0.5 Ways of Working
Our Guest This Episode: Louis Alderman
Louis Alderman and the team focus on the 6th Edition of the PMBOK Guide and discuss the recent exposure draft and how it will impact the PMP Certification Exam in the future. Tune in for the latest and greatest.
Louis Alderman manages the instructional design team at Velociteach, responsible for curriculum development of Velociteach’s live class offerings as well as the development of courses delivered on InSite, Velociteach’s proprietary eLearning facility. He is a Project Management Professional, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and earned his Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Houston. Louis came to Velociteach after retiring with almost 29 years of experience at Hewlett Packard Company.
Louis contributed 14 years of his career at HP in information technology project management and assisted in the creation of HP Managed Services’ project management office. He has managed many projects of global scope and has served as an internal project management consultant as a primary role in HP’s IT Project Management Office. He developed processes to facilitate cross-business-unit project prioritization, project selection, funding, and reporting of HP’s global IT project portfolio.
Louis holds certifications from the Scrum Alliance as a Certified ScrumMaster and from Project Management Institute as an Agile Certified Practitioner.
Favorite Quotes from Our Talk:
"Moving to the Sixth Edition, it’s apparent, we don’t have the detail yet, but it’s apparent that all of these tools that we’ve worked on for so many years are going to be treated somewhat differently. I think they’re going to be grouped and not necessarily treated as individually or as discreetly as they have in the past."
"So part of the challenge, Nick, is the PMBOK Guide started off as traditional waterfall. It’s very structured. The processes were not terribly iterative and adaptive. Not to say they couldn’t be used that way. But they were – it was a waterfall document. Agile came along, took a completely different approach. PMI ultimately embraced Agile, and now it’s a question of how do you synthesize these things back together because Agile and waterfall don’t always synthesize well."
"We expect to see a new chapter on the role of the project manager and how that works within the talent triangle, how the PMBOK Guide – maybe as well as how it maps to the talent triangle. So the talent triangle is getting a lot of attention these days. It’s not just an afterthought. It’s sort of a keystone."
ANDY CROWE ● BILL YATES ● NICK WALKER ● LOUIS ALDERMAN
NICK WALKER: Welcome to Manage This, the podcast by project managers for project managers. This is our chance to meet and talk with you about project management certification, as well as all the issues that matter to you as a professional project manager.
I’m Nick Walker, and with me are the guys who can rightfully be called project management experts. They have the answers to your questions: Andy Crowe and Bill Yates. Plus, we are overflowing with experts today. With us, Louis Alderman, the manager of curriculum development at Velociteach. I guess that’s why we have a round table in our studio instead of a square one because we’d run out of corners otherwise. Louis, great to have you here with us.
LOUIS ALDERMAN: Thank you.
NICK WALKER: Let’s just start off with you. You know, tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you join the Velociteach team?
LOUIS ALDERMAN: I came to Velociteach in 2005. I was a customer of Velociteach and a firm believer in the process of Velociteach because it worked for me.
NICK WALKER: Aha.
LOUIS ALDERMAN: So that was my first exposure to Velociteach. And the longer I’ve been with the organization, the team, the better and better I feel about it. So it’s just been a growth.
BILL YATES: Louis, you said you were a customer. Who was your instructor?
LOUIS ALDERMAN: I was privileged to have Andy Crowe as my instructor.
NICK WALKER: How about that?
LOUIS ALDERMAN: A young man at the time that I was very impressed with. He had a lot going. And so…
BILL YATES: Back in the day.
LOUIS ALDERMAN: Yeah. He really represented Velociteach very well.
BILL YATES: That’s great.
NICK WALKER: Well, so you’ve been in the trenches yourself. Tell us a little bit about that, maybe some of your experience.
LOUIS ALDERMAN: Well, I started directly out of college working for Hewlett-Packard Company. That was my first employer. And I worked for HP for almost 29 years. And then I took an early retirement and within the same week went to work for Velociteach. So it was sort of a planned project transition, so it worked well for me.
At HP I had various lives and started off in technical support engineering, where I actually had my first tour of training in education by developing training for other engineers on our products and how to support them. That was about 25 percent of my career at HP. I spent another 25 percent in sales, enjoying going out and visiting and selling to other computer companies at the time.
The second half of my career at HP I had tours of duty as a business process analyst. I was an IT project manager about 30 percent of my experience at HP. And then I served about another 10 percent there in the project management office, working with portfolio management and process design. So it was a great run. And I’m right where I’m supposed to be.
NICK WALKER: Excellent. Which is right here with us. We thank you so much for being here with us. And we will see you from time to time again, I’m sure, on this round table.
LOUIS ALDERMAN: Looking forward to it.
NICK WALKER: Hey, let’s jump right in. One of the things about this podcast, at least for me, is that almost every time we meet, I tend to learn a new word, a new phrase, a new concept, sometimes a new abbreviation or acronym. And one of those is the main topic of today’s podcast. It is – drum roll, please – the PMBOK Guide, PMBOK, P-M-B-O-K. And that to me is kind of a mysterious one. So Andy, this is my educational moment; okay? What is the PMBOK Guide?
