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The PMP® Exam Is Changing! Here’s What’s New

The PMP® Exam Is Changing! Here’s What’s New

The world of project management education doesn’t stand still. It feels to me like the changes that happen are evolutionary rather than transformative, but it’s still good to see the methods and standards continue to develop.

I’m not actually sure what a transformative update would look like – evolutionary is probably the only way to go.

2017 has got big changes on the horizon for both the Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential and PRINCE2®. Let me tell you what’s going on with PMI today and we’ll cover PRINCE2 in another article.

Updated PMI Guidance Due September 2017

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition is due out in September. It’s a standard that describes the norms, processes and practices for getting project work done but alone it doesn’t tell you how to do a project. It’s more of a collection of knowledge, guidelines and best practices.

And it’s being refreshed. This looks to be a really practical update to the guidance.

For example, we’re expecting the tone of the material to be a lot softer. Instead of ‘do this’ it will be ‘here are some options’.

This means project managers will have to rely far more on professional judgment to choose the correct route for their activities, but the guidance is still there to back you up.

There’s also going to be a new chapter on the role of the project manager, aligned to the PMI Talent Triangle.

PMBOK Knowledge Area Updates

There are 10 knowledge areas within the PMBOK® Guide. These are:

  1. Project Integration Management
  2. Project Scope Management
  3. Project Time Management. In the next edition this changes to Schedule Management
  4. Project Cost Management
  5. Project Quality Management
  6. Project Human Resource Management. In the next edition this changes to Resource Management
  7. Project Communications Management
  8. Project Risk Management
  9. Project Procurement Management
  10. Project Stakeholder Management.

There will also be 4 new sections for each knowledge area:

  1. Key Concepts
  2. Trends and Emerging Practices
  3. Tailoring Considerations
  4. Considerations for Agile/Adaptive Environments

As yet I can’t tell you what these will look like, but it hopefully means the knowledge area sections will be easier to follow and understand. I like the idea of tailoring considerations as well. This is something PRINCE2 has had for some time.

PMP Changes

Updates to the Processes

There are 3 new processes in the 6th edition:

  • Manage Project Knowledge
  • Control Resources
  • Implement Risk Responses (and there’s a new risk response called ‘Escalate Responses’ i.e. pass the problem on to someone else)

They’ve also deleted the Close Procurements process. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to do the work of that process any longer. It’s now consolidated into the tasks to do in the Close Project or Phase process, which makes sense.

Some processes also get new names:

  • Perform Quality Assurance becomes Manage Quality
  • Plan Human Resource Management becomes Plan Resource Management
  • Acquire Project Team becomes Acquire Resources
  • Control Communications becomes Monitor Communications
  • Control Risks becomes Monitor Risks (I do like the shift from ‘control’ to ‘monitor’. It implies that there is fallibility in our roles, and that’s a good thing)
  • Plan Stakeholder Management becomes Plan Stakeholder Engagement (at last!!!!)
  • Control Stakeholder Engagement becomes Monitor Stakeholder Engagement (because the idea of controlling stakeholders if frankly laughable)

And there’s guidance on tailoring the processes to help you decide which ones your project needs you to spend more time on and which you can kind of gloss over.

There are some other smaller changes too. My best advice is to check the published exam content outline before you apply for the exam so you know exactly what is covered and what’s expected of you.

PMP® Exam Changes from Q1

The new PMBOK® Guide is due out in September 2017 but the content won’t be tested in an exam setting until Q1 2018. I’m not sure yet exactly when the new exam papers will be first used (the thoughts at the moment are that it will be January) but you’ll be fine using the old version to study for your exam at least until the end of the year.

If you are planning your PMP® Exam for 2018 then my advice would be to wait until the new 6th edition is out and then work from that. While the changes are slight in terms of how they will affect the way you do your job, they are substantial in terms of new vocabulary and ensuring you understand what’s being asked when you come across particular PMI terms.

I covered this (at a higher level) in a webinar recently which was kindly sponsored by Genius Project.

Whatever qualification or credential you go for, the one thing they all have in common is that they give you the tools and techniques, and skills to manage projects professionally.

You can’t put those skills into practice unless you have the underlying support systems to back you up. Genius is a product that seems like it is constantly nominated for one award or another. Designed to manage the entire life cycle of your projects, Genius Project provides industry solutions built on powerful collaboration and workflow capabilities.

Genius Project Software Selection Guide

The PMP® Exam Is Changing! Here’s What’s New

About Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth HarrinElizabeth Harrin FAPM is a professional project manager and award-winning blogger behind A Girl's Guide To Project Management. She's passionate about demystifying project management and making tools and techniques work in the real world. She's also the author of several books including the PMI bestseller, Collaboration Tools for Project Managers.
Elizabeth lives in the UK with her family. She uses her organisation and project management skills at home, and also to help other bloggers at Totally Organised Blogging.


  1. Thank you Elizabeth for sharing, it summarize very well all the changes. I just shared your post in Linkedin 🙂


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