Tag Archives: PMBOK

Differentiating normal, complex and megaprojects

The days when projects were simply projects and project success was defined by the ‘iron triangle’ are long gone.  The intention of this post is to try and bring together four aspects of current thinking and their embedded concepts into an overall model of project management in the 21st century.  The starting point is traditional project management as defined in the soon to be published 6th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide; the major change (incorporated in the 6th Ed.) is ‘Agile Project Management’.  The two significant extensions to traditional project management that go beyond the PMBOK® Guide are ‘Complex Project Management’ and ‘Megaproject Management’. The focus of this paper is on the skills and competencies needed by the ‘managers’ of these different classifications of ‘projects’ rather than the scope of the different concepts (more on this later).

As a starting point, there seems to be a generally accepted view that the competencies needed to be a successful project manager underpin all of the other concepts. There are some distinctly different techniques used in Agile, only some of which flow into traditional project management, but in other respects ‘agile’ and ‘good project management’ are very closely aligned.  Managing complexity requires a significant additional set of competencies that build onto the traditional requirements.  Then, whilst many complex projects do not meet the definition of a ‘megaproject’, every megaproject is by definition a complex project with an additional layer of management capabilities needed to deal with its impact on society.  This basic framework is outlined below:


All forms of project management recognise the importance of the project stakeholders. Projects are done by people for people and the ultimate success or failure of a project is defined by people – all ‘stakeholders’.  My work on the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition core team was very much focused on enhancing the sections on stakeholder engagement and communication (which is the primary tool for engaging stakeholders). And as the scale of projects increase, the number of stakeholders and the intensity of public focus increases dramatically.

A heuristic suggested by Prof. Bent Flyvbjerg is as a general rule of thumb: ‘megaprojects’ are measured in billions of dollars, ‘major projects’ in hundreds of millions, and ‘projects’ in tens of millions or less. To quote the late Spike Milligan, ‘Money can’t buy you friends but you do get a better class of enemy’ – and while many stakeholders may not be ‘enemies’, the ability of stakeholders to organise around a megaproject tends to be far greater than around a small internal project. Consequently, the focus on stakeholders should increase significantly in excess of the increment in cost as you flow from small to megaprojects.

However, regardless of size, the need to identify, engage, manage, and deliver value to stakeholders, through the realisation of beneficial change, is consistent through all of the concepts discussed below. This and the temporariness of each ‘project organisation (ie, team)’ are the two consistent factors that underpin the concept of project management; and ‘temporariness’ is the key factor that separates projects and programs from other forms of management and ‘business as usual’.


Traditional Project Management.

The recognised guide for traditional project management is the PMBOK® Guide augmented to a degree by ISO 21500. The publicly released information on the 6th Edition highlights the need for flexibility in applying its processes, including the requirement to actively consider ‘tailoring processes’ to meet project requirements, and the value agile thinking can bring to the overall management of projects (see below).

The frame of traditional project management starts once the project is defined and finishes once the project has delivered is objectives. While this scope is somewhat limited and there may be a need to expand the scope of project management to include project definition at the ‘front end’, and benefits realisation and value creation after the outputs have been delivered (this will be the subject of another post), the knowledge, skills and competencies required to manage this type of project management are well understood.

Each project has four basic dimensions, size (usually measured in $), technical difficulty, uncertainty and complexity (these are discussed in detail in: Project Size and Categorisation). In the right circumstances, Agile can be an effective approach to resolving uncertainty. However, at an undefined point, the increase in complexity reaches a point where the concept of ‘complex project management’ becomes significant and really large projects are the realm of ‘megaproject management’. But the underpinning capabilities required to manage all of these extensions remains the conventional project management skills.


Agile Project Management

Agile has many facets. The concepts contained in the Agile Manifesto basically reflect a shift away for a ridged focus on process towards a focus on people (stakeholders) and adapting to change to achieve a successful outcome.  These concepts are now firmly embedded in the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition and apply to every project. Where agile projects separate from traditional projects is recognising that in a range of soft projects, including software development, taking an iterative and adaptive approach to understanding the scope can often achieve a better outcome. Understanding what is actually helpful to the client develops based on learned experience from earlier iterations and these needs are incorporated into the next iteration of the development allowing a better outcome to be delivered to the client. This is not significantly different to much older concepts such as ‘rolling wave planning’ and progressive elaboration – there really is little point in making detailed plans for work you don’t know much about. The difference is Agile actively expects the scope to be adapted to the emerging requirements of the client, the other approaches seek to add detail to the plans at an appropriate point in time whilst the overall scope remains fundamentally unchanged.

