This post includes excerpts from a Case Study that we will be publishing later this year. The post is from Chapter 1. The Case Study, let us call it MLP, or ML Program for now.
Project or Program
The question of project or program (project management or program management) often confuses practitioners of project management. This case study is not about project management versus program management, therefore, we will only offer the definitions that we follow in SUKAD Group, which are the basis for all of our work and the context in this case study. Continue reading →
SUKAD has been working to help promote professional project management since our founding in 2004.
In addition to local events, we have been publishing this blog site and another in Arabic since 2011. We have a knowledge portal with some open information and other info that is restricted to SUKAD clients.
In this short message, we want to highlight the SUKAD YouTube Channel and our recent short videos series, one in English and the other in Arabic. These are casual videos with our interest to pass a message.
The images below show the current videos in the short videos series. The first image lists the 13 English videos and the second one the 12 Arabic videos that have been published as of today.
We had started blogging about 3 years ago but inconsistently and on various platforms. However, in September 2012, we re-launched our blog site on its own URL (http://blog.sukad.com) with the title Redefining Project Management. We chose this title since we realize there are many gaps in the practice of project management today, some due to inconsistencies in global standards and guides, some due to misunderstandings of these standards, among other reasons.
The bottom line is that we are not defining project management since this subject has been around for a long time, and many notable thought leaders and practitioners have contributed to the growth of project management extensively. However, we feel obligated to “redefine” what some of us know and practice. This redefine includes new approaches that came from our own research and development, along with identifying inconsistencies, closing gaps, and re-explaining misunderstood concepts.
Since we have already re-launched our blog on this site in September 2012, we have published more than 120 posts. Over the next few weeks/months, we update and re-post all of these articles along with publishing new ones. We intend to publish / re-publish once a day.
We ask that if you enjoy these articles is to subscribe, share, re-blog, comment, and debate with us. You can also join us as a guest author.
We also ask that if you are reading these posts via LinkedIn or other platforms, to consider posting your comments on the LinkedIn group but also on the blog site itself. We know this is an extra step, but if we can consolidate the comments in one place it would be more beneficial to all stakeholders.
The SUKAD Way for Managing Projects
In addition to the blog site we have other sites that you might find useful:
For our Arabic readers, there is the Arabic Blog Site: http://blog-ar.sukad.com … if you like to translate some of these articles into other languages, you can do so without our consent, as long as you credit the source, and appreciate if you let us know.
The Project Management Knowledge Portal, where we publish case studies, templates, white papers, presentations, e-books and other educational content – on a complimentary basis and under Creative Commons guidelines.
Regards and thank you for your trust! We appreciate your feedback!
Are you a holder of the CAPM®, PMP®, or other certifications and still have some uncertainties about how to manage projects effectively? You are not alone! Many studies (Standish Group CHAOS Report, Independent Projects Analysis, Oxford Universities …) show that most projects still fail or are challenged. Despite the fact that IPMA, PMI, and other associations existed for about 50 years we still generate a high level of failed projects. Continue reading →
It is a common belief that project outcomes contain a degree of uniqueness. They may be highly unique, such as in space exploration projects, or only very slightly unique, such as in the construction of a number of identical buildings in an office park, where uniqueness may reside simply in a set of user requirements or geotechnical properties of the site.
By contrast, it is also widely accepted that project management processes are repetitive. In other words, the management effort follows the same path, whether we are managing a feasibility study phase or a construction phase in the project life cycle.
Early editions of PMI®’s Project Management Body of Knowledge or PMBoK® simply stated that the project management process groups of Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing, repeated themselves in each project phase. Process groups mind you, and not necessarily every individual process. For instance, if a phase or a whole project for that matter is performed in-house we may not need to perform any procurement processes.
The principle underlying this concept is that of progressive elaboration: the constantly increasing level of understanding and definition of the product of the project requires the repetition of the management processes through the various phases.
Reasonable as it may have seemed at the time, this concept is probably responsible for most of PMBoK®’s woes:
Firstly it has led to huge and unabated confusion, and
Later PMBoK® editions, and particularly PMBoK® 5, have tried to soften the rigidity of the concept by discussing different project approaches and life cycle concepts, but nonetheless they admit that the idea of iterative processes is still there.
