The dawn of the internet age brought about ebusiness and with this new way of conducting commercial activities many in the professional community argued that business as we knew it had changed. It seemed that the convention of the age believed that new business models were forming that required a new way of approaching strategy and execution. What was discovered a few years later was that in many ways the information age turned out to be more of an enabler than a new business model. In the early days of ebusiness I was working at IBM and encountered several projects where we discovered that the old business model still applied. In particular, the issue of relationships remained the same. Just because you have a website that competed with a bricks and mortar strore did not mean that you could win. In fact, if you look at the handful of success stories out of those days, the best example of which is Amazon.com, you will discover that there were significantly more unsuccessful stories.
In some ways it seems that the world of project management is evolving to an extent where some of the same people are arguing that “conventional” ways of doing project management need to be thrown out of the window. They argue that new approaches such as agile and considering social media have to be adopted while at the same time ignoring “traditional project management.”
Frankly I find this approach a bit disturbing because it shows how little some people understand of the depth of the body of knowledge and how limited their awareness is of the PMBOK Guide. What some practitioners assume is that the PMBOK Guide and the body of knowledge in general advocate for a waterfall method of scheduling that is more of a methodology than a general approach. They miss the point that the framework overall offers a tremendous amount of flexibility. It allows for a variety of planning and scheduling practices and offers organizations the ability to tailor their methodology in a way to suit the needs of the business.
One thing that is definitely missing is an articulation that just because the project team is using an Agile process for the management of the project, that does not mean that PMBOK Guide best practices have to be thrown out of the window. Indeed upon careful examination we find that many of these processes are aligned with the PMBOK Guide.
This in my opinion is a very important observation because as professionals we have a tendency to want to throw the baby with the bath water if we discover that something does not work. We find that a good number of professionals that are against the body of knowledge and are labeling it as “traditional” and unfitting are individuals who have had bad encounters with people who did not know how to properly adopt the PMBOK Guide framework.
I don’t want to underestimate the fact that the body of knowledge is ever expanding and the profession is evolving, however we must understand that there are elements that will likely remain the same, much in the same way as old business models applied even in the internet age.