Agile does not even need a project to be useful. Many of the Agile techniques work in any situation where there is a backlog of work to get through and can be effectively used outside of the concept of a ‘project’, this particularly applies to routine maintenance work of almost any kind.  A discussion on the value of Agile, and its limitations, are contained in our paper Thoughts on Agile.

However, for the purposes of this post, the key aspects Agile brings to the discussion, that are essential for effectively managing most types of project, are contained in the Manifesto – a preference for:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • Responding to change over following a plan.

The Manifesto recognises there is value in the items on the right, but values the items on the left more.


Complex Project Management

Complexity is a facet of every project and program. Complex project management skills become important at the point where complexity becomes a significant inhibitor affecting the delivery of a successful outcome from the project (or program). This point may occur well before ‘complexity’ becomes the defining feature of the project.

Complexity is a very different concept to a complicated project, technically complicated work can be predicted and managed; launching a new communication satellite is ‘rocket science’, but there are highly skilled rocket scientists available that undertake this type of work on a routine basis. As with any traditional project, the costs, resources and time required can be predicted reasonably accurately.

The dominant feature of complexity is the non-predictability of outcomes. Non-linearity, ‘the tipping point’, and emergence describe different ways outcomes from a slightly different starting point can vary significantly compared to previous experience or expectations (for more on the concepts of complexity see: Complexity Theory).  Complexity arises from various forms of complex system, these may be organic (eg, a river’s eco-system), man-made (eg, an overly complicated system-of-systems such as too many interconnected software applications automatically interacting with each other), or interpersonal (eg, the web of relationships within and between a project team and its surrounding stakeholder community).  In all of these situations, the ‘system’ behaves relatively predictably, dealing with the effects of stresses and stimuli up to a point (and normal management approaches work satisfactorily); but after that point adding or changing the situation by a small increment creates completely unexpected consequences.

Interestingly, from the perspective of managing a project, these three areas of complexity are closely interlinked, the complex behaviour of the environment and/or man-made systems-of-systems feeds back into the perceptions of stakeholders and the activity of stakeholders can impact on both the environment, and the way complex systems function. Similarly, dealing with emerging anomalies in the environment or in a complex system needs the active cooperation of at least some of the project’s stakeholders. Consequently, the focus of complex project management is dealing with the consequences of the inherently unpredictable and complex behaviours and attitudes of stakeholders, both within the team and within the surrounding stakeholder community.

Some projects and programs, particularly large ones, are obviously complex from the outset and can be set up to make effective use of the ideas embedded in complex project management. Others may be perceived as non-complex ‘business-as-usual’ and tip into complexity as a result of some unforeseen factor such as a ‘normal accident[1]’ occurring or simply because the perception of ‘straightforward’ was ill-founded. Underestimating complexity is a significant risk.

Where the project is perceived to be complex from the outset, a management team with the competencies required to deal with the nuances of managing a ‘complex project’ can be appointed from day one (and if appropriately skilled people are not available, support and training can be provided to overcome the deficiencies) – this maximises the probability of a successful outcome.  When a project unexpectedly falls into a state of complexity the situation is far more difficult to manage primarily because the people managing the work are unlikely to be skilled in complex project management, will try to use normal management techniques and most organisations lack the resources needed to help rectify the situation – skilled complex project managers are in short supply globally.

