Published here December 2018

Foreword | Early Work and ESA | Project #121 Established
PMBOK Credibility | Consensus and Findings | Project Management Framework

Early Work and ESA

The concept of standards was first introduced at the Montreal Symposium of 1976. Some effort was made to suggest the possibility of Certification at the 1977 conference, but was rejected. It was not until 198l that a determined effort was made by past PMI president Matthew Parry, David Aird, and others, by presenting a formal proposal to the PMI Board. At the Boston Seminar/ Symposium, the Board approved this proposal and the original Project #31 was launched.

The objective was to define the Body of Knowledge of Project Management and therefore to establish project management as a unique discipline and independent profession. After some considerable philosophical agonizing, early discussions by the initiating committee identified that there are five key attributes of a professional body. If the project objective of establishing project management as an independent profession was to be achieved, then these would have to exist as prerequisites.

These attributes are:

  1. An identifiable and independent body of knowledge of project management (Standards)
  2. Supporting educational programs by an accredited institution (Accreditation),
  3. A qualifying process (Certification),
  4. A Code of Ethics, and
  5. An Institute representing members with a desire to serve (PMI)

Thus, the project group came to be known as the Ethics, Standards and Accreditation Management Group or simply ESA. The result of the deliberations of a large number of people on several separate committees was presented as a "Baseline Report" to the PMI Board in August l982. It was published as a Special Issue of the Project Management Quarterly in August 1983.

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) was central to the report. In it were identified six areas of concentration or blocks of knowledge, namely: Scope Management; Cost Management; Time Resources Management and Communications Management.

These formed the key and unique "functions" of project management, and the report on each was supported by a content set out in a hierarchical breakdown structure.

The PMI Board was quick to adopt the report in principle, including the Code of Ethics for Project Managers. Since the ESA Report provided a logical baseline, its acceptance by the Board provided the impetus for moving ahead with programs for the Accreditation of an educational establishment, and for the Certification of PMI members. Western Carolina University was accredited in 1983 and the first PMI members were tested for Certification in October 1984.

Work on these two programs in particular, together with the certification workshops at the annual Seminar/Symposium, brought the PMBOK under much closer scrutiny. Inevitably, some shortcomings became evident, giving rise to much discussion within the PMI organization and at round tables arranged for the purpose. At the same time some significant publications in project management became available. These included PMI symposia papers, PMJ articles and PMI handbooks, as well as some public textbooks authored by PMI members.

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