Category Archives: PMBOK6

The PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition and its consequences.

One of the key tenets underpinning standards development is the need to continually refresh and update a published standard to maintain its relevance to the market it serves.  The PMBOK® Guide is no different.  The first formal edition of the PMBOK® Guide was published in 1996 and then every four or five years an updated version has been published the sixth edition will be published in 2017.

1996 Presentation Edition

The original concept of the PMBOK® Guide was to provide the knowledge framework need to underpin the PMP examination. This started as a special report published in 1983, with the first PMP candidates sitting for their exam in 1984[1]. The formal guide was first published in 1987. A major revision between 1991 and 1996 led by Bill Duncan resulted in the publication of the book we now know and understand as the PMBOK® Guide.

Each new edition the PMBOK was followed a few months later with an update on the PMP exam so questions being set were based on the current version of the PMBOK® Guide. In addition to these changes caused by updates to the underpinning body of knowledge, the PMP exam itself has evolved over the years. The current exam format of 200 multiple choice questions delivered via a computer-based system originated in the late 1990s.

In 2009 PMI commissioned a global role delineation study (RDS) the PMP credential. This study reached a consensus on the performance domains and the broad category of duties and responsibilities that define the role project manager, as well as the tasks required for competent performance and the knowledge and skills needed to perform those tasks.  This role delineation study became the basis for the structure of the PMP exam in 2011 and whilst it is very similar to the PMBOK® Guide there are some significant differences.  The RDS was most recently updated in late 2015.  Each update to the RDS also triggers a subsequent change in the PMP exam. The change we are now starting to work towards is driven by the impending publication of the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition – public release date 6th September 2017.

From one perspective updates and changes to the PMP exam have occurred on a routine basis every three years or so for most of the last decade.  Some of the changes were relatively minor, some quite significant.  Based on our preview copy of the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition the changes in the PMP exam scheduled for Q1, 2018 will be quite significant.

PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition Enhancements

Content Enhancements[2]:

  • Agile practices incorporated into the PMBOK® Guide:
    • Expanded coverage of agile and other adaptive and iterative practices. This will align proven, foundational project management concepts with the evolving state of the profession today. Significant additional detail on agile will be included in an appendix.
    • PMI also plans to publish a companion practice guide focused on agile in the third quarter of 2017.
    • Addition of three introductory sections for each Knowledge Area,
  • Key Concepts, consolidating information fundamental to a specific knowledge area.
    • Trends and Emerging Practices not yet widely used.
    • Tailoring Considerations, describing aspects of the project or environment to consider when planning the project.
    • More emphasis on strategic and business knowledge including discussion of project management business documents.
  • More information on the PMI Talent Triangle™ and the essential skills for success in today’s market

Process Changes

The Process Groups remain the same in the Sixth Edition, although two Knowledge Areas have new names:

  • Project Time Management is now Project Schedule Management, emphasizing the importance of scheduling in project management. This aligns with PMI’s Practice Standard for Scheduling.
  • Project Human Resource Management is now Project Resource Management. We discuss both team resources and physical resources in this Knowledge Area.

There are three new processes in the Sixth Edition:

  • Manage Project Knowledge is part of the Executing Process Group and Project Integration Management knowledge area.
  • Implement Risk Responses is part of the Executing Process Group and Project Risk Management knowledge area.
  • Control Resources is part of the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group and Project Resource Management knowledge area.

Estimate Activity Resources is still part of the Planning Process Group, but it is associated with the Project Resource Management processes instead of the Project Schedule Management processes.

Some processes have been renamed to align the process with its intent. This table identifies the name changes.

Exam Changes

PMP and CAPM

PMP and CAPM exams will change in the first quarter of 2018. We will start updating our CAPM and PMP courses in early September so that candidates planning to take these exams early part of 2018 will have the correct materials to work through as part of their mentored email courses. For more on PMP and CAPM training see: http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/

PMI-SP

The PMI-SP exam is not scheduled for specific change, however, the reference materials used in our PMI-SP courses are based on the PMBOK® Guide and an industry textbook both of which are scheduled to have new editions published in September. We have therefore embarked on the upgrading of this course is our first priority not because the exam is changing, but because all of the references will be out of date when the new versions of the guide and text are published in a few weeks’ time. For more on PMI-SP training see: http://www.planning-controls.com.au/

PMI-ACP

The PMI ACP exam will also undergo a major revision early in 2018. We are currently assessing the viability of developing a mentored email course for this year exam.

Summary

From the information currently available to PMI R.E.P.S the new version of the PMBOK® Guide has a lot to offer the industry. From a trainer’s perspective there is a lot of work to do over the next six months but at the end of that time, we will have significantly improved training material based on a much stronger foundation. Interesting times ahead!

