This unpublished paper was first written in February 1996 and has since been revised several times and is now updated for web presentation.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 June 2003.

PART 1 | Project Manager's Job | The Customer | What Does the Customer Do?
Corrective Action | Structure Considerations | PART 3

The Customer for a Project Management Body of Knowledge ("PMrBoK")

The next question is: "Who is the principle or ultimate customer for a PMrBoK rationale that is structured and relevant?" Clearly, it is someone that most could agree to call "The Generic Project Management Practitioner". The impetus for identifying such a person arose in providing a focus for PMrBoK updates mid 1991 to mid 1995. However, this issue actually goes back to a Regional Workshop/Seminar conducted by the Houston Chapter as long ago as spring 1978. The following presentation generated there provides a useful basis.

The PM practitioner can be delineated by considering the characteristics of his/her work. For our purposes, consider the following aspects:

  1. Ability to perform
  2. Nature of activity, and
  3. Content and extent of activity.

When you examine such aspects, you can conclude that:

  • PM work does not take place unless and until a project is identified, even if only identified informally.
  • PM work does not take place, really or significantly, once the project is finished.
  • PM work produces little or nothing that is incorporated into the completed product other than a record of the product's creation.
  • The record is of how the project will be done, is being done or has been done, rather than the technology of doing of it.
  • PM work is concerned primarily with planning, scheduling, productivity, direction, efficiency, budgeting, costing, targets, statistics, trends, needed changes or redirection.
  • Recording is done principally to permit judgments, forecasts and decisions about the future - including the project's demise. The records and data generated are very temporal in nature, seldom as exact as desired or needed and almost always somewhat out of date.
  • Decisions made help shape the project direction and even its finished form but there is little to no direct contribution to the embodiment or execution of those decisions into the final product of the project.
  • Projects goals are seldom if ever consistent with the self-interest goals of any of the participants in the project. Yet those participants are precisely the ones whose efforts are needed to accomplish the project content and reach project completion.
  • Managing efforts put forth are almost all in the form of decisions about other peoples' effort and interfaces in an endeavour never before duplicated exactly as regards their intent, content and sequence.
  • The principal time horizon must be the project completion date and the principal money frame the project budget.

Given the foregoing, the individual only operates as a PM practitioner during the life of the project and this person's efforts are directed towards "the care and feeding of the project".

That this key condition exists, must be taken into account even though the individual may have other responsibilities and aspirations within the corporate environment.

The Project Manager's Job  The Project Manager's Job

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