One initiative designed to overcome this shortage of ‘complex project managers’ and build an understanding of ‘complex project management’ is the International Centre for Complex Project Management (ICCPM).  ICCPM’s approach to complex project management is to see this capability as an extension of traditional project management (as inferred in the diagram above). The ICCPM view is that while traditional approaches are insufficient to effectively manage a complex project on their own, you cannot manage a complex project without a strong foundation based on these traditional skills and processes. The relationship is described by the ICCPM as:

What changes is in part the way the traditional capabilities such as scheduling and budgeting are used, overlaid with the expectation these artifacts will need to adjust and change as the situation around the project changes, augmented with a range of ‘special attributes’ particular to the process of managing a complex project. These ‘special attributes’ are valuable in the management of any project but become essential in the management of complex projects.  These capabilities and competencies are defined in the ICCPM’s Complex Project Manager Competency Standard available from: https://iccpm.com/.

Complex projects can vary in size from relatively small undertakings involving factors such as updating a complex systems-of-systems, or a high level of political sensitivity, through to the megaprojects discussed below. A complex project may not be a megaproject or even a major project, but every megaproject and many major projects will also be a complex project requiring complex project management capabilities for a successful outcome.


Megaproject Management

Megaprojects are defined as temporary endeavours (i.e. projects or programs) characterised by:

  • A large investment commitment;
  • Vast complexity (especially in organizational terms); and
  • A long-lasting impact on the economy (of a country or region), the environment, and society.

They are initiatives that are physical, very expensive, and public. By definition, megaprojects are complex endeavours requiring a high degree of capability in the management of complex projects.  In addition megaprojects typically involve a number of other facets:

  • Megaprojects are by definition a program of work (see: Defining Program Types).
  • Many are implemented under government legislation, requiring skills and knowledge of government processes and the ability to operate within the ambit of ‘government’. This is a very different space in terms of accountability and transparency compared to private enterprise.
  • Most interact with a range of government agencies at all levels of government from local to national. These stakeholders often have a very different set of agendas and success criteria compared to the organisation running the megaproject.
  • The size of a typical megaproject involves large amounts of money and therefore increases the risk of corruption and other malfeasance – governance and controls need to be robust[2] to maintain high ethical standards.
  • The ‘political attractiveness’ of doing a megaproject (eg, hosting the Olympics) distorts decision making; care in the megaproject development process is required to reduce the effect of optimism bias and strategic misrepresentation (see: The reference case for management reserves).
  • Megaprojects are financially fragile[3] and fragility is typically irreversible. Once broken the fragile entity cannot be readily restored to its original function. Financial (or investment) fragility is defined as the vulnerability of a financial investment to becoming non-viable, i.e., losing its ability to create net economic value. For example, the cost risks for big dams are significant; the actual costs more than doubles the original estimate for 2 out of 10 dams; triples for 1 out of every 10 big dams. But managers do not seem to learn; forecasts today are likely to be as wrong as they were between 1934 and 2007.

Recognising the scope and complexity of managing a megaproject and training people appropriately can mitigate the risks, the UK experience around Terminal 5 and Cross Rail (both £4 billion projects) suggest that achieving a good outcome is viable provided the organisation commissioning the megaproject is prepared to invest in its management. It’s probably no coincidence the management of megaprojects and their associated risk has been the focus of the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford for many years.



The competencies needed to manage projects grows in line with the increase in complexity and the increase in size. There are definitely additional elements of competency needed at each step in the framework outlined above.  What is far less clear is how to demarcate between normal, complex and megaprojects! Every project has a degree of complexity and a degree of size.  The values suggested above to separate normal, major and mega projects are arbitrary and there is even less clarity as to the transition between normal and complex projects.

I suspect the domain map demarcating the different disciplines will end up looking something like this but there’s a lot of research needed to define the boundaries and assign values to the axis (especially in terms of measuring the degree of complexity).  Hopefully, this blog will serve to start the discussion.



[1] Normal accidents are system accidents that are inevitable in extremely complex systems. The three
conditions that make a system likely to be susceptible to Normal Accidents are:
–  The system is complex
–  The system is tightly coupled
–  The system has catastrophic potential
The characteristic of the system leads to multiple failures which interact with each other, despite efforts to avoid them.

[2] For more on governance and ethics see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PM-Knowledge_Index.html#OrgGov1

[3] From: Big Is Fragile: An Attempt at Theorizing Scale, in Bent Flyvbjerg, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management (Oxford: Oxford University Press)

PMBOK® Guide 6 Edition takes a major step forward!