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[1] for a more detailed discussion on the early days of the PMBOK® Guide see: https://mosaicprojects.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/the-pmp-examination-is-30-years-old/

[2] For more on the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition enhancements see: https://mosaicprojects.wordpress.com/2016/06/28/pmbok-guide-6-edition-takes-a-major-step-forward/

Differentiating normal, complex and megaprojects

The days when projects were simply projects and project success was defined by the ‘iron triangle’ are long gone.  The intention of this post is to try and bring together four aspects of current thinking and their embedded concepts into an overall model of project management in the 21st century.  The starting point is traditional project management as defined in the soon to be published 6th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide; the major change (incorporated in the 6th Ed.) is ‘Agile Project Management’.  The two significant extensions to traditional project management that go beyond the PMBOK® Guide are ‘Complex Project Management’ and ‘Megaproject Management’. The focus of this paper is on the skills and competencies needed by the ‘managers’ of these different classifications of ‘projects’ rather than the scope of the different concepts (more on this later).

As a starting point, there seems to be a generally accepted view that the competencies needed to be a successful project manager underpin all of the other concepts. There are some distinctly different techniques used in Agile, only some of which flow into traditional project management, but in other respects ‘agile’ and ‘good project management’ are very closely aligned.  Managing complexity requires a significant additional set of competencies that build onto the traditional requirements.  Then, whilst many complex projects do not meet the definition of a ‘megaproject’, every megaproject is by definition a complex project with an additional layer of management capabilities needed to deal with its impact on society.  This basic framework is outlined below:

Stakeholders

All forms of project management recognise the importance of the project stakeholders. Projects are done by people for people and the ultimate success or failure of a project is defined by people – all ‘stakeholders’.  My work on the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition core team was very much focused on enhancing the sections on stakeholder engagement and communication (which is the primary tool for engaging stakeholders). And as the scale of projects increase, the number of stakeholders and the intensity of public focus increases dramatically.

A heuristic suggested by Prof. Bent Flyvbjerg is as a general rule of thumb: ‘megaprojects’ are measured in billions of dollars, ‘major projects’ in hundreds of millions, and ‘projects’ in tens of millions or less. To quote the late Spike Milligan, ‘Money can’t buy you friends but you do get a better class of enemy’ – and while many stakeholders may not be ‘enemies’, the ability of stakeholders to organise around a megaproject tends to be far greater than around a small internal project. Consequently, the focus on stakeholders should increase significantly in excess of the increment in cost as you flow from small to megaprojects.

However, regardless of size, the need to identify, engage, manage, and deliver value to stakeholders, through the realisation of beneficial change, is consistent through all of the concepts discussed below. This and the temporariness of each ‘project organisation (ie, team)’ are the two consistent factors that underpin the concept of project management; and ‘temporariness’ is the key factor that separates projects and programs from other forms of management and ‘business as usual’.

 

Traditional Project Management.

The recognised guide for traditional project management is the PMBOK® Guide augmented to a degree by ISO 21500. The publicly released information on the 6th Edition highlights the need for flexibility in applying its processes, including the requirement to actively consider ‘tailoring processes’ to meet project requirements, and the value agile thinking can bring to the overall management of projects (see below).

The frame of traditional project management starts once the project is defined and finishes once the project has delivered is objectives. While this scope is somewhat limited and there may be a need to expand the scope of project management to include project definition at the ‘front end’, and benefits realisation and value creation after the outputs have been delivered (this will be the subject of another post), the knowledge, skills and competencies required to manage this type of project management are well understood.

Each project has four basic dimensions, size (usually measured in $), technical difficulty, uncertainty and complexity (these are discussed in detail in: Project Size and Categorisation). In the right circumstances, Agile can be an effective approach to resolving uncertainty. However, at an undefined point, the increase in complexity reaches a point where the concept of ‘complex project management’ becomes significant and really large projects are the realm of ‘megaproject management’. But the underpinning capabilities required to manage all of these extensions remains the conventional project management skills.

 

Agile Project Management

Agile has many facets. The concepts contained in the Agile Manifesto basically reflect a shift away for a ridged focus on process towards a focus on people (stakeholders) and adapting to change to achieve a successful outcome.  These concepts are now firmly embedded in the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition and apply to every project. Where agile projects separate from traditional projects is recognising that in a range of soft projects, including software development, taking an iterative and adaptive approach to understanding the scope can often achieve a better outcome. Understanding what is actually helpful to the client develops based on learned experience from earlier iterations and these needs are incorporated into the next iteration of the development allowing a better outcome to be delivered to the client. This is not significantly different to much older concepts such as ‘rolling wave planning’ and progressive elaboration – there really is little point in making detailed plans for work you don’t know much about. The difference is Agile actively expects the scope to be adapted to the emerging requirements of the client, the other approaches seek to add detail to the plans at an appropriate point in time whilst the overall scope remains fundamentally unchanged.

