Professionalization and standardization of project management

Given that regular articles in the field of project management, which we publish in AG magazine since 2001, are well received, we continue to deal with this area and try to present the basic elements of professional project management in construction. Although it is possible that there are still dilemmas in the domestic public as to whether project management in the construction industry is a profession or not, we assure you that such dilemmas no longer exist in developed markets. Professional project managers are formed all over the world through educational systems and additionally train in practice, and they are entrusted with sensitive and responsible tasks, such as: operational management of design and construction of facilities, preparation of tender and contract documents, cost estimation and control, time management, quality assurance of materials and work performed, coordination of participants, etc. . The description of possible jobs, the optimal sequence of work and the methods of operation of the project manager are more and more the subject of interest of university centers, but also of professional organizations and state institutions. At the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the University of Belgrade, a special teaching field has been running since October 2005, with the aim of improving the quality of project management in construction in our country.

The most important specialized professional organization in the field of project management in the world is the American Project Management Institute (“PMI”). PMI was founded in 1969, and the first document describing the procedures and recommendations for evaluating and certifying a project manager (a special report in the Project Management Journal) appeared in August 1983. The first stand-alone document was adopted and issued by PMI in August 1987. years under the name “The Project Management Body of Knowledge”, based on which, after lengthy discussions and changes, the first truly comprehensive and usable edition of the 1996 standard entitled “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)” was created.  Since the 90s of the last century, British standards have appeared with more serious procedures and instructions related to project management, but their impact in practice, for now, is significantly smaller. We discussed project management standards on two occasions during 2005.

In issue 24 of February 2005 we presented in detail the American standard ANSI / PMI 2000, and in issue 25 of April 2005 we gave a review of the British standard BS 6709 – 2002. Both standards deal with the management of any project, not only in within construction. We concluded that the US ANSI / PMI standard is currently the best example of a comprehensive procedural approach to project management and generally recommended it for engineering use. Such a recommendation is in line with the widespread use of this standard in engineering practice worldwide.

Currently, the third edition of the 2004 PMI standard is in force, which has been accepted by the US National Standards Institution (ANSI) and is called ANSI / PMI 99-001-2004. It differs significantly in scope and content from the version we presented earlier, so we find it useful to briefly outline the content and characteristics of the new project management standard below.

ANSI / PMI STANDARD BASIS FOR CERTIFICATION

The American Project Management Standard ANSI / PMI 99-001-2004, published in 2004, is based on the PMI publication “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)”. This title is also retained on the cover of the standard, which contains about 400 pages. This is twice as much as the previous edition of the standard, which we presented in AG magazine number 24. The document is divided into the following main sections:
The Project Management Framework;
The Standard for Project Management of a Project;
Areas within project management (The Project Management Knowledge Areas);
Appendices, including a glossary and index of terms.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK

The section entitled “Project Management Framework” provides appropriate definitions, explains the project life cycle, lists the main participants and summarizes the organizational structures for project implementation. The project, similar to previous editions, is defined as a “temporary venture aimed at creating a single product or service”, which concludes that the beginning and end of the project should be clearly defined, and that all project structures are temporary. The basic principle of the standard to be a regular business organization has been retained (which is continuous and repetitive) and the realization of the project (which is temporary and unique) cannot be based on the same methods of work. It is pointed out that the realization of the project takes place gradually and iteratively, according to certain procedural steps, so most of the content of the standard is given in the form of procedures for the realization of individual steps. Project management, according to the definition from the standard, includes “application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities in order to achieve project objectives.” Such a definition existed in previous editions, which takes into account the fact that it is necessary to combine technical and managerial knowledge, which is acquired through education, with experiential skills and talent, which are acquired separately, in order to successfully manage the project.
The project life cycle is also defined generically in the new standard, in the simplest possible way. Initial, one or more middle phases are observed, as well as the final phase, which are interconnected by input-output data. It was emphasized that the result of the work of one phase is usually approved before the work on the next phase begins (sequential realization of phases), but it is also possible to overlap, ie parallelize the work in phases (in standard terminology: “fast-track”). Understanding the life cycle of a project primarily respects the needs of the person financing the project, so from an engineering point of view we can say that the investor’s point of view prevails. It is interesting that in the previous editions of the standards there were examples of project life cycles for various areas, even for construction, but in the new edition of the standards these examples were omitted and only generic definitions remained. In the initial part of the standard, as in the previous edition, it is especially rightly pointed out that the project management cycle and the product life cycle are not the same, because the project can be only one phase in the realization of a new product. Elaboration of the product life cycle results in defining phases in project implementation, which are specific to various types of projects, while project management cycles, according to PMI, are universal and they are, in fact, subject to the standardization proposed by this organization. The set of all phases in the realization of the project is the life cycle of the project.
The main participants in the project implementation are also defined generically in the new edition of the standard: project manager, customer, the organization most directly involved in the project implementation, members of the project team members, project financier (sponsor), influential organizations (influencers). A new potential participant called Project Management Office (PMO) is interesting, if it exists within the organization that implements projects. This name implies a permanent professional core in the organization, with the function to provide resources and expertise in the field of project management. It is noted that the existence of a large number of additional internal or external participants is possible, which should be identified at the earliest stage of the project.
Regarding the organizational structures for project implementation, as before, functional, matrix (loose, balanced and strong) and project organizational structure are mentioned and well-known considerations and comparisons are given.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT STANDARD

