In September, 2013 PMI (Project Management Institute) in cooperation with the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Computer Society has released an official extension to the Project Management Body of Knowledge 5th Edition (PMBOK). I must admit that I have been waiting a long time for this publication.
Both, the construction sector and government one have their PMBOK extension for years. But now, people from IT finally got something for them.
In this article I want to share my general impressions after reading the book, in subsequent articles I will look closer to specific knowledge areas from Software Extension.
At the beginning, it is worth noting that Software Extension does not apply strictly to IT projects, but only to part of them (still very important one, because most often associated with the greatest effort in IT projects) – projects related to the development of software (called just ‘software projects’). Software Extension publication is not ‘independent’ one, in order to get the best value you must have access to the fifth edition of PMBOK. The whole book is one big reference to the PMBOK: sometimes (quite often actually) it mentions that the particular point from PMBOK is entirely applicable to ‘ software projects ‘as is’, but in many places it adds very important comments, expanding the whole paragraphs from PMBOK.
I regret that the Software Extension was released so late. It certainly helps to understand many concepts of project management on the example of software projects, so when learning to PMP exam one does not need to translate some PMBOK concepts to the IT world cases. Software Extension is also useful when creating project management methodologies tailored to the needs of software companies (software houses) – very often when I was reading the Software Extension I went to the conclusion, that many things that we had to invent ourselves are described in the Software Extension as we use them, just a pity that we had to invent this approach (reinvent the wheel) and were not sure if we did it according to the PMBOK.
Admittedly, the Software Extension is rather difficult to read, but please keep in mind that this is a standard, not another book about project management which is a nice and easy to read. People who are into processes need specifics, you will find them here.
The question that occurred to me while I was reaching for the Software Extension was to follow, How the authors will cope with the reality of software projects where the concept of agile has become firmly established. I found the answer very quickly. The concept which was mentioned in 5th edition of PMBOK was even more strongly emphasized with the Software Extension. According to the Software Extension, the software development cycle should be chosen according to the needs of the organization, project requirements, and the associated risks. There is no longer just: the waterfall (here called – ‘a predictive life cycle’), or agile (willingly called ‘an adaptive life cycle’), but we have to deal with the whole continuum of different possible life cycles of software development. Software Extension adds ‘highly predictive life cycle’ and ‘highly adaptive life cycle’ (this is a topic for a separate post). Software Extension will acquaint you with a lot of tools from the world of agile, and I liked it very much. So, there is no longer ‘waterfall’ vs ‘agile’, it is just a question when to use which approach, and to what extent.
Have I found something surprising in the Software Extension that I had not seen in my 10 years IT project management career?
Probably not, but it is a good news in my opinnion, because you can see that the content of the book is very practical. Definitely worth noting is that the Software Extension organizes vocabulary for software projects – here I think is the greatest merit of people from the IEEE – so we have finally established processes’ names in software development area, so we have: Analyze , Architect , Design, Construct, Integrate , Test ( in accordance with the IEC/IEEE12207 standard ). Software Extension organizes knowledge of project management software very well. It is a great synthesis of knowledge in the area.
In my opinion Software Extension is as many other standards: nothing new, however if you need to know what is really important in the field of software projects, and if something was not forgotten by you when managing software projects, you should read the standard.
Just one small remark, why the author not created something more, for example IT Extension, which could be much broader; creating software is only part of the IT world.
Luckily, if you lack knowledge in the area of IT projects, I strongly recommended you ITIL version 3, with an emphasis on the Service Design part. Things left behind in Software Extension can be answered there.
Who should read Software Extension:
Managers of software projects, especially new in the industry, people working in the software projects, especially those who are engaged in the coordination of the work. For all from the IT industry, who learn to PMP, or are reading PMBOK for the first time – it will be easier to understand some of the concepts contained in PMBOK.
Good news for all members of the Project Management Institute – Software Extension is available to you in electronic form for free, ‘nonmembers’ have to pay about $ 40. So yet another argument for buying a membership in PMI.
In subsequent entries I try to look a little more closely on what Software Extension offers/adds in particular PMBOK knowledge areas.