Agile does not even need a project to be useful. Many of the Agile techniques work in any situation where there is a backlog of work to get through and can be effectively used outside of the concept of a ‘project’, this particularly applies to routine maintenance work of almost any kind.  A discussion on the value of Agile, and its limitations, are contained in our paper Thoughts on Agile.

However, for the purposes of this post, the key aspects Agile brings to the discussion, that are essential for effectively managing most types of project, are contained in the Manifesto – a preference for:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
  • Responding to change over following a plan.

The Manifesto recognises there is value in the items on the right, but values the items on the left more.

 

Complex Project Management

Complexity is a facet of every project and program. Complex project management skills become important at the point where complexity becomes a significant inhibitor affecting the delivery of a successful outcome from the project (or program). This point may occur well before ‘complexity’ becomes the defining feature of the project.

Complexity is a very different concept to a complicated project, technically complicated work can be predicted and managed; launching a new communication satellite is ‘rocket science’, but there are highly skilled rocket scientists available that undertake this type of work on a routine basis. As with any traditional project, the costs, resources and time required can be predicted reasonably accurately.

The dominant feature of complexity is the non-predictability of outcomes. Non-linearity, ‘the tipping point’, and emergence describe different ways outcomes from a slightly different starting point can vary significantly compared to previous experience or expectations (for more on the concepts of complexity see: Complexity Theory).  Complexity arises from various forms of complex system, these may be organic (eg, a river’s eco-system), man-made (eg, an overly complicated system-of-systems such as too many interconnected software applications automatically interacting with each other), or interpersonal (eg, the web of relationships within and between a project team and its surrounding stakeholder community).  In all of these situations, the ‘system’ behaves relatively predictably, dealing with the effects of stresses and stimuli up to a point (and normal management approaches work satisfactorily); but after that point adding or changing the situation by a small increment creates completely unexpected consequences.

Interestingly, from the perspective of managing a project, these three areas of complexity are closely interlinked, the complex behaviour of the environment and/or man-made systems-of-systems feeds back into the perceptions of stakeholders and the activity of stakeholders can impact on both the environment, and the way complex systems function. Similarly, dealing with emerging anomalies in the environment or in a complex system needs the active cooperation of at least some of the project’s stakeholders. Consequently, the focus of complex project management is dealing with the consequences of the inherently unpredictable and complex behaviours and attitudes of stakeholders, both within the team and within the surrounding stakeholder community.

Some projects and programs, particularly large ones, are obviously complex from the outset and can be set up to make effective use of the ideas embedded in complex project management. Others may be perceived as non-complex ‘business-as-usual’ and tip into complexity as a result of some unforeseen factor such as a ‘normal accident[1]’ occurring or simply because the perception of ‘straightforward’ was ill-founded. Underestimating complexity is a significant risk.

Where the project is perceived to be complex from the outset, a management team with the competencies required to deal with the nuances of managing a ‘complex project’ can be appointed from day one (and if appropriately skilled people are not available, support and training can be provided to overcome the deficiencies) – this maximises the probability of a successful outcome.  When a project unexpectedly falls into a state of complexity the situation is far more difficult to manage primarily because the people managing the work are unlikely to be skilled in complex project management, will try to use normal management techniques and most organisations lack the resources needed to help rectify the situation – skilled complex project managers are in short supply globally.

One initiative designed to overcome this shortage of ‘complex project managers’ and build an understanding of ‘complex project management’ is the International Centre for Complex Project Management (ICCPM).  ICCPM’s approach to complex project management is to see this capability as an extension of traditional project management (as inferred in the diagram above). The ICCPM view is that while traditional approaches are insufficient to effectively manage a complex project on their own, you cannot manage a complex project without a strong foundation based on these traditional skills and processes. The relationship is described by the ICCPM as:

What changes is in part the way the traditional capabilities such as scheduling and budgeting are used, overlaid with the expectation these artifacts will need to adjust and change as the situation around the project changes, augmented with a range of ‘special attributes’ particular to the process of managing a complex project. These ‘special attributes’ are valuable in the management of any project but become essential in the management of complex projects.  These capabilities and competencies are defined in the ICCPM’s Complex Project Manager Competency Standard available from: https://iccpm.com/.

