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January 17, 2009 1395 comments so far

PM Standards, Methodologies and Organizations

I have referenced a number of PM standards, methodologies and organizations in the past without being aware of the fact that of course not everyone knows about these. Therefore, I will use the first post of 2010 in order to shortly present the most important ones.

When talking about importance, I am referring to what organizations, methods and standards I know of, how I personally perceive their importance and how well they are known and applied in central Europe, the UK and the US. Since it is not always easy to differentiate between PM standards, methodologies/frameworks and the organizations that maintain them, I will simply present a list of "entities" and try to describe each entity with a couple of words:

  • Project Management Institute (PMI). The US-based Project Management Institute is probably the best known PM standards organization in the western world. According to their website, the PMI has more than half million members in 185 different countries. The PMI is also known for its work on the "Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge" or "PMBOK Guide" that provides a quite good overview and summary of project management in a reasonable number of pages (although of course, the coverage is intentionally quite shallow).
  • International Project Management Association (IPMA). The International Project Management Association is more or less the counterpart of the PMI in Europe (based in Switzerland), but also internationally recognized. In contrast to the PMI, the PMI is more like a super organization of 50 national PM organizations such as, e.g., GPM in Germany and PMA in Austria.The IPMA's certification process and the core competencies required for the four different certification levels is described in the "IPMA Competence Baseline (ICB)" which also defines a number of basic standard terms, but cannot be compared to the PMBOK.
  • Scrum. Scrum (sometimes also spelled "SCRUM") is an agile project management framework that was mainly developed and defined by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland in the 1990's. In 2001 Schwab summed up his findings in the book "Agile Software Development with Scrum" together with Mike Beedle. Recently, Scrum is evolving into "the" PM approach for software projects and is increasingly also used in other types of projects that have a highly dynamic nature. Scrum resources and certification are provided by the ScrumAlliance that was originally founded by Ken Schwaber, Mike Cohn and Esther Derby. We will take a closer look at Scrum in one of the next task1 posts.
  • PRINCE2. PRINCE2 is "the" PM standard in the UK. PRINCE2 was originally defined and is still maintained by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC). PRINCE2 is described as a simple project management method that focuses on how to organize, manage and control projects. More information can be found on the PRINCE2 page on the OGC website.
  • V-Modell XT. The V-Modell or "V-Modell XT" (since 2005) is the development standard for IT systems of the German government. As such, it is also heavily used by companies that implement many government projects such as, e.g., Siemens. Like PRINCE2 in the UK, the V-Modell is also mostly limited in importance to Germany.
  • Six Sigma Project Management. Although an internationally known PM methodology, Six Sigma Project Management is probably less known than PRINCE2 and the V-Modell (at least in Europe). Six Sigma PM is built around the general Six Sigma quality management/improvement process "DMAIC": Define - Measure - Analyze - Improve - Control. The general Six Sigma methodology has been invented by Motorola and is still mainly maintained and developed by the Motorola University.
  • Critical Chain Project Management. Critical Chain Project Management is an interesting project scheduling framework that tries to overcome a number of typical "human" problems with classical critical path and PERT-based scheduling methods such as, e.g., the "student syndrome". Developed by Eliyahu M. Goldratt as an extension of the "Theory of Constraints (TOC)", Critical Chain PM focuses on starting activities as early as possible and extensive buffer management in project plans. The basic ideas of Critical Chain PM are described in Goldratt's business novel "Critical Chain".

As you can see, there are many different standards and methodologies around project management and not every method is feasible for every organization or project. Many organizations and project managers also may decide to mix different methodologies and to define their own approach to project management. However, most organizations at least decide to follow either the PMI or IPMA recommendations when it comes to formal project management - simply in order that it will be easier for them to share and discuss project information with other organizations.

What is your experience about PM standards and organizations? Do you think that the presented order is internationally accurate? What about project management in Asia, especially China and Japan - they they have different standards and models? Let me know what you think!