Monthly Archives: October 2014

The PMP® Examination is 30 years old

PMPThe PMP® credential is probably the oldest and most widely recognised project management credential in the world.

PMI® was not the first project management association, that honour goes to the European INTERNET (now IPMA), but it did lead the way in developing a project management examination and a supporting body of knowledge.

PMI was founded in October 1969 at the Georgia Institute of Technology as a non-profit organisation focused on the field of project management. By the time of the 1976 PMI Montreal Seminars/Symposium, the idea that ‘project management’ practices could be documented was being widely discussed along with the concept of project management as a profession.

These discussions continued through to 1981 when the PMI Board of Directors formally approved a project under the leadership of  Matthew Parry to:

  1. Define the distinguishing characteristics of a practicing profession (ethics)
  2. The content and structure of the profession’s body of knowledge (standards)
  3. Recognition of professional attainment (accreditation)

The project team became known as the Ethics Standards and Accreditation (ESA) Management Group.

The results of the ESA project were published as a Special Report in the Project Management Journal, August 1983. The Special Report included:

  1. A code of Ethics and a procedure for enforcement
  2. A standard knowledge baseline consisting of six major ‘functions’, Scope, Cost, Time, Quality, HR and Communication.  The term ‘functions’ was used, because most were named after the typical ‘functions’ (departments) of a large engineering company (now called knowledge areas).
  3. Recommendations for both the accreditation of courses provided by institutions (Universities) and individual certification.

This report subsequently served as the basis for PMI’s initial Accreditation and Certification programs. The  first PMPs credentials awarded in 1984 and Western Carolinas University, Masters in Project Management degree was the first course accredited by PMI.

The initial version of the PMP exam was 40 questions in each of the 6 knowledge areas with at least 70% correct in each to pass.  This version of the multi-choice exam presented 5 options and included a fair number of combination choices (e.g., “a and b”).

On the 25 March 1986, I joined PMI as member # 13,428 to tap into the knowledge PMI were developing through their Journals and standards to help with my work as a project management consultant. 28 years later I’m still an active PMI member.

In 1986/87 the PMI Board approved a second standards related project, to review and enhance the 1984 documents. In addition to expanding and enhancing the six original ‘functions’, the Risk and Contract/Procurement ‘functions’ were added along with a section on the ‘Project Management Framework’ which placed project management within the context of the wider environment and general management. This work was published as the ‘Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)’ in 1987.

The updated PMP exam was now 40 questions each for the 8 ‘functions’ with at least 70% correct in each to pass. It was 320 multiple choice questions that took 3 hours and 20 minutes in the morning for the first 160 questions and another 3 hours and 20 minutes in the afternoon for the second group of 160. Also around this time, PMI eliminated the “a and b” options and changed the exam from 5 options to 4.

Between 1991 and 1996, a major review of the PMBOK was initiated under the leadership of Bill Duncan resulting in the publication of ‘A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge’, the first edition of the PMBOK® Guide.  The important ‘Integration Knowledge area was added and the document extensively reorganised. The now familiar ‘processes were added to standardise the flow of information within a project (with inputs, tools and techniques and outputs described – most outputs becoming inputs to subsequent processes).

The PMP exam was changed again in the latter half of the 1990s.  It went from a written test to computer based test, from 320 questions to 200 questions and the passing score went from 70% in each knowledge area to 61% overall.  With the new format and ease of access to examination centres via the Thompson Prometric world-wide delivery system the PMP exam took off.

We passed our PMP examinations in 2001 and started developing our PMI courses, initially focussing on the new CAPM Credential, then the PMP credential – we are still developing and adapting our courses to stay aligned with changes in focus of the examination!

The 2000 and 2004 updates to the PMBOK® Guide set the pattern of regular 4 yearly updates. The 2004 (Third Edition) was the first time I contributed to the development process which has continued trough the 2008 and 2012 updates. The 2012 update included the new knowledge area of Stakeholder Management.

The regular updates required of an ANSI standard continue, with work on the 6th Edition currently in progress for publication in 2016, with Lynda Bourne leading work on the Stakeholder and Communication chapters.

Each update of the PMBOK® Guide flows through to updated PMP and CAPM examinations as do the less regular reviews of the PMP and the CAPM role delineation studies and examination specifications. So whilst the PMP examination is 30 years old, and the CAPM examination is 11 years old, both certifications remain a rigorous test of current project management knowledge.

The last set of significant changes to the exam delivery has been to change the passing assessment to remove the set pass/fail score and assess each test based on the use of psychometric analysis (see more)

Over the last 30 years, the PMBOK® Guide has largely shaped the world-wide view of what project management is; I know from my time working on the development of ISO 21500:2012 – Guidance on project management was heavily influenced by the PMI PMBOK. There are certainly other excellent BoKs produced in the UK, Japan and Germany to my certain knowledge; and the PRINCE2 certification is challenging the PMP credential for dominance; but everyone’s view of ‘project management’ is largely consistent and framed by the PMBOK® Guide.

So if you are a PMP holder or are planning on taking the PMP examination, I’m hoping this brief rundown on the history of the credential and its associated ‘body of knowledge’ provide some background on why the PMBOK® Guide and the examination are  the way they are. It’s been a long journey which continues.

For more on the history of Project Management see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PM-History.html

For more on the PMP and CAPM examinations see: http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/

Stakeholders generate profits for shareholders

A few months ago I posted on the concept of Understanding stakeholder theory and suggested organisations that focus on providing value to stakeholders do better than those focused on short term rewards for shareholders and the associated benefits flowing to executive bonuses.

