This unpublished paper was first written in February 1996 and has since been revised several times and is now updated for web presentation.

Note: The Project Management Institute, USA, has adopted the acronyms "PMI", "PMBOK", "PMP" as their registered marks.
Published here May 2003.

Background | Terminology | The Nature of Projects | Unique Features of Projects
What Projects are Not | General Observations on a Project Body of Knowledge
The Life Span of Projects
 | Elements of the Project Life Span

Eric Jenett, AIChE, AACEi, PE
Eric Jennet has worked in project management at home and overseas for over forty years as engineer, manager, vice president engineering and project director. His projects encompassed most aspects of petrochemical facilities, as well as software and systems development including technology and project management know-how transfer in developing countries. He is one of five who founded the Project Management Institute back in 1969 in Atlanta and he launched the Houston chapter in 1973. He is a past-President and Board Chair of the Institute and was elected as a Fellow in 1982.


Much has been written about Project Management, its experiences, analyses, theories, practices, guidelines, statistics, what to do and what not to do. This material has appeared in handbooks, books, audiotapes, videotapes, magazines articles, study reports, seminar proceedings, short courses, degree courses, on CD Rom indeed, in every form you can imagine.

This explosion of information has been fostered, in significant part, by the Project Management Institute ("PMI"). PMI, founded and dedicated to the field of Project Management, has been in existence since 1969. It is headquartered in Pennsylvania, USA, and its worldwide membership has now grown to over 90,000 members. PMI encourages contributions from individual, corporate, vendor, consulting, and educational entities.

Considered by many in the field to be one of it's most, if not the most, significant accomplishment is the concept of a "project management body of knowledge". This concept was first publicly published by PMI as a pamphlet in 1987. The most current revision entitled, more appropriately, "A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge" was issued in January 2000. This Guide is now generally, but incorrectly, referred to as "The PMBOK".

The PMBOK is quite a remarkable document and has received wide review, approbation and endorsement. Prior to release, an "exposure issue" draft was distributed for comment and suggestions to all of PMI's worldwide membership. More than 25 invited reviewers, selected on the basis of their expertise in project management and its various aspects, were specifically invited to offer comments and suggestions. Copies were also sent to some 15 or so organizations considered to have interests in project management or its significant elements.

This effort has aroused a virtual storm of healthy, intense and largely positive discussion across the globe. In this effort, the emphasis has been primarily on the process of project management itself. However, I believe we should consider more fully the customers for such a document namely the project management practitioners and their particular projects. By that I mean the attributes of the practitioners and the nature and characteristics of projects over the course of their conduct from the original "light-bulb" idea through execution to completion and final archiving.


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