As a project management instructor and course developer at a state university, a project management keynote speaker, and someone who has been training project managers for nearly two decades, I highly recommend this book. I have also helped hundreds to pass their PMP exams (including training PMI employees) and although some folks claim they passed without this, I firmly believe that the PMBOK is a must-have.
I have owned every edition of the PMBOK and I can tell you that it's gotten better with age. Let's face it, the material isn't the most exciting but at least it's much more readable than ever. Processes are more refined (some may remember core vs. facilitating processes in older versions) and are titled more consistently (used to have some start with verbs and others with nouns), descriptions of inputs/tools & techniques/outputs are clearer, and illustrations are less confusing. That said, the book still only covers the "whats". If you actually want to know "how" to execute some of these processes, you will need another resource like Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling
For those who have seen some of the PMBOK's poor ratings in reviews of previous versions, you have to understand that this is a high-level guide, not an elaborate text or a mystery novel. As a result, do not expect to be a project management guru at the end or be entertained with creative irony.
Anyway, since many of you are looking at this because you want to take the PMP exam, here is some advice:
- Although you may be able to obtain a soft copy of this book by being a PMI member, I recommend having a physical copy. In all my years of schooling, I've never even used a highlighter but I did for the PMBOK when I was studying for this exam over a decade ago. It turns out that almost everything was worth highlighting but it forced me to read each line thoroughly.
- You will need another book since many exam concepts aren't even covered in the PMBOK. I personally like PMP Exam Prep, Seventh Edition: Rita's Course in a Book for Passing the PMP Exam
or CAPM/PMP Project Management Certification All-in-One Exam Guide with CD-ROM, Second Edition
. You do not even need the latest editions. Trust me, the general concepts will be the same. For instance, earned value lessons in Rita's 1st edition from yesteryear will be the same as those in 7th or 8th editions. SPI will always be EV/PV.
- When submitting project experience on the application, you can submit work even if your title was not Project Manager. If you worked on projects and have played a lead role, it may count so submit it. The key point is that you should be submitting project leadership activities. You still need 4500 hours of project experience if you have a bachelors or 7500 hours without a bachelors. Also, always submit more than those thresholds since some activities may be not be accepted.
- Do not buy flash cards; instead, make your own. Get a stack of index cards and start writing terms/concepts on one side with definitions/formulas/descriptions on the back side.
Hope this helps. Best of luck to everyone!
***Update (Sep 2013)***
New editions of the books I linked to above were released:
- PMP Exam Prep, Eighth Edition: Rita's Course in a Book for Passing the PMP Exam
- CAPM/PMP Project Management Certification All-In-One Exam Guide, Third Edition