PMBOK6The Exposure Draft of the main ‘Guide Section’ of the 6th Edition is now available for comment – comments close at 5:00 p.m. EDT, 26 July 2016.  To offer comments, go to: www.pmi.org/pmbok-guide-exposure-draft.

Publication and Exam Schedule

PMI have announced the following schedule for publishing the PMBOK® Guide 6 Edition and updating their exams:

  • Draft English Version in PDF: Available in first quarter of 2017 (we use this to start updating our courses).
  • Published Launch Date: Third quarter of 2017 in English and 10 other languages.
  • PMP® Exam certification updates are expected to occur in Q1 2018 as a result of the PMBOK changes (the update also affects the PMI-SP and CAPM exams).

What’s new in the 6th Edition?

This is a major update, content enhancements in the 6th Edition include:

  • Agile practices incorporated into the PMBOK® Guide. Expanded coverage of agile and other adaptive and iterative practices. This will align proven, foundational project management concepts with the evolving state of the profession today. This reflects evidence from Pulse of the Profession® research that agile is used by increasing numbers of organizations in the management of some or all of their projects.
  • Introductory sections rewritten! The first three sections of the PMBOK® Guide have been completely revised. Relevant information from previous editions has been retained. New information reflecting the evolution of our profession as a driver of organizational change and a means of providing business value has been added.
  • Addition of three introductory sections for each Knowledge Area, Key Concepts, Trends and Emerging Practices and Tailoring Consideration:
    • Key Concepts, consolidating information fundamental to a specific knowledge area.
    • Trends and Emerging Practices not yet widely used.
    • Tailoring Considerations, describing aspects of the project or environment to consider when planning the project.
  • Two Knowledge Areas have new names:
    • Project Time Management is now Project Schedule Management, emphasizing the importance of scheduling in project management. This aligns with PMI’s Practice Standard for Scheduling.
    • Project Human Resource Management is now Project Resource Management. Both team resources and physical resources are included in this Knowledge Area.
  • There are three new processes:
    • Manage Project Knowledge is part of the Executing Process Group and Project Integration Management knowledge area.
    • Implement Risk Responses is part of the Executing Process Group and Project Risk Management knowledge area.
    • Control Resources is part of the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group and Project Resource Management knowledge area.
  • Agile appendix added. PMI are also planning to publish a companion practice guide focused on agile – tentatively in the third quarter of 2017.
  • More emphasis on strategic and business knowledge and the PMI Talent Triangle™. There is more emphasis on strategic and business knowledge, including discussion of project management business documents. Information is also included on the PMI Talent Triangle™ and the essential skills for success in today’s market. The PMI Talent Triangle™ was successfully rolled out, late last year, and an integral part of that roll out program was the creation of a new CCR Handbook. This handbook contains important information, concerning PDU category limits and how these may be aligned to the Talent Triangle to maintain PMI credentials see more on the Continuing Certification Requirement (CCR) program and the PMI Talent Triangle™.

As we work through the exposure draft, we will bring you more information. Watch this space!

Stage 1 of the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition Review process is open

KnowledgeThe Project Management Institute (PMI) has just released the first part of exposure draft for The PMBOK® Guide 6th edition for review and comment. Publication is expected in Q1 of 2017. The Standard section of the guide is currently open for review and will close on Wednesday, 6 April 2016 at 5:00 p.m. EDT (UTC 5). After resolution of the comments on the ‘standard’, the balance of the 6th Edition will be released for review.

For this revision to the PMBOK® Guide, PMI  have divided the exposure draft into two stages. This first stage addresses the Standard for Project Management section only and is a full-consensus exposure draft, a limited exposure draft review for the remaining portions of the PMBOK® Guide will be held at a later date.

Overall there have been some great updates to the PMBOK® Guide as proposed in the exposure draft of the 6th edition. The body of knowledge maturing in terms of content and consistency; and there is greater alignment with ISO21500 and other ISO standards.

