What is New in the PMBOK Guide 6th Edition?

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– PMP., Founder of PM Study Circle

With permission, retrieved from – pmstudycircle.com

On September 6, 2017 the 6th edition of the PMBOK Guide was published by the PMI. The PMI publishes a new version of the PMBOK Guide every four years. The last time was in December 2012, when the PMI published the 5th edition of the PMBOK Guide.

Though the PMI has made many changes to the PMBOK Guide, first I would like to discuss the two most important changes that you are going to see in the current version of the Guide.

These changes are as follows:

  1. Addition of the Agile framework
  2. Counterfeit Measures

Addition of the Agile Framework

In the past there were some additions, subtractions and expansions of knowledge areas; however, this time it is different. This time the PMI has added a different framework to it: the Agile framework.

Agile methodology is quietly gaining popularity and so the PMI has started the PMI-ACP certification to cater to the needs of this niche. As the PMI did not have any Agile guide in their library, they developed a practice guide for it and named it the Agile Practice Guide. This guide consists of 168 pages and explains the Agile concepts in general.

This was expected as the PMI has acknowledged in the past that there has been a gradual increment in the adoption of Agile methodologies in project management.

The PMI has developed this guide with the Agile Alliance.

The purpose of this guide is to give project management teams a better understanding of agile tools, techniques, and approaches to deliver a better result.

Now you might be wondering how will this impact the PMP exam.

The situation is not yet clear. The PMP Exam Content Guidelines have not been updated yet. The situation will be clearer when they update it.

Until then, sit tight.

The digital version of the PMBOK Guide includes the Agile Practice Guide. If you buy the hard copy, you will only get the PMBOK Guide; if you need to read the Agile Practice Guide, you will have to buy it separately.

If you are a PMI member you can buy both guides for 49 USD after a 50% discount from the PMI store.

Counterfeit Measures

This time PMI used different types of counterfeit measures for the digital and printed version of the PMBOK and Agile Practice Guide.

Counterfeit Measures for the Digital Version

In the digital edition of the PMBOK Guide, PMI inserted a watermark “Not for Distribution, Sale or Reproduction” on each page.

They have done this to avoid duplication and unauthorized distribution.

I find it annoying.

You cannot open the file without your password, and once you open it your name and PMI ID is printed on every page. These measures were enough to discourage unauthorized distribution.

Adding a watermark on each page is irritating.

You are also not allowed to make printouts of the PMBOK Guide. This is again a nuisance as many people prefer reading a hardcover book than reading something on a computer screen. This is a big blow to them.

I strongly believe that the 7th digital version will be online and you will not be able to download it, and the 8th edition will have an OTP feature. Every time you need to access the guide, PMI will send you a code on your mobile to verify your identify.

Anyway, if you prefer reading a hardcover book, buy it from the PMI store or Amazon, because you cannot print the digital edition.

Counterfeit Measures for the Printed Version

I purchased the print version of the PMBOK Guide from the PMI store.

The price was 49 USD after a 50% discount and the Agile guide was free with purchase for PMI members. After receiving the package, as I opened the cover, on the first page I found following notice:

“This book was printed utilizing a potential anti-counterfeit print technology designed to prevent unauthorized reproductions. The paper color is grey instead of white. When the pages of book are copied or scanned a hidden warning message will appear in the background. This security feature is intended to discourage anyone from attempting to illegally reproduce or counterfeit the book.”

I hope you get the idea.

The pages of the book are grey, it looks cheap and reading it was not a good experience.

Anyway, let’s discuss the structure and the changes in the PMBOK Guide 6th edition.

Structure of the PMBOK Guide

The 6th edition of the PMBOK Guide is divided into three sections:

  1.  A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge
  2.  The Standard for Project Management
  3.  Appendix, Glossary, and Index

And lastly, you will find the Agile Practice Guide.

Four new sections have been added to the beginning of each knowledge area. These sections are as follows:

  1. Key Concepts
  2. Trends and Emerging Practices
  3. Tailoring Considerations
  4. Considerations for Agile/Adaptive Environments

The first section explains key concepts for the knowledge area, and the second section explains trends and emerging practices.

