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The nature of the PMBOK Guide

We can categorize any resource about project management in one of the following groups:

  • Methodologies, which give you a path through the project.
  • Guides, which help you to be more efficient in using the methodologies.

What you need first and foremost is a methodology; and then after implementing a methodology, you can use the guides to enrich it.

The PMBOK Guide is designed to be a guide rather than a methodology. However, the process-based nature of the older versions was confusing for many and led them to think of the guide as a methodology, but when they tried to use it as such, it never gave good results. That’s why the old versions had a disclaimer in their introductions explaining that they’re not methodologies and that people need to select and use a methodology in parallel with it. One of our goals in the 7th edition was to prevent this from happening, and I think we succeeded, in that the new, principle-based approach of PMBOK 7 cannot be mistaken for a methodology.

The PMBOK Guide and its complementary resources help you to develop a better methodology by

  • helping you interpret the system using the principles, and
  • helping you enrich the system using the performance domains.

It’s for these reasons that the book contains the following main chapters:

  • Understanding and Interpreting goes over how the PMBOK principles help you gain a better understanding of project management, which can be used when selecting, implementing, and using a methodology.
  • Selecting a Methodology introduces a few methodologies to give you an idea of what it is that you need to be more effective in.
  • Enriching the Methodology explains how the PMBOK Guide can help you enrich the methodology you’ve implemented.
Next: The process of developing the PMBOK Guide