About The Author
Martin Stevens 3 articles
Residence: GB Rochester
Director at Martin Stevens Project Services Limited
MSc (Project Management), MAPM, MCMI, FRSA

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The Unified Project Management Dictionary


A methodology is a system of practices, techniques, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline.

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Aspects of Project Management - Bodies of Knowledge

"Body of Knowledge" (BoK) is an inclusive term describing the sum of knowledge within the project and programme management profession. As with other professions, such as law, medicine and accounting, the BoK rests with those practitioners and academics who apply and advance it; describing both the skill set and knowledge that those individuals who profess or aspire to be practitioners in the field of project management are expected to possess. It is central to the profession and provides the academic references for candidates preparing for examination and for those developing their knowledge through continuing professional development.

The United Kingdom’s Association for Project Management (APM) began developing a body of knowledge in the late eighties, publishing the first edition in 1992; since when it has been updated several times (Edition 2 in 1994; 3 in 1996; 4 in 2000; 5 in 2006) with the most recent 6th edition published in 2012.

The BoK's published by APM and PMI (Project Management Institute) are generally considered to be the most significant with other National Project Management Associations or groupings using one or other of these as the basis for their own BoK’s.

The International Project Management Association works to, inter-alia, harmonise the work of it’s member Associations and has, in turn, produced its own Individual Competence Baseline for those working within the discipline and mapped these competencies to ISO 21500 (whilst recognising that the ISO is a process-based standard).

A Universal Body of Knowledge

In creating a valid (universal) BoK, there are a number of challenges: 

  • What should the elements be, 
  • What is a proper definition of each of these elements, and 
  • How should the elements be structured. 

Deciding what to include is important. Different languages, which connote different ways of doing (or thinking about) things, increases the difficulty as does language variation between industries. (Some industries have different conceptions, for example, of what words like systems engineering, configuration management, procurement, mobilisation, and logistics mean). The challenge is, therefore, to strike a balance between creating a genuinely useful general language of project management and putting people off with unfamiliar terms.

The science or art of project management is dynamic. The state of knowledge of professionals and the tools they need to practice successfully is ever changing. Organisations, be they large, small, public or private, strive to improve the ways in which they conduct business. The link between successful projects and successful businesses has now been firmly established and as business becomes more project oriented the particular skills of the project manager have become recognised and sought after. The project management Body of Knowledge is the project managers map of the practice methodologies required for project management success.

Almost all practitioners (not to mention their employers and clients) are interested in knowing what knowledge they should have to be considered a competent project management professional. Further, they also seek a "sign-posted" route for career development. They look to APM and other professional bodies to advise them and, typically, they value a certificate or qualification that says they have attained a required standard. 

Forthcoming Update

The Association for Project Management is updating its Body of Knowledge and has stated its intention to publish edition 7 next year. BoK 7 has been the subject of extensive consultation seeking to ensure full coverage of the breadth of current thinking about projects in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.

This author understands that the coverage and structure has been finalised and that the completed work will comprise 4 chapters, 12 sections and cover 80 topics with the intention (as stated by the editors, Ruth Murray-Webster and Darren Dalcher):

to craft is a Body of Knowledge that derives from a belief that a Chartered Profession does not require black and white ‘rules’ that are made to be broken. Rather it needs reflective professionals who can think about and devise ways to navigate a messy context for projects, programmes and portfolios in a more nuanced, less prescriptive way – acknowledging that our rationality is bounded and our ability to predict with certainty is largely a delusion”.


Understanding what factors have to be managed to deliver successful projects is important, because it exposes the issue of the professional remit - the ethos - of project and programme management.  Is it to deliver projects "on time, within budget, to scope", or is it to deliver projects that meet the requirements of the project customer / sponsor? 

It must be the latter. If not, project management is an introverted profession that, long-term, few serious managers are going to get very excited about. 

Decision makers in government, business and elsewhere require that their projects are managed effectively and efficiently; that they represent value-for-money and meet or exceed their strategic objectives. Defining the scope, cost, and time targets properly is only half the battle; ensuring that the technical, commercial, business, environmental, and other factors are effectively aligned with organisational objectives is the other. 

Published at pmmagazine.net with the consent of Martin Stevens
Source of the article: {Linkedin} on [2018-12-12]