PMBOK Guide 5th Edition Is Out… What Do I Do Now?

PMBOK Guide 5th edition is out now… Available in the market. This new edition of the PMBOK Guide has brought in a lot of changes, new additions, enhancements to the project management process. As usual the release of a new book with a lot of changes has put many PMP aspirants in a puzzled state. A Lot of questions arise in their mind- which version of the PMBOK Guide should I read now, when does the PMI switch to PMBOK 5 for the examination, can I use the existing practice exams and simulators and so on. The purpose of this article is to address  these confusions and clarify them for our PMP aspirant project managers.

The PMBOK Guide is  the bible for PMP certification examination. Historically PMI has been releasing new edition of the PMBOK Guide once every four years. Following the tradition, PMI has released the PMBOK Guide 5th Edition by the end of 2012.

PMBOK Guide 5th Edition PMBOK Guide 5th Edition

PMBOK Guide Releases History:

  • PMBOK Guide 1st Edition: 1996
  • PMBOK Guide 2nd Edition: 2000
  • PMBOK Guide 3rd  Edition: 2004
  • PMBOK Guide 4th Edition: 2008
  • PMBOK Guide 5th Edition: 2012

 The Process of Introducing a New Edition of PMBOK Guide

More than a year before the planned release date, PMI begins the preparations for the new book. It conducts studies and research to incorporate the latest industry trends, methodologies and best practices in project management into the PMBOK Guide. Then it releases the “exposure draft” of the new edition of the PMBOK Guide for the public to review and comment. Thousands of project management professionals participate in the review and provide their  input and feedback. Then the draft is revised and the final version is released. For PMBOK Guide 5th Edition, the exposure draft was released in February 2012 and the final version was release at the end of 2012.

 What is Different in PMBOK Guide 5th Edition?

Well, this new version of the PMBOK Guide brings in several changes to the knowledge areas and processes. Some of the main change are as follows

  • Addition of new knowledge area called “Stakeholder Management”. That makes it total ten knowledge areas as opposed to 9 in the 4th edition
  • Total 47 processes are included in PMBOK Guide now as compared to 42 processes in the 4th edition
  • Expanded definition of Project Management Office(PMO)
  • Inclusion of overview of waterfall, agile and adaptive approaches to project management

If you are interested to know more about the changes,  I found this article very interesting and useful in explaining the changes in great details.

How is PMBOK Guide 5th Edition Going to Affect Me?

If you have been using PMBOK Guide 4th edition for your PMP exam preparation, don’t panic just because new edition is out. You can continue your study with the 4th edition and pass the exam. Normally PMI gives a 6-7 month window to update the exam with new edition of the PMBOK Guide after its release. The cut off date for PMP Exam to use PMBOK Guide 5th edition is July 31, 2013. That means, PMP exam will continue to follow PMBOK Guide 4th edition until this date. If you plan to take the PMP exam BEFORE this date, you can follow the the 4th edition of the guide.

I am preparing for the exam now, what do I do?

In short, stay the course. If you are preparing now, we assume you are planning to take the exam BEFORE July 31, 2013. In that case continue to follow the 4th edition of the PMBOK guide. You can confidently use all the practice exams and study guides in the market that are based on 4th edition.

In fact we highly recommend that you take the exam based on PMBOK Guide4th edition, instead of pushing it beyond July 31 and going with 5th edition.

Here is why:

  1. Since 4th edition based exam has been there for more than three years now there is a rich lessons learned information available for you to refer.
  2. There will be a lot of friends and colleagues who have passed the exams that can guide you based on their experience.
  3. All training and study guide providers have fine tuned their content to best help the PMP exam applicants in passing the exam.
  4. Ample practice questions for your preparation

I am planning to take the exam after July 31, what is recommended?

Well, if your plan is to take the exam after July 31st, for sure you must start following the 5th edition of the PMBOK guide. However we strongly recommend not to take the exam right after the switch happens.

Here is why:

  1. All study material providers have just started working on updating their study materials. They are likely to publish revised content about 4-6 weeks before the switch over date. So, you won’t have much time to study for the exam using these revised study guides and other materials.
  2. For most part you will have to rely on only PMBOK Guide which is not a good idea.
  3. It will be hard to find updated practice questions in the market/Internet in the beginning when PMP exam is switched to PMBOK Guide 5th edition.
  4. You will hardly have any lessons learned available to help you prepare for the exam.

Because of all these reasons our recommendation for you is to take the exam before July 31 using PMBOK Guide 4th edition or wait for few months after July 31st 2013, if you are going to follow the 5th edition of PMBOK Guide.

Does the question pattern change with new PMBOK Guide?

No, the current question pattern remains the same with the new edition of the PMBOK Guide also. Back in 2011, the PMI had introduced some changes to the PMP exam question distribution. No further changes are expected at this time in the examination pattern.

Can I use the existing study guides and material with PMBOK Guide 5?

No, since PMBOK Guide 5th edition introduced significant changes to the content, it is not advisable to use the 4th edition based study guides and other materials. All major training content providers have already started revising thier study materials. They are expected to release revised materials sometime in June 2013. So, if you are planning to go with PMBOK Guide 5th edition for your PMP certification, it is better to plan accordingly. Right after the switch ( end of July) there may not be enough reliable study materials available in the market. When we  checked with Project Management Prepcast, one of the leading video training provider for PMP exam preparation, we got a response that they will be releasing PMBOK Guide 5th edition based version by June 30, 2013.

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