Is PMP A Waterfall?

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Insight of PMP & Waterfall Model

Project Management Professional, commonly known as PMP, is a certification provided by the Project Management Institute, PMI in the field of project management and is considered as the gold standard among all project management certifications. PMP provides the assurance to the employers, stakeholders and peers about a person’s competence and skill in project management. This is the reason why many companies have made PMP a requisite for employment. Moreover, PMP is not industry specific and therefore, it provides a lot of career options to the person. The PMP certification can lead to higher salaries and better jobs. According to a survey conducted by PMI, the median salary of a person with PMP certification is 25% more than a person without the PMP certification. Another survey states that there are going to be 2.2 million jobs needed to be filled in project management each year up to 2025 and PMP would play a great role in a person being eligible for those jobs.

Waterfall is a linear life cycle sequential model. It basically divides the project into phases. Also, the Waterfall model does not allow for any scope changes or changes in requirements once the project has started. Waterfall is a rigid process and does not allow for changes but it is easy to manage and has a sequential process. The construction industry generally follows the waterfall model.

History of PMBOK

PMP follows the processes and frameworks outlined in the PMBOK Guide. The first edition of the PMBOK Guide was published in the year 1996. At that time, Waterfall method was prevalent in all the industries. Due to this reason, many people started to associate the frameworks and processes prescribed in the PMBOK with waterfall methodology. Moreover, the waterfall method provided a framework that supported all of PMBOK guidelines. But this is a false notion that PMBOK or rather, PMP is based on waterfall methodologies. The PMBOK Guide does not dictate any particular methodology and makes it crystal clear that it is up to the reader to decide which practices are best suited for their situation.

Evolution of PMBOK

But as times changed, the PMBOK guide evolved and became more detailed with its practices, processes and methodologies. An important inference that was made out of the PMBOK Guide was that there is no hard and fast rule about choosing a particular model, either waterfall or agile. The PMBOK clearly states that there is no ideal way of determining the best project life cycle. The selection of the appropriate model depends on the requirements of the project and is a decision that has to be made by the project managers in collaboration with their project teams.

Interpretation of PMBOK

The PMBOK® Guide says that the change from one phase to another phase usually involves some kind of technical transfer or hand off. This kind of phrasing is what leads readers to believe that only the waterfall methodology is relevant when following PMBOK® Guide practices. But if we were to believe “hand-off” to mean that there is a hand off of an increment of code to the stakeholder to use in whatever way they want to, then agile is still in line with the most basic processes and practices of the PMBOK® Guide. When each iteration comes to an end, the team completes an increment of code and then the customer reviews it. Whatever might be the outcome, the subsequent iteration will start as it was originally planned. Hence, it the PMP can be interpreted as either Agile or Waterfall depending on the necessities of the reader.

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Rise of Agile

However, in recent years, Agile has seen a rise in its popularity and many industries, especially the software and IT industry has started to use Agile pre-dominantly. This is why, the PMP exam has also changed in order to accommodate the rise and use of Agile technologies such that half of the PMP exam will be focusing on Agile technologies or hybrid technologies. Subsequently, the new PMBOK Guide 7th edition is also supposed to concentrate a little more on Agile frameworks.


Lastly, the answer to the question that “Is PMP a waterfall?” - is that PMP does not follow any specific framework (neither Agile nor waterfall). The PMBOK guide prescribes a standard set of procedures, processes, guidelines and frameworks and it up to the individual to interpret those processes and frameworks and decide whether to use waterfall or Agile approach for his or her project.

Why Learning Mudra?

Now that we have established that PMP is not waterfall, we should consider about how to get a PMP certificate. The easiest way is to get the best PMP training from the top PMP training institute which is Learning Mudra. Learning Mudra provides in depth training of all the processes, frameworks and guidelines prescribed in the PMBOK Guide. We also provide ample practice for the PMP exam through 6 mock tests containing 1200 questions. We increase the efficiency of the candidate so that he can complete projects in less time and by using lesser number of resources. Learning Mudra prepares the individual to tackle any complex problems that may arise during a project and makes him ready for any project.

The Author : Learning Mudra

Learning Mudra is one of the world’s authoritative providers of online training for Project Management, Data Science, Software Development, Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, , IT, and many other budding technologies.

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