The high level changes in the Standard are outlined in the PDF published by PMI (download here).  After the review process, these changes (as amended) will flow through to the main body of the PMBOK® Guide. The major changes are:

  • There are still 10 knowledge areas and five process groups, but there are now 49 processes.
  • Two Knowledge Areas have new names:
    • Project Time Management is now Project Schedule Management, emphasizing the importance of scheduling in project management. This aligns with PMI’s Practice Standard for Scheduling.
    • Project Human Resource Management is now Project Resource Management and people, equipment and physical resources are now included in this Knowledge Area.
  • There are three new processes in the Sixth Edition:
    • Manage Project Knowledge is part of the Executing Process Group and Project Integration Management knowledge area.
    • Implement Risk Responses is part of the Executing Process Group and Project Risk Management knowledge area.
    • Control Resources is part of the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group and Project Resource Management knowledge area.
  • The Estimate Activity Resources process has been removed, this function is now part of Estimate Activity Durations (for the scheduling component) and Project Resources Management for the acquisitions element.
  • The Close Procurement process has been removed and the work captured within Control Procurements and Close Project or Phase

To participate in the review process, go to http://www.pmi.org/PMBOK-Guide-and-Standards/Standards-Current-PMI-Standards-Projects.aspx (you will need a PMI registration to log-in but do not need to be a member).

The PMP and CAPM examinations will be updated in response to the publication of the PMBOK® Guide 6th edition, but this change is not expected until early 2018.  The PMBOK and all other standards are subject to routine updating every 4 to 5 years, this update is simply part of the process of keeping the PMBOK® Guide current and relevant.

PMP® exam is changing on 11th Jan. 2016

PMPThis post offers a detailed look at the new PMP examination content and what you can expect to see different in a exam taken after the 2nd November 2015.


  1. PMI have moved the start date back from the originally publicised date in November to January 2016.
  2. There will be no changes to the CAPM exam or any other PMI credential other than the PMI-ACP.
  3. Our free daily PMP questions are now aligned to the new exam see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-PMP-Q-Today.html
  4. All PMP of our courses starting from September 1st will be aligned to the new PMP examination, see:  http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/

The starting point for this update is the PMP Role Delineation Study (RDS) completed in April 2015, which has provided an updated description of the role of a project management professional and will serve as the foundation for the updated PMP exam. To ensure its validity and relevance, the RDS update has captured input from project management practitioners from all industries work settings, and regions. The research undertaken to update the RDS included focus groups, expert input and a large-scale, global, survey of Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification holders.

Overview of Changes

The RDS defines the domains and tasks a project manager will perform plus the skills and knowledge that a competent project manager will have. The five ‘domains’ of  Initiating, Planning Executing, Mentoring & Controlling and Closing remain unchanged, although there has been a slight reduction in the importance of ‘closing’ and an increased emphasis on executing (reflected in the allocation of questions). The other major changes are:

  • An emphasis on business strategy and benefits realisation: this new, included because many PMs are being pulled into a project much earlier in its life when business benefits are identified. There is also an increased focus across all of the other domains on delivering benefits (not just creating deliverables).
    See more on benefits management.
  • The value of lessons learned now has added emphasis: lessons should be documents across the whole project lifecycle and the knowledge gained transferred to the ‘organisation’ and the project team. See more on Lessons Learned.
  • Responsibility for the project charter shifted to the Sponsor: Most project managers are not responsible for creating the charter; the Sponsor or project owner is primarily responsible.  The PM is a contributor to the development and is responsible for communicating information about the project charter to the team and other stakeholders once the project starts.
    See more on the Project Charter.
  • Added emphasis on enhancing project stakeholder relationships and engagement: The RDS sees stakeholder engagement as a two way relationship rather than a one-way reporting function. Communication is expanded include an emphasis on relating and engaging with stakeholders. This is the theme of our last post, see: The Elements of Stakeholder Engagement.

Major Content Changes

A summary of the major content changes is:

Domain 1 Initiating the Project

Percentage of questions unchanged 13% =  26 questions.

Three tasks added:
–  Task 2: Identify key deliverables based on business requirements.
–  Task 7: Conduct benefits analysis.
–  Task 8: Inform stakeholders of approved project charter.

One task deleted:
–  Old Task 2: Define high level scope of the project.

One task significantly changed:
– Task 5: changed from ‘develop project charter’ to ‘participate in the development of the project charter’.

Major changes in the knowledge and skills required for this domain.

Domain 2 Planning the Project

Percentage of questions unchanged 24% =  48 questions.

