Though often associated with the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry, a project manager is a great asset for just about any business. With an ability to successfully deliver projects, project managers provide leadership, direction, and accountability to their teams.

The project management profession (PMP®) certification exam has been a staple for aspiring project managers for the past 37 years. Founded in 1984, the project management certification exam has tested the overall competence and skills of project managers to create a world-class global community of PMP professionals.

Changing Project Management Influences

Project management has evolved tremendously over the years. Largely due to technological advancements and a focus on stakeholders the profession, processes and priorities continue to adapt and grow.

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Technological Advancements

Advancements such as computers, the internet, artificial intelligence, and automation have been a driving force behind the evolution of project management as a profession.

Modern technology combined with a wide array of software programs help project managers better manage budgets, resources, teams, and tasks, while improving ROI for stakeholders.

Commitment to the Stakeholder

Project management is no longer just about the process. It’s about delivering a project that meets or exceeds expectations. This means greater stakeholder engagement from the get-go.

The Evolution of PMBOK


The initial purpose of the PMBOK® (Project Management Body of Knowledge) was to provide aspiring project managers with the knowledge needed to train for the PMP Exam

While the publication’s content has changed and adapted over the years, the intent remains the same. The PMBOK is still a project manager’s greatest asset to keep up with emerging trends and important changes within the industry. 

What follows is how project management has evolved, with a brief overview of past PMBOK versions.

Pro tip- Want to know the differences between PMBOK 7 vs PMBOK 6? Click here!

PMBOK 1 – Introducing the Project Management Body of Knowledge

As the project management profession began to take stride, the first PMBOK version was published by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in 1996 to document required learning material for future project managers. 

Developed by project managers for project managers, the PMBOK serves as a syllabus for the PMP certification exam. The purpose of each edition is to standardize best practices, procedures, and knowledge to drive the profession forward.

PMBOK 2 – Growing the Project Management Profession

PMBOK 2 was published in 2000 and introduced new, valuable information that reflected the continuous growth of the project management profession. Among these additions included various knowledge and practices that were deemed beneficial to the field and useful toward successful project completions.

PMBOK 3 – Evaluating Project Management Practices

Issued in 2004, PMBOK 3 included important changes to the evaluation of project management practices. This edition covered new and revised project processes, changes to the project life cycle and organization, and various project management changes that included:

  • Integration management
  • Scope management
  • Time management
  • Cost management
  • Quality management
  • Human resources management
  • Communications management
  • Risk management
  • Procurement management

PMBOK 4 – Amending the Iron Triangle

PMBOK 4 followed in 2009 and highlighted the growing constraints within the project management profession. This can be seen in the expansion of the iron triangle or fixed constraints from three to six — cost, risk, benefits, quality, scope and time.

Along with these changes, the fourth edition is the first of the PMBOK series to identify project stakeholders as a major element within effective project management.

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PMBOK 5 – The Inclusion of Stakeholder Management

In 2013, PMBOK 5 was published and included substantial changes to the field, including rolling wave planning and adaptive lifecycle.

Following PMBOK 4’s inclusion of stakeholder management, the PMI continued to place greater value on stakeholders within project management. In-line with their growing recognition, PMBOK 5 includes a new knowledge area on the subject (Project Stakeholder Management) that includes 4 unique processes.

PMBOK 6 – Evolving Agile Methodologies

The 6th edition of the PMBOK was published in 2017 with a focus on agile project management methodologies. Along with adopting the evolving role of agile methodologies, changes in PMBOK 6 can also be found in the structure, knowledge areas, and PM processes. This edition also stresses the importance of strategic and business thinking within the role of project managers.

PMBOK 7 – Principles Over Processes

As the newest addition to the project management body of knowledge, PMBOK 7 is set to be released August 1, 2021. The new version coincides with a drastic update to the PMP exam, which includes a structural overhaul, reducing the previous five sections to three, as well as expanding the required knowledge to include more modern project management techniques and practices. 

Reflective of the recent exam changes, PMBOK 7 provides the most up-to-date information to support aspiring project managers studying for their PMP exam. The most notable change to the 7th edition is an emphasis on principles rather than processes. It highlights the value of focusing on a successful project delivery rather than the individual steps of a project’s procedure.

Is your preparation for PMP® certification exam on track? Take up the PMP® Exam Prep Practice Test and assess your skills!

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If you’re working toward earning your PMP certification, preparing for the PMP exam may feel a bit daunting. It’s a tough exam, after all.

Let Simplilearn help you along the way. As an Authorized Training Partner (ATP) for the PMP certification, we make studying for the PMP exam easier than ever! Take the PMP Exam Practice Test. Our simulator will help you prepare for — and ace — the  final PMP exam.

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Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.