Project Management Standards Comparison and their influence on Global Projects

Date: 01/12/2018

Prepared by: Majed Abdeen

In my experience, I've found that being certified to a particular standard such as PMP, Scrum, Prince2…etc. is not enough if the organisation you work with do not pay attention to any standard. I had an experience working with PMP certified staff, who achieved the certification in order to keep their jobs, but who had to ignore what they had learned in order to keep their jobs, as the organisation actively prevented using any standard which didn't fit the general business mentality. On the other hand, I worked on some international projects, with virtual teams working in other countries. The challenge I faced with the team was with communication, primarily because of the time-zone (8h difference), and managing them remotely. In this situation, we used the agile mindset and scrum standard, particularly daily standup meetings, to reduce the isolation of the virtual teams.


Standards are produced by various bodies to improve Project Management success by rationalising the subject. Standards are for "foundational reference", they cannot be considered "all-inclusive" (Ghosh, et al., 2012, p. 2); many focus on methods, which is insufficient, given the effect of human behaviour on projects (Morris, 2013, p. 14), including the effect of culture on standards created within that culture (Aarseth, et al., 2013, p. 125).


Standards' focuses

PMBOK emphasises project execution/technical skills (Ghosh, et al., 2012, p. 5), strategic/business knowledge, PM's role, and leadership/soft skills. ICB focuses on program/portfolio management, emphasising soft skills (Ghosh, et al., 2012, p. 5). P2M is more extensive, less technical than other standards (Crawford, et al., 2007, p. 13) focusing on portfolios/programmes (Ghosh, et al., 2012, p. 20). Scrum focuses on stakeholder collaboration/rapid product delivery (Ghosh, et al., 2012, p. 36). PRINCE 2 focuses on business case, key risks, and product, while APM highlights interpersonal skills and the business case, with a more general than technical approach than other standards. (Ghosh, et al., 2012, pp. 12, 13, 24, 36).

Cultural focuses

Culture affects standards (Aarseth, et al., 2013, p. 125). Analysis shows that those produced in the US highlight evaluation/improvement, risk/time/scope/cost management, as well as the overall project lifecycle (Crawford, et al., 2007, p. 16). UK material is more consistent across all aspects of project management, but includes emphasis on interpersonal skills/relationship management, evaluation/improvement (Crawford, et al., 2007, p. 15). Japanese material focuses on the overall lifecycle, programmes, cost/resource management and integration (Crawford, et al., 2007, pp. 13-18).

Impact on Global Projects

Global projects require more consideration of the project environment, and demand leadership and communication skills from PMs (Aarseth, et al., 2013, p. 125). Since PM knowledge and practice varies by culture (Crawford, et al., 2007, pp. 7-8), project management Standards must consider the most effective ways of managing projects in a global world. To evaluate Standards' impacts on Global Projects, it is necessary to examine how they prepare PMs for dealing with the challenges posed by such projects. Communication, Leadership and Building Trust, Stakeholder and Customer Satisfaction, and Planning, Execution and Control were identified as key challenges (Anantatmula & Thomas, 2008). Standards were categorized based on the main focuses outlined above.

As can be seen, not all Standards deal with all challenges. PMBOK equips PMs with the skills needed for dealing with three challenges, but does not focus fully on Communication, which is especially crucial for managing global projects. SCRUM also provides for three challenges, but does not educate in Leadership/Establishing Trust, which is essential for managing global teams. The remaining Standards all only deal with two of the four challenges, with only ICB providing for Communication and Leadership; yet without Stakeholder and Planning abilities, the PM will not be able to manage expectations or plan/execute the project effectively.


It is mandatory to note that the table above is compiled based on available academic literature; unfortunately, modern studies of updated Standards from all bodies have not been carried out, a crucial issue since Standards are consistently being updated to reflect the growing Global nature of projects. As an example, several of the Standards identified above now contain guidance dealing with all four of the main challenges.


Global projects require PMs to be adept at dealing with the myriad challenges they present; Standards must therefore equip PMs with all the skills and knowledge they will need. Standards which do not will negatively impact global projects, the PMs and companies running them. Thus it is clear from the analysis above that modern PMs must to pick and choose from a variety of best-practice approaches to be suitably equipped to manage global projects.


Aarseth, W., Rolstadås, A. & Andersen, B., 2013. Managing organizational challenges in global projects. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, 7(1), pp. 103-132.

Anantatmula, V. S. & Thomas, M., 2008. Global projects: how to manage them successfully?. Warsaw, Poland. Newtown Square, Project Management Institute.

Crawford, L., Pollack, J. & England, D., 2007. How standards are standards: an examination of language emphasis in project management standards. Project Management Journal, 38(3), p. 6–21.

Ghosh, S. et al., 2012. Enhance PMBOK® by Comparing it with P2M, ICB, PRINCE2, APM and Scrum Project Management Standards. PM World Today, 14(1), pp. 1-77.

Morris, P. W. G., 2013. Reconstructing project management reprised: a knowledge perspective. Project Management Journal, 44(5), p. 6–23.