Tag Archives: ISO21500

Review: How to DO projects. A Nordic flavour to managing projects

2017-02-24-17-28-56I received the book ‘How to DO projects. A Nordic flavor to managing projects’ written by Joana Geraldi, Cristian Thuesen, Josef Oehmen and Verena Stingl. Great to see that the authors used one of my blogs (they asked upfront). The book contains my Lost in standards overview of project management methods. The book will prepare students of the Danish Technical University for the ISO21500 certification exam but others can benefit too.

The book brings you inspiration to alternative project management practices. The book gives you insights how to get into action mode, how to work together with your project team to achieve a meaningful purpose.

The book contains three views:

  • The ISO 21500: 2012, Guidance on project management standard
  • The Nordic ‘flavour’ to add on top of the ISO 21500. Understanding, social relations and the development of future-oriented meaningful projects will empower the project team
  • Four perspectives (purpose, people, complexity, and uncertainty) and context to give you a solid foundation to develop your own recipe for projects compatible with ISO 21500 and the Nordic flavour.

The book is divided in 7 chapters. The first two chapters introduces the three views and elaborates on the definition of a project.

Chapter three explains the project, temporal and organizational context and the next four chapters explains the four perspectives: purpose, people, complexity, and uncertainty.

Every perspective is explained by an illustration, an introduction, key challenges and common mistakes, how to DO it, the relationship to the ISO 21500 standard including a generic explanation, and for each related ISO 21500 activity the purpose and documents/tools, the Nordic flavor and a summary.

dia1In the attached QRC (download QRC (pdf)) you can find the perspectives, what to do, Nordic flavor and key challenges and common mistakes. I added ISO 21500 4.3.5 Control project work to the Uncertainty perspective because I think the authors missed this one. The book ends with a few examples of recipes.


If you want to understand what it means to bring ISO 21500 into practice this book is a good read. By moving away from the standard process view as represented in the ISO 21500, the setup of the book with the context and the four perspectives ‘forces’ you to really tailor the project management practices into your own recipe for your project.


Lost in standards

Dia1In the last “projectie, edition 04-2014”, the bi-monthly magazine of ipma-nl, I published a Dutch article about the many methods and frameworks that are available in the field of portfolio, programme and project management. To download: Verdwaald in het standaardenbos IPMA Projectie magazine 04-2014 I created a sort of quick reference card with available standards and frameworks (It’s limited, there are many more). To download: standards-qrc-170129-v1-9

In the middle of the quick reference card you find a generic model with portfolio, programme and project management as horizontal boxes. Behind these boxes you will find vertical boxes with PMO, IT, benefits management, value management and risk management to support project, programme and portfolio management. And as the background I used two triangles representing the people and maturity of project, programme and portfolio management. From this model I made connections with several well-known organizations that develop and own standards. E.g. Axelos as the owner of PRINCE2, MSP, MoP, MoV, MoR, P3M3 and ITIL or PMI as the owner of PMBoK, The standard for Portfolio Management, The standard for Programme Management, OPM3, etc. You will also find AMPG, APM, IPMA and several suppliers of Agile/Scrum as well as some ISO models. dia1 In the Dutch article, I focus on the usage of these standards. It’s not that simple that you only have to select a project management method. Je must be aware that it will not be possible to implement all your ideas and ambitions. You have to select the right initiatives. This will ask for a portfolio management method. To realize your strategic objectives, you need more than only projects. You will run programmes too, asking for a programme management method. Besides temporary project and programme offices you probably need a permanent portfolio office as well as a centre of excellence to communicate, support and train staff to use these standards and best practices.

At a certain moment you want to know were you are from a maturity view, in comparison with others, and based on your own ambition you would like to know the gap you have to bridge. It will be beneficial for an organization if all these models or frameworks are connected to each other. As a rule of thumb, I would advice an organization to choose for either Axelos or PMI as the starting point and combine your choice with the competence baseline from IPMA. If you choose e.g. for PRINCE2, it makes sense to choose for MSP and MoP for your programme and portfolio management. For maturity scans you look at P3M3 because that’s in line with these standards. Your temporary and permanent PMO will be supported by P3O, etc. For supplementary techniques you could make use of the PMBoK from PMI.

Or, when you started with the PMI family, it makes sense to combine this with the project or programme board approaches from PRINCE2 and MSP and the usage of business cases as described in PRINCE2 9789401800068_CoverLR-541x850I am one of the authors of the book Global standards and publications, edition 2014/2015, Van Haren Publishing. You can download a free copy of this book. http://www.vanharen.net/file/PDF/9789401800068.pdf Please let me know if you are aware of new standards that are worthwhile to mention in this QRC.

for a comparison between PRINCE2 and PMBoK see the overview from KnowledgeTrain: Comparison PRINCE2/PMBoK


  • 17/01/29: Added PM2 Project Management Methodology from The European Commission
  • 17/01/29: Added Scrum @ Scale from Srcuminc.com
  • 16/01/23: Added Nexus (Scaled Professional Scrum) from Scrum.org
  • 15/10/04: IPMA ICB3 replaced with ICB4
  • 15/07/07: Added new Axelos framework PRINCE2 Agile
  • 15/05/27: Added Change mgt vertical + CMBoK (Change Management body of Knowledge) + CHAMPS2
  • 15/04/24: Added ISO 21500 project, 21503 programme, 21504 portfolio, 21505 Governance, 21506 Vocabulary
  • 15/02/24: Added CCPM (Goldratt), CMMi, Global Alliance for Project Performance Standards (GAPPS)
  • 14/10/21: Added Exin Agile Scrum from EXIN
  • 14/09/29: Added Agile Programme Management (Agile PgM) from APMG
  • 14/09/29: Added PRiSM™ (Projects integrating Sustainable Methods) from GPM
  • 14/09/29: Added Portfolio, Program & Project Sustainability Model (PSM3) from GPM

Book review: ISO 21500 in Practice

iso21500I received from Van Haren Publishing the book ISO 21500 in Practice – A management guide.

