Please read this paper in conjunction with my Musings: "A
Look Back at the Original PMBOK".
This paper is essentially a repeat
of what I wrote over 30 years ago (1986‑7).
I think it is worth repeating because it is interesting to see how prescient
we were at that time in developing the document that came to be known as the "PMBOK".
In contrast, my Musings this month examines where we are today as a "profession"
and whether, in the meantime, we have improved our path, or wandered blindly from
it. So, here follows part of the introduction that I wrote as Past Chairman of
the PMI Standards Board, followed by the background to this significant effort.
Managing projects is not new, simply because establishing a
project as a means to an end has been around since man's early history. Projects
have always been managed, for better or for worse, depending to a large extent
on all of the skill, intuition, and luck that the manager could muster at the
time. However, in recent years there
has been a growing recognition that management, and particularly project management,
is a special skill that can be codified and learned. Project management skill
is quite different from the technical skills that are so often associated with
Indeed, there are aspects of all projects which are out
side the scope of these technical areas, yet which must be managed with every
bit as much care, ability, and concern. That is, these non-technical areas must
be well managed if the project's objectives are to be met with optimum economy
of resources, and with maximum satisfaction to the participants or "stakeholders."
Evidence of this situation is to be clearly seen in the formal recognition
of project management generally. This is not only in the construction industry
but also in a number of government agencies as well as the aerospace, research
and development, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, electronics, and many other industries.
Unfortunately, "project management" may mean different things to different people,
and certainly there are differences of opinion as to what is, or what should be
involved. This is part of the valued diversity in this new and dynamic profession.
As a result, however, effective communication is difficult, especially where modern,
complex, multi-disciplinary contributions are called for.
The Project Management
Institute (PMI), a non‑profit professional organization is dedicated to
advancing the state-of-the-art in project management. It has contributed to the
effort of developing and distributing this revised Project Management Body of
Knowledge to the Profession, in the hope that it will advance and improve the
effectiveness of communications among the many technologies involved in projects.
A project management profession, united across the many industries and
technologies that use the concepts documented in this PMBOK, has a tremendous
potential for improving the efficiency with which resources are used. Hence, improving
the quality of life enjoyed by the citizens of our society. This unity can only
be achieved through effective communications based upon a mutual understanding
of a documented and accepted body of knowledge that serves as the basis for developing
From the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) of the Project Management
Institute, developed by the PMBOK Standards Committee and approved by the PMI
Board of Directors, PA, USA, March 1987.
the use of the word "project" to represent such efforts, as we are referring to
here, is relatively new, probably from around 1400 AD. This may sound quite
old, but not in comparison to the impressive structures built by the Egyptians
and Romans, for example, centuries earlier.
3. For the record,
and notwithstanding some currently postulated definitions, a project is temporary
in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope
and resources. And a project is unique in that it is not a routine operation,
but a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a singular goal. Any departure
from these criteria is not a project.