The third section explains tailoring conditions you should consider while developing processes for your project; e.g. how much emphasis you should give to each process according to the scope of the project.

The last section helps you consider if agile methodologies can help you achieve your objective.

In this edition the PMI divides the processes into three categories:

  1. Process used once or at predetermined points in the project
  2. Periodically used or as needed processes
  3. Process that are used throughout the project

Moreover, this is the first time, the PMBOK is discussing the benefit management plan.  The benefit management plan begins at an early stage of the project and it describes how and when the project will deliver the benefits and a mechanism to measure those benefits.

This time Net Present Value, IRR, benefit cost ratio, payback period, etc., were placed in the PMBOK Guide.

In this edition the PMI introduces a new section devoted to the environment in which projects operate. Here the PMBOK discusses the enterprise environmental and organizational process assets in detail. New content on governance has also been added.

A new chapter on the role of the project manager has also been added, where PMBOK describes the project manager’s role in the team. This section explains how the Talent Trianglehelps an organization to achieve its objectives efficiently.

In this chapter, the PMBOK explains the sphere of influence of the project manager, the competencies of the project manager, and their performance as an integrator.

The role of the project manager is now aligned with the PMI Talent Triangle concept, which was introduced in 2016.

Now let’s discuss the changes in the PMBOK Guide knowledge areas and processes. Before we move on, please note that this time no new knowledge areas were removed or added.

Changes in Processes

The PMI has made the following changes to processes:

Deleted: Close procurement process.

Added: Manage project knowledge, control resource and implement resource response.

Renamed: Perform quality assurance to manage quality, estimate activity resources is relocated in project resource management knowledge area.

The PMI has also changed the name of two knowledge areas: Project time management to project schedule management and project human resource management to project resource management.

To get a glimpse of all processes and knowledge areas, please refer to the “Project Management Process Group and Knowledge Area Mapping” chart available on page 25.

Changes in Knowledge Areas

Now let’s see what changes have been made to each knowledge area.

Integration Management

A new process “Manage Project Knowledge” was added.

In this process, PMBOK emphasizes using existing knowledge and creating new knowledge to achieve project objectives and contribute to organizational learning.

Schedule Management

It used to be known as the time management knowledge area. Now the PMI realizes that only schedules can be managed, time cannot.

They moved the “Estimate Activity Resources” process to the project resource management knowledge area.

Quality Management

Here the “Perform Quality Assurance” process is renamed “Manage Quality”. This is done to bring consistency to the terminology; moreover, this term is more prominent in quality management.

Resource Management

The “Human Resource Management” process is renamed to “Resource Management”.

This is done because in projects, the project manager has to manage all resources: manpower, machines, and materials. So resource management is more suitable than human resource management.

A new process “Control Resources” has been added here, and as mentioned earlier, estimate activity resources was also moved here from the schedule management knowledge area.

Risk Management

A new process called “Implement Risk Responses” was added here. The control risks process is renamed monitor risks.

A new risk response strategy “Escalate” was added to positive risk response and negative risk response strategies.

Procurement Management

The close procurement process has been deleted.

In summary, the changes to the PMBOK Guide 6th edition are as follows:

  • The total number of process is now 49. The 5th edition has 47 processes.
  • The following table shows old and new names of knowledge areas.

old and new knoledge area

  • The following table shows the newly added and/or deleted processes:

added or deleted processes

  • The name of following processes have been changed:

Before I end this blog post, I will provide answers to a few FAQs.

Review entire article here: https://pmstudycircle.com/2017/11/new-in-the-pmbok-guide-6th-edition/

Assessing Your Risk Management Procedures Effectiveness

Risk-Management-Issues

– Alphius White, Bellevue University MPM Student

The key here is to effectively manage the risks so that those risks that pose a threat to project success are mitigated but also so that those risks that might present new opportunities, such as a better deliverable, quicker or at lower cost, are identified and acted upon.

It’s important to remember too that projects are always liable to change as they progress so the risk management process should be responsive to change and the risks should be re-assessed from time to time if the project is long or complex. Risk management is not a separate discipline but an integral part of project management so should be part of the regular activities of a project manager. One of the most important elements of risk management is complete honesty.  Without an honest approach to the risks involved there will always be unvoiced issues and these can be the biggest risks of all.

