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PMI BoK Version 7 – Insights for the PMO

PMI BoK 7The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the largest professional body for project management practitioners and it’s Body of Knowledge (BoK) has long been the reference book for the profession as well as those pursuing PMI qualifications.

Recently version 7 of the BoK was released and there’s been a subtle change in the recent edition of the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Body of Knowledge from previous ones – the introduction of principles and performance domains.

The BoK still contains a lot of what you would have seen in previous editions – such as the models, processes and the different artefacts commonly found in a project practitioner’s toolkit. What’s changed is more in line with how businesses are managing change today – the different types of projects – the different ways of delivering them ( the new BoK addresses the waterfall, agile and hybrid approaches) and how teams of people choose to work on projects.

Here’s the main difference between versions 6 and 7:


The introduction of principles into the BoK might not seem too unfamiliar if you’ve already seen the PMO principles which were launched in 2017. The principles in the BoK are described as foundational guidelines, sufficiently open enough for interpretation for project practitioners to use depending on the particular context they are working within. Here’s a definition of principle – they guide the actions and behaviours:

    The use of principles in project management is about providing some guidance without being prescriptive, give people the freedom to take the right course of action and carry out that action with the right behaviours.

Here are the PMO principles for comparison against those of the PMI Bok (in the image above)

Doing Project Management

There is a recognition that organisations still carry out projects that are traditional in nature (waterfall) and whilst PMI have removed the Knowledge Areas of version 6, they do in effect still exist in version 7, they’ve just been grouped differently.

There’s also a recognition that each and every organisation chooses to do projects their own way and this is reflected in the new section about tailoring your project management approach.

For each of the areas of project management, shown in the diagram below, there are examples of models, processes and different artefacts (e.g., tools, documents, templates, checklists etc).

This is the bread and butter stuff that many look to PMI to provide and they’re not going to be disappointed because their members also have access to the PMIstandards+ which is a lot more online resources that support the BoK. So the foundational guidelines of the principles guide the behaviour of all the key areas of project management – now known as performance domains.

So What About PMO?

PMO – or Project Management Office – has its own appendix giving an overview of what one is; what it does and why have one.

It talks about the PMO being a management structure that standardizes project-related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, tools, methodologies and techniques. It also states that the PMO can be project, programme or portfolio based and recognises that PMOs vary from organisation to organisation and often within organisations too.

Why have a PMO? quite simply it’s there to improve project management and roles could include aligning projects with strategic aims; working with stakeholders; developing the people working in projects and realizing value from investment in projects.

Value Gets Mentioned

Value – a buzzword that has existed for a while in project management and also PMO (is our PMO delivering value, value-add services etc) The word value gets used a lot without a definition of what value actually is. PMI state very clearly that value means something of worth, importance or usefulness. It’s a small point but actually, when the BoK talks about a system for value delivery, we now know that means whichever way we choose to deliver projects it has to be something of worth, importance or usefulness and that’s a clear message to give.

A Range of Benefits Delivered by the PMO

The BoK highlights five different areas which highlight what the PMO does and what benefits that brings to the organisation, these are summarised as:

  1. A PMO that provides the centre of excellence services such as providing guidelines, templates, training and coaching. They provide the best practice and standardisation.
  2. A PMO that provides project support services such as planning, risk, tracking etc
  3. A PMO at a portfolio level and a centralised support of projects
  4. A PMO at the enterprise level (ePMO) making the link between strategy and portfolio-level investments
  5. A PMO working in adaptive delivery such as Agile – they are an enabling role rather than oversight – coaching teams, building agile skills, mentoring sponsors etc

One thought, isn’t the fifth one very similar to the first one?

PMOs Supporting a System for Value Delivery

The BoK talks about the projects being part of a system for value delivery within an organisation. The PMO is part of that system and has three key contributions to make to that system. These are summarised as:

  1. The PMO fosters project management capabilities – that’s both capabilities in terms of people and skills and also processes.
  2. The PMO keeps the big picture in mind – they can see both what’s happening at individual project levels and the overall combination of project work contributing to the organisation’s success. This is about providing information and guidance to senior execs so they know what’s happening and providing decision support.
  3. The PMO contributes to continuous improvement, knowledge transfer and change management – sharing insights across projects; using lessons to inform where improvements are needed; and supporting organisational changes where needed such as new skills, process updates etc.

It’s good to see the PMO being mentioned at length in this version of the BoK but not only that there is also a lot of knowledge and insights that any PMO practitioner can use in their role as they support delivery, in whatever form it takes.

The BoK, with its insights into different models, techniques and artefacts used throughout the different performance domains, is certainly a useful reference book for any PMO shelf.

Take a look at PMI’s Body of Knowledge pages – you can pre-order the book without being a member right here (released 1st August 2021)

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