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Better project management with ISO 21500

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While project management originated from the civil engineering and building industries, the discipline has since developed into a formal career path and a valuable skill in the workplace. Project management is the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve the project objectives. Additionally, the goal of project management is to develop and implement a product, service, event or facility within a certain budget and time frame. 

The importance of project management

Although the term ‘project management’ sounds like it simply refers to the management of projects, it’s much more than that. Projects tend to be complex and in need of extensive planning, organisation and monitoring. Project management is important for the following reasons:

  • Clearly outlines the plan of the project before it begins: The more complex the project, the more opportunity there is for things to go wrong. One of project manager’s primary functions is to outline a clear plan of the project from beginning to end.
  • Establishes a schedule and plan: Having a schedule in place helps to eliminate delays and provides a plan to be followed for all those involved with the project.
  • Encourages teamwork: People are required to work in a team on a project. Team members are able to share their knowledge and skills as well as support each other to ensure the success of the project.  
  • Helps to control costs: Depending on the scope of the project, some projects can be quite expensive. Project management ensures that the project stays on budget.
  • Manages change: Projects, during their running, often face changes and organisations must be prepared to face such deviations from the original plan. Project management effectively manages these changes without causing a significant disruption in operations.
  • Manages quality: Project management helps to identify, manage and control quality.

Every project is unique but the reasons why some projects fail are often the same. Like every other discipline, project management faces challenges such as:

Undefined goals – Unclear project goals can cause a major setback in the project, so clear goals must be outlined to everyone involved before the project begins. 

Scope changes – Also known as “scope creep”, happens when the client or upper management requests changes to the project’s scope during its planning or implementation. Project management must determine if and how these changes will be implemented and whether they are in line with the set budget and timeline. 

Poor communication – Miscommunication is often blamed for the failure of a project. Inadequate communication between project managers and team members will lead to inconsistencies and will have a dire impact on the project at hand. Communication must be clear and effective. 

Overspending – There are many elements to a project including equipment, software, consultation, and human resources. Additionally, other unplanned expenses often arise during the project’s implementation. Misestimating expenses can cause major complications in a project’s developmental life cycle. 

Risk Management – Poor risk management is one of the most common project management challenges. Project managers and team members alike must be on a constant lookout for potential risks and plan to avoid or reduce the impact of such risks.

Unrealistic Deadlines – Lastly, while there are often delays in achieving project milestones, this can be prevented by closely monitoring the project’s progress from the start. Unrealistic deadlines will create tension amongst team members which can lead to inconsistencies and mistakes. 

ISO 21500 is an international standard issued by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) in 2012. ISO 21500 provides guidance for effective project management as well as a high-level description of concepts and processes that form good practice in project management. It can be used globally by any type of organisation, public or private, regardless of its size or industry. It is also applicable to any type of project.

It is intended to be used as a basic guide, aimed at the informed reader without an in-depth knowledge of project management.

ISO 21500 is organized into the following main clauses:

  • Clause 3, which describes the key concepts applicable to most projects and environments in which they are performed.
  • Clause 4, which identifies the recommended project management processes to be used during a project, for individual phases or both.

The benefits of using ISO 21500

ISO outlines the following benefits of using the ISO 21500:

  • It encourages the transfer of knowledge between projects and organisations for improved project delivery.
  • It facilitates efficient tendering processes using consistent project management terminology
  • It enables the flexibility of project management employees and their ability to work on international projects.
  • It provides universal project management principles and processes.

ISO 21500 is designed to align with related standards such as ISO 10006:2003, ISO 10007:2003, and ISO 31000:2009. With an increased pressure on businesses to deliver faster and cheaper results to keep up with its competition, using this new standard will increase organisational efficiency.

How WWISE can help

WWISE offers a range of expert services to help organisations develop and implement ISO-compliant management systems, including ISO 21500. Our services are extensive and include integration of the ISO 21500 with the organisation’s existing ISO-compliant management systems, training, development of awareness programmes, guidance regarding every step of development and implementation, preparation for certification, internal and external audits, GAP analysis, and maintenance programmes to ensure ongoing compliance and improvement of the organisation.