So how can you be sure that, once you have (honestly) identified your risks, that your risk management procedures are effective and add value to the project?

 1. Document the risks

Create a risk log listing each risk with a description, stating who is responsible, the likely impact and the mitigating actions that could be taken. It needs enough information to be useful in monitoring and reporting on risks but not so much that it cannot be easily updated. A straightforward, up-to-date risk log will be useful during the whole life of the project.

 2. Prioritize the risks

In order to prioritize effectively you need to understand what factors could make the risk more likely to occur and what impact that would have on cost, timescale and scope/quality of the final deliverable. So prioritize the risks using a combination of a probability rating and an impact rating. Some risks may be very likely to occur but have low impact; others may be less likely to occur but have a major impact so the overall priority needs to take this into account.

 3. Plan the response

For each identified risk decide, firstly, what could be done to minimize the chance of it occurring and, secondly, what action could be taken if the risk does occur. You will then be better prepared to deal with it if you have to (any risks that could not be anticipated are, of course, another matter).

The usual options to mitigate risks that are threats (rather than opportunities) are:

  • Accept
  • Avoid
  • Transfer
  • Reduce

And one other point: risk management can and does help ensure more successful projects and it should be an integral part of the project management process but it should not be so large a task that the effort expended is out of all proportion to the size of the project or the potential impact of the risks. Finally make sure the responses are implemented, without following through on the risk reduction measures then the risk management process will add little value overall.

Reference

Institute of Risk Management. (2017). Risk Performance and Reporting. Retrieved from Professional Standards: https://www.theirm.org/about/professional-standards/strategy-and-performance/risk-performance-and-reporting

Project Management Institute. (2013). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) 5th Edition. [Kindle Cloud E-Book Version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com.

Holding All Stakeholders Accountable for Minimizing & Monitoring Project Threats

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– By Stephen Lyman, Bellevue University MPM Student

Although a risk officer may contact team members about risk-related tasks that have been ignored or gone overdue, a project manager is ultimately responsible for keeping team members focused on the right activity. For their relationship to work effectively, risk officers and project managers must coordinate the efforts of fellow team members.

Too much time spent on managing risks can cause projects to fall behind schedule. Likewise, an aggressive task schedule that ignores risk completely can result in catastrophe. Therefore, measuring a project’s progress against the resistance posed by risks helps remind leaders to keep activity in balance.

In some cases, a risk can be entirely eliminated or contained during the implementation and monitoring phases of the project cycle. Noting such a change in status can help project managers and risk officers reallocate resources to other risks or to main project tasks.

Some teams like to keep a live risk matrix, using a shared spreadsheet, database, or online tracking tool. Other teams prefer to task the risk officer with coordinating all communication related to risk management, and reporting in meetings or via memos on a regular basis. The severity of the risk and the importance of the project can help determine the right method for tracking risk (Jr., 2015).

If a risk event occurs during project execution, there is a likelihood it was identified sometime earlier, it was analyzed and an appropriate response action was planned to deal with it (captured in the Risk Register). For the most part, Risk Monitoring and Control is the process of putting into action all of the risk planning done earlier in the project life-cycle.

It is important to understand that risk monitoring is intended to be a daily, on-going process across the entire project lifecycle. Project team members and stakeholders should be encouraged to be vigilant in looking for risk symptoms, as well as for new project risks. Newly identified risks and symptoms of previously identified risks should be communicated immediately for evaluation and/or action (Balakian, 2010).

Monitoring the risk metrics and triggering events to ensure the planned risk actions are working are of the utmost importance in this step.

Goals

The goal from this step is threefold:

1.  To monitor the status of your risk action plans, in other words, the progress towards the completion of contingency and mitigation plans

2.  To monitor any project metrics associated with a risk that might trigger a contingency plan

3.  And finally, to provide notification to the project team that a trigger, or triggers, have been exceeded so that a contingency plan can be initiated if needed

Inputs

There are two main inputs that are going to help you achieve the three goals I’ve just mentioned.

