Project Management is a formal methodology, and as such it has a written and approved knowledge repository. This text is often referred to as the Project Management Bible, the guiding standards and knowledge that should inform any and all Project Management practices.
I would link you to the website for more information on this book and its importance to the field, or even use the common acronym for the text. I believe in Project Management methodologies, so strongly in fact that I am even considering a Marketing volunteer position with my local chapter to help recruit members and spread these methodologies. But the last time I dared to try and further the cause of Project Management by linking to said website, I received an e-mail from the Project Management Parent Organization lawyers demanding I remove the link. So all I can tell you for the sake of this article is to search for Project Management online, and the parent body of the practice who also maintains this so called Project Management Bible will be the first result.
The current edition of the PM Bible is Version 5, which was published in 2013. All certification exams offered by this parent body of PM are based on that version of the book as well. Anyone involved in the world of Project Management knows that Version 5 is getting ready to retire and is scheduled to be supplanted by the new Version 6 next month, with the corresponding certification exams changing in the first quarter of 2018. That gives anyone currently studying for the exams a window of approximately three months to successfully complete their certification exams before the exams change and they are forced to go back to the drawing board.
On the LinkedIn official group for the Project Management Parent Organization, I have noticed several people posting lately about the quandary this puts them in. If you think you can be ready to take the exam before Year End, you are fine. But if you are not confident that you can be ready (and it must be noted that it costs several hundred dollars to sit for these exams and not everyone has the luxury of an employer who would pay for them), what do you do? Can you study with the Version 5 text? Or would you be better waiting for Version 6 to arrive? Several members of the group have been seeking the wisdom of the collective to arrive at a decision.
Based on the information that the Parent Org has put out (including a nicely produced summary video of changes that I again will not be linking to, but it can be easily found on the Parent Org’s website), the changes to Version 6 are not superficial. The methodologies and principles are getting some much needed upgrades and clarifications. Every different Knowledge Area is getting touched with the addition of four new sections to each area, but many of these are either for exam prep (like adding Key Concepts to each Knowledge Area…they are already in the text but this is a new way to highlight them) or are guidance for strategic use of and implementation of the principles.
Does that mean that those of us who will not be taking the exam before Year End are without hope and should simply waste the next four months? Even if the new text is released in September on schedule, you still need to take 30+ hours of courses from a certified provider to be eligible to apply for the exam. Most of these educational providers cannot begin updating their courses until after the new text is released at the earliest, because they need access to the new information. However, many of the course providers (including the course provider I have been using) also structure their courses so that students can pass the exam….not to teach the content. Thus, many of them would be unable to start updating their courses until the exam is changed and released in Q12018.
So what can we do in the meantime? The good news is that we can still study using the version 5 text because some of the major areas are not being greatly impacted by the change. With that in mind, I have created a personal PMP study plan I can use now to hammer down areas where my experience/knowledge is weaker which will not see as much change in the new text.
This study schedule focuses on the Project Management Fundamentals, including the 47 Process Groups. There are a few new process groups being added in the new version, but since they are adding new ones rather than replacing the currently existing Process Groups, I feel like starting with this information will give me a giant head start when new information is released.
Next, I focused on the three Project Management Knowledge Areas which the Parent Org noted were not impacted very much in the new version. These areas are Project Scope Management, Project Cost Management and Project Communications Management. These areas have been impacted by adding the four new sections mentioned above, but the main thrust of the content is not changing.
- Scope Management is important to all projects, and it never hurts to refresh that knowledge. After all, controlling scope and combating scope creep is one of the top priorities of a project manager to ensure that projects don’t fail to finish or finish over-schedule and over-budget.
- Project Cost Management is an area I have not had much experience with for a number of years, as my current role is within a value-add department. Additionally, many of our projects are not billable and thus calculating and controlling costs has, for better or worse, not been a priority. My last experience with Project Cost Management comes from the big Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition project in my previous position, which has been a number of years ago now, so focusing on this area is definitely important for me.
- Project Communication Management was noted to have some changes, but only to address the differences between Communication (the act of communicating) and Communications (the artifacts of communication like memos, emails, documents, etc). Communication is one of my strongest areas, and with my background in history and museums the differences between the artifacts of something vs. the act of something is finely honed.
I planned out the study timeline to take me through the first week of November. This allows lag time for delays in the version 6 release (how ironic would that be?) and combined with my work schedule is ambitious, but not unattainable. Conditional formatting in the cells of the spreadsheet allow me to track my progress both in terms of time and in terms of performance.
By the time I have finished with this sprint, as I would call it, I will have a nice chunk of important, fundamental information ready to go. Fundamental information on Project Management which will not be changing too much. Hopefully by then I will also have the new version of the text, and I will have a better idea on when updated preparation courses will be available. That means when the courses are updated and I enroll, I will be leagues ahead of starting from scratch.
Feel free to use this template yourself if you feel it would be beneficial for you! Happy studying!