This article is sponsored by Pocket Prep.
It’s widely known that the PMP® exam is changing next year, but I’ve found it hard to uncover exactly what is going to be different. PMI have produced a webinar about the upcoming changes and that helped a lot. If you don’t have the time to watch it here I summarise below everything you need to know about the changes.
Whoa, the exam is changing? I didn’t know. How did that happen?
OK, so maybe it’s not that widely known.
Every so often PMI carry out a Role Delineation Study (RDS). In other words, they look at what a project manager actually does day-to-day and link this back to the qualification. If they didn’t, you’d find that the PMP exam was still based on the ways of working we had back when the credential was first introduced.
This latest RDS has shown that the project manager’s role has changed slightly, so they’ve updated the exam to reflect that.
When is the PMP® exam changing?
It was going to change in November but now the date is 11 January 2016. That’s to give all the training and e-learning providers like Pocket Prep time to prepare for the change, plus notice for candidates who would rather take the exam under the current arrangements.
11 January 2016 is the last day to take the test under the current version so if you are currently studying and you don’t want to have to think about these changes, crack on and book your exam before then.
What is changing?
In total, 8 new tasks have been added to the exam content outline. They are split between the 5 knowledge domains as follows.
Initiating the Project: 3 tasks have been added
The new tasks are:
- Identify key deliverables based on the business requirements in order to manage customer expectations and direct the achievement of project goals.
- Conduct benefit analysis with relevant stakeholders to validate project alignment with organisational strategy and expected business value.
- Inform stakeholders of the approved project charter to ensure common understanding of the key deliverables, milestones and their roles and responsibilities.
You can see from this that there’s an increased focus on a new area: business benefits, strategy and benefits realisation. The RDS showed that project managers are getting involved earlier in projects at the point where benefits analysis is being carried out so the exam is being updated to reflect that.
The part about the involvement of the project manager in the project charter is also different. The RDS showed that it’s not solely the project manager’s responsibility to produce the project charter (thankfully). The role we play is more to do with contributing to the charter and then managing the relationship with the stakeholders once it has been approved to ensure they know what it means for them.
Planning the Project: 1 task has been added
The new task is:
- Develop the stakeholder management plan by analysing needs, interests and potential impact in order to effectively manage stakeholders’ expectations and engage them in project decisions.
Stakeholder management (or engagement, if you want to use a more up-to-date term) has long been an interest of mine and I’m glad to see that this is now better reflected in the material in the test.
Executing the Project: 2 tasks have been added
The new tasks are:
- Manage the flow of information by following the communications plan in order to keep stakeholders engaged and informed.
- Maintain stakeholder relationships by following the stakeholder management plan in order to receive continued support and manage expectations.
Again, there’s a thread here about working with stakeholders. The changes acknowledge that a stakeholder relationship is not just one way: project managers don’t simply push out communication to their stakeholders. Instead, they have to build successful working relationships, which is a bit different from sending out a monthly report.
Monitoring and Controlling the Project: 2 tasks have been added
The new tasks are:
- Capture, analyse and manage lessons learned using lessons learned management techniques in order to enable continuous improvement.
- Monitor procurement activities according to the procurement plan in order to verify compliance with project objectives.
Whoop, a new focus on lessons learned! I like it. I especially like that it isn’t part of the Closing domain as I’m a firm believer in the fact that you should capture lessons throughout the project.
There’s nothing new in the Closing domain.
OK. Anything else changing?
Some of the terminology and language of the other tasks has changed, although the principles behind the task stay the same. I can’t find a current exam outline on the PMI website so I couldn’t do a line by line comparison, so my judgement on this is that it isn’t a big deal.
A few tasks have been dropped so you won’t see questions on the exam paper about those areas any longer.
Finally, there is a shift in the weighting of the questions that you’ll get in the exam. The picture below shows you how the domains are split up in terms of percentage of the exam questions.
Most notably, Executing has increased to 31% and Closing now only makes up 7% of the questions. Overall it means that 25% of your exam will focus on the new topic areas that were previously not tested – this is the 8 new tasks we saw above.
What do I need to do?
First, don’t panic. It sounds very different but your reference materials are still the same. The PMBOK Guide – Fifth Edition has never been the only book you need to get through the exam and that stays the same. If you are clear about the concepts described in there, you have covered a lot of the material.
Second, get yourself a copy of the exam outline. This is the document that outlines exactly what is going to be in the exam. If you are comfortable with the topics in here, then you’ll be fine with the questions.
Finally, make sure you are using exam preparation materials that reflect the new exam structure. All the training providers should be updating their products and apps with exam simulators like Pocket Prep’s PMP Exam Prep app will show you test questions that reflect the new tasks and the change in domain weighting.
My main discovery is that although there is a new exam content outline and even new tasks to be tested, if you know your course material and are experienced as a project manager (which you will be, as the eligibility criteria are not changing), then you should have nothing to worry about. You still need to study, obviously, but the changes are natural and for the most part, intuitive. Take some practice exams to build your confidence and then go for it! Good luck!
— Pocket Prep (@pocketprep) October 27, 2015