How to apply the Project Management Body of Knowledge.... As PM, you are responsible for deciding how to best apply the practices and knowledge contained in the entire Project Management Body of Knowledge....
Although the phrase “Project Management Body of Knowledge” has been adopted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) as their foundational document (and they have copy-written the abbreviation “PMBOK®”), I believe that for all of us Project Managers, the PM Body of Knowledge is much more than PMI’s book.
The “Project Management Body of Knowledge”, as defined by PMI; (the first sentence of their PMBOK® Guide, Third Edition) is:
I would add, “…even when contradictory, unproven in practice, and from sources other than PMI”. As we all have experienced, no matter how disciplined the application of a methodology, issues will arise on a project. You, as the PM, must rely on addressing and solving the issue based on your experience; information from outside sources (such as www.mastering-project-management.com); and even the use of unproven approaches and ideas from unrelated projects (and other methodologies).
.... all of this is the "Body of Knowledge" relied on by Project Managers.
With that definition in mind, how and when will you best apply the practices and knowledge from all of the sources and contributors to the Project Management Body of Knowledge?
Project Management Body of Knowledge Sources
The broader Project Management Body of Knowledge includes several information content source areas:
In addition to the information content areas described above, there are formal and informal sources of information constituting the Project Management Body of Knowledge (I am trying to resist using the abbreviation “PMBOK”® because PMI has it copy-written and I don’t want to continually use the “®” symbol).
As an example, a formal information source includes:
Informal sources of information for the broader Project Management Body of Knowledge include:
Project Management Body of Knowledge information sources seem almost endless. Vendors of software applications and development tools are attempting evolve and introduce their software products as the basis of “their project management methodology”. For several years, IBM/Rational Software has described the Rational Unified Process® (RUP®) as:
There are many other software vendors evolving their applications to become a “methodology” for project management including, Oracle (Primavera P6®) and Computer Associates (Clarity® software).
The point is that there are many sources of information which comprise the broader Project Management Body of Knowledge. As project manager, you must use and adapt this volume of information to best meet the needs of your project. But, remember you do have resources to assist you with this responsibility…
Feel welcome to call on my experience and the resources of this web site to assist you in discovering Project Management Body of Knowledge information and best applying it to meet the needs of your project.
Using the best of PRINCE2 & PMBOK®
PRINCE 2® (“PRojects IN Controlled Environments”), is an “open source” methodology, developed by the UK’s Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and currently a preferred approach for most UK government projects and the majority of UK commercial projects. The OGC documents the PRINCE2® methodology in “Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2” (also called the “PRINCE2® Manual”), available from the official publisher and copyright holder, TSO (“The Stationery Office”).
PMBOK® is the project management “methodology” developed, published, and owned by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), is in its Fourth Edition, published in 2004, and undergoes regular updating.
Both PMBOK® and PRINCE2® have their strengths and weaknesses – you as the Project Manager should know when and how to use the strengths of each method.
PRINCE2® provides a process-oriented approach, while PMBOK® provides a "standardized" approach. PRINCE2 was orignially designed as a process from the vendor-perspective delivering a solution to the client. While PMBOK was originally designed as an internal project management process, from the client-perspective. Both have their own strengths and often compliment each other. PRINCE2® strengths are:
Although I have only discussed four areas where PRINCE2 supplements PMI's Project Management Body of Knowledge, there are others such as Issue Management and Quality Reviews. Again, it is up to you, as the Project Manager to apply the best of these methods, as you use information which is part of the broader Project Management Body of Knowledge to facilitate the achievement of your project objectives.
Applying the Project Management Body of Knowledge
As a PM, look to apply the project management body of knowledge from two perspectives:
From both perspectives, the structure of the PMI PMBOK® should suffice for your project or program. Apply the portions of the PMI PMBOK® which best fit your project. Ensure your project has a solid Project Charter (agreed to by the Project Sponsor); all of the stakeholder are identified and are up-to-date on the progress of the project; a change management plan and procedures are in place; a project scope and schedule is defined; and a risk management plan is in place. These are critical and identified in the PMI PMBOK®.
