Performance Appraisal for Project Managers based on PMBOK7
In 2002, PMI released the practice standard Project Manager Competency Development Framework (PMCDF) as the guide to define, assess and develop the competences needed for project management practitioners. The third edition, released in 2017, was enhanced to cover Program Managers and Portfolio Managers.
In order to appraise the performance of Project Managers, this guide propose 10 units of project management competence –one for each knowledge area in PMBOK5– broken down into 43 elements of competence –one for each process in PMBOK5– including 89 performance criteria. Some performance expectations, sources of evidence and examples, are described under each performance criteria.
For instance, the element of competence named “Control Costs”, inside the unit of competence “Cost Management”, has 2 performance criteria: 1) “Monitor status of project activities to update project costs”; and 2) “Manage changes to cost baseline”.
Performance criteria “Manage changes to cost baseline” has 4 performance expectations:
- Leads discussions to review and disposition change requests affecting project costs.
- Documents, by signature, approval or rejection of all change requests.
- Processes and implements changes, if approved, in a timely manner.
- Follows change control process in accordance with organizational.
Performance criteria “Manage changes to cost baseline” has 3 sources of evidence:
- Signed change requests.
- Documented implementation of approved changes.
- Updated cost baseline, as needed.
Performance criteria “Manage changes to cost baseline” has 2 examples:
- Dispositioned change requests include sufficient level of detail of change and approval or rejection to allow for future understanding of basis.
- Change request documentation is completed and maintained as part of project records.
PMCDF3 in practice
From my point of view, this standard is hard to tailor at any medium size organization, being mainly based on processes and documented evidence. Moreover, after a high-cost implementation, I would have serious concerns: Would it be effective?
Processes and documentation do not guarantee that projects are finished on time, on budget, meeting the business goals and stakeholder expectations, and delivering value.
Continuing with the example above, a Functional Manager could say, and she would be totally right, that the project manager had a bad performance on cost management just because the project has finished with 20% over cost and no concern was noticed previously. Why should this Functional Manager know about baselines?
Checking the value results
Anybody can recognize a good or a bad singer, cook, etc. Project management will be considered such a real profession in our Society –team members, colleagues, friends, family, businesses managers, organizations, universities, governments, etc.– only if anybody can recognize a good or a bad project manager.
Normal people, not only experts, should be able to tell if a Project Manager is good or bad.
If we need to know if a cook is a good professional, we do not need written evidence ensuring that certain procedures are followed. We check the value result: we taste his or her food.
Everyone can cook, but not everyone is a cook. Everyone can sing, but not everyone is a singer. Our profession is no different: everyone can organize tasks, but not everyone is a project manager.
Normal people should be able to tell, objectively, if a project manager is a good or a bad professional. Sources of evidence should be understandable by anyone, not just PMP® certificates, or similar.
Will PMCDF4 be aligned to PMBOK7?
In 2021, PMI released The Project Management Body of Knowledge, Seventh Edition. The new PMBOK was redesigned upside down, from process management to principle centered, value driven, and 8 performance domains project management.
The 8 project management performance domains, easy to understand, will be the lingua franca of project stakeholders to tell if projects are performing good or bad. The project manager will use this feedback to focus and get the project back on track.
Some typical questions on performance on each domain could be like these below:
- Stakeholder Performance Domain: Are the stakeholders properly engaged? Are change requests, comments, feedback responded on time? Is project communication properly managed?
- Team Performance Domain: Is there a synergetic cohesive project team? Are team members aware of their role inside the global context? Can they submit anonymous comments? Do they waste much time on nonproductive activities, such as submitting time and expense sheets? Is the PM performing as an effective leader?
- Development Approach and Life Cycle Performance Domain: Do we know the current phase the project is in? Is this project being managed on the right predictive/hybrid/agile approach? If agile, is the scope being progressively elaborated on cyclic iterations?
- Planning Performance Domain: Is this project properly founded? Has it been approved by a top manager? Has the scope been broken down into manageable work packages? Is everyone clear on the main milestones? The main dependencies? Can the project manager tell what is going to happen today, this week, this month, etc.? Who is going to do what, by when? How much the project is going to cost? When is the project due to finish?
- Project Work Performance Domain: Do we have a project status report? Can we review how the project was doing one month ago? Are changes controlled? Are the project work data and lessons learned continuously recorded?
- Delivery Performance Domain: Are deliverables submitted with the proper cadence? Are they validated?
- Measurement Performance Domain: Are time and cost deviation regularly measured? Are time and cost forecasts reasonably accurate? Are corrective/preventive actions timely taken? Are time sheets and expenses controlled?
- Uncertainty Performance Domain: Are serious problems anticipated before it is too late? Are there too many surprises? Are there too many crises and improvisation? Have risk responses been effective?
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Thanks to PMPeople, technology can be properly applied to professional project management. Business managers can check their mobiles to make sure that project issues are responded before it is too late. Stakeholders can check the 8 project performance domains of PMBOK7 with real evidence. Project professionals can use PMPeople to practice PMBOK7.
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