1.  Firstly, your risk action forms which contain the specific mitigation and contingency plans you created and which also specify the project metrics and trigger values to be monitored

2.  And secondly, the relevant project status reports that are used to track progress within the standard project management structure

You may need to call on other sources of information depending on the specific project metrics being tracked. For example, you might need to use a project tracking database, or maybe even a human resources management system to provide the tracking data that you and your project team need.

Tracking Activities

In this tracking step of the risk management process, you and your team will execute the action plans in the mitigation plan as part of your overall team activity. Any progress made towards these risk-related action items, or in relation to any trigger values being used, will contribute towards the risk status that will be reported on.

Risk Status Reporting

The reporting element in this step operates at two levels. For your team, regular risk status reports will be very important and should consider four possible risk management situations for each risk:

1.  First, when a risk is resolved, ensure the risk action plan is completed

2.  Secondly, ensure these risk actions are consistent with your overall risk management plan

3.  Third, understand that some risk actions are at variance to the risk management plan, in which case, corrective measures should be defined and implemented

4.  And the final situation is if one or more risks have changed significantly. This usually ends in re-analyzing the risks or re-planning an activity.

For external reporting to stakeholders, you and your project team should report the top risks and then summarize the status of risk management actions. It’s also useful at this stage to show the previous ranking of risks and the number of times each risk has been in the top risk list.

Outputs

Your output from this step should be a detailed status report that clearly communicates any changes in the status of a risk.

Here is some information you might want to include in this report:

1.  Risk name

2.  Risk classification

3.  Risk probability, impact, and exposure from the identification step

4.  Current risk probability, impact and exposure

5.  Risk level, such as low, medium and high

6.  A summary of your mitigation and contingency plans

7.  Status toward completion of mitigation plans

8.  Readiness of contingency plans

9.  Trigger values

10.  Planned actions

11.  Risk owner

And don’t forget to include this report within the project status report that you create and circulate to others involved and interested in the project (O’Donnellan, 2016).

References:

Balakian, W. (2010, September 21). Applying the Risk Monitoring and Control Process . Retrieved from project-management.truesolutions.com: http://project-management.truesolutions.com/2010/09/21/applying-the-risk-monitoring-and-control-process/

Jr., J. T. (2015, May 18). Risk Management: Keeping Track of Risk and Utilizing a Risk Manager. Retrieved from http://www.brighthubpm.com: http://www.brighthubpm.com/risk-management/14026-tracking-risk-in-project-management/

O’Donnellan, R. (2016, April 13). Should You Track & Report on Risks? Retrieved from http://www.brightwork.com: https://www.brightwork.com/blog/should-you-track-report-on-risks#.WfJrseR1q70

What is a Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA)?

PM Center Insider

–  By Fahad Usmani, PMP®, PMI-RMP®, PM Study Circle contributing

Fahad UsmaniFahad Usmani, PMP®, PMI-RMP®, is founder of PMstudycircle.com and the author of A2Z of PMP Certification Exam. He has over 10 years of global portfolio management experience, specializing in leading complex corporate projects. He currently serves as an Inspection Engineer in Kuwait and facilitates project management training programs throughout the Middle-East, and is the founder of PM Study Circle where he writes about project management education and certifications.

 

 

No one wants a defective product, whether they are an end user or the company which is developing the product. Defects are costly, frustrating, and damaging to the company’s reputation.

5 Reasons Why So Many IT Projects Fail

– By Dr. Emad Rahim, PMP, CSM, Kotouc Family Endowed Chair and Associate Professor

Despite the importance of information management in business operations, many companies experience difficulty in executing IT projects within the pre-determined time or budget constraints. Many IT designs are cancelled before completion and never implemented. Researchers have indicated that most IT projects fail because of poor project management skills. In these failed projects, estimation mistakes, lack of clarity, and unstable goal and objectives were cited as core problem areas. Below are additional areas of concern as described in the article, Why Web Projects Fail.

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Poor planning

IT managers often lack the time to appropriately plan because of the pressure from senior management, and as a result, the project is performed before the plan is appropriately defined. If the plan is prematurely executive on by the team, items like resources, scheduling, budgeting, risk management and even scope will often have information gaps and inconsistencies.