The book is a revision of the Dutch publication and offers a bit more information than the original Dutch version.

This book gives you background and explains the process that led to the creation of this standard. It briefly summarized the ISO 21500 structure and content.

It emphasizes the value of ISO 21500 looking at specific roles in the organization and its project environment and it positions this standard within the overall landscape of ISO standards and project management techniques, models and best practices.

Two chapters will help you to implement ISO 21500 in your organization and to apply it to your projects.

The last chapters give insight in the expected future developments of the ISO standards in the domain of project, program and portfolio management and the impact on other standards and guides on project management. You get answers on many questions that the authors themselves had wondered about in relation to the ISO 21500 and in the annexes you can find information about the ISO organization.

In my opinion this book will help you to understand the ISO 21500 and it’s position. It’s a first step towards an overarching standard for the management of projects. ISO 21500 has been written as a guideline and it has not been specifically designed for, nor is it suitable for certification purposes. It explains what should be done and not how things should be done (“ISO 21500 is a global common reference framework for project management within which everyone is entitled to use his own method or approach” – page 36).

For me this opens the discussion if you can implement ISO 21500 or that you have to implement a standard, which is compliant with ISO 21500? Look at the case the authors describe to apply ISO 21500 to projects. Best practices are lacking and have to be taken from the PMBoK and PRINCE2. Maybe the next version of ISO 21500 will have a more prescriptive character and hopefully Axelos (owner of PRINCE2) is involved and Agile project management principles are incorporated too.

For an in depth overview of ISO 21500 structure you have to read the official ISO publication. You could also have a look at my quick reference card. See: ISO 21500 QRC or have a look at the official ISO website: www.iso.org
Bestellen:ISO 21500 in Practice

ISO 21500, A quick reference card

One and a half year ago I published a blog about ISO 21500 – Guidance on project management. I presented an input/output model of the ISO 21500 standard. At that moment the standard was just a draft.

Now the ISO 21500 standard has been approved, I reviewed my previous model and updated the model according to the approved standard. I added the process management processes including references to the subject groups.

Feel free to comment, or suggest improvements.

To download: ISO21500 (Management products map, 130105) v1.0


Dia1I just received from Juan Verastegui, a Project control manager in Peru a Spanish translation of this ISO21500 QRC. See enclosed picture.

If you are interested you could download it too: ISO21500 (mgt products map ES, 131027) v1.1

Draft ISO 21500 Standard, a first look at the input/output model

Last Thursday, June 7, I visit an information session regarding this new ISO 21500 standard. This standard provides generic guidance on the concept and processes of project management that are important for and have impact on the achievement of projects.

You can find this standard (http://www.normontwerpen.nen.nl/Home/Details/104).

In this guidance on project management you will find 40 processes cross-referenced to Process (Initiating, Planning, Implementing, Controlling, Closing) and Subject Groups (Integration, Stakeholder, Scope, Resource, Time, Cost, Risk, Quality, Procurement, Communication).

This international standard is not intended to:

–       Replace a national standard or be used as such; or

–       Be used in any way for certification or regulatory purposes.

This means this standard will not replace PRINCE2 or PMBoK or other standards, but it provides overarching guidance for project management.

For every process it gives the primary inputs and outputs. When I see these kind of tables, I want to see if it’s consistent. To perform this check I created a map to show all deliverables  s (like I did with my Quick Reference Card for PRINCE2). Based on this map I have some questions to share:

–       Not all deliverables/products are output of a process. Sometimes this is correct, when the deliverable is coming from the outside world. But this is not always the case (e.g. Deliverables, Business Case are only used as input and not created or updated by one of the processes). Does this mean that this standard is not based on a continuous business justification?

–       The focus is on the Project manager. I miss the focuss of the executive (or Sponsor as it’s called here). For me senior management is key in the success of a project. Project governance needs more attention in this guideline as well as a specific process like we have in PRINCE2 (Directing a Project).

–       Some output is rather detailed. Not sure if this is needed. Look e.g. at all deliverables related to activities (sequence, duration estimates, list, work breakdown). For me, this focus on activities in this guideline is a step backwards. I don’t believe in communication about activities. For me the focus must be products or deliverables. Why not have a Product Breakdown structure to communicate the scope, the measure progress against?

–       Look at deliverables related to Risk. Keep it simple and use the Risk Register as on deliverable to be created, used and updated by the processes.

–       Why are Staff Performance and Staff appraisals outputs from the process Controlling and Why are Team Performance and Team appraisals outputs from the process Implementing.

–       We have Registers and Logs. In PRINCE2 terms Registers are forma land Logs are informal.

Probably you will find more questions if you give this map a closer look. On the other hand I think it’s a good idea to create a sort of common language regarding Project Management. This will help to bridge the gap between organizations or groups using different project management methodologies. At this moment it’s still a draft, which needs some improvement especially in the areas of the Business Case, Project Governance and the Product Breakdown structure. We also need to simplify this map to make communication easier. I am looking forward to reactions.