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PMBOK® Guide – Fourth Edition Changes
By Cyndi Snyder Stackpole

A lot of people are wondering what is going to change with the PMBOK® Guide – Fourth Edition. There is not that much that will change with regards to the content. There are a few additions and deletions to processes, but mostly of the work was done in making the standard internally consistent. We wanted the chapters to feel more cohesive as if one person wrote the standard instead of a group of people. In addition to internal consistency, our charter required that the PMBOK® Guide – Fourth Edition be aligned with The Standard for Program Management – Second Edition and The Standard for Portfolio Management – Second Edition. We accomplished that by having one person architect and lay out chapters 1 and 2 across all three standards so that they are in agreement. This is not to say that they are identical, but the chapter structure is aligned and the content is not contradictory. There are several figures and tables that are identical across the standards to keep a consistent message when talking about the relationship between the standards.

Another step in making the standard consistent is that all process names are now in the same verb-noun format. And the inputs and outputs have a similar sequence. For example, for those processes that have enterprise environmental factors and organizational process assets as an input, we have listed these as the last inputs and have listed some examples that might apply. We have sequenced common outputs such as change requests, project management plan updates and project document updates. Like the common inputs, we have included examples of plans and documents that might be updated.

The concept of project documents is new to the PMBOK® Guide – Fourth Edition. The project management plan contains plans and baselines that are used to plan and control the project. However, there are many other documents that project managers use to help carry out the project. These are called out specifically as project documents. Examples include issue logs, duration estimates, resource requirements, change logs, etc. While not part of the project management plan, they are important tools used to keep projects on track.

In addition to clarifying the difference between the project management plan and project documents we also made a more definitive distinction between contents in the project charter and the project scope statement. The charter contains more information, but it is at a high level. The scope statement does not progressively elaborate as much of the information. It does elaborate some information, but it also contains separate information such as the project boundaries.

We have lumped together the change request, corrective action, preventive action and defect repair grouping into one heading called change requests. Where appropriate we distinguish the type of change request such as a preventive or corrective action and provide examples that might be relevant.

A final change to the inputs and outputs is that we did not have the project management plan as an input to any planning processes. While understanding that planning takes place throughout the project and that the planning project group is not a phase, we felt it would be clearer to have the specific planning process outputs as inputs to developing the project management plan and not the other way around. However, in the executing and monitoring and controlling process groups the project management plan is a key input, and the specific components are listed under the project management plan. For example, the cost performance baseline is an element of the project management plan and an input to the Control Costs process. The input is listed as the project management plan with a notation that the element in the project management plan is the cost performance baseline. This approach brings a cohesive and consistent approach to the processes across the document.

A final note change in the look of the Fourth Edition is the graphics. The figures that showed the data flow at the start of each chapter in the Third Edition were a great addition. The Fourth Edition has expanded on that concept. The figures at the beginning of the chapter have been deleted, but they have been replaced with a data flow diagram for each process. The data flow diagram shows where the inputs come from and where the outputs go to. These figures help emphasize the process orientation of the PMBOK® Guide.

Specific Changes in the Chapters

As mentioned above, our architect designed chapters 1 and 2 to align with The Standard for Program Management – Second Edition and The Standard for Portfolio Management – Second Edition. Therefore much of the structure of the first two chapters has changed.

In Chapter 1 – Introduction we are providing an overview of project management and how it fits with programs, portfolios, organizations and operations. One of the major changes is that the PMBOK® Guide no longer mentions the triple constraint of scope, schedule and cost. Instead it discusses how project managers must balance the constraints of scope, quality, schedule, budget, resources and risk.

Chapter 2 – Project Life Cycle and Organizations did not undergo major changes, but there is an expanded coverage of the project life cycle and project phases. There is also more in depth information on types of project stakeholders.

Chapter 3 – Project Management Processes for a Project is the first place the process descriptions are introduced. The text describing the processes has been edited down so that, for the most part, only the one sentence process description is used to introduce the process. This same process description is in the knowledge area chapter in the beginning of the chapter and as the first sentence of the process itself.

Chapter 4 – Project Integration Management went from seven processes to six. The Develop Preliminary Scope Statement process was eliminated. We felt that this could be addressed with the Define Scope process through the concept of progressive elaboration. The other change is the description of the project management plan as described above.

Chapter 5 – Project Scope Management moved the discussion of the scope management plan to the introduction, following the approach of the schedule management plan and the cost management plan in chapters 6 and 7 respectively. There is a new process called Collect Requirements. The main outputs of this process are a requirements management plan (part of the project management plan), a requirements traceability matrix and requirements documentation. In addition, more emphasis is place on the scope baseline comprised of the project scope statement, the WBS and the WBS dictionary.

Chapter 6 – Project Time Management eliminated the discussion of the arrow diagramming method as a technique for activity sequencing. We also aligned the information on three point estimating with cost estimating so that the content is similar.

Chapter 7 – Project Cost Management includes the three point estimating as mentioned above and added the technique of a to-complete performance index (TCPI) to the Control Cost process. The inputs and outputs for Control Scope, Control Schedule and Control Cost are more aligned than in the Third Edition.

Chapter 8 – Project Quality Management provides additional graphs and charts to demonstrate some of the concepts. There is more discussion on the cost of quality and upper and lower specification limits are introduced. The term quality baseline has been eliminated.

Chapter 9 – Project Human Resources Management added significant coverage of interpersonal skills in the Develop Project Team and Manage Project Team processes. Expanded coverage of the stages of team building, conflict management, leadership, influencing and decision making was introduced. The Manage Project Team process was moved from monitoring and controlling to the executing process group.

Chapter 10 – Project Communications Management added a new process in the initiating process group, Identify Stakeholders. The major outputs include a stakeholder register and stakeholder management strategy. The Third Edition process of Manage Stakeholders was changed to Manage Stakeholder Expectations and moved from monitoring and controlling to the executing process group.

Chapter 11 – Project Risk Management had very few changes.

Chapter 12 – Project Procurement Management consolidated six processes into four. The four processes are: Plan Procurements, Conduct Procurements, Administer Procurements and Close Procurements. The concept of teaming agreements is introduced.

The Fourth Edition has a new appendix on interpersonal skills. There was information that we felt was important to managing a project, but was not consistent with the intent of a standard. Therefore we included a brief overview of the following interpersonal skills:

  • Leadership
  • Team building
  • Motivation
  • Communication
  • Influencing
  • Decision making
  • Political and cultural awareness
  • Negotiation

That pretty much summarizes the changes. In closing I want to say that the whole experience of leading this update was quite extraordinary. The very best part about it was the opportunity to work with great people from across the globe. The content contributors essentially updated the content in about 4 months. The rest of the time various teams were planning, doing quality reviews, editing, exposing, commenting, adjudicating and all those other necessary steps in publishing a standard. I am very grateful for the opportunity and I hope that this Fourth Edition contributes to the profession.

Cynthia Snyder Stackpole MBA, PMP, is a professional project management consultant, instructor and author. She has written four books on project management and has been the technical editor on many others. She provides consulting and training services for government and private industry. Her consulting focuses on project management maturity, PMO start ups and positioning project management as a core competency for organizations. For more information or to contact Cyndi, please visit

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