A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge – Critical Analysis Essay

Introduction

This essay analyses the BOK (Body of Knowledge) captured in the “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge” treatise put together by the Project Management Institute (1996) critically. The institute projects the treatise as persisting with the custom of distinction in the management of projects. It projects the treatise and the BOK it bears as advancing the custom, or tradition, with an easy-to-appreciate and easy-to-implement standard, enhanced consistency as well as improved clarification. When one goes through the BOK, he or she gets the picture that project management, as a practice, has a standard language defining it, especially in the areas of project initiation, project planning, project execution, project monitoring, project control, and project closure. By and large, the book mirrors the knowledge, as well as collaboration, of serving project managers. As well, the book provides the project management essentials as they relate to varied projects. Particularly, the essay examines the treatise’s claim of the existence of universally agreed project management standards, including the treatise, and the claim that project management is a distinct profession critically.

Project Management Standards

The Project Management Institute (1996) asserts that “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge” constitutes a standard for use by project management practitioners, or professionals. The institute claims that as the treatise, as a standard, guides the general project management BOK. Notably, the institute concedes that there is no single write-up or document containing all the BOK. The ones in already existence leave out some of the BOK unpublished, and merely appreciate it as constituting best norms and practices in the project management field. As well, the ones already in existence do not capture the whole of the BOK since it keeps on evolving and growing every succeeding day. The institute claims that as a standard, the treatise does not guide project management on how to execute given tasks or describe particular project management methodologies. Rather, it is a standard for guiding project management practitioners in developing other standards and own methodologies (Project Management Institute, 1996). Crawford, Pollack and England (2007) and Sanjuan and Froese (2013) concur with the institute that the treatise is among the standards for guiding project management practitioners in developing other standards and own methodologies.

The claim by the Project Management Institute (1996) that the “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge” is not a PMP examination specification or standard is somewhat confusing, especially if viewed in the light of the institute’s claim that the treatise is a standard guiding the general project management BOK. One is persuaded to think that the treatise is a PMP examination specification or standard, albeit minor, since the book covers about seven tenths of the content covered by the examination. One would think that the book is a PMP examination specification or standard as well as a CAPM examination specification or standard. The CAPM covers students’ appreciation of the book exclusively according to the Project Management Institute (1996).

By and large, Crawford, Pollack and England (2007), the Project Management Institute (1996), and Sanjuan and Froese (2013) project the book as a guide to the extensive project management BOK. They project it as providing the practitioners and students with entry-points to additional project management information. As well, as noted earlier, they project it as one of the numerous standards for creating unique methodologies, practices, techniques, and protocols in particular project management-related organisations and practices. The institute indicates that for best results, the book, as a standard, should be used together with other frameworks and standards that it has developed over time, including the Practice Standard for Work Breakdown Structures, the Standard for Program Management, and the Project Manager Competency Development Framework. As well, the institute indicates that for best results, the book, as a standard, should be used together with other frameworks and standards developed by other bodies, including scholarly organisations and professional organisations.

Even then, even as the Project Management Institute (1996) concedes that “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge”, as a standard, can be supplemented by other standards, it asserts that the book is the most dependable and most universally agreed-upon standard in project management. Notably, the institute’s thinking that the book is most dependable and most universally agreed-upon standard in project management appears motivated by its appreciation of the book as having a unique purpose and scope. Notably, a project is defined by its “scope and resources” (Project Management Institute, 2016, par.2). Crawford, Pollack and England (2007) and Sanjuan and Froese (2013) come about as disagreeing that there is any single standard that ought to be deemed, or considered, superior to the others. They appear to attach comparable weights to all the standards guiding project management practices.

