PMBOK v5 Guide Exposure Draft Out for Review

This content is syndicated from LeadingAnswers: Leadership and Agile Project Management Blog by Mike Griffiths. To view the original post in full, click here.


PMBOK v5 GuideThe PMBOK v5 Guide Exposure Draft opens for public review today – so you can now read it and submit your recommendations for changes. The Exposure Draft is the first open access version to the latest version of the PMBOK Guide which is due to be published at the end of the year. This also marks the first time people writing can publicly talk about it ( or at least I am guessing so since if it available to members now the content is hardly a secret anymore)

PMI members can view the Exposure Draft here and scan Append X1 for a summary of changes.

The major changes are:

  1. Bringing the PMBOK Guide inline with a number of other standards documents
  2. Taking out Chapter 3 (The Standard for Project Management) making it an ANSI approved standard and moving it to an Appendix
  3. Adding a new Chapter 13 – Stakeholder Engagement and splitting Chapter 11 – Communications content among the remaining Chapter 11 and the new chapter 13
  4. Adding “Plan” steps to the Scope Management, Schedule Management, Cost Management and Stakeholder Management so we get new activities of “Plan Scope Management”, “Plan Schedule Management”, “Plan Cost Management” and “Plan Stakeholder Management”.

I got engaged in the development of the PMBOK v5 Guide to inject some agile content. This was a struggle since the Guide is industry agnostic, not just for IT or even Knowledge Worker projects and so we have to be very careful not to add, at worst harmful or at best irrelevant, information that does not apply.

The other struggle is that while you can suggest content, if your other contributors don’t agree with it they will just vote to take it out. Anyway the word ‘agile: does make it into the new guide 9 times. - So far, other reviewers could recommend it be removed.

These refer to the ACP certification, the Software Extension to the PMBOK Guide, lifecycles, and in Chapter 6 on Scheduling which is the chapter I worked on. Here is the excerpt on lifecycles Adaptive Life Cycles

Adaptive life cycles (also known as change-driven or agile methods) are intended to facilitate change and require a high degree of ongoing stakeholder involvement. Adaptive methods are also iterative and incremental, but differ in that iterations are very rapid (usually 2 to 4 weeks in length) and are fixed in time and resources. Adaptive projects generally perform all processes in each iteration, although early iterations may concentrate on planning activities.

I am not sure I agree that early iterations concentrate on planning activities, you could equally argue that they concentrate on risk reduction, work environment creation, or visioning activities. Anyway, I will submit a change request for that.

Here’s what ended up being preserved in chapter 6 Rolling Wave Planning

Rolling wave planning is an iterative planning technique in which the work to be accomplished in the near term is planned in detail, while the work in the future is planned at a more general level. It is a form of progressive elaboration. Therefore, work can exist at various levels of detail depending on where it is in the project life cycle.

For example, agile project management, originating in software development, uses iterative planning as a progression of rolling wave planning. The agile project team utilizes CPM scheduling for each development cycle (iteration). Agile project management focuses on shorter development cycles and tangible results for each iteration; the focus is on creating value instead of completing activities.

6.7 Control Schedule

If an agile approach is utilized, control schedule is concerned with:

  •  Determining the current status of the project schedule by comparing the total amount of work delivered and accepted against predictions of work completed for the time elapsed,
  • Conducting retrospective reviews (scheduled lessons learned reviews) for correcting processes and improving, if required,
  • Reprioritizing the remaining work plan (backlog),
  • Determining the rate of delivery (velocity) and acceptance of work per iteration (agreed work cycle duration, typically two weeks or one month),

Never have I worked so hard, to write so little, about agile. One concern I have is that people will ask: “Why does the chapter on Schedule Management talk about agile when none of the other chapters do?” Since the easier fix is to rip it out of Schedule Management than add it to the other chapters where it is needed. This would result in the loss of some agile guidance in the PMBOK guide and other 3 year wait to add any.

Maybe you do not care; personally I do, and think it is important that we start integrating agile concepts into the PMBOK Guide. Especially if 65% of PMI members are engaged on IT projects as research suggests. I will be suggesting the addition of agile related content to the remaining chapters and urge others to. If enough of us do it them maybe it will get incorporated.

The other changes of adding a “Plan” step to Scope Management, Schedule Management, Cost Management and Stakeholder Management is welcome. it sets the scene for tuning these activities for your project. So if you have a small project you may plan to manage stakeholders with a different set of tools than if you had a very large project.

It is a better fit for a-methodology-per-project and situationally specific process, concepts I welcome. How about you? Is the review process worth the effort? Should we try and change the PMBOK to meet our needs or manage around it doing what we need to do to be successful?

One Response to “PMBOK v5 Guide Exposure Draft Out for Review”

  1. Kelly Waters says:

    Hi Mike. I find it amazing that in 2011 with such widespread adoption of agile methods, a document that represents the body of knowledge for project managers barely acknowledges its existence and certainly does not make any serious attempt to integrate it or even describe it as an alternative method. I also care passionately about this, and cannot understand why it is not being addressed more seriously. A while ago I wrote a post where I showed how iteration management, which embodies a lot of the agile methods, could be incorporated quite easily within one particular section of PMBOK. Although this is still not extensive, simply acknowledging this and incorporating iteration management as one way of managing project execution would be a huge step forward in my view. You can see the details here –


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