One task added:
–  Task 13: Develop the stakeholder management plan.

One task significantly changed:
–  Task 2: expanded from ‘create WBS’ to ‘develop a scope management plan (including a WBS if needed)’.

The knowledge and skills required for this domain have been revised but basically cover the same capabilities.

Domain 3 Executing the Project

Percentage of questions increased from 30% to 31% =  62 questions.

Two tasks added:
–  Task 6: Manage the flow of information to stakeholders.
–  Task 7: Maintain stakeholder relationships.

One task deleted:
–  Old Task 6: Maximise team performance.

The knowledge and skills required for this domain have been revised but basically cover the same capabilities with the exception of the addition of ‘Vendor management techniques’.

Domain 4 Monitoring and controlling the project

Percentage of questions unchanged 25% =  50 questions.

Two tasks added:
–  Task 6: Capture, analyse and manage lessons learned.
–  Task 7: Monitor procurement activities.

One task deleted:
–  Old Task 6: Communicate project status to stakeholders.

The knowledge and skills required for this domain have been revised and expanded.

Domain 5 Closing the project

Percentage of questions reduced from 8% to 7% =  14 questions

No new tasks added or significantly changed.

The knowledge and skills required for this domain have been revised but basically cover the same capabilities.

Cross Cutting Knowledge and Skills

Cross cutting knowledge and skills are capabilities required by a project manager in all of the domains.  This areas of the RDS has been increased significantly.  The full list of knowledge and skills is
(* = included in previous RDS):
1.   Active Listening*
2.   Applicable laws and regulations
3.   Benefits realization
4.   Brainstorming techniques*
5.   Business acumen
6.   Change management techniques
7.   Coaching, mentoring, training, and motivational techniques
8.   Communication channels, tools, techniques, and methods*
9.   Configuration management
10. Conflict resolution*
11. Customer satisfaction metrics
12. Data gathering techniques*
13. Decision making*
14. Delegation techniques
15. Diversity and cultural sensitivity*
16. Emotional intelligence
17. Expert judgment technique
18. Facilitation*
19. Generational sensitivity and diversity
20. Information management tools, techniques, and methods*
21. Interpersonal skills
22. Knowledge management
23. Leadership tools, techniques, and skills*
24. Lessons learned management techniques
25. Meeting management techniques
26. Negotiating and influencing techniques and skills*
27. Organizational and operational awareness
28. Peer-review processes
29. Presentation tools and techniques*
30. Prioritization/time management*
31. Problem-solving tools and techniques*
32. Project finance principles
33. Quality assurance and control techniques
34. Relationship management*
35. Risk assessment techniques
36. Situational awareness
37. Stakeholder management techniques*
38. Team-building techniques*
39. Virtual/remote team management

Two skills that have been dropped are knowledge of:
–  PMI’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
(although this continues to have a major influence on the approach PMI
     expects project managers to adopt in the exam and the ‘real world’).
–  Project Management Software

The effect on the exam

PMI have advised that 25% of exam content will be new, focused on new topic areas (ie, the eight new tasks) added to examination, in addition, many other questions will be updated to reflect changes in the descriptions of tasks and changes in the underpinning skills and knowledge requirements.  We will be updating our materials from September 2015 to take these changes into account. Fortunately a large percentage of the ‘new’ materials from the RDS are already part of our PMP course (because we felt they were essentially good practice) or in other training courses we offer – overall this update makes very good sense.

Many aspects of the PMP exam are not changing including the eligibility requirements, formal training requirements, the passing score (which remains secret) and the design of the questions, many of which are scenario based seeking information on what should you do.

There is no change to other PMI exams, the CAPM, PMI-SP and other credentials remain unaltered.

Will there be more changes?

The sort answer if ‘yes’! Changes in the RDS occur every 3 to 5 years and as a consequence, the exam content outline changes, new topics are added, and shift in weighting occur.

In addition, the PMP exam also changes when the PMBOK® Guide is update (this is due in 2017). Changes in the PMBOK® Guide cause changes in terminology, changes to elements of process groups and exam questions are changed to reflect these alterations. However, many other references are used to create PMP content in addition to the PMBOK,  and if the PMBOK has contents not reflected in the RDS this section not examined.

