Published here December 2018

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


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).[1] 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.

~~~~~ 00000 ~~~~~

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.[2] 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 most projects.

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."[3]

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 the profession.


1. 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.
2. However, 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.
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