PMBOK® guide-- third edition

an overview of the changes

Co-author: Dennis Bolles, PMP, Project Manager

Co-author: J. David Blaine, PMP, Leadership Team

Co-author: Carol Steuer, PMP, Leadership Team


The Project Management Institute's (PMI®) A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) serves as a reference document for anyone interested in project management by focusing on processes, knowledge, and practices applicable to “most projects most of the time”. The general consensus is that the PMBOK® Guide is valuable and useful. In fact, the PMBOK® Guide has become the de facto global, standard for project management. With over 1,000,000 copies of the PMBOK® Guide in circulation, PMI has received thousands of valuable recommendations for improvements. As a result of those inputs, and the expansion of the project management body of knowledge, PMI volunteers, under the project leadership of Dennis Bolles, PMP, stepped forward to support the profession by preparing an updated version of the PMBOK® Guide. This paper describes the changes to the PMBOK® Guide.


The Project Management Institute's (PMI)/American National Standards Institute (ANSI) American National Standard number ANSI/PMI 99-001-2000, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), is updated every four to five years. The current version, PMBOK® Guide – 2000 Edition, was published in December 2000. The project that began the next update was started approximately one year later when the PMI Standards Manager and the Standards Member Advisory Group (MAG) appointed Dennis Bolles, PMP, project manager of the PMBOK® Guide 2004 Update Project. This next edition of the PMBOK® Guide will be herein after referred to as the PMBOK® Guide – Third Edition. The official project began in February 2001 when Dennis Bolles and five members of the Project Leadership Team (PLT) met with the Standards MAG to review and approve the Project Charter. A project team kick off meeting was held in March 2002 with the fifteen Project Core Team (PCT) members selected by Dennis Bolles. Processes and procedures used to manage the project were created in the remainder of 2002. The following documents were submitted to the Standards MAG for review and approval.

Update development process

The Standards MAG, Project Manager, and Deputy Project Manager held a number of meetings during 2002 to discuss project progress and development of the requirements as they were defined in the Project Charter. The PLT finalized a plan to proceed with implementation of the updates in a meeting held in San Antonio, TX prior the 2002 PMI Symposium. This plan for developing the Preliminary Exposure Drafts (PEDs) was created and included reviewing and approving five releases of the PED. The five drafts occurred between January and September of 2003. The PCT members held co-located meetings in May and August of 2003 to review and approve major releases of the PED. The outcome of the August 2003 PCT meeting led to the development and delivery of the Final Exposure Draft (FED) that the PLT delivered following a final editing meeting held in Baltimore, MD in October 2003 prior to the PMI Global Congress – North America. The FED was posted for public review and downloading on the PMI Web site on 8th November 2003 through 9th January 2004 during which time over 4,000 visits were recorded and almost 2900 recommendations for further improvements were submitted.

The scope of the project to update the PMBOK® Guide

Many discussions were held among the PCT members and with the PMI Standards MAG about changing the criteria “generally accepted on most projects most of the time” that finally resolved into “generally recognized as good practice on most projects most of the time.” The term “generally recognized” means that the knowledge and practices described are applicable to most projects most of the time, and that there is widespread consensus about their value and usefulness. The term “good practice” implies that there is general agreement that the correct application of these skills, tools and techniques can enhance the chances of success over a wide range of different projects.

Some additional requirements were defined by the Standards MAG and developed by the PCT as work on the update proceeded:

  • Add new material reflecting the growth of the knowledge and practices in the field of project management by documenting those processes, practices, tools, techniques, and other relevant items.
  • Expand the emphasis and treatment of the Process Groups.
  • Expand the treatment of integration and convey its importance to managing a project.
  • Expand treatment of the Initiation Process Group to more accurately describe the front-end of the project and the start of each phase.
  • Enhance the treatment of the Closing Process Group to more clearly describe the processes and activities involved in project closure.
  • Evaluate all processes to ensure that they are properly placed, complete and clear.
  • Review all text to make sure it is clear, complete and relevant.
  • Ensure consistent terminology and placement of project inputs, outputs and tools and techniques.
  • Identify the origin of all inputs and the destination of all outputs.
  • Change text where possible to improve the translatability of the document and change words and phrases with negative cultural connotations.
  • Expand the glossary and make it self-consistent among all the terms and refine the glosses to enhance the ability to translate the document.
  • Expand the index.
  • Correct existing errors in the 2000 Edition.

