Part Six of AgileProject Management vs. PMBOK® Guide and EVM- “Revolution or Evolution?”

A Project Management Article by Mark Tolbert

In January 2012, Mark Tolbert presentated a popular PM Tools Workshop "Agile Project Management versus the PMBOK Guide and Earned Value Management". This article is Part Six of a seven part series that he wrote on the topic. To read earlier parts, please visit Be on the look out for the September Newsletter for the final section. You can also access a print friendly version of the article.

How Will Version Five of the PMBOK® Guide Address Agile?

PMI has indicated that the first draft of version 5 of the PMBOK® Guide will be released on the website on February 17, 2012. Project managers and PMPs will then have much of the remainder of 2012 to send PMI comments and requested changes. Version 5 of the PMBOK® Guide is to be formally released on December 31, 2012.

So, it will be very interesting to see what changes will be made in the PMBOK® Guide to address Agile methodologies. (Today, version Four of the PMBOK® Guide does not mention Agile at all.) The initial feedback from PMI is that they will mention Agile, but will not explore these methodologies in any depth.

Based on conclusions that I have been arguing for, I would like to see more substantive changes made. As a first stab, I think the following chapters could be changed:

  • Chapter 2 – Expand on the discussion of iterative life-cycle approach to discuss Agile methodologies specifically. Also, in the discussion of key stakeholder roles on projects, include discussion of stakeholder roles defined in the Agile models.
  • Chapter 4 – Develop Project Management Plan – Do we always need the level of formality currently defined in the PMBOK® Guide? Do we always need all the subsidiary plans and supporting documents? Does the project management plan always require formal approval? Is this always a single, one-time event? Can we allow for more informal models, and “pull/JIT” models?
  • Chapter 5 – Scope Management – Should the Agile approach be included? (An approach that sticks entirely with a customer focused view for defining requirements and features?)
  • Chapter 7 – Earned Value Methodology – Should the new, alternative approaches being created for Agile methodologies be included? (e.g. - Burn Down Charts, Burn Up Charts?)
  • Chapter 9 – Human Resource Management – Again, possibly include the different stakeholder roles defined in Agile, and the different approach to team development, and managing the team members?

As a long-time PMP, and a supporter of PMI and the local Washington DC chapter, I fear that if they do not address making such changes, the PMBOK Guide will become less and less relevant and useful for project managers.

About the Author

Mark Tolbert

Mark has over 30 years of experience in I.T., including 27 years at Hewlett-Packard. He successfully managed support programs and projects within HP Services from 1994 through 2007. The programs and projects included a large E-Selling program, a multi-vendor support program for a large telecommunications company, data center relocation projects, and MDM (Mobile Device Management) programs.

Since leaving HP in June of 2007, Mark has been teaching PMP Prep classes. Mark has taught for several leading education companies including Velociteach and Edwel programs. Mark has also taught classes for the Washington, DC PMI Chapter for the past eight years. In 2010, Mark also started his own training company - ‘Best Practices PMP Training’ –adding to and building on core ideas learned from these other programs. Over the past four years, Mark has assisted hundreds of students pass the PMP!

Mark earned his PMP in 1995, and has been very active in the Washington, DC PMI chapter for the past 15 years. He has served on a number of board positions for the chapter, and is currently serving on the board as the trustee for the chapter.

Mark is very passionate about project management, and believes adopting the best project management practices and skills is crucial to the success of enterprises today.

Mark is a long time resident of Northern Virginia, and currently lives in Annandale with his wife Linda.

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