This unpublished paper was first written in February 1996 and has since been revised several times and is now updated for web presentation.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

A Proposal - Introduction

In the course of working on the Project Management Institute's ("PMI") sponsored effort to update and improve their "PMBOK Guide", I have thought long and hard about how the profession might solve some of the major issues and conflicting opinions. These include the appropriateness of the term "PMBOK" and the general and global problem of its structure, and the so-called "project life-cycle" applicable to any project. I strongly prefer "project life span" because "cycle" implies a repeating pattern or redo - hardly the characteristic of a well-run project!

I have been deeply concerned about the display or presentation problems for the subject content of this entire set of project management related bodies of knowledge (PMrBoKs). That is, the content, structure, and application, as well as the importance and interaction with the "area of authority" and the "technical content" of other "bodies of knowledge" (BoKs). Grappling with this conundrum has led me to propose the following approach.

First: Consider that the content of each PMrBoK should

  1. Be displayed in a clear tabular form of logical groupings
  2. Accommodate and provide reinforcement of the life span concept
  3. Recognize that the mix of elements both within a PMrBoK and from other BoKs must be useful and
  4. Receptive to changes as the project moves through its life span

Second: Agree on a set of content criteria both for PMI's PMBOK and as a guide to others wishing to develop their own extensions to this base

Third: Insist that the content and structure be such as to minimize the effort required to set and maintain associated standards, especially of that material that is derived from other BoKs such as accounting or quality management

Fourth: In arriving at this content, the criteria for inclusion should be that for most projects the content

  1. Is usually needed
  2. Requires the same tailoring
  3. Is so scattered elsewhere that collection in one place is beneficial to the project management community

Fifth: A multi-planar, layered, segmented approach to ordering and presentation of the content is preferable to provide

  1. Ease of interpretation for practitioners at all levels of experience and expertise
  2. Longer term usefulness and stability through subsequent updating
  3. Meaningful guidance that is better than 95% useful and correct with respect to other BOK-sourced material that might be used in their own PMrBoK
  4. Clear guidelines delineating the PM responsibilities involved in BOK-integration
  5. A structure permitting subsequent profession or project initiated elaboration and presentation of the PMrBoK, and
  6. The ability to show clearly the shift in BoK content and application as the project goes through its life-span

Sixth: Three relatively consistent characteristics, attributes or "conditions of use" determine the inclusion of a given topic. These are

  1. Project Needs
  2. Style and conditions of application
  3. Responsibility structuring
  4. Levels of authority

For each such attribute, my proposed criteria, content, labels and distinguishing features are described in the following sections.

With the foundation thus established we can proceed to delineate my proposed structure.


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