The original text of this blog post has been updated to reflect PMI’s announcement on March 18, 2021 that the significant changes they will be making to the PMP exam will now take affect on January 2, 2021 due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In their previous announcement, the changes were to take affect on July 1, 2020. If you have any questions on how these changes may affect your plans to write the PMP exam, please contact us at email@example.com.
Every 3- 5 years, PMI conducts research to understand how the project management industry is changing.
On June 28th, PMI release an updated PMP Examination Content Outline (ECO). The outline describes the changes they intend to make to the PMP exam based on the results of their latest research study.
PMI originally announced that the last date to write the current version of the exam would be December 15, 2019 and then subsequently changed that to June 30, 2020. Today, (March 18, 2020) PMI announced that they have extended the deadline, and now the last date to write the exam in its current format will be December 31, 2020.
What we know so far about the upcoming changes:
- As illustrated in the following chart, PMI is moving away from alignment of the exam with the PMBOK process groups and will be moving to alignment with the more generic People, Process and Business Environment domain categories.
- About half of the examination will represent predictive project management approaches and the other half will represent agile or hybrid approaches.
- The People domain has 14 distinct tasks, 13 of which are new, and shows a much stronger emphasis on the servant-leadership role of a PM. Other tasks within this group include managing conflict, assessing team performance, ensuring the team is adequately trained, empowering the team, removing blockers, dealing with virtual teams, mentoring stakeholders and helping the team define their working agreements.
- Within the Process domain 11 of the 17 tasks are similar to those from the previous outline, with one task covering each key existing knowledge area. New tasks include Execute project with urgency to deliver business value (which encourages opportunity to deliver incremental value and to leverage MVPs), Manage project artifacts (focusing not just on planning for the artifacts but also ensuring they deliver value), Determine appropriate project methodology/methods and practices (tailoring approaches to fit the context of a project and team), Establish project governance structure, Manage project issues, and Ensure knowledge transfer for project continuity.
- The Business Environment domain consists of four all new tasks. The focus is on ensuring compliance with internal & external standards, ensuring that benefits and value are identified and realized, monitoring changes which impact project scope and the support of organizational change and of the project’s impact on the organization.
While it is reasonably safe to assume that existing exam questions will be mapped to these new domains & tasks where possible, given that half of the questions will need to support agile or hybrid project management approaches, the exam will likely require the creation of a substantial number of new questions . The Agile Practice Guide will likely be one reference PMI draws upon for these new questions. As a result, we can expect increased overlap in content between the PMP and PMI-ACP exams.
While we hope to know more in the coming months, this latest change to the structure of the PMP exam has the potential to be a much bigger change than the most recent change from PMBOK Guide v5 to v6.)
You want to write the PMP Exam. What does this mean for you?
It is impossible to say at this point, based on the information provided by PMI so far, whether or not the changes will ultimately result in a more difficult or simplified exam. It is clear, however, that the exam will undergo significant change — and change, especially when not yet fully understood, can be a source of risk.
For those planning on writing the exam in the near future:
Plan to write the exam sooner than later.
Schedule your exam sooner than later — if you don’t pass the first time (yes that is a possibility regardless of the exam prep training you take), you want to have enough time to re-take the exam before the exam changes after December 31, 2020.
For participants of our public sessions – if you don’t pass the exam the first time, you can take the course again at the same location within 12 months at no charge*
* If you require updated course materials, you will only have to pay for the cost of these materials
Don’t wait to the last minute to book your exam.
Traditionally, whenever there is a significant change in the PMP exam, there is a rush of people scheduling their exam before the changes go into effect. Our advice — schedule your exam early to improve your chances of being able to select the date and location that will work best with your schedule.
For those planning on writing the exam after December 31, 2020:
Allow time for the new version of the exam to “stabilize”
Whenever there is a significant change to the format of the PMP exam, it takes a while for PMI to “stabilize” the exam based on feedback from actual exam testers. It also takes a while for those of us who provide PMP Exam Prep training to receive sufficient feedback to know if the exam simulation questions we are providing are appropriate and not too easy or hard. We therefore recommend not planning to write the new version of the exam until it has had at least a month or two to stabilize. We will update this recommendation as we know more.
- Once you open your exam application with PMI, you have 90 days to complete and submit the application.
- Once PMI approves your application, you have one year to pass the exam. Sometimes, more than one attempt is necessary so be sure to leave enough time to re-take the exam before your eligibility expires (one year after your application is approved).
In the coming months we will provide our thoughts not only on what these changes mean to those writing their PMP exam after December 31, 2020, but to project management as a whole.
Stay tuned – its about to get more interesting!