The section entitled “Project Management Standard” generally defines processes within project management processes as “a series of related actions and activities for the purpose of implementing a previously specified set of products, results or services”. The processes are universal and are applied in various phases of project implementation, and are grouped into the following five groups:
Initiating processes, by which the project or some of its phases are authorized (approved);

Planning processes, which define and describe in detail the goals and the most favorable of the alternative ways to achieve the goals (optimal plan);
Executing processes, which coordinate resources to execute a plan;
Executing processes, which coordinate resources to execute a plan;
Controlling processes, which control the achievement of goals by regularly observing and recording progress, detect deviations and take corrective actions;
Closing processes, which formalize the acceptance of the project or some of its phases and the work leads to a regular end.
It is clear that the processes are linked within each of the phases (for example, initiating and planning a design is a prerequisite for design control), but at the same time there is an interaction of processes between individual phases (for example, completion of design results in input for implementation).

AREAS IN THE FRAMEWORK OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

The remaining (most extensive) part of the new standard, entitled “Areas within management project ”, defines the following nine areas:
• Project Integration Management;
• Project Project Scope Management;
• Project Time Management;
• Project Cost Management;
• Project Quality Management;
• Project Human Resource Management;
• Project Communications Management;
• Project Risk Management;
• Project Procurement Management.

The total number of areas within project management (9), as well as their names, remained unchanged from the previous edition of the 2000 standard. The numbering of the area in the text of the standard is done with ordinal numbers from 4 to 12, because the previous 3 numbers are reserved from the basic definition and terms. Such numbering also has historical significance, because it has been applied in previous editions, and the desire is obvious that it should not be changed unnecessarily.
A detailed and comprehensive presentation of the content of individual areas and processes from the new ANSI / PMI standard in the journal is not possible. However, in order to illustrate the recommended principles of project management, we give a brief overview of the initial, in practice often neglected area – project integration (Project Integration Management). Please note that more detailed and complete reviews and discussions for all areas within project management can be found in the recently published book “Project Management in Construction” by B. Ивковића и Ж. Popović, III edition from 2005, Construction book from Belgrade.

PROJECT INTEGRATION

Project integration includes management processes that are necessary for quality identification and coordination of project elements. This includes compromises between opposing goals and alternatives, in order to achieve a balance between the expectations of the participants in the project. Seven basic processes are defined, which initiate the project, form the preliminary scope of work, form an integrated project management plan (job description, cost plans, time, quality, staff, etc.), implement and control the plan, coordinate changes during implementation and formalizes the completion of the project. The biggest changes in this area are noticeable in relation to the previous edition. The number of processes and the importance given to them in the standard have been significantly increased compared to the previous edition.

The basic integrative element of the project, according to the standard, is the Project Management Plan, which must be formally approved and includes all actions necessary to define and coordinate individual management plans. The content and scope of the project management plan may vary and depend on the complexity and type of project. The plan should identify all phases in the realization of the work, defining how they are realized, controlled and finally completed. The following possible components of the project management plan are listed:

• Scope management plan;
• Time management plan;
• Cost management plan;
• Quality management plan;
• Human resources management plan;
• Project communication management plan;
• Risk management plan;
• Procurement Management Plan (subcontracting).

If necessary, the plan is supplemented with basic documents needed to control the implementation of the project. It is clear that the project management plan consolidates and harmonizes the output from all planning processes. The plan must explain which important techniques will be used in the management of individual processes, how changes will be identified and controlled, how and when periodic evaluation will be performed and key decisions will be made during the project implementation.

PROJECT MANAGER CERTIFICATION

Based on the ANSI / PMI standard, the controlled certification of interested experts is carried out in the world, who, after fulfilling certain conditions, receive the title of Project Management Professional (PMP®). According to the experiences of the authors of the text, this certification is so far the most ambitious attempt to define, maintain and improve the profession of project manager. To date, the total number of certified project managers in the world, in all areas including construction, is about 110,000. These project managers are located in 120 countries around the world.