Structural changes

The PMBOK® Guide – Third Edition was restructured to emphasize the importance of the Process Groups. Exhibit 1 Structural Changes displays a side-by-side comparison of the changes.

Structural Changes

Exhibit 1 – Structural Changes

New and Revised Processes: The Project Charter included the directive to “Evaluate all processes / sub-processes to ensure they are properly placed, complete, and clear.” This directive was a result of the discussions held in Nashville, TN at the 2001 PMI Standards Open Work Sessions (SOWS), which identified the need to review the relevancy of current processes and sub-processes as a key issue that the PMBOK® Guide 2004 Update Project should address in the PMBOK® Guide – Third Edition. The subject of Knowledge Area relationship to the Process Groups was revisited as the single topic for discussion during the 2002 PMI SOWS in San Antonio, TX. The discussion was focused around two exercises: 1) creating a table matrix showing Knowledge Area process and Process Groups, similar to the one shown on page 38 of the PMBOK® Guide – 2000 Edition but containing a redistribution of existing processes and adding new processes that appeared to be missing; and 2) drawing a process flow diagram showing the relationship among the processes. Participants were separated into seven teams charged with the task to complete these two exercises. The information provided by the teams was consolidated into a composite matrix. The PCT used this matrix to develop concepts for the PMBOK® Guide – Third Edition, which led to seven new processes, two processes being deleted, and thirteen processes being renamed, and some minor content changes to the other processes.

Process Name Changes: The names of processes in the various chapters of the PMBOK® Guide – 2000 Edition are in different formats and styles. Improper formatting can cause confusion for project management students and experienced individuals as well. As an example, consider the processes in the Project Scope Management Knowledge Area: Initiation, Scope Planning, Scope Definition, Scope Verification, and Scope Change Control. Some of these are active voice; some are present participles. The effect of these different styles is that readers are unable, at a glance, to determine whether a term is an Activity (a “process”) or a Deliverable (a “work-product” or “artifact”).

One solution to minimize confusion is to define a strict format for all process and activity names, such as Verb-Object. There are two choices to the reformatting. One option is to use present tense verbs, such as Define, Plan, Control; another is to use present participles such as Defining, Planning, and Controlling. One advantage of the participle format is that it gives readers a stronger implication that the item is an activity that takes some time to complete. The advantage of the present tense is that it emphases the action to be taken and is easier to translate. The PCT proposed to the Standards MAG that a wholesale change of process names using the Verb-Object format be part of the update. The Standards MAG was concerned that changing all of the names would be too significant a change and authorized an incremental change in the PMBOK® Guide – Third Edition to include only those approved new processes and a few other processes for specific reasons that will be discussed later in the paper.

Writing Styles: The previous editions of the PMBOK® Guide contained several different writing styles as a result of being written by a committee. A Style Guide was developed and used by the PLT to finalize the input provided by the project sub-teams to create the PMBOK® Guide – Third Edition. A great deal of attention was given to using present tense/active voice language and consistency of format throughout the document to give the document an active voice. The team spent a great deal time mapping inputs and outputs to the processes to assure consistency in content. In addition the Update Team standardized the use of common terms throughout the PMBOK® Guide and used words whose meaning would be clear and easy to translate, such as using the term “person” in place of “individual,” which can have many meanings.

Chapter 1 - Introduction Changes

The changes to Chapter 1 focused on the clarification and improved organization of the information. Chapter 1 clarifies the differences between a project and operations; consolidates the areas of expertise by combining the management discussion with the application areas and soft skills into one section; provides standard definitions of program and program management, and portfolio and portfolio management; and includes a more detailed discussion of PMO variations.

