This unpublished paper was first written in February 1996 and has since been revised several times and is now updated for web presentation.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

PART 2 | A Proposal - Introduction | How a PMrBoK might be Defined and Used
On the Content of Plane C | Thoughts on Language, Content and Referencing
 Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

In many bodies of knowledge such as general management, technical, political, legal, etc there are often scattered pieces of information that relate to, or even belong in, our PMrBoK. I believe that there should be some sort of "commonality identifiers" to reference relevant material in its appropriate place in any PMrBoK structure. The use of identifiers could reduce the amount of duplication across all BOKs and reduce the maintenance effort involved in insuring compatibility. Moreover, the criteria for such referencing would constitute "screening" tools for use by PM practitioners particularly in the areas designated for them as a result of discussing Planes A, B and C.

To my knowledge, no work has been done on any such tools. These tools would be invaluable in assessing the value of the myriad contributions found in the form of books, articles, theses, proceedings, magazines, seminar material, etc, that is continually expanding. They could also help to identify not only knowledge but also items relating to PM principles as well as PM practices.

The concepts and their attributes described in all the foregoing should make it very clear that there is great benefit to the idea that on every project there is in fact a specific project BoK or ProjBoK. Note the absence of the "r" that I have used in all other references to a BoK that indicates "related to" an area of knowledge and/or experience. This is because I believe that this document is not a guide because it is only useful on the designated project. This is not to say that development of a company or entity wide BoK is not worth while if it is developed and selected, tailored if you like, to suit the company's line of project endeavours and is consistent with the foregoing. Rather, each PM should be mandated to undertake a full review of the company BoK to develop a corresponding project-specific ProjBoK.

This should be a critical part of a PM's responsibility with particular emphasis at the "front end". Periodic review of this ProjBoK by the PM and entire performing group should aim to update the contents to the current project realities. This would be a major assist towards communication and attendant improvement in performance and reduced rework. The goal is a complete absence of "uh-ohs", "I didn't know" and "nobody told me"! The ProjBoK could be looked upon as the ideal interface "lubricant" for reducing friction within the project team.

Related to PMrBoKs is also the question of comparing PM to older professions such as accounting. In my mind, there are at least four significant differences:

  1. The PM "profession" is certainly not as mature and well-established as those others typically cited as analogous
  2. There typically is not the same fiduciary responsibility as with accounting, finance, medicine or law
  3. There are no generally applicable regulations, rules or requirements imposed by governments or legal agencies regarding performance(s) and results, and
  4. There is not the same wide, diverse spectrum of functions or services to be performed that is typically characteristic of PM

So, I see a wide, often conflicting range, of acceptable or applicable practices, even principles existing in the performance of project management as one moves across the various industries or application sectors. And this variation extends across company cultures, across various project types having different types of product, and even across the project life span.

Given the four differences I postulated above, it seems to me that the matter of identifying PM principles and practices are best left to sponsoring groups within each practice area. These groups could then develop and maintain the necessary screening tools needed to enable and guide extraction from existing BOKs by practitioners. If and when enough commonality develops among the various group-supported PMrBoKs, then a recognized PM organization could sponsor a corresponding profession-wide PMrBoK extension guide as the new standard.

I hope that the reader finds the material I have presented not only interesting and challenging, but also useful in his/her work and preparation for future assignments. I also hope that the reader will find my proposal an acceptable basis for further global discussion on what a PMrBoK should be in concept and content. The goal is to establish a common agreement on a foundation that is global in concept and thus most useful for a realistic global project management profession.

Eric Jenett
PMI Founder and Fellow
Project Management Consultant

Thoughts on Language, Content and Referencing  Thoughts on Language, Content and Referencing

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