Tag Archives: PMI Credentials

The Evolution of Project Management

The publication of the PMBOK® Guide sixth edition at the beginning of September[1], and the decision last week by ISO committee TC258 to revise ISO standard 21500 should mark the end of an era in the development of project management. For most of the last 50 years, the dominant view of project management associations has been that project management is a generally transferable skill. This has resulted in the view that ‘project management’ can be represented by a single ‘BoK’ (Body of Knowledge), a single ‘competency baseline’ and capability can be demonstrated by passing a single credential or certification. However, whilst the PM professional associations have advocated this view, the job market has always retained a focus on different industry experience – you don’t get an IT project manager’s job without IT experience.

As outlined above, from the emergence of ‘modern project management’ in the 1960s[2] the predominant view of the professional associations and most academics and practitioners has been that ‘project management’ is a single discipline with transferrable skills. A single qualification framework is appropriate and the skills and techniques are generally applicable across all industries.  However, in the years between the 1960s and the 2000s, as different industries and disciplines progressively adopted the concept of ‘project management’ this holistic view has become increasingly stressed.

The future suggested in this post still sees project management as a single discipline focused around some high-level objectives; but rather than having a single set of generally accepted good practices applicable to most projects most time, the emerging discipline needs to be capable of embracing a range of different approaches to project management and a diverse toolbox of techniques that can be mixed and matched to optimise the creation of the project’s deliverables.

Project management literature has identified at least three key dimensions to project management:

  1. An ‘adaptive/agile’ approach -v- a disciplined structured approach.
  2. The size, scale, and difficulty associated with the work of the project.
  3. Simple relatively predictable projects -v- complex projects with emergent properties.

In addition to these parameters (mapped in the diagram above), there is also the degree of certainty associated with the work, the technical complexity of the product, and the attitude of the stakeholder community[3].

It’s time for a change.

The project management techniques needed to manage different types of project vary enormously; for example:

  • The optimum approach to managing a relatively small, simple project to upgrade a website may benefit from an adaptive/Agile approach to managing the work and should only require a ‘light touch’ to control the work;
  • Contrast this to the disciplined approach needed to design and build a new chemical plant where not only do complicated parts need to be manufactured to precise dimensions months in advance and shipped halfway around the world, but the work has to be carefully managed and the parts assembled in a precise sequence to allow all bits to be fitted together properly in a safe working environment.

Both these endeavours are projects, but the project management techniques needed for success are dramatically different. Even within the one project, some elements may benefit from an ‘agile’ approach to the work (eg, systems integration), while other elements of the work will require a very disciplined approach to achieve success – building space rockets really does require ‘rocket science’.

The challenge facing the project management profession and project management academics is first defining the common core of project management, and then adapting the approach to developing and documenting the overall project management body of knowledge in a way that recognises the core commonality of being ‘a project’ whilst allowing different approaches to the management of the work. And once these foundations are in place, flowing these concepts through into documented standards, knowledge frameworks and certifications. In the 21st century a ‘one size fits all’ approach to the management of projects is no longer appropriate.

PMI has started down this path, they have agile certifications and have included both tailorability and agile concepts into the 6th edition of the PMBOK® Guide. Developments in the ISO space are also moving towards this integrated but separated approach to managing different types of projects. ISO 21500 Guidance on Project Management, is being updated and transformed into a higher level ‘management standard’, if this development is successful, in the future a series of implementation guides can be foreseen focused on different types, sizes and phases of project development and delivery.

What’s missing at the moment is a holistic and agreed understanding precisely what a project actually is[4] (this will segregate project management from other forms of management), and then a framework for distinguishing the different types of project that exist within the overall frame of being ‘a project’, but requiring different styles of project management. Some of the multitude of factors that need to be considered include:

  • The inherent size of the project usually measured in terms of value;
  • The degree of technical difficulty in creating the output (complication) caused by the characteristics of the project’s work and its deliverables, or the time-frame the deliverables are required within;
  • The degree of uncertainty involved in the project;
  • The degree of complexity associated with the work and the stakeholder relationships;
  • The difference between client project management and contractor project management;
  • The various methodologies and strategic approaches to managing the project and developing the product (Agile, PRINCE2, etc);
  • The maturity of the environment in which the project is being delivered (developing economies/organisations -v- mature economies/organisations); and
  • The difference between project, program and portfolio management.

The common core

The core element of all projects is the intentional ‘temporariness’ of the team (organisation) set up to deliver the project. The ‘temporary organisation’ is given an objective to create a deliverable for a client and then to shut down efficiently; in addition, there is an intention on the part of most key stakeholders to treat the work as a ‘project’. This means the project has to be started (initiated), the work planned, then undertaken, and on completion the temporary organisation has to be closed – and of course, all of these activities need monitoring and controlling.