Unclear Goals and Objectives

Well-designed project objectives are clear, meaningful, measurable, and ae aligned with organizational goals and mission. Projects must have clearly defined requirements, the absence of which can create timing delays and communication bottlenecks. If a project manager lacks the experience to describe the type and the extent of resources he or she really needs, the project is at risk.

Misalignment

Information systems need to be aligned with the organization’s business objectives. When discussing alignment, it is important to address market share, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, corporate citizenship and innovation. To begin, companies must properly assess everything, and then align its findings with information systems. It is also essential for executive leadership to be actively involved in the alignment process to ensure strategic goals are met.

Quality of Interaction

The quality of the interaction between the Information System (IS) project team and the end-users in a development project are not always clearly linked to the success of projects in terms of meeting budgets and product goals. This is due to the lack of collaboration across business units that prevent proper program status updates that optimize operational reviews. Another issue relates to internal and external team conflicts that affect communication, and this reflects negatively on the project as a whole. Attention to both internal and external conflict is necessary to accomplish project goals successfully.

Changing Objectives during Project

Change can be good, but not if it blindsides everyone on the project team. Inside the realm of project management, judgment must be made as to whether to remain loyal to the initial requirements and objectives or to make changes. Sometimes project managers cannot handle trade-off decisions and make decisions without the basis of rational insights.

Conclusion

Continued interest in project management is expected to increase yearly throughout different industries, partly due to rapidly developing globalization and growing awareness of knowledge management. Companies must manage a wider range of coverage, increasingly complex information system architecture, and the rapidly changing environment. In order to face such challenges, chief information officers (CIOs) must create an IT portfolio management model that is aligned with business goals. It will help the CIO to maintain control over corporate IT assets and IT processes. Furthermore, the CIO and IT project manager should be aware of the common mistakes that destroy IT projects and learn from the identified mistakes. These learning experiences should be captured in a repository so the successors do not make the same mistakes.

The PMO: Developing A Standard Organization

– By Kenneth Day, Data Center Engineer at Nelnet

Ken
Ken Day, Engineer at Nelnet

Ken Day has earned both BA-MIS and MS-MIS, and is currently finishing up his third degree, Master in Project Manager (MPM) at Bellevue University. He currently serve as an Infrastructure Engineer, working with planning, equipment installations and cabling for Nelnet in their Data Center.

Most organizations have some processes and procedures that they may loosely follow as a matter of habit or at least use them as a place to start.  One of the first steps in creating standards to do a thorough investigation into what teams and project managers are using now in the way of templates, procedures or just the methodology that they employ when executing a project.  If an organization has no base standards, it may be possible to adapt a “pre-built” solution and then just move forward but very rarely will an “off-the-shelf” product suit the needs of everyone in the organization.  The existing standards in the organization may not represent best practices or align with generally accepted project management practices (Letavec, 2006) The PMO builds or collaborates on a common set of practices, principles and templates for managing projects.  Standardization means project managers can move more easily between different projects and new project managers can get up to speed faster.  Creating project management templates means standard components of a processes like Risk analysis, Project planning and Scope management, can be reused which can save time and money since they are not created for each new project. (IPlanWare, 2011)  While this can be a huge benefit for most organizations, it will also soon find out that “cookie-cutter” solutions often fall short or the desired results.  So does that means that there are no such things as “Standards”?  No, it means that formal processes may be similar but each project will be unique enough that modifications may involve minor tweaks or major revisions, depending on the nature of the project.

When creating standards, it’s necessary to gather feedback from project managers or others that people in the organization that represent the standard’s intended audience.  The purpose of this is to make sure that the proposed standard will meet the needs of the targeted audience.  Nothing is worse than creating a systems that produces worthless results that increase a projects workload.

