The Project Management Institute (PMI) Introduces Agile, in a Very Agile Way

October 7, 2019 | New Workplace Leadership | 5 min read
The Project Management Institute (PMI) Introduces Agile, in a Very Agile Way

PMP Exam to Change July 1, 2020

The original title of this article was, “PMP® Exam Changes Coming December 16.” This news may have come as a surprise, since the exam was last updated in March 2018 and updates usually occur in a predictable three to five-year cycle. Due to stakeholder feedback, PMI decided to delay the exam change until July 1, 2020. With this move, PMI shows a commitment not only to teach agile but to be agile as well. For those who are new to the methodology, among other things, it requires a close working relationship with stakeholders and embracing change to increase customer satisfaction.

What can we expect to see on the new exam?

Here is a summary of the critical information you need to know about the new PMP Exam Content Outline.

What is the reasoning behind this update?

The Project Management Institute (PMI) is committed to offering a certification that truly reflects the role of the project manager, and that role is rapidly changing. The accelerated rate of changes in technology is forcing organizations to treat project goals like moving targets. Businesses are also learning new approaches and using updated modern tools. The PMI recognizes that as the profession is evolving, so too must the exam, and they are taking steps to ensure it remains valid and relevant.

Changes to the exam approach

Project management trends

For starters, the PMI worked with an outside consultant to evaluate the current exam. The consultants were not bound to the PMBOK Guide as a reference for exam content. Instead, PMI asked them to identify the actual tasks that project managers perform as they lead projects. PMI uses this task-oriented approach to maintain alignment between the exam and trends in the project management profession.

Different approaches

Based on the PMI’s most recent role delineation study (RDS), the organization recognized that project managers must often mix traditional methodologies with newer modern techniques. Because of this, the new exam will include approximately 50% content from predictive project management approaches and 50% from agile or hybrid methods.

What content changes can we expect?

The current exam has five domains which represent the life cycle of a traditional project. The new exam will contain three fields that apply to all project environments and approaches. The three areas are people, process, and business environment.

The percentage of exam questions allotted to these domains will be 42%, 50%, and 8%, respectively.

Each domain contains tasks or responsibilities that are common for today’s project managers, such as “leading a team” or “managing conflict.”

Each task contains one or more enablers. Examples of the actions that a project manager would take to accomplish the job include “determining your leadership style” and “identifying sources of conflict.”

In the example below, “assess and manage risks” is a task that a project manager could accomplish by “iteratively assessing and prioritizing risks.”

The tasks and enablers serve as a guideline for your studies. Skillsoft takes this one step further by teaching you the tools and techniques that you will need to know. For example, to iteratively assess and prioritize risks, you will need to know how to calculate the expected monetary value (EMV) of risk, and how to create a risk prioritized backlog. We include these concepts in Skillsoft’s PMP Exam Prep curriculum.

What does this mean for candidates who wish to earn their PMP credentials?

Existing candidates have plenty of time to complete their studies and sit for the exam before the changes take effect on July 1, 2020. As that date approaches, new candidates will need to decide which version of the exam they should take. Keep in mind that in the unfortunate event that a candidate fails on their first attempt of the exam, PMI allows up to two retakes in a rolling year. However, the candidate must take the version of the exam offered on the day they visit the testing center.

What is a good source of study materials for the new exam?

Skillsoft compiles the necessary coursework, saving you time and guesswork. In addition to the PMBOK courses, our participants have access to testable content not found in the PMBOK Guide. Our live bootcamps also take a deeper dive into the most testable exam content.

When the PMBOK Guide 7th edition is published — and the PMI has yet to say when that will be — we can expect it to align to the agile updates we will see on the exam. However, PMP Exam Content Outlines (ECO) always suggest that PMP candidates read other publications to round out their studies. This holistic approach underscores the value of using a provider such as Skillsoft in your exam preparation journey. With the introduction of a new exam, it is our job to realign the exam prep curriculum and to provide training and practice questions that prepare you for exam success. You can rely on our content to provide everything you need in one place.

Skillsoft will begin offering training for the new PMP exam in the second quarter of 2020. Our curriculum includes self-paced content, a live instructor-led bootcamp, and interactive chat and email with a mentor.

Barbara Waters is a Bootcamp Instructor: Business/Technology and Developer, at Skillsoft. Barbara has over 20 years of experience managing projects and implementing process improvements for Fortune 500 companies. She has been responsible for several notable projects, including the creation of call centers for two state agencies and a successful employee retention program. Barbara serves as an adjunct business professor and consultant for Total Quality Management and process improvement. Barbara’s certifications include PMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM. and Project+.