Traditional and Agile PM Integration Pains - a Positive Sign?
PMI Global Congress


PMBOK 5 Q: How do you write a new version of the PMBOK Guide? A: Very carefully

Development of the PMBOK v5 Guide is underway and I was on the content creation group for Chapter 12 Procurement as explained previously. However, I was transferred onto the group for Chapter 6 Time Management. Apparently, I am a last minute swap to bring an agile perspective to Time Management. All I know is I am very grateful to be there and will likely learn a lot.

I am bound by NDAs to not reveal any content, but Chapter 6 is interesting since the current PMBOK v4 edition contains the processes of:

6.1 Define Activities
6.2 Sequence Activities
6.3 Estimate Activity resources
6.4 Estimate Activity Durations
6.5 Develop Schedule
6.6 Control Schedule

From an agile perspective, the way these processes are currently outlined seems to assume a certainty of final scope from the outset that is at odds with some of the evolutionary concepts of agile. So it will be interesting to see how development of these concepts progress.

Predictably the Time Management group seems a deadline focused bunch and we have had a couple of long conference calls already. Before suggesting new content for the 5th edition we are first reviewing the suggested changes that were made against the 4th edition, but for whatever reason (timing, complexity, knock-on impacts, etc) did not make it into the 4th edition.

Reading the PMBOK text, reading the suggested change, and then discussing as a group the merits of the change is necessarily slow, but really illuminating for me. Our facilitator has a great knowledge of previous editions and can describe the changes from version 2 to 3, version 3 to 4, and can explain why the previous changes were made and some of the likely impacts of the suggested changes we are discussing.

Some interesting considerations focus on clarity. Because the guide is translated into so many languages and that the English version is read by people whose first language may not be English, there is a strong emphasis on being clear. Also, terms that may be common place in IT like “technical dependency” are apparently not common place in other project management disciplines and so not used.

So, it is a journey, with collaborators from all over the world which makes it more fun. Who knows how much agile content and ideas I will be able to introduce, but I will be trying.


Angel Agueda

I'd like to participate in the preparation of PMBOK v5 or at least in the revision or Spanish translation. Is that possible at this moment?

Thanks in advance,

Mike Griffiths

Hi Angel,

If you monitor the web site you will see the Call for Reviewers which I think occurs next year. This will give you an opportunity to get involved and suggest content.

Best regards

Anders Taucher

Hi Mike,

I came across your blog in a PMI Broadcast E-mail today. Usually, I treat these more or less as spam, but since the topic was Agile, I took a quick glance at the content. The link to your blog caught my eye, and I was glad to see that someone is actually making the effort to inject some relevance into PMBOK. Personally, as a project manager for Agile systems development projects, I find PMBOK of very limited use in my day-to-day work. Of course many of the principles are important, but the PMBOK is not really useful in the daily mission of creating value. I hope that you can contribute to nudging PMBOK from being (almost exclusively) an exponent of the traditional plan driven view of projects, to a more evolutionary (Agile) approach, and thus making it more relevant to project managers like me. I would contend that currently it is viewed by many as being only a necessary obstacle on the path towards the CV-enhancing PMP certification. At least I know that I have only opened it once or twice in the seven odd years since taking my PMP exam.

Good luck in raising a little hell ;-)


Mike Griffiths

Hi Andres,

Thanks for your comment, I sometimes wonder if the 6:00am conference calls and weekend volunteer time is worth the effort, so it is great to get some encouragement.

I think many people have similar concerns about the PMBOK. They view it as a necessary guidebook for the beginner, but then not referenced often by practitioners. Perhaps a little like the Highway Code. You need it to get qualified, but then are unlikely to refer to it again.

I wonder if it is because we associate it with a test that is stressful and so it has negative memories, or simply is not relevant for everyday use?

Anyways, we can at least try to make it relevant, so we are not testing people on horse and cart usage and then expecting them to drive cars.

Best regards

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