Where 21st century project management needs to diverge from the doctrines of the last century is in the way these overarching objectives are achieved – defining 44 or 49 processes as ‘generally accepted best practices’ is no longer appropriate.  The concept of ‘project management’ needs to be able to adapt to very different approaches, allow the project team to select from a toolbox of ‘useful techniques and methodologies’ and then encourage the teams to craft the processes they actually use to optimise the delivery of the project’s outputs to its clients.

Achieving this will require a different approach to developing standards, a different approach to training and qualifying practitioners and the creation of very different communities within the profession that encourages cohesion whilst embracing diversity of practice.

It will be interesting to see if our profession is up to the challenges.

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[1] PMBOK® Guide 6th Edition available in Australia: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/shop-pmbok-guide-6th-ed.php

[2] For more on the origins of ‘modern project management’ see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF_Papers/P050_Origins_of_Modern_PM.pdf

[3] For more on the dimensions of project management see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1072_Project_Size.pdf

[4] For more on defining a project see: https://mosaicprojects.wordpress.com/2016/08/11/seeking-a-definition-of-a-project/

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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/

CAPM Testing to become easier

PMI has announced a partnership with Pearson VUE to offer candidates for the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification the opportunity to test via an online-proctored (OP) examination. Using this option, candidates will be able to conveniently and easily take an exam in the comfort of their home or office while being monitored by an off-site proctor. Beginning 22 July 2017, candidates will have the option to schedule an OP or center-based

Beginning 22 July 2017, candidates will have the option to schedule either an OP or a center-based (CBT) exam through Pearson Vue. The first exams through Pearson VUE will be held four weeks later on 22 August 2017.

Watch this space for additional information on this exciting development.

For more on Mosaic’s unique Mentored Email™ courses click here!

PMI Exam Scoring Information – Improvements are on the way.

For many people, the information currently provided by PMI on their exam performance has been less than useless. Being told you are ‘not proficient’, ‘moderately proficient’ or ‘proficient’; with the added helpful advice these terms mean ‘below average’, ‘average’ or ‘above average’ tells you nothing.  No one outside of the PMI enclaves has any idea what average means or how wide the average band is.  All you really know is you have passed or failed the exam.

The good news is after years of complaint, PMI has listened and will be rolling out a vastly improved Exam Results Report over the next few months.  The passing score and your actual score remain confidential to PMI for exam security reasons, but with this limitation, the new report will provide candidates with a much better understanding of their performance in relation to the examination pass level.

The headline report shows your overall performance with the performance by domain also categorised into one of the four groupings.  On its own, this is a vast improvement on the old report!!

Click here to see a sample of the Exam Report

However, of even more value, backing up this summary will be a detailed report highlighting your performance against the various domains and topics, accessible from within your CCR portal on the PMI website. Below is a preview of this part of the report (provided by PMI):

You still won’t know the exact number of questions in each domain or how they are divided into each of the Tasks within the ‘domain’, but the report will tell you where improvement in your knowledge will be valuable and help you plan your continuing development as a project professional. This additional information will also help training design and deliver better courses based on feedback from our clients all round a win-win-win development.

For once PMI is to be highly commended for listening to their members and delivering a great initiative.

Scheduled roll-out

Anyone taking the PMI-PBA®, PfMP® or PgMP® certification exam on or after 28 April will receive the new report and explanation pages. The new report will then be rolled out to the remaining certifications over the next few months, ending with the PMP® on 28 August. Key dates for the launch of the reports for courses we teach:

PMI-SP – 25th May
(for more see:  http://www.planning-controls.com.au/ )

CAPM – 22nd August
(for more see: http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/index.php?cID=175 )

PMP – 28th August
(for more see: http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/index.php?cID=173 )

Setting up a project controls system for success

A couple of hour’s hard thinking can make the difference between project success and failure!  Far too many projects are simply started without any real thought as to the best strategy for delivery and what control systems are really needed to support the management of that delivery – one size does not ‘fit-all’ and simply repeating past failures creates more failures.  Similarly, far too many control systems are implemented that simply generate useless paperwork (frequently to meet contractual requirements) when what’s needed is effective controls information.

Remembering that all project controls documents have to be used and maintained to be useful; the three key thinking processes needed to help build project success are:

  • First the big question – how are we going to do the work to maximise the opportunity of success and optimise risk??  This is a strategic question and affects procurement as much as anything – off-site assembly needs a very different approach to on-site assembly. This does not need a complicated document but the strategy does need to be agreed; see: www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1038_Strategy.pdf
  • From the strategy, the project management team structure can be designed to best manage the work as it will be accomplished and these people (or at least the key people) can then contribute to the planning process. Pictures are as useful as anything to define the overall flow of the work; see: www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1039_Project_Planning.pdf.
  • Once you know the way the work will be accomplished and the overall flow/sequence of the work you are now in a position to plan the project controls function aiming to apply the minimum amount of ‘controls’ necessary to be effective.  Excessive controls simply waste money and management time. My approach is always to do a bit less then I think may be needed because you can always add some additional features if the need eventuates – it Is nearly impossible to remove controls once they have been implemented.
  • Then you can develop the schedule and other control tools needed for effective management working within the framework outlined above.