Complex projects can vary in size from relatively small undertakings involving factors such as updating a complex systems-of-systems, or a high level of political sensitivity, through to the megaprojects discussed below. A complex project may not be a megaproject or even a major project, but every megaproject and many major projects will also be a complex project requiring complex project management capabilities for a successful outcome.

 

Megaproject Management

Megaprojects are defined as temporary endeavours (i.e. projects or programs) characterised by:

  • A large investment commitment;
  • Vast complexity (especially in organizational terms); and
  • A long-lasting impact on the economy (of a country or region), the environment, and society.

They are initiatives that are physical, very expensive, and public. By definition, megaprojects are complex endeavours requiring a high degree of capability in the management of complex projects.  In addition megaprojects typically involve a number of other facets:

  • Megaprojects are by definition a program of work (see: Defining Program Types).
  • Many are implemented under government legislation, requiring skills and knowledge of government processes and the ability to operate within the ambit of ‘government’. This is a very different space in terms of accountability and transparency compared to private enterprise.
  • Most interact with a range of government agencies at all levels of government from local to national. These stakeholders often have a very different set of agendas and success criteria compared to the organisation running the megaproject.
  • The size of a typical megaproject involves large amounts of money and therefore increases the risk of corruption and other malfeasance – governance and controls need to be robust[2] to maintain high ethical standards.
  • The ‘political attractiveness’ of doing a megaproject (eg, hosting the Olympics) distorts decision making; care in the megaproject development process is required to reduce the effect of optimism bias and strategic misrepresentation (see: The reference case for management reserves).
  • Megaprojects are financially fragile[3] and fragility is typically irreversible. Once broken the fragile entity cannot be readily restored to its original function. Financial (or investment) fragility is defined as the vulnerability of a financial investment to becoming non-viable, i.e., losing its ability to create net economic value. For example, the cost risks for big dams are significant; the actual costs more than doubles the original estimate for 2 out of 10 dams; triples for 1 out of every 10 big dams. But managers do not seem to learn; forecasts today are likely to be as wrong as they were between 1934 and 2007.

Recognising the scope and complexity of managing a megaproject and training people appropriately can mitigate the risks, the UK experience around Terminal 5 and Cross Rail (both £4 billion projects) suggest that achieving a good outcome is viable provided the organisation commissioning the megaproject is prepared to invest in its management. It’s probably no coincidence the management of megaprojects and their associated risk has been the focus of the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford for many years.

 

Summary

The competencies needed to manage projects grows in line with the increase in complexity and the increase in size. There are definitely additional elements of competency needed at each step in the framework outlined above.  What is far less clear is how to demarcate between normal, complex and megaprojects! Every project has a degree of complexity and a degree of size.  The values suggested above to separate normal, major and mega projects are arbitrary and there is even less clarity as to the transition between normal and complex projects.

I suspect the domain map demarcating the different disciplines will end up looking something like this but there’s a lot of research needed to define the boundaries and assign values to the axis (especially in terms of measuring the degree of complexity).  Hopefully, this blog will serve to start the discussion.

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[1] Normal accidents are system accidents that are inevitable in extremely complex systems. The three
conditions that make a system likely to be susceptible to Normal Accidents are:
–  The system is complex
–  The system is tightly coupled
–  The system has catastrophic potential
The characteristic of the system leads to multiple failures which interact with each other, despite efforts to avoid them.

[2] For more on governance and ethics see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PM-Knowledge_Index.html#OrgGov1

[3] From: Big Is Fragile: An Attempt at Theorizing Scale, in Bent Flyvbjerg, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management (Oxford: Oxford University Press)

PMBOK® Guide 6 Edition takes a major step forward!

PMBOK6The Exposure Draft of the main ‘Guide Section’ of the 6th Edition is now available for comment – comments close at 5:00 p.m. EDT, 26 July 2016.  To offer comments, go to: www.pmi.org/pmbok-guide-exposure-draft.

Publication and Exam Schedule

PMI have announced the following schedule for publishing the PMBOK® Guide 6 Edition and updating their exams:

  • Draft English Version in PDF: Available in first quarter of 2017 (we use this to start updating our courses).
  • Published Launch Date: Third quarter of 2017 in English and 10 other languages.
  • PMP® Exam certification updates are expected to occur in Q1 2018 as a result of the PMBOK changes (the update also affects the PMI-SP and CAPM exams).

What’s new in the 6th Edition?

