Project Management Principles for Complete Newcomers

In this article, we will learn about project management principles that were introduced in the 7th Edition of PMBOK. The PMBOK 7th Edition is designed to be “principle” based rather than process-based.

Previous editions of PMBOK had knowledge areas, and each knowledge area has processes underneath. For instance, these processes in turn had inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs. Now, processes are not explicitly available in the top hierarchy of the PMBOK 7th edition. So instead, the principles would be generally accepted and practiced in project management.

Managing projects can be a daunting task when you don’t know where to start and how to operate. But this is where the project management principles play a crucial role by acting as a guide to managing the projects. The project principles might not tell you what precisely you have to do, but they give a direction for applying the knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to the project activities and ultimately meet the project requirements.

As a project manager, it is important for you to define the project scope to create a viable project plan. And in order to define the project scope, the project management principles can help identify project needs, objectives, resources, budget, schedule, among others.

What are the Principles of Project Management?

A principle is a “ Fundamental Truth or Proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or a chain of Reasoning” – Oxford Definition.

The PMBOK 7th Edition from PMI comes with 12 principles for project management. All of those principles are aligned with the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. These define the what and why of project management. The focus is on people’s thought processes and behavior in project delivery. A principle can be guiding for Project Managers.

The 12 principles as laid down in the Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide (PMBOK) act like the rules for the entire project management process. Every project manager must adhere to these principles for the successful completion of a project and ensure that they are working in the right direction. We can say that the entire project management term is broken down into 12 project management principles, which when applied can result in positive and successful project outcomes.

12 PMP Principles In PMBOK 7th Edition

Now, let us look at the 12 principles defined in PMBOK 7th Edition.

1. Be a Diligent, Respectful, and a Caring Steward

In this context, Stewardship means being entrusted with the care of the project. This includes focusing on responsible planning and management of resources. It also includes upholding ethics and values.

The Stewardship comprises responsibilities both within and outside the organization. It includes:

  • Integrity
  • Care
  • Trustworthiness and
  • Compliance

2. Create a Collaborative Project Team Environment

Many attributes can impact the process of creating a collaborative team environment. These attributes can influence order to create a culture that enables the team members to work collaboratively.

The primary factors are:

  • Team Agreements
  • Organizational Structure
  • Processes

Good collaboration comes from clear ground rules. The team must agree to this during the initial phase. Apart from this, the team members must have clarity on roles and responsibilities.

Those include areas like:

  • Authority
  • Accountability
  • Responsibility

3. Effectively Engage with Stakeholders

A stakeholder is someone who may affect or be affected by the project. For instance, stakeholders can be people, departments, or organizations. Stakeholders can influence a project either positively or negatively. This also depends on their power and authority.

Effectively engaging a stakeholder involves steady communication. This also includes determining methods of communications like “how,” “when,” and “how often.”

Engagement helps in actively identifying and mitigating risks. Which might hamper the project commitments. This also helps in creating a shared understanding of the project.

Engagement is composed of:

  • Frequent Two-way communication
  • Collaboration through active interaction and
  • Meetings

Document the engagement plan. Track this plan for your ongoing communication. Also, analyze the power and influence of every stakeholder. These factors help the project to realize the goals of the project successfully.

4. Focus On Value

Value is derived from the outcome of benefits that result from a project. Value can also be non-financial, like goodwill or social benefits. Most of the projects are operated with a business case.

And the business case has the intended value that the project intends to reap.

Hence, a business case is a starting point for value. From there it trickles down all the way to WBS. A typical business case has the following components:

  • Business need
  • Project justification
  • Business strategy

Value can only be realized if stakeholders are aligned with the vision. To maximize the value, teams must focus on the intended outcome. Rather than the deliverables.

Remember, value is subjective between different projects and organizations.

5. Recognize Evaluate And Respond To System Interactions

Project teams must realize the holistic view of the project as a system. A project may behave like a sub-system as a part of a larger system. In systems thinking, the team needs to understand that a single change can cascade across the project.

This is because a project can comprise several parts.

Hence, the team needs to picture the project as a system. This will make them think about the whole system even for small changes. In turn, this increases the stability of the final deliverable. A systems view of the project can be enhanced with the following perspectives:

  • Empathy with business areas
  • Critical thinking with a big picture focus
  • Challenging assumptions and mental models
  • Seeking external review and advice
  • Use of integrated methods and practices
  • Proactive integration management

6. Demonstrate Leadership Behaviours

A project can only result in successful outcomes if the leadership demonstrates vision, innovation, motivation, and empathy. Leaders must be able to influence the internal and external stakeholders.

Good principles may also exhibit people with effective leadership skills, irrespective of the roles and responsibilities. Leadership does not equal authority, since, we would need leadership qualities like influencing stakeholders, motivating people. This will help align their individual objectives with the shared goals of the project.

A good leader exhibits servant leadership. There is no single perfect prescription leadership style that works. It is rather a combination of qualities that fit right into the following:

  • In a chaotic situation, able to set a directive action
  • In a calmer situation, onset a collaborative culture is formed. Where the team distributes work among themselves

7. Tailor Based On Context

The formula for the success of a project also involves the ability to adapt to change. These changes may be due to the complexity, objectives, and demands of the stakeholders.

