Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) as the Best Practice of Project Management
In today’s market, in conditions of fierce competition, success can be achieved by those companies that consider their needs and implement projects within the planned contractual period. For example, slippage in deadlines is one of the main problems in the field of transport construction, as it leads to an increase in total costs and reduces the profit of the construction company. In these conditions, the search for new methodological approaches, which contribute to improving the efficiency of project management, largely determines the duration of project stages and the ability to quickly introduce innovations and save financial and other resources. It becomes especially urgent since effective project management makes the business “transparent,” easily manageable, and allows implementing projects, and accepting alternative solutions for the choice of structures, technologies, and materials with limited resources.
There is no perfect project management system that fits every type of project. Moreover, there is no system that would suit every leader and be convenient for all team members. However, during the whole existence of project management, many effective approaches, methods, and standards have been created, one of which is PMBoK. In accordance with the official version of Project management Institute (PMI, 2017) PMBoK, a project is understood as a temporary enterprise created to make unique products, services, or outcomes, and the temporary nature of the project means the beginning and completion of work, which are regulated by the technical passport. Based on the above interpretation of the concept of “project,” it is possible to define its essential characteristics as an object of management.
In particular, it is the presence of a specific, clearly defined, and documented goal, the unique nature of the organization of work, and the processes of achieving project goals and solving problems. It includes a one-time performance, as well as the limited nature of the project in terms of time, space, and resources. According to Articles 4-7 of the PMBOK Guide, five process objects which are subject to assessment in the project management system are identified (PMI, 2017):
- Initiation. Making a decision on the start of the project, discussing the composition of the project team, developing a schedule for the implementation of the project, and drawing up an estimate of investments and technical support for the project.
- Planning. The work of the project team on the analysis of the project concept, assessment of the state of the factors of the external and internal environment, and structuring of stakeholders. At the same stage, a portfolio of suppliers and contractors is formed, the terms of tenders are discussed, and the need to attract human capital is assessed.
- Execution. Practical implementation of works and procedures in accordance with the schedule. The main focus of the management system is aimed at ensuring the execution of the work schedule, compliance with the financial budget and the quality of work.
- Monitoring and control. Operations to regulate and adjust the design work execution processes, check the quality and economic efficiency of budget spending, identify responsible persons, justify the use of additional financing for risk insurance.
- Completion and exit from the project. Study of the completeness of the implementation of the goals and objectives fixed in the project passport. Assessment of the actual impact of the economic, budgetary, and social effects of the project on the project stakeholders.
Project management based on the PMI PMBoK standard makes it possible to choose the most suitable project format, depending on the complexity, urgency, importance, technology, number of participants, and familiarity (routine) characteristics of the project. Since companies are created for separate projects in exceptional cases for large and complex projects, the main project activities are carried out by an organization with an already established structure. It should be noted that the formation of a project management system as a business model for organizing the processes and work of a project team is closely related to the type of project, its mission, and key tasks. According to the PMBoK standard, there are three basic business models for building a project management system (Schwalbe, 2017):
- Resource-oriented. The project management system is focused on organizing business processes for the use of resources with maximum economic productivity in accordance with a given schedule. This business model is characterized by an extensive build-up of the client base – replication and scaling of successful products; competition by product marginality; aggressive marketing and promotions; violent type of communication with stakeholders.
- Process-oriented. Project management is focused on reengineering individual business processes of a firm or a complete rebuilding of the communications architecture to improve the efficiency of the firm’s assets.
- Innovation-oriented. The project management system is focused on change management in order to generate new products with a high potential for commercialization and replication in the market.
Thus, both quantitative (economic) and qualitative (quasi metric) methods are used to assess the project management system. This allows evaluating the work of the management company or project team not only from the standpoint of compliance with the work schedule. The presence of “soft competencies” is also evaluated, which allows the team to integrate into various business models of projects. In turn, this makes it possible to accept the current challenges and threats of the information society, as well as harmonize in accordance with the goals of key stakeholders who are in the orbit of the project initiative.
The first project for consideration was the formation of a portfolio of projects in MS Project for AM-Soft company, within the framework of the project for the implementation and development of the corporate project management system of the AM-Soft as a software developer. The consultants carried out a description of the company’s project portfolio. Based on the projects described in the MS Excel software product, information on the projects was transferred to the MS Project Professional software product. As a result, a complete portfolio of the company’s projects has been formed. Consulting was conducted on setting up MS Enterprise Project Management, forming links between projects and working with labor resources.
AM-Soft has deployed MS Project Server on its site. To carry out the tasks of introducing a corporate project management system based on MS Project Server, a trainer-consultant was invited. The first step of implementation was to configure MS Project WebAccess and train users to work with it. The training took one day and included education for key project management personnel. To fill the MS Project Server with information, the following were configured: access rights for system users and corporate system calendars. To begin the description, a register of projects was formed in the MS Excel software product. Based on the register of projects, key projects of the company were formed in the software product MS Project Professional. After clarifying the timing and links between project tasks, these projects were published on the server. Based on the published projects, the company’s key workforce was allocated.
The second project for consideration is the implementation of a corporate project management system (CPMS) based on Microsoft Project Server 2013 in the BI Group company. The project for the implementation of a corporate project management system was based on Microsoft Project Server 2013. Pilot projects for the implementation of CPMS were projects of cottage construction. The first step of implementation was coaching on the use of project management methodology and Microsoft Project for the implementation of cottage construction projects by Comfort Town company. It was supposed to conduct coaching on the use of project management methods and MS Project. The goal of the coaching was to familiarize the company’s employees with project management methodologies and the MS Project software product. Leading employees of the company involved in the construction of cottages were invited for coaching.
