History of PMP

Discussing the history of PMP will not be complete without making reference to the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), and the PMP certification itself.

Table of Contents

History of PMP Before the mid-20th century

Project management itself has been in practice since the world began. From the tower of Babel, the great Egyptian pyramids, the great wall of China, to even the statue of liberty, man has been in search of a standardised way of getting things done.

History of PMP from the mid-20th century

Project management as a concept started gaining recognition in the mid-20th century in industries such as the aerospace industry, construction, and defence industries. Project managers began the work of seeking recognition for project management as a profession. With that came the advent of the Project Management Institute.

In 1969, the Project Management Institute was founded at the Georgia Institute of Technology, as a not-for-profit organization. Some of its objectives were to:

  • foster recognition of the need for professionalism in project management
  • provide a forum for the free exchange of project management problems, solutions, and applications
  • coordinate industrial and academic research efforts
  • develop common terminology and techniques to improve communications
  • and to provide guidelines for instruction and career development in the field of project management

With these objectives in mind, in 1981, Matthew H. Parry acted as the project manager to lead a team with the objectives “to develop project management standards, ethics and accreditation”. Two years later, in 1983, his project team published an Ethics, Standards, and Accreditation (ESA) report in a special issue of Project Management Quarterly – now known as the Project Management Journal, recommending that a certification program be developed.

According to the report, they carried out a survey amongst PMI members and 86 per cent of the respondents “favoured some type of certification program.” In March 1984, they published a report titled, “The Project Management Professional (PMP) Program: Certifying Project Managers”.

This report detailed the process for becoming certified. It also identified three areas to earn points towards the certification: education, experience, and service. On the 6th, October of that same year, PMI conducted the first certification examination in Philadelphia, United States. Fifty-six individuals took the exam and 43 passed to become the first Project Management Professionals (PMPs).

Did you know that, in 1994, ten years after the first exam, more than ten times that number sat for one administration of the exam?

In the 1983 ESA report by Matthew H. Parry’s team, they proposed a “Code of Ethics for Project Management”. The report talked about a set of knowledge areas to serve as the basis for developing a framework for the unique body of project management knowledge – critical to the recognition of the project management profession and developing minimum standards for entry into the field. However, a lot had to be done to make the proposition a reality.

In August 1986, a special issue of the Project Management Journal presented a comprehensive report on the development of the first Project Management Body of Knowledge(PMBOK), under the supervision of R. Max Wideman. In the months that followed, the report went through further revision and development.

Thus, in 1987, PMI published “The Project Management Body of Knowledge” as an independent document. Since then, the PMBOK has been the basis for developing the Project Management Professional Certification Program to date.

The ESA Report envisioned that the body of knowledge of project management would continue to grow as the profession’s theory and practice evolved, and the increasingly robust certification process reflects this evolution.


Since 1987, project managers realized that a single book cannot contain the whole PMBOK. Therefore, PMI developed and published A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide). Ever since its first release, as the project management profession evolves, the PMBOK Guide grows with it to incorporate the trends in project management. The following highlights the evolution of the PMBOK guide:

  • PMI published the first-ever edition of the PMBOK Guide (A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge) in 1996
  • In 2000, PMI published the second edition of the PMBOK Guide. Also, this edition incorporated new discoveries in project management. 
  • PMI published the third edition of the PMBOK Guide in 2004. This guide included project management practices “generally recognised good practice on most projects most of the time”.
  • In 2009, PMI published the fourth edition of the PMBOK Guide. In this edition, the “triple constraints” for project management were increased to six, namely, scope, quality, schedule, budget, resources, and risk.
  • PMI released the fifth edition of the PMBOK in 2013. The aim of this edition was to include “rolling wave planning and adaptive lifecycle” in its contents.
  • In September 2017, PMI released the PMBOK Guide – Sixth Edition. It includes the Agile practice guide. Also, the PMP® certification exam format was revised on 26 March 2018, by PMI.
  • In 2021, PMI released the PMBOK Guide – 9th Edition. The 9th edition has been completely updated to reflect the latest version of the exam, which includes new tasks reflecting changes in best practices, the role of the project manager, and the growing importance of agile and other adaptive and iterative practices.
Are you considering PMP?

At Harrybaker we’re determined to ensure learners pass the PMP exam at the first sitting. My only question is, will it be you?

Please complete the form below to submit an enquiry