ISO 21500 for Project Management FAQ
ISO 21500 is the latest addition to the project management family of ISO’s. Below, you can see how the Project Management ISO 21500 is central to other types that complement each other. Also shown are when the most recent updated versions were published. You will notice the surrounding ISO’s of Risk Management, Quality of Organizations and Quality Management Systems which have all been updated in 2018. Maybe a Project Management update is in the pipeline?
ISO 21500 is part of a bigger family, which includes both Earned Value in Project and Program Management (ISO 21508 introduced 2018) and Program Project and Portfolio Management (ISO 21505 introduced in 2017). When we review the dates of all the ISO’s, we can see that the oldest, Project Management. It is long overdue for an update and currently has an expected update in 2021. So below is aa ISO 21500 for Project Management FAQ
How can ISO 21500 support you in a real-life application?
You cannot achieve ISO 21500 accreditation as it is currently only a guideline. To gain a full understanding of ISO 21500 mentoring and training of project employees is imperative. If possible. We recommend external consultation support.
- Assessing your current processes and practices
- Group or individual training whichever suits your organization.
- Mentoring an employee on any new processes can be achieved by buddying or shadowing a colleague, who is competent in ISO 21500, over a while.
- External consulting support who have experience with other organizations who have implemented ISO 21500. They will be able to offer advice and tips about implementing.
An assessment of your compliance with ISO 21500 will reveal:
- Where you may have needs for change in what you are doing
- Which areas of training may need to be instituted
Training is important to this guideline, however, ISO 9001 requires that you are following processes and procedures that you have in place. So, training must by definition support these areas that you choose to be assessed for ISO certification.
Without training and fully understanding this standard, you may not implement it properly, therefore, it won’t support you in real–life project scenarios. The level at which you may adopt ISO 21500 is dependent on factors including the culture and maturity of your organization and its absorbation rate of change.
ISO 21500 will support you in real-life projects because it is aligned to The PMI (Project Management Institute) and APM (Association of Project Managers), both of which had significant inputs in its creation. Both of these organizations are giants of the project management world and you are probably following their processes in your everyday project management already. If so, due to its similarity, adopting ISO 21500 is straight forward and can add value to your organization.
How does ISO 21500 align with other methods, practices, and models?
To fully answer this question, we should first define the main methods and models that your company may use.
Waterfall- for example Prince2
This method is plan-based with principles that cover all roles and responsibilities of the project team. There are 3 main levels adopted short, medium and long term goals which help the customer to remain focused on the project’s original goals. Documentation is key to this method with a business plan drawn up and rigorously followed throughout the project’s life cycle. Project teams have to fully complete an area of the project before moving on to the next.
Agile – for example, Scrum/Kanban
This method is flexible by adapting the processes to suit the customer and the project. Agile delivers value by continually testing and developing their products and processes. There are short term incremental goals and there is constant communication with the customer throughout a project life cycle. By continually testing and developing this method looks to deliver value and sometimes delivers additional products for the customer.
Lean and Six Sigma
Although there are varying differences between Lean and Six Sigma they both focused on reducing cost and reducing waste. The main difference is that they identify waste differently.
Six Sigma uses problem-solving tools that are data-driven looking at the Six areas; Recognize, Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control aiming to eliminate any product defects hence cutting cost and waste.
Lean adopts a different process of Value, a complete understanding of the product quality and value required by the customer at the end of the project. Flow by creating a value chain without disruption in production, therefore, eliminating waste. Pull ensures nothing is made ahead of time which can be disruptive to the flow and value. Perfection is the ultimate aim achieved by continually focusing on improving quality hence reducing cost and waste.
Whether your projects are flexible, follow a plan-based methodology, or focus on cost and reduction of waste, they can all be accommodated and aligned to ISO 21500.
Alongside the PMI and APM, Prince2 had significant input in the formulation of ISO 21500, which should reassure Prince2 users.
However, regardless of the method or model, your organization has adopted ISO 21500 will support you because you can adopt concepts and methods which suit you. ISO 21500 isn’t a rigid set of rules it is designed to guide and support any Project Management environment, by offering methodology aimed at different levels of the organization, from Executive to Project Manager to Scheduler. This 36 page guide is an easy read regardless of level.
Can ISO 21500 Address the Different Organizational Entities and Procedures?
Simply answered yes it can. According to the ISO, ‘The processes described in clause 4.3 need not be applied uniformly on all projects or all project phases. Therefore, the project manager should tailor the management processes for each project or project phase by determining what processes are appropriate and the degree of rigor to be applied for each process. This should be accomplished in collaboration with the project team and in accordance with the relevant organizational policies.’
Project Managers and Organizations can configure the methods and systems that they normally follow by tailoring the content of ISO 21500 guidance. The only area which poses a problem is Program and Portfolio Management because ISO 21500 doesn’t have separate guidelines for these. Instead, they are considered and addressed in the wider context of Project Management. Don’t worry though, as we previously mentioned, the International Standard Organization has already addressed Program and Portfolio Management with ISO 21505.
The level at which you may adopt ISO 21500 is dependent on the culture and maturity of your organization. Most organizations aim to achieve maturity Level 3.
- At Level 1 processes and procedures are ad hoc and sometimes a little chaotic
- At Level 2 processes and procedures are managed. During the project, lifecycle procedures are maintained at all times, especially during times of stress.
- At Level 3 all processes and procedures are managed to capability. There are set lifecycle-based processes and the organization looks to continually improve.
The benefits of accrediting ISO 21500 through ISO 9001 are numerous:
- As an International Standard, globally recognized, it offers reassurance to clients and project staff that processes are followed, not only in your organization but in other organizations when resources are outsourced.
- It can help when bidding for contracts, as a quality standardized practice.
- It can help guide and formalize processes enhancing the chances of project success.
- It is uniform working alongside different methods and models.
- It is reassuring to know that PMI, APM and Prince 2 all had significant inputs in the formulation of ISO 21500.
ISO 21500 for Project Management FAQ Summary
So, to sum up our ISO 21500 for Project Management FAQ, ISO 21500 can make a significant impact on any project management organization, helping with bids on new contracts and firming up processes with the potential to increase project success. It is compatible with existing practices procedures and methods. It is flexible so that a project manager can tailor different project phases during a project lifecycle, working through the different levels to achieve the organizational maturity desired.
It will support real-life applications after the initial implementation when staff are fully motivated in the accreditation of this ISO. The PMI, APM are worldwide organizations and if you belong to one of them then your processes are already in place and probably only need tweaking. ISO 21500 is overdue for an update which means that it will be able to offer your organization more support for project success. What questions do you have related to our ISO 21500 for Project Management FAQ?