Tag Archives: ISO 21500

How useful are BOKs?

We have the PMBOK® Guide, the APM BoK and many other BoKs and standards ranging from ISO 21500 to the PMI Practice standards.

We personally think they are useful and commit a significant amount of volunteer time to developing standards through PMI and ISO; as are certifications to demonstrate a person has a good understanding of the relevant BoK (and we make money out of running our training courses).

However, we are fully aware that passing a knowledge based credential does not demonstrate competency (and that passing a competency based assessment does not demonstrate transferable knowledge – both are needed see: Developing Competency).

We are also aware that too many organisations place too much emphasis on ‘ticking boxes’ rather then taking time to assess people or optimise solutions. The easy tick in the box may avoid ownership of a problem but also tends to avoid the solution itself……

For these reasons we commend the Association for Project Management (APM – UK, publisher of the APM BoK) for publishing a short video, based on a talk given by our friend and colleague, Dr. Jon Whitty to the APM in Reading UK in Nov last year. I hope it starts you thinking.

See the video: http://www.apm.org.uk/news/courageous-conversation#.UXE_pLXfCSp

Thoughts on ISO 21500

With ISO 21500 now in the public domain there seems to be a rush of people wanting to make money out of the document, primarily talking about certification and assessment. People proposing these concepts either don’t understand the basics of project management or don’t care, assuming organisations that buy their services are even less informed.

Whilst anyone can offer a certification based on knowledge of the standard, this will be a simple memory test with no real relevance to project management capabilities for the simple reason ISO 21500 set out what needs to be achieved, not how to achieve it.

This is quite different to the PMBOK® Guide and APM BoK, and other bodies of knowledge that contain a substantial amount of useful knowledge and is the key differentiator between a ‘standard’ and a BoK – standards define ‘what’; BoKs demonstrate ‘how’. The actual ‘ANSI standard’ in the PMBOK® Guide is one short chapter in the 4th Edition and an appendix in the 5th Edition. The balance of the 400+ pages in the PMBOK contain useful knowledge, and therefore by definition, are not part of the standard.

Similarly, because ISO21500 it is a standard, it IS NOT a methodology and bears no resemblance to a methodology. Organisations can build their methodology based on a standard but this involves a lot of work. To understand the differences between standards and methodologies see: https://mosaicprojects.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/pmbok-v-methodology/ and for more on developing a methodology see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1045_Methodologies.pdf

Whilst I’m sure someone will be offering certification options for commercial reasons before long. The processes defined in ISO21500 are at a very high level and certifying that someone has for example ‘developed a schedule’ is next to useless (but this is all ISO21500 will support). A valid certification should look at the quality and use of the schedule not the simple fact a piece of paper called a schedule exists! There are valid assessment models available like P3M3 and OPM3 that are designed to assess maturity; for more on these models see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PM-Knowledge_Index.html#OrgGov5

Just for the record, ISO21500 was not designed to facilitate certification or accreditation; it has been designed to provide an overarching framework to facilitate the alignment of national standards and terminology world-wide. If it achieves this, the standard will enable the standardisation of the practice of project management globally over time and will have achieved its primary design objective.

ISO 21500 moves a step nearer publication

ISO 21500, Guidance on project management, has been unanimously approved in an international ballot of participating national standards authorities with 33 countries voting in favour of the standard. Based on this approval, it is expect that ISO will publish 21500 as an International Standard in about a month.

The Australian committee is supportive of the way the text of ISO 21500 has progressed over the recent past and will proceed to local adoption of the text as AS 21500. However, we are strongly of the opinion that the usability of the standard will be significantly improved by the incorporation of the restructuring we recommended and will incorporate this recommendation into its local adoption.

This new standard complements the existing ISO 10006:2003 Quality management systems – Guidelines for quality management in projects. ISO 10006 gives guidance on the application of quality management to projects and 21500 is a guide to process of project management.

Overall a good start but we still have a long way to go.

ISO 21500 A Guide to Project Management moves forward

This post is being written from a freezing Paris in the shadows of Le Stade de France. As a consequence of Le Grand Froid temperatures have barely risen above zero all week (Melbourne winter coats are not quite enough to deal with temperatures as low as -8oC). The fortitude of French Rugby Union fans celebrating their team’s win over Italy by drinking cold beer from outdoor stalls in temperatures hovering around -5oC can only be admired……

Despite the cold, the committee stages of ISO-21500 Guide to Project Management concluded successfully in Paris this week. As with any international committee process the final outcome is a melding of different concepts and perspectives and the journey was as important as this initial destination.