Organizations of any industry and size need a Project management Standard to manage external client projects as well as internal improvements.  There is a strong and direct correlation between the maturity of the organization’s Project Management Standard and the overall organization’s performance. (Kapteina, 2016)  Many experts say that organizations will not even survive in today’s business climate anymore if they do not have an appropriate Project management Standard implemented.  The sad reality is that approximately 40% of organizations even in this day and age are still managing their projects with no defined Project Management Standard, which leads in the short-term to lower project success rates, and put severe risks on the overall success of the organization in the long term future.

pmo

(Microsoft, 2016)

But how do you go about establishing the right Project management Standard for your organization?  Do organizations build something up from scratch by themselves?  Many have tried this and failed because it usually involves lots of money, time and effort only to produce little in return.  So is it better for an organization to adopt a third-party project Management methodology and roll it in?  You then have to figure out how to handle the organizations differentiators that make it unique from everyone else.  Off the shelf products are rarely a “one-size-fits-all” product.  Then, once the Project management Standard has been finally built, how shall the organization implement the standard they have created, and keep them up to date?

The answer to this can be found in PMI’s globally accepted Tailoring approach which can be seen as a method to develop and organizations project Management Standard by following several process steps.  It starts with an assessment (to measure the current organization’s maturity level and to suggest the desired change), continues with the development (to create the methodology), and finally not ends but again continues with further improvements (to make sure that there is always the right project management standard in the organization.) (Kapteina, 2016)

Building a customized standard is about bringing together the right mixture of policies, practices, processes, tools, techniques, and templates.  You should mix together the usage of well-known global project management methodologies like those developed by Project Management institute (PMI), some third party Project management standards and last, but more importantly, the integration of the Organization’s differentiators that make the whole package unique.  Companies today need their own Project Management Standard to be able to function successfully in today’s markets.  Building and implementing such a standard is tied directly to the success or failure of that organization.  Organizations without an Established Project Management standard risk disappearing from their market place sooner or later.

A critical success factor in building a standard is the right mixture of required internal differentiators as well as the adoption of the right external methodologies and standards. Tailoring practices from PMI can help manage this process more smoothly. When finally implementing the new Project Management Standard into the organization, a holistic approach is needed to integrate also Program Management and Portfolio Management into the company’s business management framework, connecting all domains to the organization’s vision, missions and strategy. PMO Frameworks can help organizations coordinate such developments across multiple organizational business units. (Nayab, 2010)

An established Project Management Standard will lead to realized strategic objectives. It is important to keep such a standard in the organization continuously up to date. Looking forward, it will be interesting how new offerings in methodologies and technologies may further change the Project Management knowledge as we know it today.  Always keep looking for better ways to accomplish your goals without losing sight of the finished product.
References

Kapteina, Gernot, (2016) Building the Organization’s Project Management Standard, Retrieved March 24th, 2017 from https://gernotkapteina.com/2016/03/27/project-management/

Nayab, N, (2010) Understanding PMO Roles and Responsibilities, Retrieved march 24th 2017 from http://www.brighthubpm.com/certification/69777-understanding-pmo-roles-and-responsibilities/

iPlan. (2011). Responsibilities of a Project Management Office. Retrieved from http://www.iplanware.com/blog/index.php/2011/01/09/responsibilities-of-a-project-management-office-pmo/

Thought Leadership in Project Management: with Brian Grafsgaard, Consulting Practice Director with Q Consulting

– By Dr. Emad Rahim, PMP, SCM, OMCP

Brian Grafsgaard, PMP, PgMP, PfMP  Consulting Director, Q Consulting

Brian Grafsgaard, CSM, PMP, PgMP, PfMP is a Consulting Practice Director with Q Consulting (formerly Quality Business Solutions [QBS]), a Minneapolis, Minnesota (U.S.A.) based consulting firm specializing in portfolio, program, project, change, and compliance management. Brian has been a practicing Project Management Professional (PMP®) since 1998. Brian is also a proven Program Manager and in 2007 became the first in the world to attain the Program Management Professional (PgMP®) credential. In May 2014, Brian also became one of the first to attain the Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP®) credential.

As a portfolio, program, and project manager, Brian has lead the transformation and delivery of enterprise-class solutions in multiple industries. Over the course of a 30+ year career, he has had the privilege of defining and implementing innovative solutions for several organizations, while managing the change necessary to adopt the solutions. Brian is also an active volunteer for PMI Global and was appointed to the PMI Standards Member Advisory Group (SMAG) in Jan. 2016. He was previously selected to serve on the core team that authored The Standard for Program Management–Third Edition (2013, PMI); Brian led the core team that recently published Requirements Management: A Practice Guide (2016, PMI). Brian is also a contributing author of Program Management: A Life Cycle Approach (2012, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC) with a chapter focused on how portfolio, program, and project management enable innovation.