Tailoring involves customization of Approach, Governance, and Process. This is to make the project more relevant to the context of the organization.

Before you start tailoring a project, you must consider the big picture. Take into consideration all the moving parts within. You must ensure that for increasing value and maximizing performance. You can do that by customizing the approach. And for that, consider the context of the project.

Tailoring projects can have the following benefits:

  • Increased innovation, efficiency, and productivity
  • Optimization of existing methodology
  • Improved results through experimentation
  • Increased adaptability of the organization to dynamic scenarios in projects

8. Build Quality Into Processes And Deliverables

Quality is the ability of an organization to fulfill the customers’ implicit and explicit needs. Conformance to acceptance criteria and fitness for use are two ways to assess quality.

Also, you must also assess the process used for quality assurance. This is more of a preventive approach.

The project’s various dimensions include:

  • Performance
  • Reliability
  • Resilience
  • Satisfaction
  • Uniformity
  • Efficiency and
  • Sustainability

The Quality of a deliverable is tested using inspection and auditing. The process used for quality assurance can be verified using reviews and audits. It is important that you consider quality in every phase of the project.

9. Navigate Complexity

A project can be a system of subsystems or components with many moving parts interacting. For instance, the higher the number of interactions, the higher the degree of complexity. Higher the complexity, the higher the uncertainty.

Hence complexity can come from interactions within components of a project. Or it can come from interaction with different projects or external systems.

Complexity is a characteristic of a project that can be affected by:

  • Human behaviour
  • System behaviour or
  • Ambiguity and uncertainty
  • Technological innovation

The Project team must apply system thinking and continuous learning as tools. Particularly when attempting to address the complexities in the Project. This will increase their ability to navigate complexity easily.

10. Optimize Risk Responses

Risk is nothing but an uncertain future event, which can also affect the project, either positively or negatively. For instance, It is a constant exercise of the project team to keep identifying and assessing Risks during the course of the project. This will help you prioritize risk responses.

Risk responses can have the following attributes:

  • Appropriate to the significance of the project
  • Cost effective
  • Realistic within the project context
  • Agreed with the relevant stakeholders
  • Owned by a responsible person

Risk identified in a project can have its impact up until the program, portfolio as well.

11. Embrace Adaptability and Resilience

A Project must also have the ability to adapt and respond to changing conditions. so, A project must also be resilient with the ability to deal with any impacts. And it must be able to recover from any setback or failure.

This principle is realistic, given that almost all the projects do not go exactly as planned.

Both internal and external factors can influence a project. So, irrespective, the project team needs to confront any such situation and keep the project moving forward.

Attributes of an environment that supports adaptability and resiliency include:

  • Short feedback loops
  • Continuous learning and improvement
  • Broad skillset with extensive knowledge
  • Diverse project Teams
  • Transparent planning

12. Enable Change To Achieve the Envisioned Future State

A change in a project can occur for two reasons. for instance, Firstly, a need for a new ability in the system. Secondly, the need to fill a gap in the existing system. As a result, a change can originate from external to project or internal.

Enabling change in a project is challenging. Since that involves some adaptability and familiarization within the team and outside.

In order to ensure that stakeholders can process change, a project team must also work with them. and so, the project manager must ensure that appropriate change management techniques are used. This will also transition the project from its current state to its desired state. Thus, ensuring that the desired outcomes are accomplished.

It may include techniques such as communicating the vision and goals and benefits associated with change.

Comparison with Earlier Edition and Approach

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a widely recognized framework used by project managers worldwide. With the release of the latest edition, PMBOK 7th Edition, many are wondering how it compares to the earlier editions and what changes have been made in the approach. Below is a comparison between the PMBOK 6th edition and the 7th edition.

Aspect PMBOK 6th Edition PMBOK 7th Edition
Number of Knowledge Areas Ten Ten
Introduction Provides an overview of the project management framework and project management processes Provides a more detailed introduction, including the evolution of project management, the purpose of the PMBOK guide, and the role of project managers
Tailoring The concept of tailoring is introduced, but not emphasized Tailoring is a major theme throughout the guide, with an emphasis on customizing project management processes based on the project environment
Organizational Project Management Discussed briefly Discussed in more detail, with a dedicated section on enterprise-wide project management
Emphasis Process-focused Principle-focused
Tools and Techniques Described in each process Described in a separate chapter that covers common tools and techniques used in project management.


Project management is a very wide concept, but understanding the principles of project management is a good place to start.

The PMP Certification is a globally recognized and highly respected credential for project managers. Earning this certification demonstrates your expertise in project management and can lead to career advancement and increased earning potential. Our course is designed to help you prepare for the PMP exam and pass it on your first attempt.

Our PMP course has a comprehensive coverage of the PMP exam syllabus, including the 10 knowledge areas and 5 process groups, Interactive and engaging videos and simulations to help you understand complex concepts, practice questions and quizzes to help you assess your knowledge and track your progress, Access to a community of other PMP aspirants, where you can ask questions, share insights, and get support.

Our PMI official digital courseware is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to achieve a PMI certification or advance their project management skills and knowledge. With its comprehensive coverage, interactive learning tools, and up-to-date content, it is an essential resource for anyone looking to succeed in the field of project management.



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