The integration of Agile into the newest PMBOK® Guide is both a very strong statement and a continuing conversation of how the PMBOK changes and in some way doesn’t change. If you go back to the 5th edition of the PMBOK Guide, you’ll find Agile is a methodology applied to the life cycle when you know the work is going to change. It’s not as complete as the discussion of Agile in the PMBOK Guide 6th Edition, but it exists.

This article covers the new Agile material introduced into the sixth edition, and how it approaches a refinement of the integration of Agile and Project Management. If you’re preparing for the PMP exam, the article represents generally what you need to know about Agile for the exam.

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Finding Agile in the PMBOK Guide 6th Edition

You’ll find discussions of Agile in two major areas:  in each knowledge area, where the guide discusses the impact of Agile on each of them, and in Appendix X3, the complete Agile discussion. In the latter, the PMBOK leads us through the process groups and helps us understand how Agile impacts those as well. This provides aspiring PMPs with an interesting picture of cross-cutting impacts to project management.

Agile in Knowledge Areas

You’ll find below a breakdown of Agile in each knowledge area. The primary focus is allowing objectives to drive decisions early, and the work itself to explore and define the details. This assumes an expectation of pushing out refined estimates for later in the project. Trust from all stakeholders will be required, and a mature approach to accountability, communication and collaboration will ensure a higher level of success.

Agile in Knowledge Areas

Agile in Process Groups

Within the Process Groups, an initial progression of work through exploring objectives renders a greater understanding of the actual work, so as early work is completed, requirements are refined and these plan-driven life cycles occur so that estimation can commence. It will be iterative and incremental. Planning will be continuous; initiating work will also be continuous. And closing work ensures the value has been obtained.

Agile in Process Groups

This description is a far cry from 5th edition “work is broken up into small pieces, and communication is enhanced.” This is in line with the intent of the entire PMBOK Guide; it is not only a standard and its guide, but a prescriptive analysis of project management, emerging trends and tailoring considerations—a practical collection of good practice that can be considered a true guide that one may take and more easily apply to any project—unique work that needs a unique approach every time you approach it. But it comes back to the changelessness of the guide and its components—the way we approach leadership and management is retained.

Early feedback from test takers of the PMP exam against the PMBOK Guide 6th Edition shows that specific terms and phrases from Agile are secondary to the exam, and where discussed, Agile heightens the fundamental mindset of project management within a more flexible framework. Where one constraint (Scope) becomes flexible, others (communication, risk, etc.) must accommodate.

The Agile material, along with other changes to the 6th Edition are major changes; but they enhance what is there and allow us to more knowledgeably apply good practice instead of merely reading it in a book.

PMP Practise test

Studying for the PMP exam? Read more from Tim Jerome on the PMBOK Guide 6th Edition and what has changed:

Studying PMBOK® 6: Why Good Is Better Than Best in Project Management

PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition is Here! What Project Managers Should Know

PMBOK®, PMP®, and PMI® are registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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