The basic literature for certification is the text of the ANSI / PMI standard, as well as the necessary supporting literature (manuals, solved tasks and recommended textbooks). From the point of view of the author of this text, the amount of necessary knowledge is quite large. Note that the ANSI / PMI standard describes the identification of possible jobs, standardization of input-output variables and selection of key work techniques, adhering to the principles of project management. The standard does not explain in detail the individual methods and techniques of work, because it is considered that the one who is preparing to manage the project has enough prior knowledge. For example, the future project manager is expected to fully know and be able to use techniques such as: Value Engineering (in the field of scope definition); Monte Carlo method and network planning where activities are represented by nodes or arrows (in the field of time management); performance analysis using the Earned Value technique and analysis of variance (in the field of cost management); formation of diagrams – Ishiqawa diagrams, control charts, process diagrams, histograms, Pareto diagrams, linear graphs with chronologically plotted results of work – run charts, two-dimensional scatter diagrams (in the field of quality management); systems for working with databases and documents (in the field of communications management); formation of checklists and probability / impact risk rating matrices (in the field of risk management), etc.

In order to start the certification process, it is necessary to meet certain prerequisites in terms of education and experience. The process of pre-qualification of candidates is conducted in correspondence with the PMI headquarters, and since 2005 it is possible that this work, including the payment of supporting costs, can be done online at www.pmi.org Usually in the process of pre-qualification of candidates. (Faculty diploma presented), minimum number of hours of practical experience in project management (currently requires 4,500 hours of documented professional experience for university-educated candidates), as well as minimum number of hours of professional education in the field of project management (currently requires at least 35 hours documented professional education, for example professional courses, or completed and passed professional subjects in undergraduate or postgraduate teaching, where the time frame is not important). It is possible to apply for project managers without a university degree, but then the other preconditions are much stricter(for example, a minimum of 7,500 hours of documented professional experience is required).

After successfully conducting the pre-qualification of the candidate, PMI delivers a letter authorizing the candidate to take the written exam. The exam is taken in authorized Prometric test centers, which are fully computerized and follow a strict procedure for identifying candidates and taking the exam. For example, the use of any aids is not allowed, and all personal items are left in safekeeping locked compartment during the exam. Before taking the exam, the test center received exactly 6 sheets of paper, two ordinary pencils and a calculator with basic calculation operations, which are returned immediately after taking the exam. The list of currently authorized test centers can be viewed on the PMI website www.pmi.org, but we can already disappoint you that you will not find any currently authorized locations in SCG. There is one authorized location in some neighboring countries, for example in Romania.

The written exam consists of 200 questions with offered answers, one of which is correct. The questions are very diverse, arranged randomly and sometimes very ambiguous and difficult to understand for those who do not speak perfect English (it can be taken in several other world languages, including Spanish, French and Russian). The questions can also contain graphic attachments (for example, a fragment of a network plan for the realization of a project, or a table with a comparative overview of costs and benefits for three alternative projects to which the question from the test refers). The questions are often situational and very descriptive, which is not negligible given the limited time of 4 hours to answer. The process of forming and selecting exam questions and evaluating exam results is specified in detail in the normative acts of the PMI and these parameters are periodically innovated. For the sake of illustration, take a look at a few short demo questions in the accompanying pictures (source: free preparatory test from www.vl-p.net), so try to answer and check your current knowledge (correct answers are highlighted).

The cost of registering and taking the exam for the first time is around $ 600, and is paid in advance, of course. This amount does not include the costs of attending preparatory courses and the like. It is allowed to take the exam up to 3 times in one year, based on one obtained authorization to take the exam issued by PMI, where each exam is paid (the second and third time slightly less than the first time). In case of failure, the whole pre-qualification procedure must be repeated. In case of successfully passing the exam, the result is immediately communicated to the candidate, and after a couple of weeks a written certificate with an identification number arrives by mail from the PMI headquarters, based on when anyone can check the authenticity of the certificate at: www.pmi.org
The PMI branch of Serbia and Montenegro was established in 2003 and currently has about 70 members. More about the PMI SCG branch can be found at www.pmi-yu.org.

The precondition for the deserved certificate to become valid is the signing of a statement of acceptance of the Code of Professional Conduct (PMI), in which the project manager undertakes to work exclusively according to the rules of the profession, without favoring individual participants, respecting high (and precise) ethical and moral criteria. Any reported non-compliance with the signed code of professional conduct entails an investigation by PMI and if proven correct results in loss of certification.

Once obtained, the certification is valid for 3 years and is renewed. The condition for renewal of certification is proof that the certified project manager was professionally trained in that period. Proving in practice is carried out by a scoring system, where there is an official table on how certain activities are scored. For example, for the presentation of a professional article at a symposium, the author can register 10 points, while a lecturer on a formal course in project management can earn 5 points. It is necessary to collect at least 60 such points over a period of 3 years in order to renew the certification.

The author of this text checked everything that was said on his own skin. He passed the exam on July 21, 2005 at the test center in Dubai and received the certification number 239333. The preparation and taking of the exam took about 4 months, with independent daily work and the use of numerous literature. The invested effort and costs are certainly not small, but in addition to personal satisfaction, the first impressions show that the obtained certification is solidly valued in the business environment as well.
Author: Željko Popović, PhD, B.Sc.

Parsons Brinckerhoff
Middle East Regional Office
Abu Dhabi, UAE
PO Box 47445
popovicz@pbworld.com
www.pbworld.com
извор:”AG Magazin”