PMBOK® Guide – Fourth Edition Changes

January 29, 2009 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: PMBOK

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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15 people have left comments

Cyndi, thank you for walking us through the changes. I just got my copy, and I was a little confused about the differences. Plus I was intimidated about plowing through 300+ pages to figure it out for myself.

Ann M. Tomalavage, P.E., PMP wrote on January 29, 2009 - 11:33 am | Visit Link

Hi Cynthia,

This is certainly a nice insight for what’z new in Fourth Edition. I was planning to attend Third Edition training this month which would give me a very littel time to prepare myself for examination in May. Do you advise people to jump into it in hurry and attempt it before May 09 or should we wait till June, attend the new edition training session and then attempt for the PMP certification?
Please suggest.


Nitin Phondekar wrote on February 13, 2009 - 12:20 pm | Visit Link

Can anyone with the book tell me what page the project management definition is on? I’d really appreciate it!

Thank you soo much!


Simon H wrote on February 24, 2009 - 9:51 am | Visit Link

I bought the PMI guide 3rd edition last December. I did not have much time to prepare till now.How can I exchange the 3rd edition for the 4th, without paying the entire cost all over again?


Mohammad Siddiqui wrote on April 3, 2009 - 10:27 am | Visit Link

The PMBOK’s Time Management Knowledge Area doesn’t contain any process areas from the Executing Group. Why is that?

casper wrote on April 5, 2009 - 6:55 pm | Visit Link

I strongly suggest that if you can, take the exam using the 3rd Edition, before July 1, 2009. The advantage is that it is mature in terms of the exam questions, expected results, complete training, grading. Just like any new product or process, it will take some time to get the bugs out. Also, there really is virtually nothing lost in terms of content, especially since you can study 4th Edition differences for PDUs after earning certification.

John Reiling wrote on April 15, 2009 - 12:13 pm | Visit Link

I was amazed when I first got into the depth of PM(BOK) 3rd edition at how badly written it was; it certainly did not inspire me that this was a piece of work that would greatly enlighten my project management. I am SOOOO glad that PM(BOK) 4 edition fixes many of the problems I saw with edition 3 - mostly the flip flopping between verb-noun, noun-verb labels to processes, calling some documents by different names, and the default reference to . In fact it was only when I drew the processes as a sequence of linked processes showing inputs and outputs did I see what a mess PM(BOK) edition 3 was. I’m a great believer in a picture being worth a 1000 words. PMBOK 3 had very few diagrams, I’m glad that PMBOK 4 has increased this and shows how the processes sit together more clearly BUT it’s still many hundreds of pages of slow reading, drawn out verbage. I think the next edition should focus on cutting down the BOK to the core structure and leave the meat / content to a subsection.

PM(BOK) still has a long way to go to make it a workable support to real projects. At the moment it’s still project management for project management’s sake. The best example to support my statement is this “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. ” - projects are MOSTLY about soft skills - manageing people. People make things happen, it’s the way things are done. A methodology that doesn’t include this at its core will be a finely oiled and designed machine that just doesn’t work in real life.

John D. wrote on May 10, 2009 - 6:34 am | Visit Link


Is there any Changes in Exam Patern after PIMBOK - 4 th edition release.??

Pls advise .

REDDY wrote on May 10, 2009 - 7:16 pm | Visit Link

WEll i was gona rush for 3rd edition but a news for 4th edition popped out. can anyone tell me from where i can earn PDU’s living in DOha?

usmana anyet wrote on May 23, 2009 - 1:34 pm | Visit Link

please specify the complete book name (alongwith writer),coz there are too many helping book with me now..

usmana anyet wrote on May 23, 2009 - 1:40 pm | Visit Link

PMBOK still has a long way to go to make it a workable support to real projects.

John, That’s pretty funny because that’s exactly what I said when I joined the PMBOK Guide, 3rd ed. team in 2002. Each iteration of the PMBOK Guide is a major improvement of the previous, and while I do not agree that ANY version is “badly written”, I would say that each is done in the best way possible by those doing the tasks involved in publishing this standard.

When we (the PMBOK Guide, 3rd ed. project core team) started the 3rd edition project, we, the hundreds of contributors, and the entire PM community at large, were well aware of the gaps in the 2nd ed. We worked very hard and diligently for four years … all the while knowing that it would not be “perfect”, and that subsequent versions would continue the philosophy of “continuous improvement”. However we were stisfied that we had the opportunity to remedy the deficiencies in the previous edition.

As an example we received hundreds of suggestions. Each and every one was evaluated for merit by several teams. After culling redundant and irrelevant suggestions, the remaining were triaged and reviewed again by increasingly larger teams. Final incorporated suggestions (as well as all changes) were again reviewed by the hundreds of volunteers comprising the dozen or so sub-teams. We (and most of the PM community) were quite proud of the final deliverable. It met many, many needs for practioners and students of the PM arts.

Like you I felt strongly about the quality of the 2nd edition, and quickly volunteered my 2-cents at the earliest opportunity. I would encourage you to do the same as PMI gears up for the 5th edition in the near future.

Mr. Dana Goulston, PMP
Co-author PMBOK Guide, 3rd edition

Mr. Dana Goulston, PMP wrote on September 20, 2009 - 1:51 pm | Visit Link


I havn’t really gone through the book and neither do i know anything about it.Im an architect and was looking forward to learning project management and getting some form of certification for the same,rather than doing a 2year full time masters degree in it.

would anyone be able to tell me if going through this book would help in my case(for architectural projects).

can anyone help out??please mail me on if possible.

alifa wrote on February 19, 2010 - 8:04 am | Visit Link

Where Can i Find the PMBOK 4th addition . Looking forward to take the exam this year .

Thanks ,


Amir Mehboob wrote on September 7, 2010 - 2:26 am | Visit Link

Can I download a softcopy of the PMBOK Guide for free? Please show me how.


ALEX wrote on October 9, 2010 - 1:31 am | Visit Link

John & Dana, based on both your comments, I am of the opinion that PMI has had to draw a line between PMBOK as a professional guide or a working guide. The 4th edition, looks like, is a a compromise between the two. I think this is more practical, palatable and internationally applicable& and it has naturally evolved out of the immense interactions mentioned by Dana. Nevertheless, further changes incorporated should take care of our differences or dissatisfactions over time .

Masilamani wrote on February 24, 2011 - 9:12 am | Visit Link

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