This area is what PMI call Schedule strategy and Schedule planning and development. Getting this ‘front-end’ stuff right is the best foundation for a successful completion of a project; this is the reason these elements of project controls have a strong emphasis in the PMI-SP exam.

Conversely, stuffing up the strategy in particular, means the project is set up to fail and implementing control systems that do not support the management structures within the project simply mean the controls people are wasting their time and the time of everyone they engage with.

However, creating a project that is based on a sound strategy supported by a useful project controls system will require some cultural changes:

  • The project manager and project executive will need to take some time to look at strategic options and develop an effective delivery strategy.
  • The organisation and client will need to allow the project controls professionals to work through the challenges of developing a ‘light-but-effective’ controls system and then review/approve the system – this is more difficult than simply requiring every project to comply with some bloated standard controls process that no one uses (except for claims) but should deliver massive benefits.
  • The organisation will need skilled project controls professionals……….
  • And the project management team will need to be willing to work with and use the project controls.

The problem is easy to outline – fixing it to enhance the project success rate is a major challenge.

USA moving to formalise project and program management capabilities

The concept of professional project management is gathering pace. The USA Government’s Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act of 2015 (PMIAA) was unanimously passed by the US Senate by in November 2015, and was passed by Congress in September 2016 on a 404-11 vote.  Because Congress made some minor changes, it now has to was returned to the Senate before it can be and signed into law by the President on the 14th December 2016 (see comment below).

obama-law

The Act requires the Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to:

  • adopt and oversee implementation of government-wide standards, policies, and guidelines for program and project management for executive agencies;
  • chair the Program Management Policy Council (established by this Act);
  • establish standards and policies for executive agencies consistent with widely accepted standards for program and project management planning and delivery;
  • engage with the private sector to identify best practices in program and project management that would improve Federal program and project management;
  • conduct portfolio reviews to address programs identified as high risk by the Government Accountability Office (GAO);
  • conduct portfolio reviews of agency programs at least annually to assess the quality and effectiveness of program management; and
  • establish a five-year strategic plan for program and project management.

The Act also requires the head of each federal agency that is required to have a Chief Financial Officer (other than Defence which has its own rules) to designate a Program Management Improvement Officer to implement agency program management policies and develop a strategy for enhancing the role of program managers within the agency.

The Office of Personnel Management must issue regulations that:

  1. identify key skills and competencies needed for an agency program and project manager,
  2. establish a new job series or update and improve an existing job series for program and project management within an agency, and
  3. establish a new career path for program and project managers.

And finally, the GAO must issue a report within three years of enactment, in conjunction with its high-risk list, examining the effectiveness of the following (as required or established under this Act) on improving Federal program and project management:

  • the standards, policies, and guidelines for program and project management;
  • the strategic plan;
  • Program Management Improvement Officers; and
  • the Program Management Policy Council.

When enacted the Act will enhance accountability and best practices in project and program management throughout the federal government by:

  1. Creating a formal job series and career path for program/project managers in the federal government, to include training and mentoring – PMP, PMI-SP and similar certifications will become increasingly important!
  2. Developing and implementing, with input from private industry, a standards-based program/project management policy across the federal government.
  3. Recognizing the essential role of executive sponsorship and engagement by designating a senior executive in federal agencies to be responsible for program/project management policy and strategy.
  4. Sharing knowledge of successful approaches to program/project management through an inter-agency council on program and project management.
  5. Implementing program/project portfolio reviews.
  6. Establishing a 5-year strategic plan for program/project management.

You can read the text of the Act here, and stay up-to-date on the Act’s progress here.  The approach USA is aligned with regulatory actions in both the UK and the EU to require government agencies to improve project and program delivery. If this trend continues hopefully the ‘accidental’ project manager / sponsor will be consigned to history and the use of qualified professionals will become the norm.

Follow these links for more on achieving your PMP credential of PMI-SP credential.

New Planning and controls website

meeting1b

Our new project Planning and Controls website at www.planning-controls.com.au/ is now up and running.  This site currently has two focuses:

Helping people study to pass their PMI-SP® examination:  www.planning-controls.com.au/pmisp-courses/  Backed by a library of helpful PMI-SP exam support resources:  www.planning-controls.com.au/support/

Providing a single location for planners and schedulers to access our library of project controls papers and other free resourceswww.planning-controls.com.au/controls/   Almost all of the papers are available for download and use under the Creative Commons licence.

This site will be progressively updated with a view to becoming a key reference for all planning and control professionals worldwide!  Any suggestions for improvements will be appreciated – we look forward to hearing from you.