So moving forward, the current version of the exam is active until 1st Nov. 2015; the new version of the exam is available from 2nd Nov. 2015, and the next change will be in mid-to-late 2017.

For this change, there is no change over period (including for re-sits) – the ‘old’ exam applies up until the 1st, the new exam from the 2nd November.  Both before and after the change, your exam results available immediately if you take a computer based test.  For more on the current examination, fees, eligibility requirement, etc, see: http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/pmp-training-melbourne/.

A different set of changes has been announced for the PMI-ACP (Agile) credential (visit the PMI website for more details).

PMI have also announced changes to the way PDUs are earned as part of their Continuing Certification Requirement (CCR) program, effective from the 1st December 2015.  For more on this change see: https://mosaicprojects.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/pmi-pdu-update/

PMBOK Health Warning

Health Warning:  Do not attempt to read the PMBOK and drive!

Animal tests undertaken by Mosaic show that reading a single chapter of the PMBOK can induce a state ranging from drowsiness to deep sleep; with the effect on younger animals being significant.


Similar effects have been observed from exposure to PMP training materials in the office……


As a result of these and other ‘real world’ observations, we recommend any prolonged exposure to the PMBOK and any associated training materials be restricted to either the safety of your own home, or a carefully controlled classroom environment under the supervision of a qualified trainer.


  1. No cats were injured during this study.
  2. Dr. Lynda Bourne is currently part of the PMI core team developing the 6th Edition of the PMBOK, due for publication in Dec. 2016.
  3. We have designed our courses to minimise the effects identified in this study.
    1. For more on our classroom training see:  http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/
    2. For more on our Mentored email training see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-Mentored.html
  4. Apart from Note 2, this post is simply a gratuitous excuse to publish some really cute cat pictures sourced from: http://pulptastic.com/29-photos-cats-sleeping-weirdest-places-positions/  we hope you enjoy the other 26 pictures.
  5. This post was originally published in 2014  – it seemed too good to ignore on the 1st April 🙂

The PMP® Examination is 30 years old

PMPThe PMP® credential is probably the oldest and most widely recognised project management credential in the world.

PMI® was not the first project management association, that honour goes to the European INTERNET (now IPMA), but it did lead the way in developing a project management examination and a supporting body of knowledge.

PMI was founded in October 1969 at the Georgia Institute of Technology as a non-profit organisation focused on the field of project management. By the time of the 1976 PMI Montreal Seminars/Symposium, the idea that ‘project management’ practices could be documented was being widely discussed along with the concept of project management as a profession.

These discussions continued through to 1981 when the PMI Board of Directors formally approved a project under the leadership of  Matthew Parry to:

  1. Define the distinguishing characteristics of a practicing profession (ethics)
  2. The content and structure of the profession’s body of knowledge (standards)
  3. Recognition of professional attainment (accreditation)

The project team became known as the Ethics Standards and Accreditation (ESA) Management Group.

The results of the ESA project were published as a Special Report in the Project Management Journal, August 1983. The Special Report included:

  1. A code of Ethics and a procedure for enforcement
  2. A standard knowledge baseline consisting of six major ‘functions’, Scope, Cost, Time, Quality, HR and Communication.  The term ‘functions’ was used, because most were named after the typical ‘functions’ (departments) of a large engineering company (now called knowledge areas).
  3. Recommendations for both the accreditation of courses provided by institutions (Universities) and individual certification.

This report subsequently served as the basis for PMI’s initial Accreditation and Certification programs. The  first PMPs credentials awarded in 1984 and Western Carolinas University, Masters in Project Management degree was the first course accredited by PMI.

The initial version of the PMP exam was 40 questions in each of the 6 knowledge areas with at least 70% correct in each to pass.  This version of the multi-choice exam presented 5 options and included a fair number of combination choices (e.g., “a and b”).

On the 25 March 1986, I joined PMI as member # 13,428 to tap into the knowledge PMI were developing through their Journals and standards to help with my work as a project management consultant. 28 years later I’m still an active PMI member.

