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Getting Started with the ISO Standard for Project Management – ISO 21500:2012

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Getting Started with the ISO Standard for Project Management – ISO 21500:2012. Many organizations set processes and procedures based on predictable consistent positive business results. Organizational areas affected by these set processes and procedures include Accounting, Manufacturing, and Sales/Marketing. In the current business environment of projects driving business value it makes sense for an ISO standard for project management. The standard is ISO 21500: Guidance on Project Management which gives organizations an opportunity to be certified in project management, a set of processes and application tips to deliver positive project results.

ISO standard for Project Management was developed like other ISO standards but was not developed from scratch. It is based on and a reference to PMBOK, APM Body of Knowledge, IPMA Competence Baseline (ICB), and other project management frameworks and practices. It brings the best of these practices together. In addition, this standard fits well with other business standards such as ISO 9001 Quality Management, and ISO 31000 Risk Management.

The ISO standard for Project Management is a high level concept that can be used by any organization and on any project. New and experienced project managers will be able to use this standard towards better project and business results. Thirty-nine processes are identified organized into ten subject groups and five process groups. The relationship of the concepts and processes is effectively illustrated in the standard.

A few weeks ago I participated in the ISO 21500 International Project Management Workshop by ProjectManagers.Org, and accredited by the International Institute of Executive Careers (IIEC), which was my introduction to the standard. The workshop provided an in depth look at benefits, methods, and techniques for applying the standard. Three benefits I took away from the workshop:

1. Using it as an audit tool. It looks at an individual project against a standard. It looks at the project environment. A thorough look at how the culture, social, and natural environments effects project execution. To ensure the project results are aligned with organizational goals.

2. Check the competency – knowledge and skills – of the project manager and project team members in executing projects and to identify training opportunities.

3. Establishes a common language. A common project management language can be established across the organization, clients, and suppliers no matter their location in the world.

I continue to see studies stating that more than 60% of projects are considered failures. I also see work by project management organizations to develop the best practices for project management. By bringing all of the best practices together in one place, ISO 21500 Project Management Standard is one major step towards reducing that percentage which is in the interest of all organizations.

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