The final draft standard will be complied in the next couple of weeks following definition, language and translatability checks by the team I’m part of and then a grooming edit to make sure the document flows smoothly by the ‘Editing Committee’ – importantly, theses checks will not change any aspect of the technical content merely start the pre-publication processes.

Once the drafting is 100% complete, the document is handed on to the ISO Secretariat to prepare for a vote of all international standards organisations world- wide and assuming a successful ballot, the new ISO 21500 will be published late 2012. The end of a 5 year journey!

Publishing ISO 21500 is only start of a process to develop a family of portfolio, program and project management standards. A new ISO technical committee TC258 has been established with a mission/vision to create a useful and functional set of integrated standards to help improve project management world-wide. This development will take a significant amount of time and will seek to meet the needs of all sizes of organisation from small business through to major corporations and governments.

To start moving forward on the right track, work has started within TC258 to develop consensus on the overall framework that defines project, program and portfolio management. Because of the wide diversity of approaches, consensus is needed at both the conceptual level – what the ideas actually are; then at the semantic level – what do the words describing the ideas precisely mean. This work will define one dimension of the framework the standards will be developed within. Another key boundary is the interaction between PPP processes and the organisation they serve, including the governance dimension and the links to ongoing operations. Another dimension is the different stakeholder communities the standards are being developed for and by – Directors, senior executives, managers, practitioners and/or a wider public.

Within the boundaries created by this emerging framework, the architecture defining the components that make up the overall discipline of portfolio, program and project management will need to be developed and agreed, including understanding how the different components interact and support each other.

To understand the complexities involved in this work, our updated White Paper A PPP Taxonomy outlines my view of overall architecture. However, we still have a long way to go to reach a genuine consensus world-wide!!!

ISO 21500 Guide to Project Management

Chivonne Algeo (UTS), Peter O'Driscoll (PMI Sydney Chapter Vice President) and Patrick Weaver at the seminar

During the PMOZ conference last week, UTS hosted a seminar with the Project Management Institute on the draft ISO 21500: Guide to Project Management. The draft of the Guide has recently been released and the Australian project management profession has been invited to review the content and to make submissions to the Australian Committee managed through Standards Australia.

Patrick Weaver, an Australian sub-committee coordinator, gave a presentation on the Guide at UTS to project managers and academics as part of the engagement process with the project management profession.

UTS has been represented on the Australian Sub-Committee Working Group by Dr Shankar Sankaran and Chivonne Algeo over the last three years. The infrastructure set up by Australia to participate in the development of the Guide was designed to mirror the structures used by ISO to manage this development.

If you would like to review the draft Guide and provide your feedback you will need to contact your national committee. Australin project managers should contact the Australian Committee by going to: www.mb12.org.au, registering on the subscription list and approximately 1-2 days after joining the subscriber list, you will receive an email with detailed instructions on how the consultation process will take place. Comments close on the 19th August.

ISO 21500 Guide to Project Management

The Draft International Standard (DIS) of ISO 21500 has been released for comment. The Australian committee MB12 is seeking input from Australian project management professionals to help formulate the Australian response to the international committee.

Information on how to sign up for this review or to simply track progress through to the final publication, the Australian committee has launched a web site at http://www.mb12.org.au/. Mosaic will be continuing to support the development of this standard through to publication.

Readers of this post from other nations should contact their national standards authority if they wish to comment.

Project Management Standardisation

The ISO Technical Management Board has approved the proposal submitted last summer by ANSI and BSI to create a new ISO Technical Committee for Project, Programme, and Portfolio Management, TC258. The ANSI (USA) will provide the secretariat for TC258 and the BSI (United Kingdom) will provide the chairmanship.

The Project Committee, PC236, I have been involved with over several years focuses on a single standard and its work on ISO 21500 – Guide to Project Management is nearing completion with final publication expected in 2012.

The purpose of a Technical Committee is to address a complete domain of interest and will expand on the work to deliver 21500 to develop a range of standards at both the technical level and in allied disciplines such as program and ‘project portfolio’ management.

I believe this is a positive step towards the emergence of project management as a global profession. There’s a long way to go to develop a business plan and then develop a range of useful standard but the journey has begun!