Project Management Best Practices: An Introduction to PMBOK & PRINCE 2

Project management best practices have been captured, explained and evangelized for more than 20 years. The first formalized methodology came in 1987 through the Project Management Institute (PMI), with its Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK). Today, PMBOK is still the broadest and deepest reference of generally accepted best practices, arranged around key processes that are leveraged across market segments and departments.

Adding to this “how to” process is U.K-born Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2), which evolved from the first edition of PRINCE that addressed a standard for IT project management in the U.K. This is a generic project management method, which has an equally deep set of processes and standards focusing on end-to-end project delivery.

The following is an overview of how to use these two instructional and impacting methodologies.

A Guide to the PMBOK

Currently in its third edition since 2004, the PMI’s PMBOK is the broadest and most widely used standard reference of industry best practices for project management. It identifies generally accepted and fundamental practices and guidelines that are applicable to a wide range of markets—construction, software, engineering, automotive, etc.—and crossing multiple departments, from IT to operations to services.

In fact, many government and financial organizations in the U.S. and the U.K. require their managers be PMI-certified. The PMBOK can be used in any industry, and CA has observed that different industries will leverage different aspects of the reference guide to suit their specific needs. The PMI also issues the “The Standard for Program Management” and “The Standard for Portfolio Management,” which are complementary to one another.

The PMBOK outlines five key process groups to aid in project delivery:

1. Initiating – Setting up the project for success by identifying the right team and scope, as well as determining the relationship between the project and its alignment with the organization’s overall charter.

2. Planning – Developing the relevant resources, timelines and milestones, and mapping project delivery to business priorities (i.e. risk management, communications, quality, cost/budgeting, duration and sequencing, external dependencies).

3. Executing – Assigning the project team and distributing information to ensure the proper activities are undertaken. This process also includes ensuring quality assurance methods are in place to address change management, organizational updates, possible changes to the plan, etc.

4. Controlling and Monitoring – Ensuring the resulting product maps back to the original plan, and risk from uncontrolled external actions is mitigated. CA Clarity PPM can have a significant impact by setting up a secure infrastructure to:

a. Monitor quality, costs and schedule;

b. Manage stakeholder relationships, risk and contract monitoring;

c. Identify discrepancies (or variations) within the project schedule; and

d. Provide the PMO more control.

5. Closing – Making sure you have delivered everything expected of the project. Once you close, you need to review the project vis-à-vis the plan and likewise ensure contract closure.

The PMBOK arranges the 44 processes into nine supporting knowledge areas. Each process has identified inputs and outputs along with referenced tools and techniques.

The role of your project management organization (PMO) is to address all process groups and selective processes to address their unique requirements. It should act as the guardians (via education, collateral, templates, standards) to support rollout and increase expertise of their people.

Train to Minimize Culture Shock

If imposed without a broad understanding of benefits, implementing a structured, highly articulated approach to project delivery according to the PMBOK can be a culture shock resulting in unnecessary resistance. In order to gain broader end-user adoption you should provide relevant documentation detailing the processes and standards, along with the tools and techniques, required for implementation. Proper training is critical for achieving a successful business change.

For training and certification purposes, there is a PMI support accreditation in the PMBOK called the “Project Management Professional” (PMP). To obtain this, candidates are required to show an appropriate educational background and experience in the project management field. They will also be required to pass an exam to demonstrate their knowledge. To retain the credential, a continuous certification requirements (CCR) program is in place.

Beyond the initial PMI certification for staff members, you should designate a few key players in your PMO and key business stakeholders for procedure-level training. This advanced training should be mapped to some or all of the key PMBOK process groups and will be essential to ensure consistent delivery.

Ensure Roles for Enforcers and Supporters

After training, organizations employing PMBOK should create roles for both top-level “enforcers” of the identified approach, along with “support” staff for consistent delivery according to the identified standards and procedures.

It should be noted that continuous development should be contributed to or undertaken by the following roles:

Enforcers: The enforcers are the custodians of procedures and standards, and are responsible for their development under change management. While the enforcer’s initial charter will be to effect business change, as the PMO becomes more mature and accepted the role will transition to one of ensuring the necessary procedures and standards are in place for continued maturation.

Supporter: The support or advisor roles champion and promote the adopted framework throughout the user community through education, mentoring, and issue and change management. Each resource will have a solid understanding of the end-to-end processes and standards but can also specialize in a particular area such as execution.

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