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PMI Practice Standard for Scheduling

Just got an email announcing that the PMI Practice Standard for Scheduling is open for comments and recommendations. This would expand on Chapter 3 of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). I think this is a good thing, but I'm a bit worried that it is becoming more and more prescriptive rather than descriptive. It is pointed out in one of the screens you need to pass through to gain access to the document that the PMBOK and the practice standards are intended to be "standards". In other words they are intended to be THE WAY that things should be done. This is a change from the original purpose of the guide to the PMBOK which was a taxonomy or map of the entire body of project management knowledge.

I have not completed my review of the document yet, but I have some concerns about the narrowing of scope which takes place in the development of documents like this. For example, this quote:

"The first step in the schedule development process is the selection of an appropriate method. Some organizations have chosen to standardize on a specific software tool. In this case, the scheduling method decision has already been made and does not need to be made again. Since it is the most commonly used method, this Practice Standard focuses on CPM."

If we look at what is said, the most commonly used method (CPM) has become the defacto standard and this decision "does not need to be made again". Further, the standard takes this assumption and quanitifies it as the baseline against which a schedule "conformance index" will be calculated by an outside auditor. The standard sets out a number of "required components" which are to calculate a score. It is interesting that the score is based on presence or absense of components rather than the quality. To quote from the proposed standard:

"If the particular required component and any associated must good practice are present in the Project Schedule Model then a single point is earned. Of note, all of the points associated with the required component must be earned before an assessor can record a conformance score."

It seems to me that this approach is less than ideal. In my opinion, the quality of the schedule is not based on some number of points on a per feature basis, a system where resource loading can be traded off for some different aspect. The quality is something to be assessed holistically. A spare schedule can be quite good while a schedule with a great deal of bells and whistles can obscure the truth. The fact that the assessment is based on the use of straight CPM scheduling leaves little room for innovation in an area which is long overdue for some new thought. But who knows, perhaps it is time to open shop as a schedule auditor and count the number of hanging activities...

If you are interested in reading it - to draw your own conclusions, and commenting on it - to better it, then here is the letter introducing the standard with all the information you need to access it. I'm interested in making it better. I hope many of you are tool.

Please review and comment on the exposure draft of the Practice Standard for Scheduling.

PMI plans to publish an update to the Practice Standard for Scheduling in Quarter Four of this year. The exposure draft is now available online for your review and comment by Tuesday, 15 August.

PMI both needs and appreciates your effort to thoroughly review the draft and submit recommended additions, deletions or corrections. We especially seek the input those who may be experienced or interested in scheduling.

Project scheduling is the delivery of the project scope over time as defined by the project team. The standard describes the elements and generally recognized good practices for schedule development and is intended for practitioners that are familiar with the fundamentals of project scheduling.

The Practice Standard for Scheduling will be one of PMI’s most important new publications. It was developed to reflect the latest in current practice and to align with A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)—Third Edition and other updated and new publications.

PMI members and nonmembers alike are invited to review and comment on the exposure draft. Please forward this message to others who may be interested. The link to the online exposure draft is: https://secure.pmi.org/exposuredraft/

Comments are due by Tuesday, 15 August. For more information, e-mail PMI Standards Project Specialist Nan Wolfslayer or call her at +1 610-356-4600, extension 5020. Thank you very much for your time and participation.

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  • Taking the PMP Exam - Part 5 - PMI Standards or the lack thereof

  • Comments (4)


    Thanks for the heads up. I've downloaded it as well. A 2 minute cruise through brings up several issues:

    1. Scheduling is not the same as planning. The IMP/IMS now mandated by DID 81650 seperates planning from scehduling. The Integrated Master Plan is required before an Integrated Master Schedule is developed. The IMP is where the program (or project) archictecture is developed. Even for small projects, so sort of programmatic and technical plan is needed

    2. The statement in §2.4.1 that schedule model provide reliable preictions of dates and critical paths only of the activity durations are to a high degree of certainty ignores the underlying statistical problems with the critical paths - there are multiple - and the core technical uncertainties that drive the programmatic uncertainties.

    At the core of most project failures is the assumption that meeting milestones is the same as progress.

    I'm so over the top converted to IMP/IMS, Capabilties Based Planning, and programmatic riks analysis that it will really take some effort not to scream outload when reading this supposed "good practice," but I'll give it a try.

    This may be of those "on size fits" all approaches that moves the novice forward to the point that success is likely, but has limits not know to the novice and when they appear the project goes in the ditch and the novice says "but I followed all the good practices in the PMI guideline."

    Gary Englehardt:

    I missed getting a copy of the review draft before it was taken down by PMI. If anyone is willing to send me a copy I would be very grateful.



    Joe Mansour:

    I could not download the file. Could you email it to me please.


    Hi, All

    The final has been released.

    I didn't look at the draft, so don't know if it is improved over that. I agree strongly with Gary that a project plan standard would have been a valuable first step. The PMBOK Guide has some good stuff on the project/program plan, but it gets buried in all the other stuff.

    It lacks guidance on what people really need to know; e.g. how and when to resouce level, and what to do about the lack of critcal path after leveling, real guidance on granularity, rolling wave planning, how to develop effective estimates, work packages, etc.

    In summary, I don't find anything useful in the Scheduling practice guide, and saw much useless stuff (e.g. all the useless constraints and relationships, multiple calendars, activity on arrow vs. node, PERT 3 estimates, etc.).

    Larry Leach

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