  1. How did your project management career get started?

Like many others, I was an accidental project manager. I started my career as a programmer/analyst, which allowed me to work with companies to help them define their business and technical requirements, then develop the solution (primarily in assembler language). I often initiated projects from the ground floor and saw them through completion. As was often the case, once I became more proficient as a programmer (but also more skilled as an analyst), I was promoted to Project Manager.

  1. How did you obtain your project management education and training?

Once I adjusted to the fact that I was no longer the “doer”, but the person leading the “doers”, I realized I had to learn a whole new set of skills: project management. The organization I was with at the time provided many opportunities for training and education in both project management as well as the “soft skills”. I took full advantage of their development program, supplemented by external courses, including a PMP exam prep session. I eventually earned the PMP credential—the first in the organization to do so—and became an advocate and mentor for others; the experience had forced me to learn a great deal about the “science” of project management. I have since earned the Program Management Professional (PgMP)® and Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)® through experience and training.

  1. Can you please summarize your industry, and share how organizations are applying project management in the workplace?

It is difficult for me to identify an “industry”. Although I started my career in IT, I have always thought of IT as an “enabler” vs. a distinct industry of its own. Although I started out leading technology projects—primarily software development efforts—as a program and portfolio manager I have become more aligned with the “business”. Any organization, regardless of industry, must create value by continuously enhancing or developing new products, services, or capabilities. And most organizations, regardless of industry, recognize that this happens through project management. I have also seen that many organizations are adopting more adaptive approaches, such as Agile, to develop these products, services, and capabilities. More mature organizations are taking an integrated approach to creating value, leveraging portfolio, program, and project management. Whether the organization takes an adaptive approach or a more traditional approach, it is important to select the right initiatives and maintain alignment of the expected outcomes with the organization’s strategy.

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  1. Do you see any trends in your industry as it relates to project management and other related methodologies?

As discussed above, I am seeing organizations take a more integrated approach to project management, recognizing the need to develop their portfolio and program management capabilities as well. Portfolio management helps ensure that the right projects are initiated to begin with; program management bridges the gap between the organization’s strategy—reflected in the organization’s portfolio—and delivery of the expected benefits and value through related (and often interdependent) projects. I am also seeing the use of more hybrid approaches, applying project management techniques and principles while also applying Agile principles to adapt and deliver value more quickly. I am also seeing more strictly Agile-based organizations extending those capabilities across the organization, scaling and managing dependencies across teams, in a manner very similar to portfolio and program management.

  1. What is your advice to people that are interested in pursuing a career in project management within your industry?

My advice for those interested in pursuing a career in project management (in any industry) would be to learn as much as you can about that industry, but also learn as much as you can about project management itself. I recommend the approach developed by Project Management Institute (PMI)® (http://www.pmi.org/learning/training-development/talent-triangle), which recognizes the need for technical (project management), strategic, business management, and leadership (soft) skills. By learning about the industry you will be able to better understand the strategic and business side of projects, understanding the challenges and opportunities that the organization faces and why the project is being undertaken in the first place. It will allow you to make more sound decisions while leading projects. Learning more about project management will allow you to apply the tools and techniques required to successfully deliver the project. Finally, focusing on leadership and soft skills will better enable you to deliver the project results through others; after all, projects are done through people who must be lead, not managed. Don’t focus on just one area, seek a blend of training and experience across all three dimensions. Start small, leading a small team on a class project or an event and keep learning. Most importantly, learn from your mistakes. Finally, seek out a mentor to help guide you, someone who has experience in the industry you choose. A mentor can help identify your strengths and development needs across these three dimensions and help you tailor your approach.

  1. I noticed you have earned several certifications. What type of value has these certifications provided to you in your career?

Each of these certifications has helped me better understand the “science” behind that particular discipline and provided the baseline knowledge I needed to adapt these disciplines to the organization or a particular situation. Each certification has provided a level of credibility—very important as a consultant, especially—which, coupled with my experience, has opened a lot of doors. Each certification has allowed me to grow and become a more strategic and effective portfolio, program, and project manager. They have also helped me better understand the relationship between these disciplines and how they can be applied together to effectively (and efficiently) execute and deliver results.

