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Skyrocket Your Career with ISO 21500 Project Management Standard

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Skyrocket Your Career with ISO 21500 Project Management Standard.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” -Lewis Carroll

For all projects, the GOAL is to deliver projects on Schedule, as per the Scope, within the budget and most importantly manage client’s expectations. Projects are mostly aimed at achieving new capabilities, meet new demands that are driven by the rapid changes in the organization or tap into new opportunities.   Huge investments are at stake to deliver these projects successfully, which mandates for the right management control through project management. Wouldn’t it be good to have a roadmap, a standard that will guide to that GOAL?

ISO 21500 is one such Standard, a guideline.

Last month I had the opportunity to attend the ISO 21500 Project Management Certification program at ProjectManagers.Org, which is accredited by International Institute of Executive Careers (IIEC). It was very interactive and informative experience where real life case studies were discussed that used the ISO 21500 standards to deliver their projects.

With the help of inputs from hundreds of project management experts , standards development committee members from more than thirty countries it came into being in year 2007 and after several staged review process it was concluded with consensus in year 2012.

Establishing a guideline for Project Management with related terminology and defined processes to deliver positive project results. It may be used by any type of organization and for any type of project. By no means it’s an alternative to PMI, IPMA, APM and other standardized practices. Neither does it compare one with the other, but it’s intended to be used in conjunction with the existing and future sector, national and international standards, bringing the best project management practices together.

I found huge similarity in the structure and processes found under ISO 21500 and PMBOK guide, except ISO 21500 does not provide tools and techniques and rather provides a high level description of concepts and processes that forms the basis of best practices in project management. ISO 21500 outlines the Processes, Inputs and Outputs.

ISO 21500 has five process groups 1). Initiating 2). Planning 3). Implementing 4). Controlling and 5). Closing. These groups are based on the Plan – Do‐ Check‐Act famously known as Deming Circle.

There are 39 processes divided into 10 subject groups: 1). Integration 2). Stakeholders 3). Scope 4). Resources 5). Time 6).Cost 7). Risk 8). Quality   9). Procurement and 10). Communication.

These 10 subject groups contains processes that need to be accomplished for effective management of a project. Each of these processes falls into one of the five process groups, creating a matrix structure such that every process can be related to one subject group and one process group.

ISO 21500 Process Groups


This process group marks the commencement of the project phase or the project and includes, but not limited to, kickoff meeting, brainstorming with the customer and the team on the Current State and Future State of the project is identified. The purpose and objective this project has to fulfil is understood.


After the client requirements are collected and understood, the next phase is to plan the project execution. This includes WBS, Procurement, Technical design, In Scope and Out Scope, Integration , Resource management, Risk management, Quality Management, Communication Management, Stakeholder Management , Cost Management and Schedule.


This is where the rubber meets the road. Implementation takes the most time, energy and resources. Once the baseline plan is agreed and approved by the team and the client, Implementation phase starts. The Implementing processes are employed here to accomplish the project management activities to support the production of the project deliverables according to the project baseline plans.


Project progress is monitored and measured to control projects performance against the project plan in terms of scope, schedule, cost, quality and risk, whereas risk is identified throughout the project lifecycle. But every project will go through changes, that’s normal. All change request big or small has to be approved before adding them to the current scope.


Sign, Sealed, Delivered and get Paid. The client will do its necessary validation for acceptance of final products or services and acknowledge the project completion. The closing processes are employed to establish formally that the project phase or project is finished and lessons learned are documented.

Since we manage and deliver projects to different verticals for diverse industries, this standard fits perfectly into our PMO. I plan to introduce ISO 21500 standard to our team and will be actively using it for upcoming projects.

I would encourage project practitioners to get familiar with the concepts, processes of ISO 21500 in order to increase successful project delivery.

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