This is a major update, content enhancements in the 6th Edition include:

  • Agile practices incorporated into the PMBOK® Guide. Expanded coverage of agile and other adaptive and iterative practices. This will align proven, foundational project management concepts with the evolving state of the profession today. This reflects evidence from Pulse of the Profession® research that agile is used by increasing numbers of organizations in the management of some or all of their projects.
  • Introductory sections rewritten! The first three sections of the PMBOK® Guide have been completely revised. Relevant information from previous editions has been retained. New information reflecting the evolution of our profession as a driver of organizational change and a means of providing business value has been added.
  • Addition of three introductory sections for each Knowledge Area, Key Concepts, Trends and Emerging Practices and Tailoring Consideration:
    • Key Concepts, consolidating information fundamental to a specific knowledge area.
    • Trends and Emerging Practices not yet widely used.
    • Tailoring Considerations, describing aspects of the project or environment to consider when planning the project.
  • Two Knowledge Areas have new names:
    • Project Time Management is now Project Schedule Management, emphasizing the importance of scheduling in project management. This aligns with PMI’s Practice Standard for Scheduling.
    • Project Human Resource Management is now Project Resource Management. Both team resources and physical resources are included in this Knowledge Area.
  • There are three new processes:
    • Manage Project Knowledge is part of the Executing Process Group and Project Integration Management knowledge area.
    • Implement Risk Responses is part of the Executing Process Group and Project Risk Management knowledge area.
    • Control Resources is part of the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group and Project Resource Management knowledge area.
  • Agile appendix added. PMI are also planning to publish a companion practice guide focused on agile – tentatively in the third quarter of 2017.
  • More emphasis on strategic and business knowledge and the PMI Talent Triangle™. There is more emphasis on strategic and business knowledge, including discussion of project management business documents. Information is also included on the PMI Talent Triangle™ and the essential skills for success in today’s market. The PMI Talent Triangle™ was successfully rolled out, late last year, and an integral part of that roll out program was the creation of a new CCR Handbook. This handbook contains important information, concerning PDU category limits and how these may be aligned to the Talent Triangle to maintain PMI credentials see more on the Continuing Certification Requirement (CCR) program and the PMI Talent Triangle™.

As we work through the exposure draft, we will bring you more information. Watch this space!

Stage 1 of the PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition Review process is open

KnowledgeThe Project Management Institute (PMI) has just released the first part of exposure draft for The PMBOK® Guide 6th edition for review and comment. Publication is expected in Q1 of 2017. The Standard section of the guide is currently open for review and will close on Wednesday, 6 April 2016 at 5:00 p.m. EDT (UTC 5). After resolution of the comments on the ‘standard’, the balance of the 6th Edition will be released for review.

For this revision to the PMBOK® Guide, PMI  have divided the exposure draft into two stages. This first stage addresses the Standard for Project Management section only and is a full-consensus exposure draft, a limited exposure draft review for the remaining portions of the PMBOK® Guide will be held at a later date.

Overall there have been some great updates to the PMBOK® Guide as proposed in the exposure draft of the 6th edition. The body of knowledge maturing in terms of content and consistency; and there is greater alignment with ISO21500 and other ISO standards.

The high level changes in the Standard are outlined in the PDF published by PMI (download here).  After the review process, these changes (as amended) will flow through to the main body of the PMBOK® Guide. The major changes are:

  • There are still 10 knowledge areas and five process groups, but there are now 49 processes.
  • Two Knowledge Areas have new names:
    • Project Time Management is now Project Schedule Management, emphasizing the importance of scheduling in project management. This aligns with PMI’s Practice Standard for Scheduling.
    • Project Human Resource Management is now Project Resource Management and people, equipment and physical resources are now included in this Knowledge Area.
  • There are three new processes in the Sixth Edition:
    • Manage Project Knowledge is part of the Executing Process Group and Project Integration Management knowledge area.
    • Implement Risk Responses is part of the Executing Process Group and Project Risk Management knowledge area.
    • Control Resources is part of the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group and Project Resource Management knowledge area.
  • The Estimate Activity Resources process has been removed, this function is now part of Estimate Activity Durations (for the scheduling component) and Project Resources Management for the acquisitions element.
  • The Close Procurement process has been removed and the work captured within Control Procurements and Close Project or Phase

To participate in the review process, go to http://www.pmi.org/PMBOK-Guide-and-Standards/Standards-Current-PMI-Standards-Projects.aspx (you will need a PMI registration to log-in but do not need to be a member).

The PMP and CAPM examinations will be updated in response to the publication of the PMBOK® Guide 6th edition, but this change is not expected until early 2018.  The PMBOK and all other standards are subject to routine updating every 4 to 5 years, this update is simply part of the process of keeping the PMBOK® Guide current and relevant.