The Rise of Agile in the PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition

Coming Soon: Agile Project Management

“Agile Project Management is an oxymoron: Agile is product management, not project management.” Agree or disagree, Agile Project Management is coming soon. This fall the Project Management Institute (PMI) will release the sixth edition of their Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®). At the same time, they will unveil their Agile Practice Guide, a joint effort with the Agile Alliance.


PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition

The PMBOK® Guide has allowed for rolling-wave, iterative process management and progressive, incremental elaboration of product deliverables since the third edition (2004). This approach to project management was first called “Agile” (also “Adaptive”) in the fifth edition (2013) where it was recommended for managing complex work and mentioned 22 times. The PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition includes 154 references and fully integrates Agile principles and practices into their Project Management Process and Knowledge Areas.

Per the current draft version of the sixth edition, each Project Management Knowledge Area contains a new, helpful section entitled “Considerations for Agile/Adaptive Environments” plus another relevant section entitled “Trends and Emerging Practices.” Tools and techniques include such Agile practices as Sprint Planning, Backlogs, Burndown Charts, and recurring Retrospectives. Finally, an appendix provides further instruction on Agile.

Agile Practice Guide

The PMI joined forces with the Agile Alliance to create their Agile Practice Guide. Though no draft is available for review, the authors have given us a preview at

  • The Agile Mindset begins with the Agile Manifesto and explains the values and principles of Agile, Kanban, and Lean approaches to Project Management.
  • Life Cycle Selection helps project managers choose and tailor the most appropriate approach or build a hybrid when needed.
  • Creating an Agile Environment explores critical success factors for moving to Agile Project Management, such as servant leadership (vs. “command-and- control”) and team building.
  • Delivering in an Agile Environment covers business value creation and delivery, including empirical metrics and reporting.
  • Organizational Considerations walks project managers through critical success factors such as culture, change, readiness, and the role of a PMO.
  • The PMBOK® Guide Map connects the dots between legacy and Agile Project Management and clarifies both similarities and differences.
  • The Agile Manifesto Map connects the dots between the Agile Manifesto / 12 Principles and the Agile Practice Guide.
  • Overview of Frameworks outlines the various Agile frameworks such as Scrum, eXtreme Programming (XP), Kanban, Scrumban, Feature-Driven Development (FDD), Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Agile Unified Process (AUP), and the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).
  • Attributes That Influence Tailoring (Appendix) provides high-level guidance on when and how to tailor Agile frameworks.
  • Agile Suitability Filter Tools (Appendix) provides further help on choosing the right approach and building hybrids when needed.
  • References, Bibliography, and Glossary includes pointers to external resources for further guidance.

The Agile Practice Guide should prove to be invaluable to Agile project managers. And it will likely serve as the baseline reference for PMI’s Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI- ACP®) credential going forward.


Stay tuned because the ensuing conversation between the Agile and Project Management communities should be both interesting and profitable—both communities have much to learn from the other.

Finally, if you do not yet have your Project Management Professional (PMP®) and Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP®) certifications, you have until the end of 2017 to get that done ahead of some big changes.

PMI, the Registered Education Provider logo, PMP, CAPM, PMI-ACP, and PMBOK are marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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