The 2021 PMP® Exam Breakdown
Every four or five years the Project Management Institute releases a new edition of their flagship publication: The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).
Around two years into the lifecycle of a PMBOK® Guide edition, the Institute also revises its Examination Content Outline (ECO). Normally, this is not a major change, but the last update – that came into force in January 2021 – was a huge departure from what we were used to.
A More Holistic Perspective
Up until 2021, the aspiring PMP® exam preparation student was faced with a grid listing all the project management processes, arranged by knowledge area and process groups.
Today, those familiar processes only represent half of the exam in total. The rest is made up of questions relating to people (42%) and the business environment (8%).
Why Change the Format?
Just because you are effective at the mechanics of project management – scoping, scheduling, budgeting, etc. – does not necessarily mean that you are an effective project manager.
Projects are chartered to fulfil organizational objectives. Project managers who are unaware of the bigger picture often cannot understand why their project might have to be cancelled or changed radically mid-stream.
The Project Management Institute wants to encourage its new PMPs® to understand business outcomes and benefits, rather than just limiting their thinking to tangible deliverables.
Similarly, a project manager has to lead a project team and to reconcile the often competing expectations of stakeholders. Increasingly, projects are being undertaken by virtual teams and need to be managed without face-to-face engagement.
We Need to Be More Agile
Another change in the PMP® exam for 2021 is the statement that 50% of the questions will relate to agile project management.
Many of these questions describe agile situations, but the question is equally relevant to traditional, predictive project management. However, there will be questions asking in what situations would agile approaches be beneficial? There will also be questions relating to events that occur during a typical agile lifecycle.
To prepare students, who might be unfamiliar with the area, Velopi has added a 2-hour introduction to agile module to the PMP® preparation course, covering the agile principles and introducing agile practice through the Scrum agile method.