A new report: From the stockholder to the stakeholder by Arabseque Asset Management and Oxford University supports this contention. The report reviews existing research on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. It is a meta-study of over 190 different sources the authors have demonstrated a strong correlation between organizations that take ESG seriously and economic performance. For example:

  • 90% of relevant studies show that sound sustainability standards lower the cost of capital;
  • 88% of relevant studies show a positive correlation between sustainability and operational performance;
  • 80% of relevant studies show a positive correlation between sustainability and financial market performance.

However, to translate superior ESG quality into competitive advantage, sustainability must be deeply rooted in an organisation’s culture and values. The consequences of failing to take ESG seriously continues to be demonstrated by another of my regular topics, BP. The report contains a plot of oil company share prices from 2009 (pre the Deepwater horizon disaster) through to 2014. BP’s share price continues to suffer the consequences of the short sighted cost cutting that precipitated the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

BP-Price

The report concludes that it is in the best economic interests of corporate managers and investors to incorporate ESG considerations into decision-making processes starting at the governance level right down the organisation hierarchy.

The full report can be downloaded from  http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/pdf/Stockholder_to_Stakeholder.pdf.

Understanding management

Two new White Papers look at the function of management and the sources of power and authority used by managers and leaders.

WP1094 The Functions of Management describes the five functions of management, the supporting principles and the challenges of managing in a post bureaucratic organisation. Download the White Paper.

WP1095 Understanding Power and Authority looks at the sources of power and authority used by management and leaders.  Different sources of personal power underpin different types of authority.

WP1095 Power Autority

Download the White Paper.

Whilst both White Papers are based on general management theory, project managers are by definition managers and are increasingly expected to be effective leaders, so an appreciation of both subjects is useful.

Understanding the M in PM

Questions and Answers signpostThere are many interpretations of the P in PM; Project, People, Politics being three ….  But precisely what is involved in the Management part of PM.

Our latest White Paper looks at the functions and principles of Management and can be juxtaposed with the functions of governance in Dr Lynda Bourne’s latest blog.

New Articles posted to the Web #15

BeaverWe have been busy beavers updating the PM Knowledge Index on our website with White Papers and Articles.   Some of the more interesting uploaded during the last couple of weeks include:

And we continue to tweet a free PMI style of exam question every day for PMP, CAPM and PMI-SP candidates: See today’s question and then click through for the answer and the Q&As from last week.

You are welcome to download and use the information under our Creative Commons licence

The Evolution of Ethics

ethicsOur White Paper on Ethics discusses a number of ethical approaches used to determine what is ethical in the modern world. What is not covered in the White Paper is the evolution of ethical thinking. A blog post by Ricardo I. Guido Lavalle outlining a presentation by Prof. Clovis de Barros, who teaches Ethics at Universidade de Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil; fills this gap.

Prof. Clovis suggests Ethics evolved through five main phases outlined below:

  • Greek times, when ethics were about fitting oneself into the great cosmological order. Right actions were those that helped the Cosmos achieve its maximum order. From this standpoint Greek philosophers (mainly Aristotle) assumed rigid, stable social layers where aristocracy had the most part in the game.
  • Consequentialism, holds that the consequences of one’s conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. Niccolo Macchiavelli (The Prince, 1513) is the best known proponent of this school of thought; he strove to maximize prince’s power. Right actions were those that had achieved the most power for the prince. Attention here, the right actions were considered right after they proved to be efficient in achieving the desired outcome – ‘the ends justify the means’.
  • Utilitarianism, holds that the proper course of action is the one that maximises utility, usually defined as maximizing total benefit whilst reducing suffering or the negative consequences. Proposed by Bentham (1780) and John Stuart Mills, is a great justification for liberalism and aims for ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’. It is a simple and attractive standpoint, and it even fits with common democratic views. However, it presents some issues regarding minorities.
  • With Immanuel Kant (1781) emerges the inner spiritual origin of ethics. Kant contested utilitarianism with his deontology. An action was right if the very inspiration of it was good, regardless of the consequences. The ultimate goal was to form a corpus of universally valid actions, such they were valid in any context, and forever. The puritan ethics of duty and good purpose is an earlier expression of this long-lasting and very successful ethical view.
  • In contrast to all previous views, post-modernist ethics is about relativism. Ethics has become transactional, an agreement between parties, where openness and transparency of purposes are crucial. Post-modern Ethics is the result of a social contract, and agreement. Professional organisations such as PMI develop an agreed code of ethics to guide their members.

However, the transactional basis of post-modern ethics does not eliminate many of the founding concepts developed over millennia. PMI’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct balances many of these themes:

  • Overall the spirit of the Code is Kantian; a code developed by a ‘global’ body should seek to be of universal applicability.
  • Some elements of the Code are a quest for the good intentions inherent in Greek virtues (honour and fairness), (2.4 We make commitments and promises, implied or explicit, in good faith)
  • Others tend to utilitarian (2.1 We make decisions and take actions based on the best interests of society, public safety, and the environment).
  • Whilst others are post-modern ethics (3.1 We proactively and fully disclose any real or potential conflicts of interest to the appropriate stakeholders.).

What this brief scan of history highlights is the way the long history of ethical thinking affects the modern definitions of ethics. The White Paper looks at their practical application.

New PMP and CAPM Courses

Mouse_ThinkingTo meet the demand for PMP and CAPM training in the lead up to Christmas, we are please to announce new PMP and CAPM Intensive courses have been scheduled for the 1st to the 5th December.

Booking and course details are available on-line:

PMP:    http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/pmp-courses-melbourne/

CAPM: http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/capm-courses-melbourne/

This course is your last chance to complete a PMP or CAPM course this year!! Our 2015 program is also open for bookings at the same URL.