Chapter 2 - Project Life Cycle and Organization Changes

Chapter 2 changes continued the work of clarification and re-organization of information within the PMBOK® Guide by making a clear distinction between project life cycles and product life cycles, defining stakeholders in relation to the project team, adding a discussion of the role of the PMO in organizations, and introducing the concept of a project management system.

Chapter 3 - Project Management Processes for a Project Changes

Chapter 3 was completely rewritten and expands the focus of the document on Process Groups and processes versus Knowledge Areas. Chapter 3 was renamed “Project Management Processes for a Project” and moved into a new Section II, “The Standard for Project Management of a Project” to more clearly indicate the part of the PMBOK® Guide which is the standard. As part of this change Chapter 3 was extensively revised to clearly indicate that the project management processes, inputs, and outputs called out in the chapter are the basis of the standard for project management of a single project. Seven processes were added, two deleted and thirteen renamed. The project management processes were mapped to show the integration of the processes and describe the requirement to address the five Process Groups and their constituent processes on each project. The Initiating Process Group and Closing Process Group were given more emphasis. Monitoring was added to the existing Controlling Process Group title and this process group was also given more emphasis.

Chapter 4 - Project Integration Management Changes

Chapter 4 was updated and completely rewritten to enhance the discussion of project management integration. It provides a description of integration from the aspect of the project management process groups, and provides a clear description of integration across all project management processes. The chapter includes four new processes and two renamed processes all of which have significantly expanded and clarified the content. Exhibit 2 – Chapter 4 Changes identifies the project management process changes.

Chapter 4 Changes

Exhibit 2 – Chapter 4 Changes

The Develop Project Charter process has been added to define the “what and why” of a Project. The Develop Project Charter process: A) Formally authorizes a project; B) Is issued by a project initiator/sponsor external to the project organization; C) Provides the project manager with the authority to apply organizational resources to project activities.

The Develop Project Scope Statement (Preliminary) process has been added to define the “what” of the project and address the scope development activities that occur during initiation of a project. The Project Scope Statement addresses and documents the characteristics and boundaries of the project and its associated products and addresses the methods of acceptance and scope control. The detailed project scope statement is described in the Scope Definition process of Chapter 5.

The Develop Project Management Plan process has been renamed and restructured to define how the project will be managed and to clarify integration among the other processes. The Develop Project Management Plan process: A) Includes the actions necessary to define, prepare, integrate, and coordinate all constituent plans. B) Is used to guide both the execution, and monitoring and control of the project

The Direct and Manage Project Execution process has been renamed and restructured to improve integration with the other processes. The process requires the project management team to execute the multiple actions established within the Project Management Plan to perform the work defined within the Project Scope Statement.

The Monitor and Control Project Work process has been added to establish the activities required of the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group. Monitor and Control Project Work process: A) Measures and monitors project initiation, planning, execution and closure for determining corrective or preventive action. B) Includes collecting, measuring, and disseminating performance information and assessing measurements and trends to effect process improvements, these activities are continuously performed from project inception through completion.

The Close Project process was added to complete and clarify all activities required in the Closing Process Group. The Close Project process: A) Involves performing the close portion of the Project Management Plan. B) Establishes the procedures to coordinate activities needed to verify and document the project deliverables. C) Formalizes acceptance of those deliverables by the customer/sponsor. D) Investigates and documents the reasons for actions taken if a project is terminated before completion. E) Integrates activities needed to collect project records. F) Analyzes project success or failure. G) Gathers lessons learned documentation. H) Archives project or phase information from the entire project for future use by the performing organization.

Chapter 5 - Project Scope Management Changes

Chapter 5 no longer has initiation as a process but contains one new process as shown is Exhibit 3 – Chapter 5 Changes.

