This Guest paper was submitted for publication and is Copyright M. Abdomerovic (2005).
Published here July 2005.

Abstract | Background | Introduction | Our Approach
Findings | Recommended First Stage Improvements | Second Stage Improvements
Other Research | Conclusions | Glossary of Terms Used in this Paper


A review of the past shows that the breakthrough in project management started almost a quarter century ago with the publication of the Ethics, Standards and Accreditation (ESA) Report in 1983.[1] This was followed by the publication of a project management body of knowledge (PMBOK) in 1987 developed by a number of dedicated professionals.[2] A few dedicated professionals continued to build on this work resulting in the publication of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (The PMBOK® Guide) in 1996.[3] Since this more advanced work was completed, its basic concept continues to develop with the support of thousands of project managers.

So far, the project management community has embraced the changes to the system for managing a project. The upgrade from ESA to the 1996 Edition gained the project management community an improved concept, structure and contents. Four years later, the 2000 Edition replaced the 1996 Edition. This upgrade represented a smooth transition by focusing on a better explanation of the 1996 Edition with only one substantial change relating to the Project Risk Management knowledge area. However, the magnitude of changes from the 2000 Edition to the 2004 Edition needs a more thorough analysis to assess their effects.

Early in our reading of the 2004 Edition we observed that the sets of process inputs and outputs and associated text is substantially different from the 2000 Edition with significant changes to both contents and context. As a result, we found it very challenging to make this detailed study, particularly in view of conceptual changes that should be explained and, in our view, eventually improved. Given that the new document has been already published, we suggest that such improvements should be accomplished in two stages: The first stage should focus on the modification of several figures, while the second stage should be an early analysis of problematic solutions and preparation for the next edition. However there have also been many improvements.

To approach the problem we identified how each component relates to other components within the Guide. This provided a clear context for each component and was a key step to developing detailed material for analysis of each component, process and process group. The ultimate result was a better understanding of both the 2004 Edition and the preceding edition leading to identification of problem areas and recommendations for improvement.

We recognize the possibility of resistance to change from those who have already spent so much time on the latest update of the Guide. Nevertheless the Project Management Institute should initiate a discussion and further study to achieve gradual progress towards an improved document. Current literature and control mechanisms should also be taken into account to help filter potential improvements.

Abstract  Abstract

1. Ethics, Standards and Accreditation (ESA) Report, PMI, 1983
2. Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) of the Project Management Institute, PMI, 1987
3. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (pmbok guide), Project Management Institute, 1996
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