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Should PMP Recertification be Modified?

Let me begin by saying that personally I would not want to have to take the PMP exam again – but as an instructor of certification courses, the changes that have been made to the PMBOK between version 3 and version 4 are extensive.  I wonder how many, if any, of the PMPs who were certified 6 or more years ago are aware of these changes.  If we were referring to professionals in the real estate, legal or accounting professions, would we want them to continue to provide their service to us if they only had to attend meetings to maintain their “certification?”

Why are we even talking about this now – three years after the new PMBOK version went into effect?  I think part of this has been raised due to the announcement of a new PMP exam starting August 31st of this year.  The new exam does not address new concepts but rather incorporates the professional responsibility aspects of project management directly into the processes – rather than standing alone.

Many of the changes to the PMBOK that were incorporated in version 4 have come from the impact of The IIBA organization and the recognition of the differences in IT, engineering and construction projects.  With more and more PMPs coming from the IT area, the role of the business analyst (BA), and the incorporation of the BABOK framework, influenced changes to the PMBOK.

For those who have not studied the differences between the PMBOK version 3 and version 4, I will try and summarize those changes here.  (If you are aware of these, I hope this will serve to re-emphasize those areas.)

Many of the changes in the first few chapters were made to integrate and compare projects, programs and portfolio management to align with other PMI Standards.  Also a more graphical format was used to show the inputs and outputs for processes – for those of us who appreciate the combination of pictures and words.

The concept of Project Life Cycle was expanded in chapter 2 to recognize multi-phased projects that are prevalent in the IT project world.  There is also discussion of how the multiple phases are related (i.e. sequential, overlapping, iterative).  As a greater emphasis of Agile Project Management is adopted by PMI, this area will see even more emphasis and change in the future.

One other major change was to the concept of the Triple Constraint.   It was changed to reflect the additional “competing demands” (Scope, Quality, Schedule, Budget, Resources and Risks) that should be considered.  Whether the term “Triple Constraint” will ever go away, is yet to be seen.


In the Integration Knowledge area, the Preliminary Scope was deleted, removing the questioning of the difference between the Preliminary Scope and the Project Scope that is created later.  The Project SOW, which could include a business case, was also added as an input to the Project Charter process.  Approved change requests were combined into three categories (Corrective action, Preventive action and Defect repair).


Major changes were made in the area of Scope.  The Scope Planning process was deleted and more specific requirements tools and techniques were added from the BABOK to a new Collect Requirements process.  This new process has the inputs of project charter and stakeholder register (a new deliverable).  The Scope baseline components were broken out to include the Project Scope Statement (which I personally think should be identified as a complete document – not a statement – since it probably is volumes), the WBS and the WBS Dictionary.

I would highly recommend that all PMs become familiar with the BABOK and especially the processes that pertain to requirements gathering.


This area had very few changes except that the Arrow Diagramming Method (ADM), aka Activity on Arrow (AOA) was finally deleted.  This was a long time coming, especially since there is not a single vendor that supports this method with an automated tool.


There were two new EVM forecasting metrics (for all those who are actually doing EVM).  There is a new Estimate at Completion (EAC) with a new ETC calculation.  In addition to the Schedule and Cost Performance Index there is a new To-Complete Performance Index (TCPI).  Since I personally have not had the “opportunity” to utilize  EVM on any of my projects, I can only memorize the new formulas and look for an opening.


The only changes in this area were minor adjustments to the diagrams.


The major changes in this knowledge area have been to the techniques.  Team building activities have been added to the Develop Project Team process.  Conflict management and resolution methods as well as interpersonal skills have been added as techniques to the Manage Project Team process.  This last process has also been moved from Monitoring and Control to Execution.


This area has increased its emphasis on stakeholders and the analysis of these individuals.  The addition of an Identify Stakeholders in Initiation has moved this activity from an overview discussion in version 3 and a component of the Communication Plan to a standalone process, that is similar to a process in the BABOK.  The management of stakeholders has also been modified to reflect the management of Stakeholder Expectations, rather than just the management of the stakeholders (which was probably never possible).


The only in this area was the verb-noun consistency in process names.


As opposed to the risk area, procurement was completely changed (again).  This area seems to change with each new version of the PMBOK, as identified in the appendix.  In this version the processes were simplified and aligned more closely to the process groups.  Obviously this is an area that every PM needs to review to ensure they are aware of the activities that are included in the Plan Procurement, Conduct Procurement, Administer Procurement and Close Procurement processes.

In addition to the changes in the main portion of the PMBOK a new Appendix (G) on Interpersonal Skills has been added.  This includes sections that address the following areas:

  • Leadership
  • Team Building
  • Motivation
  • Communication
  • Influencing
  • Decision Making
  • Political and Cultural Awareness
  • Negotiation

The PMBOK is not meant to be a document that is read and studied in order to pass the certification exam, but one that should be reread and referred to frequently as projects are planned and managed.  Each project we manage is different and therefore by returning to the PMBOK, as well as other project management references, we can find aides to help us in our efforts.

So should our recertification requirements be changed to at least make sure that we are aware of the changes in our profession and are performing under the latest best practices?

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.

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