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Project Management Life Cycle Standards

April 7 2008

Standards within the Project Management Life Cycle

Have you ever heard a Project Manager say “we use best practice” or “we applied project standards” to projects? If you have, then what do they really mean and how do they do it? Read on, to learn…

How to use Project Standards…

A “Project Standard” is an agreed best practice way of managing a project. We say agreed, as the standard will usually have been reviewed and used by thousands of project managers around the world, before it becomes formally recognized as a “standard” practice.

There are 3 common standards in the Project Management Life Cycle industry:

1. PMI “PMBOK” Standard

2. OGC “Prince2” Standard

3. APM “Body of Knowledge” Standard

These standards give you a generic way of managing projects. They don’t give you a prescriptive “step-by-step” approach to managing projects (as MPMM does), but they do give you a set of practices and principles that you can apply to your projects, to boost your chances of success. So how should you use them? Here’s how…

Make your selection

Review each of the above standards in the project management life cycle and select the one that has the closest fit with the way you run projects now. Each standard will have a completely different approach, terminology and lifecycle to the rest.

Only by selecting the standard that closely matches the way you work, will you really be able to immediately boost your efficiency.

Pick and Choose

Standards are typically generic, so that they fit all industries and all project sizes. So they will probably include stuff you won’t need. Pick and choose the elements of the project management life cycle standard that you know you need to deliver projects successfully.

Customize to Fit

Then take the parts you’ve chosen and customize them to fit your environment. Keeping within copyright law, you’ll probably want to change the terminology, the language used and the sequence of activities used.

Break it Down

To be able to use a standard properly, you really need to take it to the next level for your project management life cycle. You need to define the next level down. So for instance, if it talks about “risk management”, then you’ll want to list and describe the exact steps needed to manage risk within a project. For every step, describe what should be completed, how, by whom and in which order.

Use it for projects

Now that you have chosen your standard, picked the relevant project management life cycle parts, customized it by adding your own terminology and described it in a little more detail, you’re ready to use it for your projects. Here are some tips on how to use it:

  • Use the same standard for every project. Only by applying the same principles over and over again, will you gain “economies of scale” allowing you to manage projects faster.
  • Don’t always apply the standard in its entirety. Only apply the bits that are relevant to the particular project you’re managing.
  • Continue improving the standard. On every project, identify the elements of the standard that help and those that didn’t. If you continuously improve the standard used , then it will become a “living and breathing” tool to help you improve your projects.

By using standards to improve the way you work, you’ll soon be known as “that guru who always gets their projects done on time!” Do this using these Project Management Templates.