The Project Management Body of Knowledge
Clearly, the identification of a Unique Body of Knowledge provides the foundation
for the remainder. Some would say that all we have done is to borrow heavily
from what I would describe as corporate or traditional management. To some extent,
that may be true but the big difference is the environment in which the project
This environment includes the whole business of establishing temporary organizations;
identifying discrete goals and objectives; obtaining commitment to those goals,
often short term and in conflict with other personal goals and objectives; allowance
for "learning curves"; and then when the goals have been met, the problems
of disbanding in an orderly fashion with benefits rather than damage to those
involved. As all those of you in the project business well know, successful project
management is heavily "people" oriented.
Terms and definitions are clearly an essential prerequisite to the development
of a Body of Knowledge. After all, if we do not know what we mean, how can we
communicate effectively, let alone codify and learn?
For example, the Project Management Body of Knowledge, or "PMBoK"
as we call it, itself is defined as "All those topics, subject areas and
intellectual processes which are involved in the application of sound management
principles to the collective execution of any types of effort which qualify as
So we have spent a long time trying to reach some sort of agreement on terminology,
particularly in a generic sense. That is, terminology that should serve all areas
of project application.æ It has not been easy.
In fact, the PMI has just published the results of this work as an insert to
the latest issue of the Project Management Journal, including "Glossary
of Project Management Terminology.
Now is this sort of thing really necessary? Isn't it all rather academic? I
mean, everyone knows what project management is, at the very least, those who
are in the business do, don't they? Unfortunately, far from it. I have come across
some projects that are being managed like there is no tomorrow, and I am sure
you have too. On the other hand, I have met people who have no idea that they
have a project to manage, let alone how to manage it.
Again, there are those who try to impose project management techniques on traditional
management on a fiscal basis. It is called Management by Objectives.