  1. Do you think the industry is catching up to better understanding the benefits of program management and portfolio management?

Although project management has become ubiquitous—millions of articles, books, and other resources have been published on the subject—program and portfolio management are still coming of age to some degree. That said, I am seeing more and more awareness of program and portfolio management as complementary disciplines within an overall “strategic execution” ecosystem. More and more articles, books, and resources are available on these subjects than in years past. The introduction of the Portfolio and Program Management Professional credentials by PMI has also increased the visibility of these disciplines. As an example, when I earned the PgMP credential in 2007—I was the first in the world to achieve this certification—there were very few reference materials, outside of federal government publications and the first edition of PMI’s Standard for Program Management, to even study. I am pleased to say that there is now a wealth of material available for both program and portfolio management. Both are becoming much more prevalent in organizations across industries. I am very optimistic that it will only continue to grow as organizations realize the value that program and portfolio management provides.

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  1. What are some of the major gaps you still see in the project management profession and what can industries do to address them?

I think the primary gap is that project management has been viewed as being very “prescriptive”, that project management is the equivalent of “waterfall”. This is a very common misperception because the waterfall approach—especially as a software development life cycle—has often been coupled with a “by the book” project management approach, where scope, schedule, cost, and quality constraints are established up front—at the time of greatest uncertainty—and carefully monitored and “controlled” throughout the life of the project. Waterfall is an approach to developing or enhancing a solution, whether it be a new product, service, or capability; it is not necessarily the approach to managing that development effort. The project manager has traditionally been measured on how well s/he managed to those constraints.

Although it could be argued that “project management” and the resulting project life cycle were dictated more by the development approach—waterfall is a development methodology, not a project management methodology—the two are seen as one. As adaptive approaches become increasingly more prevalent it is imperative that project management as a discipline be viewed as adaptive as well. Project management principles are intended to be applied across the life of the initiative and are not sequential in nature. In my experience, project management has always been intended to be adaptive and iterative in nature. It does no good to stay within the budget and schedule constraints (for example) but deliver something that does not satisfy the need. Although budget and schedule are important, it is also very important to understand how to provide maximum value to the organization and adapt the project to optimize results.

The art of project management is understanding these tradeoffs and knowing which “constraints” are most important; for example, time to market may be the most important so the project should continuously adapt to provide the most value within the timeframe allowed, understanding the impact on budget and scope. In my experience, even “Agile” initiatives have some expectations around schedule, cost, scope, and quality as well as the expectation that risks (both threats and opportunities) will be proactively managed. Organizations must apply the principles of project management in a more adaptive manner, ensuring that the results of the initiative align with the organization’s strategic objectives and provide the benefits intended.

  1. What type of things do you do to stay current in your field (professional development)?

I have always considered myself a lifelong learner. It is a journey, not a destination. There is always something more to learn, new ways to apply my experience and skills, and opportunities to fine tune. For that reason, I dedicate time each day to reading or researching a topic of interest. In addition, I am always willing to take a change and try something new and learn as much as I can about it in the process. For example, although my primary focus has been leading application development initiatives, I have seized the opportunity to take roles in other areas, like IT Services, Compliance Management, or roles on the “business” side. These experiences have broadened and deepened my knowledge and made me a better project, program, and portfolio manager. I have also sought roles where I could learn and leverage more adaptive approaches, such as Scrum and Kanban. These experiences—which I supplemented with reading, training, and research—have given me a broader perspective and the baseline knowledge I need to be able to adapt the approach to an organization or a particular project.

  1. What are your last thoughts or closing remarks to our project manager subscribers?

I would encourage your subscribers to continuously learn and search for opportunities to broaden your knowledge and experience. For example, if you are a project manager but want to be a program manager, learn (through reading, classes, or other means) about program management. Develop a baseline understanding and look for opportunities to apply that knowledge. Start small and grow from there. Seek out a mentor who is knowledgeable in the area that you would like to pursue. I have had a number of mentors—both formal and informal—over the years and each has helped me focus in the right areas and grow.