Chapter 5 Changes

Exhibit 3 – Chapter 5 Changes

The Scope Planning process creates a Scope Management Plan that documents how the scope will be defined, verified, and controlled and how the Work Breakdown Structure will be created and defined. The Scope Definition process refines the preliminary Project Scope Statement created in the Develop Project Scope Statement (Preliminary) in Chapter 4 (4.2) and produces a detailed Project Scope Statement. The Create WBS process has been added as a separate process in Chapter 5. The new process expands the description of the role that a WBS plays in defining the scope of a project. It now includes its own inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs. The Scope Verification process formalizes acceptance of the completed project scope. The Scope Control process controls changes to the project scope. The Scope Control process was renamed to indicate that scope changes, like all other requested changes, are processed according to the project's integrated change control process and the actual changes are managed when they occur.

Chapter 6 - Project Time Management Changes

Chapter 6 has some significant updates in content as well as the graphics. “Activity Resource Estimating” was moved into Chapter 6 (6.3) from Chapter 7. A discussion of the Schedule Management Plan, a subsidiary component of the Project Management Plan, is described in the opening section of the chapter rather than being a separate process. The content changes deleted PERT and the PERT figure, improved the Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM) and Arrow Diagramming Method (ADM) figures; added a figure for Milestone Schedule, Summary Schedule, and Detailed Schedule, added a Tool & Technique reference to “Critical Chain,” and dropped outdated figures: “Project Network Design with Dates”; “Bar (Gantt) Chart; and “Milestone Chart.” Exhibit 4 – Chapter 6 Changes identifies the process changes.

Chapter 6 Changes

Exhibit 4 – Chapter 6 Changes

The team determined that the Activity Resource Estimating (Resource Planning) process content was more closely related to the development of the project schedule rather than cost. The link between resources and project cost estimating is still there.

Chapter 7 - Project Cost Management Changes

Chapter 7 has some significant updates in the content as well as the graphics. The Resource Planning process was moved to Chapter 6 (6.3) and renamed Activity Resource Estimating. There are also significant structural changes to the inputs, tools & techniques, as well. A discussion of the Cost Management Plan, a subsidiary component of the Project Management Plan, is described in the opening section of the chapter rather than being a separate process. Content updates include:

  • Bottom-up cost estimating is focused on the work packages or individual activities
  • Project budgeting is tied directly to the WBS as an aggregation of lower level components
  • Project cost control now includes Earned Value Management
Chapter 7 Changes

Exhibit 5 – Chapter 7 Changes

Chapter 8 - Project Quality Management Changes

Chapter 8 contains two process name changes made to better reflect the activities of the processes as shown in Exhibit 6 – Chapter 8 Changes. An emphasis was made to closely integrate quality activities with the overall Monitoring and Controlling Process as defined in Chapter 4.

Chapter 8 Changes

Exhibit 6 – Chapter 8 Changes

Chapter 9 - Project Human Resources Management Changes

Chapter 9 was significantly updated in all processes. A new Manage Project Team process was added as shown in Exhibit 7 – Chapter 9 Changes.

Chapter 9 Changes

Exhibit 7 – Chapter 9 Changes

The Project Human Resources Management processes now include the following processes:

  • Human Resource Planning - Identifies and documents project roles, responsibilities and reporting relationships, as well as creating the staffing management plan.
  • Acquire Project Team - Obtains the human resources needed to complete the project.
  • Develop Project Team - Develops individual and group competencies to enhance project performance.
  • Manage Project Team - Tracks individual and team performance, provides feedback, resolves issues and coordinates project team changes to enhance project performance.

Chapter 10 - Project Communications Management Changes

Chapter 10 was updated by adding a Manage Stakeholders process and moving and incorporating the content of the Administrative Closure process into the Close Project process in Chapter 4 (4.7). Exhibit 8 - Chapter 10 Changes identifies the process changes.