If needed (for example, if a solid Project Charter has not been developed), PRINCE2 provides an excellent approach to initiating a project based on the development and acceptance of a Business Case. If you have problems with project governance; identification of “go-to” stakeholders; or being unsure of senior-level sponsorship developing and presenting a Business Case for your project will gain the visibility you require. In addition, PRINCE2 will provide the structure of a Project Board for the governance and sponsorship issues.
If you have a project that will result in the development of a product (e.g., a software application, a hardware component, or a building), PRINCE2’s Product Based Planning – the Product Breakdown Structure – provides a disciplined structure focused on the Product Description and aligning all work products/deliverables through Product Descriptions. These Product Descriptions also serve as a “baseline” to compare the effect of change requests.
Bottom-line: Consider the use portions of PRINCE2, to supplement PMBOK in the areas of
If you are in the role of Program Manager or PMO Lead, you will require consistent and regular involvement by senior management. Although PMI’s PMBOK discusses organizations and organizational issues, it is PRINCE2 which provides an “implementable solution” – the Project Board. Taking on the role of PMO Lead or Program Manager, your first goal must be to ensure effective governance and senior management decision-making. Following the PRINCE2 method and establishing a Project Board will meet your needs.
Your second goal in this role should be to ensure a solid basis for all of your projects. PMBOK’s use of a Project Charter, authorized by a senior-level “Project Sponsor” will meet your requirement for a solid project basis. PRINCE2’s use of the Business Case will also meet your requirement. If you do implement a Project Board, according to PRINCE2 the development and approval of the Business Case is a direct responsibility of the Project Board and the Project Manager. So, the use of a Project Board and Business Cases for the project basis would be a common approach.
As mentioned above, PMBOK will give a good structure to the overall project. In addition, PMBOK’s structure for the project deliverables (Work Product) is very requirements based – which is a good fit for the majority of projects. However, if your organization has a strong Product Development focus, I suggest you consider the Product-Based Planning and emphasis on Product Descriptions found in PRINCE2. The explicit definition of deliverables using Product Descriptions will supplement PMBOK’s project management structure and ensure that a solid basis is established for scope management, change management, measurement of project performance, and quality assurance.
Applying the “Other Sources” of the Project Management Body of Knowledge
In addition to the application of PMI’s PMBOK and PRINCE2, other sources of information also contained in the overall Project Management Body of Knowledge can be and should be selectively applied to all projects. As described above, other sources include:
I highly recommend online training courses through accredited organizations. This will satisfy several objectives:
An excellent source (and relatively new source) of information which can be applied to current projects comes from the numerous blogs and Q&A on project management focused web sites. Although you must be selective, I highly recommend joining and participating in one to perhaps three of these sites. Any more than three would take too much time.
If it has not been established within your organization, then you must setup a “project archive” – electronically would be best, but at a minimum paper files of project charters, project plans, schedules (Gantt charts), project deliverables, risk management plans, etc. You should include any document which might be of use to future project managers. If a project archive is established, take time to scan the files, get an idea of the contents (especially in areas you consider yourself weak), and if required, use the information on your current project.
Although I will cover the establishment of a Project Archive on a future page, remember to treat all of the documents as “assets” - build your organization's Project Management Body of Knowledge. So, reserve a server (or a partition on a server) just for your documents – I also recommend the use of a document management application. This will make it easier for cataloging and searching once the archive is established. More importantly, it makes it easier for ongoing administration, purging of old documents, and the check-in/check-out procedures for all documents.
There are a myriad of sources of information that make up the Project Management Body of Knowledge. Although this page describes a few, there is much more detail and other sources. Always feel welcome to ask me questions about a particular project issue or use of an information source. All of my answers are based on my 15+ years of experience and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find it.