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PMBOK® Guide, Third Edition – Is more really better?
A Review by R. Max Wideman – Part 1 A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, Third Edition, is copyright by the Project Management Institute, PA, USA, 2004. It has been distributed on a CD free of charge to members of the Institute Executive Summary The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge is the ProjectManagement Institute's flagship document upon which is based its accreditation, certification, and training programs. It underpins a major part of the Institute's products and marketing. The existence of a documented body of knowledge in project management is also the foundation of its success in recent years and a credible and supportable update is therefore critical to the Institute's continuedsuccess. So this review has been undertaken from the perspective of the potential reaction from experienced project managers, and the credibility and lucidity with which the latest update can be presented to students of project management. In this review we have found much that we liked, but also areas that could and should be improved. We present it in three parts: Part 1 takes a broader view of thedocument providing a General Introduction and a description of the Guide Structure followed by What we liked, the Downside, and Missed Opportunities that should be of serious concern. Part 2 provides more detail with respect to Sections I and II contained within the document. It too is divided into What we liked and the Downside. Part 3 deals similarly with Section III. For purposes of brevity,this Executive Summary touches only on the highlights. What we liked • This version is more readable than its predecessor and is more consistent in the manner of presentation. • Almost all section and subsection headings are defined in the Guide's Glossary. • The Glossary has been carefully edited for consistency of language and relevance to the text. That is, it is specific to the Guide and itsphilosophy. Downside • The Guide takes a complex systems view of project management and includes a process flow diagram for each knowledge area. Not everyone will be comfortable with this form of presentation and the diagrams appear to be overly complex and do not necessarily reflect "most projects most of the time".1 • The number of processes has been increased and several of them have been changedand/or relabeled. Further, their content has been significantly revised from the previous version of the Guide representing a wholesale change that may or may not be justified • Of the knowledge areas, the distinction between the "Core Processes", i.e. scope, quality, time and cost, and the "Facilitating Processes", i.e. risk, human resources, procurement and communications, identified in the2000 Guide, has been removed. This is regrettable because these groups are two quite different types of essential project management activities. Missed Opportunities • The update teams and their leaders appear to have overlooked the fundamental importance of a properly structured project life span (project life cycle) essential for executive corporate control. • Instead, major focus has been placedon the newly defined Project Management Process Groups,
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A Review of the PMBOK® Guide 2004

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placing them in a separate Section described as "The Standard for Project Management of a Project". Unfortunately the labeling of these Process Groups in previous editions of the Guide has created great confusion in themarket place, because they have been mistaken for the project life span. We think that these project management process groups have much in common with standard operational management control so that re-labeling could have gone a long way to remove the misinterpretation. The subject of project scope management has been improved but still results in misunderstanding and inconsistency in the Guide....
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