Chapter 10 Changes

Exhibit 8 – Chapter 10 Changes

The Project Communications Management processes now include the following:

  • Communications Planning - determines the information and communications needs of the stakeholders: who are they, what is their level of interest and influence on the project, who needs what information, when they will need it, and how it will be given to them.
  • Information Distribution - makes needed information available to project stakeholders in a timely manner.
  • Performance Reporting - collects and disseminates performance information. This includes status reporting, progress measurement and forecasting.
  • Manage Stakeholders - manages communications to satisfy the requirements of and resolve issues with project stakeholders.

Chapter 11 - Project Risk Management Changes

The Chapter 11 update increases the focus on opportunities (vs. threats), includes options based on project complexity, enhances Risk Management Planning activities, adds the Risk Register, and provides closer integration with other processes. No process names were changed and no new processes were added, but the content of each process was clarified.

The updated project risk management processes include the following:

  • Risk Management Planning - decides how to approach, plan and execute the risk management activities for a project.
  • Risk Identification - determines which risks might affect the project and documenting their characteristics.
  • Qualitative Risk Analysis - prioritizes risks for subsequent further analysis or action by assessing and combining their probability and impacts.
  • Quantitative Risk Analysis - analyzes numerically the effect of identified risks on overall project objectives of identified risks.
  • Risk Response Planning - develops options and actions to enhance opportunities and to reduce threats to project objectives.
  • Risk Monitoring and Control - tracks identified risks, monitors residual risks, identifies new risks, executes risk response plans, and evaluates their effectiveness throughout the project life cycle.

Chapter 12 - Project Procurement Management Changes

Chapter 12 changes include: making consistent use of the terms buyer and seller; identifying the project team as the buyer of products, materiel, goods, and services for the project; establishing the project team as the either the buyer of the project or the seller of the project under a contract; adding a sub-process on seller performance evaluation to contract administration; clarifying various input, tools, techniques, and outputs as identified by project management practitioners; and removing use of the words procure, solicit, and solicitation. Five processes were renamed to reflect the use of revised terms. Exhibit 9 – Chapter 12 Changes shows the process changes.

Chapter 12 Changes

Exhibit 9 – Chapter 12 Changes

The Project Procurement Management processes now include the following:

  • Plan Purchases and Acquisitions - determines what to purchase or acquire and when.
  • Plan Contracting - documents materiel, products, goods and services requirements and identifying potential sellers.
  • Request Seller Responses - obtains information, quotations, bids, offers, or proposals, as appropriate.
  • Select Sellers - reviews offers, choosing from among potential sellers, and negotiating a written contract with seller.
  • Contract Administration - manages the contract and the relationship between the buyer and the seller, reviewing and documents how a seller is performing or has performed to establish required corrective actions and provide a basis for future use of the seller manages contract related changes and, when appropriate, manages the contractual relationship with the outside buyer of the project.
  • Contract Closure - completing and settling each contract, including the resolution of any open items.


The glossary was expanded and updated to:

  • Include those terms within the PMBOK® Guide that need to be defined to support an understanding of the PMBOK® Guide's contents.
  • Provide self-consistency among all the terms within the glossary
  • Refine the glosses to clarify the meaning of each term and improve the quality and accuracy of translations.
  • Eliminate terms not used within the PMBOK® Guide – Third Edition


The PMI Standards Department has made a significant effort to coordinate the development of the PMBOK® Guide – Third Edition with project stakeholders and has taken steps to:

  • Interface and coordinate with other PMI Standards development teams.
  • Speed ‘official’ translations to market.
  • Support and accelerate updates to the Project Management Professional and other exam products.
  • Increased Marketing of the update process and the changes.
  • Assist PMI Components and Registered Educational Providers to speed development of updated training material.

The PMBOK® Guide – Third Edition and translations in eleven languages (Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Continental Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese) will be available at the end of October 2004.

2004, Steve Fahrenkrog, PMP, PMI Standards Manager
Originally published as part of 2004 PMI Global Congress Proceedings – Prague, Czech Republic



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