PMBOK Guideline vs PM Standard

PMBoK Guide 7th Edition

The PMBOK® Guide is not an exam prep book or a textbook, it is a reference. It is only one of several used to develop the PMP Exam Content Outline, which can be found online under the PMP certification resources. Information provided in this post is excerpted from the PMI website.

Provide a holistic approach

Every revision to the PMBOK® Guide is driven by market feedback and continuous research that is conducted without bias and in an iterative process. The research includes online surveys, interactive workshops, and focus groups with PMO leaders, PMI stakeholders, and practitioners from a broad spectrum of industries that focus on new insights, trends, and the future of the work.

PMI wants to remain relevant and continue to meet the needs of the professional community, so both the Standard and the Guide have new approaches. The result of ongoing update research shows that the PMBoK Guide needs to evolve in coverage to incorporate multiple perspectives and approaches of project management and improve the readability and usefulness without overstuffing it.


In addition, PMI increased its speed to market in today’s current environment by transitioning supplemental content and more practical application-based content in a digital format through PMIstandards+. While recognizing the value in the structure and content of the previous edition to ensure that any shifts enhance without negating that value.

It is important to understand that with these significant changes from the 6th to 7th edition, the content from the prior edition is simply not just going away. Users will experience this content distributed in a new way through PMIstandards+. This will result in an improved experience overall where PMI can edit, revise and introduce additional supplemental material more frequently to keep up with the changing environments.

Major Changes

The changes start with a shift from a process-based to principle-based standard, in which the content focuses on the “what” and “why” without getting into the” how”. This shift is supported by a change to the structure of the content, as well.

The sixth edition is structured around

  • Inputs,
  • Tools and Techniques applied to those inputs,
  • that then lead to Outputs.

The seventh edition moves to a structure based on areas of focus called Project Performance Domains. These domains are interacting, interdependent, and interrelated. The result is a focus on achieving desired outcomes-–both within the domain and for the project overall. The tools and techniques do not go away. They are mentioned with brief descriptions within the guide.

The project manager is the primary focus in the sixth edition; however, since it takes a team to complete the work, for the seventh edition, the development team was asked to broaden the perspective to include anyone involved in the project, while continuing to promote the function of the project manager.

To recap, holistically, the sixth to seventh edition has undergone two significant structural changes

  • The Standard: from Process Groups to Principles
  • The Guide: from Knowledge Areas to Project Performance Domains

With supporting material and content that further reflects the “how-to”, linked in PMIstandards+. As mentioned, access to this digital content platform is included for PMI members.

The Standard for Project Management

The PMBOK® Guide – Seventh Edition must reflect this flexibility and assist practitioners in managing the project at hand to deliver outputs that enable envisioned outcomes.

The PMBOK® Guide is actually two documents, bound together: the standard and the guide.

  • The Standard for Project Management is the document that carries the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) designation.
  • A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) provides a framework for applying the standard.
The Standard and Guide

There are three major sections in the standard and three in the guide.

Project Management Principles

The project management principles provide guidance, the degree of application and the way in which they are applied are influenced
by the context of the organization, project, deliverables, project team, stakeholders, and other factors. The principles are universal and
agnostic, making them reliable and valid regardless of methodology or project approach.

Project Performance Domains

The seventh edition of the guide builds on the foundation of the standard and is structured around project performance domains rather than Knowledge Areas and Inputs, Tools and Techniques, and Outputs (ITTOs). To define, project performance domains are a group of related activities that are critical for the effective delivery of desired project outcomes.

Projects are a system of interacting, interrelated, and interdependent project performance domains that form a unified whole:

  • Effective management in each domain should be connected to specific performance outcomes rather than production of artifacts such as plans and logs.
  • Domains include important management practices but are not prescriptive.
  • Each section explains why the specific domain is critical for effective project management.

Models, Methods, and Artifacts (MM&A)

This section of the guide provides a high-level description of some commonly used models, methods, and artifacts in the context of project management and delivery of outcomes. The items listed in this section are not intended to be exhaustive or prescriptive, but rather to help teams think about the options available to them.

  • A model describes a thinking strategy to explain a process, framework, or phenomenon.
  • A method is the means for achieving an outcome, result, or project deliverable.
  • An artifact is a template, document, output, or project deliverable.

As with process, the use of any model, method, or artifact has associated costs related to time, level of expertise, impact on productivity, etc. Teams consider these implications when deciding which elements to use. With your PMI membership, you can access additional MM&A resources in PMIstandards+.

Example of a Model, Method, and Artifact for Team Development:

  • Model: Tuckman Ladder
  • Method: Trust Building Meetings
  • Artifact: Agenda and Minutes