Author. Thando Dube, PMP

Thando Dube 100x100

With the advent of the PMBOK® Guide 7th edition last August, we saw a shift away from the traditional Knowledge Areas and Process Groups that most project managers fondly relied on for “Tailoring projects”. This shift has left many project managers in search of solutions on how to tailor projects. Should they continue using the Knowledge Areas and Process Groups or integrate the twelve Principles of Project Management to lead them in tailoring the eight Performance Domains to fit the project context as proposed in the PMBOK® Guide 7th edition?

These are important and genuine questions that need to be addressed to assist project managers to fully exploit the benefits and new perspectives offered in the PMBOK® Guide 7th edition.

PMBOK® Guide 7th edition describes tailoring this way: “Tailoring is the deliberate adaptation of the approach, governance, and processes to make them more suitable for the given environment and the work at hand”.

As noted in the introductory pages of the PMBOK® Guide 7th edition, tailoring projects to the unique characteristics of the project management approach has been underlined in previous editions of the PMBOK® Guide. In the 6th edition, more emphasis was given to how project teams should think about tailoring their approach to project management. This information was placed in the front of each Knowledge Area and provided consideration for all types of project environments. 

In the 7th edition, the wheel has come full circle with an entire section dedicated to Tailoring.  Why this change we may ask?  We have seen from the above examples that the predefined processes and methodologies embodied in the Knowledge Areas and Process Groups are open to tailoring, however the complexities of the changing environments and the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) world of today, tailoring is an approach that has taken a pre-eminent role and is characterized by the following principles:

  • Each project is unique
  • Project process success is based on adapting the unique context of the project to determine the most appropriate methods of producing the desired outcomes
  • Tailoring the approach is iterative, and therefore is a continuous process throughout the project

At this juncture, to understand why Tailoring Project has taken more emphasis in the PMBOK® Guide 7th edition, it could be useful to reflect on one innovation that revolutionized the use of mobile phones and paved a path for new generation smartphones: the iPhone.  The iPhone did not replace the mobile phone but brought a plethora of new possibilities and value add to mobile phone use in a response to the VUCA world of digital communication. This is my interpretation of the PMBOK® Guide 7th edition; it is not designed to replace the predictive and process-based approaches but serves as an additional reservoir of “techniques and tools” to equip project managers with additional alternatives in a more agile way of thinking such as adaptive and hybrid approaches to Tailoring projects.

These are personal views as a project manager and do not in any way represent the views of PMI, so then what are the views of subject matter experts?  Are you like me as a project manager facing challenges or dilemmas in tailoring your projects using PMBOK® Guide 7th edition? How has the PMBOK® Guide shift from a processes and tools approach affected tailoring your projects? To share these thoughts and those of other project managers and subject experts, a Romandie Events session on 7 April will host Stephane Derouin, former President of the PMI France Chapter. Stephane is an active Portfolio Hybridization Expert, certified Agile PM® and Agile teacher at ESCP for MSc in International Project Management. He is also the founder and President of HMI, a « Think tank » founded in 2018 dedicated to hybrid approaches and methodologies.

Event Venue: Hotel Montbrillant, Geneva, 7th April, 6.30-9.30pm

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