The consequences of these woes are hard to underestimate: A few years ago, SUKAD did a survey amongst PMP®, asking them to name the life cycle phases of projects that they were working on. More than 50% listed the process groups, with some people leaving out the M&C group. If half of the certified PMP®’s out there are unsure, what about the less initiated?
Factors that contribute to this confusion may include:
Unfamiliarity of project managers with industry lifecycle models. It is a fact that people who have been exposed to those have no problem separating phases from processes.
Terminology, where process group names may be very similar – if not exactly the same – as some of the phase names.
Inconsistent naming of processes in PMBoK®: ‘Develop Project Charter’ and ‘Develop Project Management Plan’ hint at a once-off nature, while ‘Close Project or Phase’ is more in line with the repetition concept.
The ambiguity of the term ‘Develop’ in itself: In the very first phase of a project it would probably mean ‘create’, while in subsequent phases it would have to mean ‘expand’ as the original version of the Charter/Project Management Plan already exists.
If the above is the case, are there no phase initiating documents or phase management plans?
Fortunately many mature companies have a trademark in-house method, and most of those enforce the use of it for their projects. Those methods are easily compatible with PMBoK®, as PMBoK® is a universal framework, and not a prescriptive method.
But in companies without a method, project professionals and executives are often referred to PMBoK® as their only guideline, and therein lays a problem, for the above reason. With a major focus on processes it is easy to overlook the design of a lifespan for the project at hand, and without this the project is already at a disadvantage, as it will be extremely difficult to yield a successful outcome.
There also seems to be a widespread failure to distinguish between project planning and product definition. While they can overlap in time, the former is performed by the PM team, while the latter is performed by the technical staff of the project team. Yet the terms ‘planning’, definition’ and ‘design’ are often used interchangeably.
So it seems the overwhelming success of PMBoK® is also its downfall: it is so generic that it applies everywhere (well, to ‘most projects most of the time’) and it has its place, but it falls horribly short as a method.
If we compare for example with a method like PRINCE2®, we notice that PRINCE2® has 7 processes, comprising 40 Activities, similar to the 5 process groups and 47 processes of PMBoK®, and 7 themes, similar to the 10 knowledge areas of PMBoK®. In PRINCE2® the project lifecycle is designed as part of the tailoring effort and is done during the Initiating a Project Process.
However, only 3 of the 7 processes are then repeated in each delivery stage. These are:
Controlling a Stage
Managing Product Delivery
Managing a Stage Boundary
The remaining processes are:
Starting up a project
Directing a project
Initiating a project
Closing a project
These are only performed once on a project. There is little room for misinterpretation.
So, while the idea of progressive elaboration of a project is a noble one, its direct link with the concept of repeating process groups has become nothing more but a romantic notion, and in our opinion, very much out of place, except in a very generic theory of project management.
Isn’t it time PMI® re-think the positioning of its core product?
 Sadly, PMI extrapolated this PMBoK concept to Program Management. We believe in PgMBoK 2nd Ed. the absurdity of this concept reached its climax, and PMI was forced to revert to their PgMBoK 1 approach for the 3rd Edition. This has reverberated into PMBoK 5.
 Maturity is here taken as project management maturity defined by e.g. SEI’s CMMI model.
 “Methodologies and procedures take over where bodies of knowledge, such as the PMBOK Guide, leave off. Whereas knowledge guides … provide overview concepts … a project management methodology is custom-fit to the organizational context …” (T. Cooke-Davies/P. Dinsmore)
If you are a regular or occasional reader of these blog posts, we can assume that you like what you see here and come back for more. If you are a new reader that just stumbled upon our site, we hope to have you visit again and again. Continue reading →
As we said before, we have usually kept this blog site for project management and related articles only and not to use it for any announcement except where there is value to the community or news of high importance.
In this case – we are using this post to announce the launch of an eBook on project management. The last few posts were from this book, under the title, Project Management I: Challenges, Opportunities, Methodology. Continue reading →