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Webinar: PMBOK Guide 4th Edition Changes

Posted by iammarchhare on 15 April 2009

I don’t remember where I found the link, but PMCentersUSA and ConsultUSA are putting on free joint webinars on “What’s New in the PMBOK® Guide Fourth Edition“.  The next webinar is 12 May, but sign up now to ensure you aren’t shut out!

Disclaimer: I have no connection with either PMCentersUSA or ConsultUSA other than attending the webinar, and everything here is my opinion and not necessarily theirs unless stated otherwise.

Last week, I posted an article pondering whether or not it was worth it to purchase the new PMBOK.  While the cost isn’t that high, these days a person needs to think about building up emergency funds and paying down debt, after all.  Even if you have a full-time job, you really are a contractor in today’s economy.  You are hired “at will”, and PMs can be easy targets for layoffs.  People are lucky to do 20 years at one place, let alone get a gold watch out of the deal.  However, there is good news.  If you are a member of Project Management Institute (PMI), you can access the PMBOK online now.  If this was available for the 3rd edition, it wasn’t obvious to me, but this is a welcome discovery!

The answer?  A guarded “Yes”.  I say “guarded” because the conclusion of the matter of “What has changed?” is “Not much”.  People studying for the exam could probably attend this webinar on top of what they would otherwise study and get by.  Just for passing the exam, then, it might not be worth it.  However, enough has changed that I believe I can now justify purchasing it for the day-to-day reference it provides.

So, what has changed?  I’m going to state a few highlights of the webinar, but if you want details, I encourage you to attend it.  You get the slide presentation for reference after attendance as well, so even if you miss something, you have the slides to refer back to.  I’m not going to regurgitate the entire webinar, and obviously it wouldn’t be proper for me to distribute their slides without permission.

The organization of the PMBOK has not changed.  The sections and chapters are arranged as they were in the 3rd edition.  The main changes were put into effect to enhance consistency and clarity.

Specifically, they fixed the inconsistencies for naming processes by changing them all to verb-noun type of names.  The process descriptions were rewritten to be consistent throughout the various chapters of the PMBOK.

PMI also attempted to clarify project phases.  They not only added wording to to distinguish them from project management process groups, but also took the diagram found on p 19 of a single phased project and edited it for a multi-phased project published on p 21.

One criticism I have of the changes is that one of the “clarity” items was a change to the data flow diagrams.  There are now little bullets along the flow lines, and it just looks confusingly cluttered.

Corrective action, preventative action, defect repair and requested changes are now grouped under “change requests”.  This is a welcome change, IMO.

There are some difference in process organization.  Instead of 44, there now are 42.  2 were added, 2 were deleted, and 6 were reorganized into 4.

There is now an Appendix G on People Skills.  You know, the soft skills I’ve been harping on.  And no, I don’t recall being told that this was a change in the PMBOK previously, so I pat myself on the back.

I do have a nit about it, though.  It lists “leadership”, “motivation” and “influencing” as separate skills.  I have a military background, and for me the definition of leadership is the ability to influence others to do thus-and-such.  Furthermore, a leader has to motivate people to pursue the same goals.  Why these are separate is puzzling to me, but maybe I should wait until I get my own copy to pass judgement.

PMI is doing a phased rollout for the exams.  Changes to the PMP exam occur 30 June.  The CAPM changes 31 July.  The rest are 31 August.

PMI takes the stance that the PMBOK is only one source for the exam and for project management in general.  They believe that the change in the exam will not be a jolt to the system.  We will see, of course, as some of you may recall that the last change was somewhat painful.

All in all, I think it might be worth it for those who are not members of PMI to purchase the newer edition sooner rather than later.  However, if you are not a member, you really should reconsider that decision overall.  There are free webinars and other online materials available to members, and members usually get discounts at seminars and other events.

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