A distinctive feature of the company is that each customer can choose the type and location of the cottage in the building area. Companies rarely use this approach as it complicates the project planning process. The implementation of this approach required the adaptation of the existing developments of specialists. To begin with, all of the company’s projects were divided into several groups; cottage construction projects were divided into 18 types, according to the number of project types. Next, a schedule template was developed that is uniform for all types of projects.
The level of detail was minimal and sufficient to build the company’s portfolio of projects. This template contained no more than 30 tasks and 40 types of resources. Resources were assigned to project tasks with an average of the volumes. Next, the type of project was chosen, which is most often ordered by the company’s clients, and based on the technical data of this project, the general project template was detailed. As a result, a project schedule template for this type of project was developed. The timing, scope of tasks, and types of resources used for this type of project were detailed.
As a result, a plan was drawn up for the development of project templates, depending on the priority and popularity of types of cottages. After the development of priority templates for plans and schedules, a portfolio of projects was formed, where the duration of tasks, costs, and resources of projects in the company’s portfolio was indicated. For the departments that are engaged in engineering surveys, separate coaching was carried out on which a template for the company’s engineering projects was developed. On the basis of the templates of plans-schedules developed within the framework of coaching, courses on project management and the information system for project management MS Project were designed. Using the developed materials, training was conducted for employees of other divisions of the company. This approach allows employees to work on company projects while studying the material. An important skill is the ability to work in the MS Project Professional software product.
Obviously, the first project was implemented according to the principle of a process-oriented model, while the second was based on a resource-oriented approach. It should be noted that the analysis of the project progress is carried out by a group of experienced project management specialists who are not part of the project team. This analysis is made at critical points in the project life cycle and, if done properly, can affect the ultimate success (Schwalbe, 2017). The purpose of this is to help the project team execute the project on schedule, within budget and planned scope of the project, to ensure that lessons learned and lessons learned are documented and disseminated, and to provide data to evaluate the effectiveness of training programs. In the second project, the analysis of project progress was performed at a much higher level and in a more orderly manner. In addition, the comparison of “with-project” and “without-project” situations represents the main method of measuring the incremental or incremental benefits derived from a project.
This comparison was carried out only for the second project. Thus, although both projects were successful and in accordance with the formal description of PMBoK, the approach applied to the first project tends more towards “common sense,” with formal adherence to PMBoK procedures. At the same time, the second approach is characterized by the integration of project management principles into business processes, which is a positive factor for future projects since each project provides a unique opportunity to improve the team’s work processes and increase the efficiency of future projects. In addition, one should consider the vision of the owners of the company and their management philosophy. If the managers responsible for the creation of the project management office (PMO) focus only on the internal content of the activities, structure, or staff of the PMO, then this approach will not guarantee the success of the project office, since it will not allow determining the place of the PMO in the implementation of the company’s strategy.
Overall Implications and the Future of Project Management
The classical approach to project management – PMBoK methods – is based on the assumption of constant requirements, low risks, and tight deadlines. The entire project is planned in advance with no room for changing needs. This approach assumes that time and cost are variable and requirements are fixed. All phases of the process occur linearly, sequentially. Each project has the same life cycle, which includes stages such as requirements development, planning, implementation, testing, and commissioning. Such project management methodologies are considered rigid. When applying them, project managers often face problems with budget execution and meeting project deadlines. In recent years, agile project management methodologies have rapidly developed in the field of project management, which is an alternative to the traditional practice of project management.
However, agile and traditional project management methods are not mutually exclusive, as can be seen in the example of the second project discussed above. Today, hybrid methods are emerging that consider the peculiarities of a turbulent medium. In particular, the “hybrid” of Agile and “Waterfall” gives flexibility in terms of budget and project timing. The SCRUM-Kanban “hybrid” allows visualization and optimization of the process flow for the development of user stories.
A hybrid of the sixth PMBoK and Agile provides guidance for setting up processes in an adaptive environment. The phenomenon of hybrid project management methodologies is a consequence of the competition between agile and classical methods (Shivakumar, 2018). “Hybrid” includes all the principles of both flexible and traditional methods. Agile proponents argue that shorter sprints help to focus on priority tasks and more quickly spot problems when creating new products. In addition, Agile helps to improve product quality, respond quickly to market changes, and get a product to market faster. In the aforementioned project, the hybrid approach was used implicitly and, one might say, unconsciously; however, the potential for applying hybrid project management methodologies, in this case, is high.
The hybrid method uses the classic way of decomposing work into smaller manageable components. This is necessary to build a hierarchical structure of the project’s work — Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). When a project uses several areas of work, each of which is represented by a separate WBS branch, one branch, software development, can be performed using Agile, and others, such as equipment supply, deployment of local networks, training of end-users of the product, – according to the “waterfall” model. The waterfall method is used to determine the path from customer requirements and specifications to testing and final product release. Moreover, each component of the project is developed in detail using an Agile project management method. WBS is utilized to plan a high-level project roadmap, while Agile is used to design, refine, and release each component and subcomponent of a product.
Agile technologies have a positive effect on the people in the organization. The staff gets a friendly and open discussion workflow, in which the company’s employees are not just performers, but at the same time both responsible persons and planners. This is manifested in the provision of a higher degree of freedom to the project team, a decrease in the importance of orders in the execution of tasks, and the development of horizontal connections in the organization.
Project Management Institute (2017) A guide to the project management body of knowledge. Philadelphia: Project Management Institute.
Schwalbe, K. (2017) An introduction to project management. Scotts Valley: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Shivakumar, S. (2018) Complete guide to digital project management: from pre-sales to post-production. New York: Apress.