Today, a number of project management experts are thinking that a new Standard Framework for project management would be a good idea. Such a Standard would be designed to encompass all that we know about project management in its broader sense, and present it in some logical and documentable way. That is, it would cover the whole domain of managing projects, namely Project Portfolio Management, Program Management as well as the management of a Single Project.
Obviously, the intent is to show at least how these three areas fit together. Remember, the Standard we are talking about is not the standard for a single project, but one that also covers two other major areas.
However, we think that there are a number of areas that are not yet sufficiently mature in the popular mind, as well as in the existing published Project Management Standards for that matter. We also think that such a Framework Standard is attempting to struggle with too much all in one basket for it to be usefully applied. Hence we believe that we need to apply the well-established technique of "Work Breakdown Structure" (WBS) to the term "Project Management" itself to better understand what we have, and how to improve our chances of success.
As it stands, Project Management is defined in ISO 21500, First Edition (2012-09-01), not in Section 2 Terms and Definitions, but in Section 3.3, as follows:
"Project management is the application of methods, tools, techniques and competencies to a project."
This is very similar to the Project Management Institute's definition in their "A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge" 5th Edition, as follows:
"Project Management: The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements"
Either way, it is clear that what these authors have in mind is the management of a single project, i.e., "Single Project Management".
However, ISO 21500 goes on to add:
"Project management includes the integration of the various phases of the project life cycle, as described in 3.10."
Where Section 3.10 states:
"Projects are usually organized into phases that are determined by governance and control needs. These phases should follow a logical sequence, with a start and an end, and should use resources to provide deliverables. In order to manage the project efficiently during the entire project life cycle, a set of activities should be performed in each phase. Project phases are collectively known as the project life cycle."
And further, that:
"The project life cycle spans the period from the start of the project to its end. The phases are divided by decision points, which can vary depending on the organizational environment. The decision points facilitate project governance. By the end of the last phase, the project should have provided all deliverables.
To manage a project throughout its life cycle, project management processes should be used for the project as a whole or for individual phases for each team or sub-project."
All of that is well and good. But we have a problem.
2. ISO_21500_2012.pdf, section 3.3 Project Management, p4
3. PMBOK Guide, Glossary p554
4. These two paragraphs are added for reference later.