team Members and stakeholders on how to achieve intended outcomes to deliver value to the organization and stakeholders.

Once the projects are delivered successfully, expected business values must be earned to the organization as well. This is called “Business Value Realization”.

Based on the realized business values (benefits) and outcomes of the delivered projects, organizations derive their strategy to initiate new portfolios.

Project teams can produce outcomes by using different delivery approaches. For some projects, activities might be clear and the results can be achieved by completing the activities.

However, for some projects, there might be ongoing activities, monitoring and elaborating the outcomes of previous activities to determine the next steps in the project.

Therefore, “project delivery” is used instead of “project management” in PMBOK 7th edition to cover outcomes as well as deliverables of a project.

PMBOK Value Delivery System PMBOK 7th Edition

The figure above shows the “Value Delivery System” approach coming with PMBOK 7th Edition. Based on this system, strategies, missions or objectives of an organization decides the next portfolios or investments.

Portfolios can include sub-portfolios, programs or projects. To ensure the objectives of the portfolios, program and project delivery must reach its intended targets.

Based on the outcomes of the projects, business impacts are analyzed and portfolios are reviewed or adjusted for future steps.

The 12 PMBOK Project Delivery Principles

There are 12 principles in PMBOK 7th edition, and these principles define the “what” and “why” of the project delivery.

Project delivery principles describe a fundamental truth, norm, or value and not prescriptive. In order to ensure the intended outcomes of the project delivery, project team members must follow these principles.

In order to ensure the intended outcomes of the project delivery, project team members must follow these principles.

Stewardship: Be a diligent, respectful, and caring steward.
Team: Build a culture of accountability and respect.
Stakeholders: Engage stakeholders to understand their interests and needs.
Value: Focus on value.
Holistic Thinking: Recognize and respond to systems’ interactions.
Leadership: Motivate, influence, coach, and learn.
Tailoring: Tailor the delivery approach based on context.
Quality: Build quality into processes and results.
Complexity: Address complexity using knowledge, experience, and learning.
Opportunities & Threats: Address opportunities and threats.
Adaptability & Resilience: Be adaptable and resilient.
Change Management: Enable change to achieve the envisioned future state.

PMBOK Principles of Project Management PMBOK 7th Edition

The Project Performance Domains

The Project Performance Domains are broad areas of focus for project management and project delivery that will concentrate on outcomes.

There are 8 Project Performance Domains:

  1. Team
  2. Stakeholders
  3. Life Cycle
  4. Planning
  5. Navigation and Ambiguity
  6. Delivery
  7. Performance
  8. Project Work

Previous editions of The PMBOK Guide consisted of 5 Process Groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing.

In the PMBOK Guide 7th Edition, The Standard for Project Management will now cover the Value Delivery System, with its focus on delivering valuable outcomes and value to the organization and stakeholders.

PMBOK Domains and Process Groups

PMBOK Domains and Process Groups PMBOK 7th Edition

There are 35 new task areas:

PMBOK People Domain

PMBOK People Domain PMBOK 7th Edition

PMBOK PEOPLE Domain – 42%

42% of the exam questions will be based upon this domain.

  • Manage conflict
  • Lead a team
  • Support team performance
  • Empower team members and stakeholders
  • Ensure team members/stakeholders are adequately trained
  • Build a team
  • Address and remove impediments, obstacles, and blockers for the team
  • Negotiate project agreements
  • Collaborate with stakeholders
  • Build shared understanding
  • Engage and support virtual teams
  • Define team ground rules
  • Mentor relevant stakeholders
  • Promote team performance through the application of emotional intelligence

PMBOK Process Domain

PMBOK Process Domain

PMBOK PROCESS Domain – 50%

50% of the exam will be based upon this domain.

  • Execute project with the urgency required to deliver business value
  • Manage communications
  • Assess and manage risks
  • Engage stakeholders
  • Plan and manage budget and resources
  • Plan and manage schedule
  • Plan and manage quality of products/deliverables
  • Plan and manage scope
  • Integrate project planning activities
  • Manage project changes
  • Plan and manage procurement
  • Manage project artifacts
  • Determine appropriate project methodology/methods and practices
  • Establish project governance structure
  • Manage project issues
  • Ensure knowledge transfer for project continuity
  • Plan and manage project/phase closure or transitions

PMBOK Business Domain

PMBOK  Business Domain

BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT – 8%

8% of the exam questions will be based upon this domain.

  • Plan and manage project compliance
  • Evaluate and deliver project benefits and value
  • Evaluate and address external business environment changes for impact on scope
  • Support organizational change

Dave Litten


David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for USA multinationals, and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of Project Management Masterclasses, under the Projex Academy brand name. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.

The Projex Academy

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