Eskerod and Huemann (2013) appear to suggest that the weight ascribed to any of the standards should be based on the consideration of its inclusion of varied stakeholder management approaches and sustainable development practices rather than the standards’ purposes and scopes as suggested by the Project Management Institute (1996). According to Eskerod and Huemann (2013), most of the present standards, including “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge” treat varied stakeholder management approaches and sustainable development practices superficially. Rather, the standards should ideally commit the management of stakeholders to sustainable development contexts. Standards that accommodate approaches for managing stakeholders are seen as more ideal than the ones focused on ensuring that the stakeholders comply with the extant project requirements according to Eskerod and Huemann (2013).

Sanjuan and Froese (2013) hold that the best project management standards and practices lack in the “typical construction projects” (Sanjuan & Froese, 2013, p.91). That position contradicts the one held by the Project Management Institute (1996): that all the characteristic projects are defined by the standard typified by the book. One may conclude from the position put forth by Sanjuan and Froese (2013) that in some projects, the standard typified by the book may be inapplicable or even unacceptable, regardless of its being projected by the institute as the most dependable and most universally agreed-upon standard in project management owing to its unique purpose and scope.

Probably, it is not used in some projects where it may be taken as not accommodating approaches for managing stakeholders as suggested by Eskerod and Huemann (2013). Sanjuan and Froese (2013) appear to hold that several of the standards are welcome in projects, including the “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge” standard, Prince2, ISO 9000, and the IPMA Competence Baseline. Possibly, the last three are among those seen as capable of supplementing the first one by the institute. Crawford, Pollack and England (2007) appear to suggest that none of the standards should be deemed superior to the others since different nations opt for particular standards for the management of projects.

Is Project Management a Distinct Profession?

The Project Management Institute (1996) presents project management as being a distinct profession. It “began to emerge as a distinct profession in the mid-20th century” (Project Management Institute, 2016, par.9). According to the institute, there are numerous project managers pursuing the profession: executing varied project management roles and responsibilities. Even then, there are many non-professionals executing the roles and responsibilities as well. The institute and Dion (2013) present project management as a distinct profession with clearly cutout roles and responsibilities. Clearly, many organisations that represent practitioners of project management, including the International Project Management Association, the Association for Project Management, and the Project Management Institute view it as being a profession. When one goes over “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge”, he or she is likely to question whether or not project management is a distinct profession same as teaching, medicine, law, or engineering.

While the Project Management Institute (1996) presents project management as being a distinct profession, the Veatch (2011) and Smith (2011) appreciate it as being a process. They opine that it is not a profession since it is not defined by the control and definition of a related, specific, abstruse, complicated, cagey, esoteric, and unique BOK. The general BOK related to project management is seen as general: with methodologies, tools, and techniques that are comparable to the ones used in general management.

Veatch (2011) and Bates (1998) suggest that project managers can raise their professional image by appreciating that project management is a process and that the process is application-specific or context-specific, meaning that generic project management certifications are by and large worthless where they are not adapted for particular applications. When one reads the article by Smith (2011), he or she begins thinking that even if project management was taken as being a profession, it would remain an evolving one, a process as practitioners move from given expertise and responsibility areas to others. According to Smith (2011), all professionals are on a transformation journey.

Conclusion

“A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge” is presented by its author, the Project Management Institute (1996) as the accepted universal standard for the management of projects. As well, the Project Management Institute (1996) presents it as being the accepted guide to the BOK related to project management. The book is aimed at serving as the guide and the standard by the institute. Even then, the institute concedes that the book does not capture all the relevant BOK, which continues changing as the project management practice continues maturing and growing. The institute asserts that the treatise constitutes a standard for use by project management practitioners, or professionals. The institute claims that as the treatise, as a standard, guides the general project management BOK.  While the Project Management Institute (1996) presents project management as being a distinct profession, the Veatch (2011) and Smith (2011) appreciate it as being a process. As noted earlier, by and large, the book mirrors the knowledge, as well as collaboration, of serving project managers. As well, the book provides the project management essentials as they relate to varied projects. Over time, the book has become more and more accepted as a standard that offers the managers the elementary tools for practicing project management as well as delivering organizational outcomes.

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