PMBOK and Pakistan IT Industry – Applicable or just wishful thinking?

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Over the last week, we’ve been discussing the strengths and weaknesses of managers vs more technically capable resources such as architects in their role of managing software projects. We’ve had quite a vibrant debate on this topic and i feel it is a very positive step for us in looking beyond our own limited world views.

If we were to breakdown what it is exactly that a person in charge of a software project does, then maybe we can figure out where the strengths and weaknesses specifically lie in each case. This will not only help you appreciate what it takes to manage a project, but also, if you are in a management role, to identify which skillsets you might need to brush up on.

Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) issued by the Project Management Institute, the backers of the PMP certification, says that project management can be thought of as nine (9) distinct areas which need to be managed. These are Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, HR, Communications, Risk and Procurement. These nine knowledge areas are managed over five stages of the project which are initiating, planning, executing, controlling and monitoring and closing.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be looking into each of the areas and the skill sets required as pertaining to the Pakistani software industry.For now, I’d like to put forward a question to everyone of you reading this post. Which of the nine knowledge areas do you think are most applicable to us and why? Please remember that applicability is different in the case of startups and established firms, so please mention the context when presenting your views.

Facebook comments:


  • All knowledge areas are equally important to produce a desired product, service, or a result. Some areas, however, require more attention in the Pakistani context. For example, Communications, Risk, and HR require more expertise than, for example, Cost.

  • During my college experience, I got the opportunity to study Project Management 2 times. Yes! 2 times! … obviously I flunked miserably the first time, but it was one of the most interesting courses I had ever taken up too. Also, our teacher, really brought out the best from us. The first time I had no idea how much demanding that course was and we were actually studying the official PMBOK. Anyways, thanks to our teacher, since I was working on my own projects at that time too I practically saw these areas at work. So I have seen it from a freelancer’s point of view and I think I can pretty much make a good guess how it could be in the case of startups. My opinion, these are the most important in order of precedence would be:

    **Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, communications, procurement and HR**

    I’d try to be as brief as possible in justifying these. The first four are undoubtedly equally important in any setup, take one out and the building would fall, so these are at the foundation.

    **communications** – well, it relatively easy to communicate in small teams so you won’t have to emphasize a diamond or a pyramid structure hierarchy. But bad communication within a small team will lead to ultimate slow and painful death if not sudden.

    **Procurement** can be vital too. Your whole future mostly depends on timely procurement anyways but mostly it’s easier to manage cash flows for small startups.

    Now for **HR**, mostly small startups have a team already, and if you don’t have a good team, then I’m afraid I’d have problems with accepting that organization as a start-up in the first place, so that’s pretty much debatable. HR problems grow almost exponentially as the organization’s size grows, as there are more people to manage. So as the team size grows, the precedence of this area will increase. For larger organizations, I’d place HR on the top.
    Unfortunately I didn’t bookmark the link where I read a study of a sociology professor from some university in England that people perform best when in teams no larger than 10 people. He had given examples of the military dividing troops into squads with references to Allied forces in Europe during WW2.

    The above text is solely my opinion based upon what I have read in theory and seen in practice, both as a freelancer working alone and also in small teams. We did pull really good jobs in small teams. Criticism will be highly appreciated and would motivate me further to consult my PMBOK and may be provide some references / text from it too. And thanks @mansoor – this a really cool post! 😛

  • shoib: that definitely opens up the thinking process somewhat. thanks!

  • Dear Friends: I have about 20 years of Project Management experience in both private and public sectors, dealing with infrasturture projects, IT projetcs, EME projects and son on.

    The procuremnt of projects in Pakistan and particulalry in Public sector are regulated by PPRA Rules-2004, Pakistan Engineering Council bidding Documenst, Genral Finance Rules etc. The PMI approach is a limited approach which looks at project with in five processes and Nine Knowledge Areas. The PMBoK is just touching these points and the appoach is more business and commercial. The PMI somehow through their registered trainers try to monoplize the Porject Management certifcation business only and ion no way they are serving the Project Managers in PAkistan. The Registred Tutors of PMi at Pakistan have become money making machines and they are just pludering the people by the name of PMI. I am teaching Project Managemnt for the last nine years, and I personally feel that Project Managemnt in Pakistan is much more than what PMI thinks. There is a need to develop local certifcation and teaching capacity to deal with the project management challenges in Pakistan.

  • It would be interesting to discuss how PMBOK ties in with AGILE.

    At our workplace we follow Rational Unified Process (RUP) which has everything that PMBOK talks about except Procurement and HR.

    The beauty of RUP is that it allows you to apply AGILE staying within a structured methodology.

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