White Paper on
A Project Manager’s Perspective on Changes to the Guide to the Project Management
Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) Fourth Edition
Erika Flora, MS, PMP, ITIL Expert
Principal Consultant, Beyond20
On December 31, 2008, the Project Management Institute (PMI®) released the 4th edition of the
PMBOK® Guide, the foundational book used to study and prepare for the Project Management
Professional (PMP) exam. On July 1, 2009 the exam changed over to the 4th edition, and project
management professionals world-wide now use this new edition to prepare for the PMP exam. So,
what has changed? The good news is that many of the core concepts and order of project activities
performed are the same as in the 3rd edition. If you took and passed the 3rd edition exam, what
you have learned is still valid. If you have studied the 3rd edition material, but have not yet taken
the exam, you will, unfortunately, have a lot of process Inputs, Outputs, Tools & Techniques to re-
learn and memorize.
Overall, the refresh of the new text mainly consolidates and clarifies previously confusing concepts
and includes additional concepts that today’s Project Manager deals with. This white paper
outlines these changes, in chronological fashion and in line with how projects are actually being
performed (i.e. in order of each of the five process groups - Initiating, Planning, Executing,
Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing). Thus, it takes a slightly different slant from other white
papers on the subject. For a list of changes according to each of the nine Knowledge Areas, see the
Preface to and Appendix A of the Fourth Edition in the PMBOK® Guide (pages XXII-XXIII and 349-
II. OVERVIEW OF CHANGES
The two prevailing themes with the PMBOK® Guide 4th edition changes are that of “clarity” and
“consistency”. In teaching 3rd edition classes, students in every class always had some confusion
around conflicting definitions and have lots of questions around why some documents are
mentioned and why others weren’t as an Process Inputs, Outputs, Tools or Techniques. The 4th
edition seems to do a good job of addressing and alleviating these types of issues.
Project Management Processes
First, there are now 42 processes detailed in the fourth edition of the PMBOK® Guide, as compared
to 44 processes in the 3rd edition. Two new processes have been added, two have been removed,
and four other processes have been combined into two, specifically within Project Procurement
Management, as detailed below:
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New Removed Consolidated
• Identify Stakeholders • Develop Preliminary • Plan Purchases and Acquisitions and
• Collect Requirements Scope Statement Plan Contracting > Plan Procurements
• Scope Planning • Request Seller Responses and Select
Sellers > Conduct Procurements
A few other processes have changed process groups, for example, “Manage Project Team” is now
an Executing process; and “Manage Stakeholders” is now a Monitoring and Controlling process.
Also, to improve readability and consistency throughout, all 42 processes are now in verb-noun
format. For example, “Scope Definition” has been renamed as “Define Scope”. Since Project
Managers are performing these activities within their projects, it makes sense that the processes
would be written this way. For those of us used to the process names as they are written in the 3rd
edition, it takes a little practice to get the names straight in the 4th edition. However, long term,
this is a much more intuitive way to refer to the processes we perform.
Portfolio, Program, and Project Management
In chapter 1 of the PMBOK® Guide 4th edition, there is additional information on the differences
between managing a Portfolio, Program, and Project as many project managers are now finding
themselves managing programs and even portfolios; and it is important to understand and be able
to communicate the differences between them. I find this is a common question from team
members and other non-Project Managers in many organizations.
Enterprise Environmental Factors and Organizational Process Assets
Further, there is a clearer differentiation between Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEFs) and
Organizational Process Assets (OPAs). These are detailed in the table below. Also, EEFs and OPAs
serve as inputs (and outputs) to more processes in the 4th edition and closer line up with real life.
Enterprise Environmental Factors Organizational Process Assets
• Any or all external environmental factors • Any or all process related assets, from
and internal organizational environmental any or all of the organizations involved in
factors that surround or influence the the project that are or can be used to
project’s success. These factors are from influence the project’s success. These
any or all of the enterprises involved in the process assets include formal and
project, and include organizational culture informal plans, policies, procedures, and
and structure, infrastructure, existing guidelines. The process assets also
resources, commercial databases, market include the organizations’ knowledge
conditions, and project management bases such as lessons learned and
software. historical information.
Project Initiation and Planning documents
There have been some changes involving the Project Management Plan, Project Charter, and
Project Scope Statement. Namely, the Project Management Plan and its subsidiary plans have
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been more clearly defined and separated out. There has also been a clearer distinction between
plans and other Project documents (see page 350 in the PMBOK® Guide for a list of these items). In
addition, there is a clearer distinction between the components of the Project Charter and the
Project Scope Statement (the Preliminary Project Scope Statement has gone away). The
differences are detailed on page 351 of the PMBOK® Guide 4th edition.
Requested Changes, Corrective and Preventive Actions (CAPA), and Defect Repairs
Whereas, these items were separated in the 3rd edition, these have all been consolidated under the
heading of “Change Requests”. Rather, the PMBOK® Guide defines different types of requests.
Process Flow Diagrams
The old Process Flow Diagrams have been replaced by Data Flow Diagrams in this edition. At first
glance, they look complex and a bit scary, but they actually contain a lot of helpful information. I
highly recommend taking a look at them at the beginning of each chapter.
Interpersonal and Other Skills
In Chapter 1 of the PMBOK® Guide, the characteristics needed by a Project Manager have been
pared down and clarified from five to three as follows: Knowledge (of project management),
Performance (the PM is able to accomplish what they set out to do in a project), and Personal
(leadership, etc.). Also, more information has been added to the PMBOK® Guide in Appendix G on
the interpersonal and other soft skills needed and carried out by Project Managers. The 3rd edition
did not contain a lot of information on topics like leadership, persuasion, communication, etc.
Thankfully, the 4th edition expands on these “soft” skills regularly employed by Project Managers.
Additional new and expanded concepts are also detailed throughout this white paper, in the
appropriate section below.
III. INITIATING PROCESS GROUP
This is the stage of a project where a Project Manager is assigned, and the PM is responsible for
obtaining approval for the project and determining who needs to be involved. In the 4th edition,
the process entitled “Develop Preliminary Project Scope Statement” is removed. Previously,
understanding the difference between this document and the Project Charter was somewhat
confusing. As a result, the authors have done away with the Preliminary Scope Statement. In
addition, they have added the process “Identify Stakeholders”. This activity was implied in the 3rd
edition and is now officially called out. Changes to the specific process are detailed below.
Project Integration Management
Develop Project Charter
This process has changed somewhat. The concept of a “Business Case” is a new input, and
the Tools and Techniques have been pared down to only include “Expert Judgment”. Below
is the process as it appears in the 4th edition.
Inputs Tools & Techniques Outputs
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