Project Practitioners > PMBOK 6th Edition: Highlights of What's New - Three takeaways from the two changed knowledge areas

PMBOK 6th Edition: Highlights of What's New - Three takeaways from the two changed knowledge areas

By Sinikka Waugh

By Sinikka Waugh, VP Marketing & Communications, Central Iowa Chapter

So, the 6th Edition of the PMBOK has been out for almost two months now, and many of us are still trying to understand the practical, tactical implications of the changes.  Over the next couple weeks I will be highlighting some of the key changes between the 5th and 6th edition. A summary of the five main changes was featured in September, and in October, we looked at the changes specific to the “Role of the Project Manager”.

This week, we’re looking closer at how to interpret the change in nomenclature for two knowledge areas, and the processes within those.

Takeaway 1 – You can’t manage time. 
Well, that’s what it appears to be saying! You can, however, plan and manage a schedule! While, in the 5th Edition “Project Time Management includes the processes required to manage the timely completion of the project,” the corresponding sentence at the front of chapter 6 in the 6th Edition has changed to, “Project Schedule management includes the processes required to manage the timely completion of the project.”

Practical Application – instead of trying to manage time, let’s focus our energies from Chapter 6 on creating and controlling a schedule that will help us accomplish the work.  The work effort is largely unchanged – we still need to plan for how we will manage the schedule, define the activities, sequence them, estimate the activity durations, develop and ultimately control the schedule.  But now, we’re doing it with some specific agile-focused schedule management tips in hand as well.  Pay special attention to outputs in “Schedule management plan” to see more application of agile and adaptive approaches such as “release and iteration length”.


Takeaway 2 – Estimating Activity Resources isn’t just for time and schedule anymore. 
While in the 5th Edition, “6.4 Estimate Activity Resources is described as “the process of estimating the type and quantities of material, human resources, equipment, or supplies required to perform each activity, and found itself in the “project time management” section – those same words appear in chapter 9, under  “9.2 Estimate Activity Resources – The process of estimating team resources and the type and quantities of material, equipment, and supplies necessary to complete project work.”  This estimating is now assigned within the resources chapter, and extends beyond time to all resources associated with the project.

Practical Application – as we consider our resource plans for our projects, let’s allow ourselves to consider all of the resources we need – equipment, supplies, and materials as well as the people…the human beings we need, and allocate appropriately.  Having someone available to work on the project who has the right skills has limited helpfulness if that person can’t also get access to the right tools and equipment to complete the necessary work.


Takeaway 3 – Managing project resources includes more than humans, but that doesn’t mean it includes humans less
While in the 5th Edition, chapter 9 focused on Project Human resources, chapter 9 in the 6th Edition extends to include all resources.  The PMBOK now includes the term “Team” to differentiate between managing other types of resources and managing the human resources assigned to the project team.  It’s really important to clarify something here, however, since many of us have spent many years and words in our project careers reminding us as PMs to treat our human resources as HUMAN beings, not “resources”.  This feels like it could slip dangerously close to a step backwards if we are not diligent.

Practical Application: Spend a few minutes looking through the tools and techniques specifically associated with managing the team of human beings assigned to your project – from acquiring them (requiring interpersonal and team skills) to developing them (which moved collocation, virtual teams, and communication technologies up to the forefront ), to managing them (now including Interpersonal and team skills such as conflict management, decision making, emotional intelligence, influencing, and leadership).   The descriptors in the 6th edition point to an increasing need for skills and competencies in connecting with, communicating with, relating to, and influencing the human beings -the people – assigned to our projects.


How about you – what takeaways do you see in these revisions?

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