PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition: What PMP Candidates Need to Know


The Project Management Institute (PMI®) has published the new PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition, officially on August 1, 2021 (though for members it came a little earlier). Across six editions, the work had become larger and more elaborate – and therefore harder to read. Hence, the aim of this edition has been to venture a fresh start and slim down the book. The structure has also been reorganized. Even previously, the PMBOK® Guide consisted of several parts which have now been rearranged.

In this article, you will learn all you need to know about the new PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition.

Let us begin.

What Is the PMBOK Guide?

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) is PMI’s flagship publication. The guide is a fundamental resource for effective project management in any industry. Over the years, business has changed considerably, but projects remain critical drivers of business success. The book includes The Standard for Project Management. The standard is the foundation upon which the vast body of knowledge builds. The guide serves to capture and summarize that knowledge.

PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition: A Fresh Start

PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition – History since 1996

The history of the PMBOK Guide since 1996

In all previous editions including the Sixth Edition, the first and more comprehensive part was the actual “Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge.” This was followed by the “Standard for Project Management”, the official ANSI Standard. ANSI is the American National Standards Institute. The third part was an appendix.

In the Seventh Edition, the two parts have been reversed. As a result, the order is as follows:

  1. ANSI Standard
  2. Actual Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge
  3. Appendix as before

PMBOK Guide Sixth Edition & PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition – A Comparison

PMBOK Guide 6th Edition

PMBOK Guide 7th Edition

PMBOK Guide 7th Edition PMBOK Guide 7th Edition
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge

  • Introduction
  • The environment in which projects operate
  • The role of the project manager
  • 10 areas of knowledge
The Standard for Project Management

  • Introduction
  • System for value delivery
  • 12 principles
The Standard for Project Management

  • Introduction
  • 5 process groups
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge

  • 8 project performance domains
  • Tailoring
  • Models, methods, and artifacts


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Implications for the PMP Exam

In the past, there was always a cutover date for every new edition of the PMBOK Guide by which time the exam would be revised. This time, however, there will be a coexistence of both Sixth Edition and Seventh Edition:

  • Questions regarding methods and processes are more likely to refer to PMBOK Guide 6th Ed.
  • Questions regarding principles and values, on the other hand, will tend to reference the 7th Edition

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You should be aware that the authors of the exam questions for the PMP® exam can also use other literature as references. After all, this is not just a test about the PMBOK Guide. At the end of this article, you will find a link to a reference list with other sources that are relevant to the PMP exam.

Since October 2021, questions referencing the Seventh Edition have come up in the exam. Up until summer 2022, we can expect their number to grow. Which edition will end up carrying more weight is hard to predict. The PMI’s “Item Writers” will be the ones to decide this, i.e. the people who create the questions.

The most important consequence for aspiring PMPs: The exam is not becoming more difficult. However, the amount of material you have to work through in preparation has increased.


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Conclusion – PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition

Over the past few years, emerging technology, new approaches and rapid market changes have changed the world of work, driving the profession to evolve. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Seventh Edition has been updated to meet these challenges, better align to how people work today and help you be more proactive, innovative and nimble.

The PMBOK Guide Seventh Edition:

  • Reflects the full range of development approaches (predictive, traditional, adaptive, agile, hybrid, etc.)
  • Provides an entire section devoted to tailoring the development approach and processes
  • Expands the list of tools and techniques in a new section, “Models, Methods, and Artifacts”
  • Focuses on project outcomes in addition to deliverables

The printed version of the PMBOK Guide 7 as well as the digital PDF and e-book versions are available in multiple languages. PMI® members can download the guide for project managers for free in the e-book format (PDF) in English and 9 other languages.

Click here to download.

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What is your opinion on the changes in the PMBOK Guide 7? Please leave a comment below.

About the author: Oliver F. Lehmann, MSc, ACE, PMP is a trainer for project management and project business management. He is renowned as an author of reference books and articles and as an analyst for critical projects. For over ten years, he was actively involved in project management before becoming a trainer in 1995. Today he serves a global audience, focusing on the certification of individuals and improving the project business. He is President of the Project Business Foundation and a long-serving volunteer at PMI, the Project Management Institute.

You can read more about Oliver F. Lehmann on LinkedIn and XING.

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