PMBOK structure and Project Success Measures


Projects are temporary endeavors (have specific start and end dates), delivering unique products or services.

Project and development life cycles

The series of phases a project passes through from it’s start to it’s completion is termed as ‘Project life cycle’ . The phases can be sequential or iterative. Within the project life cycle, there are some phases which are highly technical and contribute directly to the building up of the product of the project. These are known as the ‘Development life cycle’. Development life cycles can be predictive, iterative, incremental, adaptive (agile, iterative or incremental) or hybrid. The development cycles are decided during the project strategy development phase.

Project phases

A project phase is a collection of logically related activities that produces one or more deliverables of the project. Requirements phase delivers requirements document. Design phase delivers design and the design document.

Phase gate

Phase gate, stage gate or kill points are the senior management review of the project conducted at the end of every major phase. They are also known as the go-nogo meetings, as the decision to fund or do not fund the subsequent phase is decided during these meetings.

Project management process groups

  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Monitoring and controlling
  • Closing

Project management knowledge areas

  • Project integration management
  • Project scope management
  • Project schedule management
  • Project cost management
  • Project quality management
  • Project resource management
  • Project communications management
  • Project risk management
  • Project procurement management
  • Project stakeholder management

There are 49 processes in PMBOK. Each of these processes have a set of inputs, tools&techniques and outputs. Every process in the PMBOK is associated to a ‘Knowledge area’ and a ‘Process group’. For example the process ‘Develop project charter’ is part of ‘Project integration management’ knowledge area and ‘Initiating’ process group. In page number 25 of PMBOK Version 6, this is depicted in detail as a two dimensional array.

During project initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, controlling and closing, enormous amount of data is generated, which gets processed into information and then to reports.

Should we follow every process of PMBOK in every project?. The answer is ‘No’. Based on the nature of the project (magnitude, complexity, engineering discipline etc), project managers must tailor the project management processes for better value.

Project management business documents

  • Project business case – Documented economic feasibility study of the project , generally owned by the project sponsor
  • Project benefits management plan – Processes for creating, maximizing and sustaining the benefits provided by a project. Project manager provides inputs for maintaining these.

Contents of project business case

  • Why are we doing this project?
  • Key stakeholders affected
  • High level scope of the project
  • Analysis of the situation
  • Recommended solutions / alternatives analysis
  • Milestone list

Project benefit management plan

  • Benefit milestones and dates , Benefit owner
  • Alignment of the benefits to the organizational business strategy
  • Benefit measuring logic, systems
  • Assumptions and risks

Project success measures

Establishing the project success criteria with the involvement of all the key stakeholders upfront in a project increases the probability of success. Must be documented and can include;

  • Definition of success for the project
  • Success measuring parameters
  • Critical success factors
  • Adherence to the project business management plan
  • Meeting the agreed upon financial ratios used while justifying the project selection;
  • Net Present Value (NPV) = (Sum of the present value of all future cash flows – initial investment)
  • Return On Investment (ROI)
  • Internal Rate of Return (IRR)
  • Pay Back Period (PBP) – The year in which we can take recover the initial investment from the project
  • Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) = (Sum of the present value of all future cash flows) / Initial investment

References : PMBOK Version 6 Pages , TCM Framework

Published by Project Management Research Institute

Project Management Research Institute, a not for profit organization involved in collaborative research, development and deployment of customer centric project management solutions.

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