Extending Our Bodies of Knowledge

It’s been a while since I wrote about the coming fifth edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge.  Although I haven’t seen the exposure draft yet, I was told earlier this year that it would be released for public comment in January.  According to Mike Griffiths and other sources, it will expand significantly on the guidance given to project managers for the execution of projects.  Otherwise, little change is expected, as it is the general consensus that the Fourth Edition “got it right.”  Still, the PMI community has changed significantly over the last decade or so, and now roughly 65% of PMI members work in some aspect of information technology.  Consequently, there has been a growing demand for PMI to recognize the special interests of the IT project communities.

A few months ago, a joint committee representing PMI and the IEEE Computer Society convened, with the charter of developing a “Software Extension to the PMBOK Guide.”  This is intended to be for the software development project community what the Construction Extension and Government Extension are to those respective communities.  The group is chaired by author Dick Fairley, and includes notables such as Griffiths and author Rich Turner.  What little has been said in public about the Extension is that it will cover a variety of methodologies, from “traditional” sequential approaches to more modern “Agile” methods, iterative, and prototyping methods.  It won’t be the “Agile Body of Knowledge” some of us are calling for, but it will provide guidance for a variety of approaches.

Coincidentally, the International Institute of Business Analysis and the Agile Alliance have been cooperating on development of “The Agile Extension to the BABOK Guide.”  The November 2011 Draft for Public Review was recently released on the IIBA website, along with a form to submit comments.  The goals for the Agile Extension include providing “an introduction to agile practices for business analysis” and “an overview of business analysis techniques for agile practitioners.”  I’m going to bet that a number of Scrum practitioners are going to dismiss this effort out of hand, but it seems obvious that business analysis, as a family of techniques and best practices, can be useful even in “lightweight documentation” cultures.  After all, a Product Owner needs some kind of basis for making difficult product decisions, right?

As PMI and the IIBA continue to embrace Agile techniques, we’ll probably see more resentment from certain early adopters, although the folks who decried development of the PMI-ACP credential will probably have fewer objections to the BABOK Extension; IIBA is a smaller organization and there are relatively few CBAP credential holders.  Still, neither organization is abandoning their well-established best practices; they are simply adopting additional, proven techniques and tools.  Many Agile techniques have been in use for decades, and it is well past time for them to be incorporated into these professional Bodies of Knowledge.

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About Dave Gordon

Dave Gordon is a project manager with over twenty five years of experience in implementing human capital management and payroll systems, including SaaS solutions like Workday and premises-based ERP solutions like PeopleSoft and ADP Enterprise. He has an MS in IT with a concentration in project management, and a BS in Business. He also holds the project management professional (PMP) designation, as well as professional designations in human resources and in benefits administration. In addition to his articles and blog posts, he curates a weekly roundup of articles on project management, and he has authored or contributed to several books on project management.