In 1986/87 the PMI Board approved a second standards related project, to review and enhance the 1984 documents. In addition to expanding and enhancing the six original ‘functions’, the Risk and Contract/Procurement ‘functions’ were added along with a section on the ‘Project Management Framework’ which placed project management within the context of the wider environment and general management. This work was published as the ‘Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)’ in 1987.

The updated PMP exam was now 40 questions each for the 8 ‘functions’ with at least 70% correct in each to pass. It was 320 multiple choice questions that took 3 hours and 20 minutes in the morning for the first 160 questions and another 3 hours and 20 minutes in the afternoon for the second group of 160. Also around this time, PMI eliminated the “a and b” options and changed the exam from 5 options to 4.

Between 1991 and 1996, a major review of the PMBOK was initiated under the leadership of Bill Duncan resulting in the publication of ‘A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge’, the first edition of the PMBOK® Guide.  The important ‘Integration Knowledge area was added and the document extensively reorganised. The now familiar ‘processes were added to standardise the flow of information within a project (with inputs, tools and techniques and outputs described – most outputs becoming inputs to subsequent processes).

The PMP exam was changed again in the latter half of the 1990s.  It went from a written test to computer based test, from 320 questions to 200 questions and the passing score went from 70% in each knowledge area to 61% overall.  With the new format and ease of access to examination centres via the Thompson Prometric world-wide delivery system the PMP exam took off.

We passed our PMP examinations in 2001 and started developing our PMI courses, initially focussing on the new CAPM Credential, then the PMP credential – we are still developing and adapting our courses to stay aligned with changes in focus of the examination!

The 2000 and 2004 updates to the PMBOK® Guide set the pattern of regular 4 yearly updates. The 2004 (Third Edition) was the first time I contributed to the development process which has continued trough the 2008 and 2012 updates. The 2012 update included the new knowledge area of Stakeholder Management.

The regular updates required of an ANSI standard continue, with work on the 6th Edition currently in progress for publication in 2016, with Lynda Bourne leading work on the Stakeholder and Communication chapters.

Each update of the PMBOK® Guide flows through to updated PMP and CAPM examinations as do the less regular reviews of the PMP and the CAPM role delineation studies and examination specifications. So whilst the PMP examination is 30 years old, and the CAPM examination is 11 years old, both certifications remain a rigorous test of current project management knowledge.

The last set of significant changes to the exam delivery has been to change the passing assessment to remove the set pass/fail score and assess each test based on the use of psychometric analysis (see more)

Over the last 30 years, the PMBOK® Guide has largely shaped the world-wide view of what project management is; I know from my time working on the development of ISO 21500:2012 – Guidance on project management was heavily influenced by the PMI PMBOK. There are certainly other excellent BoKs produced in the UK, Japan and Germany to my certain knowledge; and the PRINCE2 certification is challenging the PMP credential for dominance; but everyone’s view of ‘project management’ is largely consistent and framed by the PMBOK® Guide.

So if you are a PMP holder or are planning on taking the PMP examination, I’m hoping this brief rundown on the history of the credential and its associated ‘body of knowledge’ provide some background on why the PMBOK® Guide and the examination are  the way they are. It’s been a long journey which continues.

For more on the history of Project Management see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PM-History.html

For more on the PMP and CAPM examinations see: http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/

PMBOK Health Warning

Health Warning:  Do not attempt to read the PMBOK and drive!

Animal tests undertaken by Mosaic show that reading a single chapter of the PMBOK can induce a state ranging from drowsiness to deep sleep; with the effect on younger animals being significant.


Similar effects have been observed from exposure to PMP training materials in the office……


As a result of these and other ‘real world’ observations, we recommend any prolonged exposure to the PMBOK and any associated training materials be restricted to either the safety of your own home, or a carefully controlled classroom environment under the supervision of a qualified trainer.


  1. No cats were injured during this study.
  2. We have designed our courses to minimise the effects identified in this study.
    1. For more on our classroom training see:  http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/
    2. For more on our Mentored email training see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-Mentored.html
  3. Apart from Note 2, this post is simply a gratuitous excuse to publish some really cute cat pictures sourced from: http://pulptastic.com/29-photos-cats-sleeping-weirdest-places-positions/  we hope you enjoy the other 26 pictures.