ANDY CROWE: Well, it’s a very important document for us, Nick, as project managers. It’s an acronym, and it actually stands for a guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. So it’s a book. And it’s a big, thick book. It’s an ANSI standard. And I believe it is the only ANSI standard for project management out there right now. It’s certainly the accepted one. The point of it is, it defines these knowledge areas, and these knowledge areas that project managers are supposed to follow. They’re considered to be good practices to implement.
So the way I think about it, there are sort of two elements to it, two directions. One is it’s descriptive of what a project manager should do. Maybe “prescriptive” is a better word. It’s prescriptive of how we should practice project management in sort of a best practices and processes kind of way. And then it’s reflective of what project managers, what PMs are doing out in the field. So every few years they run a role delineation study. They look at what managers are actually doing. And that gets – some of those best practices get folded back into the PMBOK Guide. So it is a really important document for us.
NICK WALKER: So, Bill, this, I take it, is not necessarily a step-by-step guide, you know.
BILL YATES: Right.
NICK WALKER: Step A, do this, you know, and then you’ll be successful.
BILL YATES: Yeah, yeah, great point. The PMBOK Guide has 47 processes. But you can’t look at that – if you’re an engineer, your temptation is to look at that and say, oh, here are the steps that I need to take as a project manager, one through 47. And it’s not intended for that purpose. It’s best practices to apply to most projects, most of the time. There are some things that will not be applicable. So I hear people refer to it more as a framework than a cookbook.
ANDY CROWE: Yeah, I like that.
BILL YATES: It’s not a cookbook approach.
ANDY CROWE: And it’s not a methodology.
BILL YATES: Right.
ANDY CROWE: It gives you the tools to build a methodology. It gives you the processes which are sort of building blocks. But then how you assemble those is going to vary, organization to organization.
BILL YATES: Right.
NICK WALKER: So in summary, it is a book.
BILL YATES: A big book. It’s massive.
ANDY CROWE: It’s published by PMI, right, the Project Management Institute. And this is a volunteer effort. Volunteers work on this.
NICK WALKER: And, you know, as we’ve talked about on podcasts in the past, project management is an ever-changing and ever-growing field. So my guess is that the PMBOK Guide has to change, as well. There have probably been several editions over the years; right?
ANDY CROWE: Right. And so every four years this ANSI standard gets updated. It goes through a pretty dramatic process. People give their input. There’s a lot of times a general idea of what needs to be done. Then they open it up to the community in an exposure draft, and you get comments. And that’s what we’re here to talk about today. They’ve given an exposure draft for this new update. We’ve currently, in fact, Bill said a moment ago there were 47 processes. He was referring to the current Fifth Edition. But they’ve now given us a Sixth Edition exposure draft. So for PMBOK nerds – and I think we probably qualify as that. I’ll own that title.
BILL YATES: I confess.
ANDY CROWE: For people who get excited about this type of thing, this is kind of an early sneak peak. This is sort of like the fashion show in Paris where you get to see sort of what’s coming down the pipeline. It hasn’t translated onto shelves and onto clothing racks yet. But it’s coming. And so we’ve gotten a chance to review that. We’ve gone through the Sixth Edition, some of us more than others, and have pored over it and looked at it.
NICK WALKER: All right. If we can just go back for just a second, why? Let’s talk about why. Why does the Project Management Institute update the standard every four years?
BILL YATES: Yeah. One of the reasons I think Andy has touched on, the perspective of the project manager. We want to make sure, as we’re professional project managers, that the standard, the ANSI standard for project management reflects reality. So it’s a bit of a reality check. Andy mentioned the role delineation study. The three of us have spoken on that before. And about every six years that role delineation study is conducted by PMI to look at practitioners and make sure that the standard reflects reality in terms of the roles that they’re serving on these projects. So they want to keep it fresh. They want to make sure it’s relevant. And we’ll, again, to hold back on the ammunition a bit, but we’ve seen some changes in that exposure draft that reflect some of those reality checks.
ANDY CROWE: And Nick, maybe the clearest answer for this is because the world we live in changes. Practices change. Customs change. New techniques emerge. New discoveries are made. New technologies come in. And the PMBOK Guide doesn’t do a lot with technology so much, but all of these things it needs to be – it needs to be kept fresh. It will get stale if it doesn’t get updated over time. So four years is the general cycle.
LOUIS ALDERMAN: You know, Andy, it’s been said that Latin is a dead language because it doesn’t go through the inflections, the changes with society; because it’s not anybody’s first language, I hope. But project management is not dead. It’s practiced every day, and we learn new theories. We learn new techniques, new concepts. They get folded into the practice. And so it’s not a dead profession. Project management is alive and well.
ANDY CROWE: Et tu, Brute?
NICK WALKER: Great analogy. Hey, let’s talk a little bit about, okay, we’ve got – we’re in the Fifth Edition right now. When can we expect the Sixth Edition to come out? Bill?
BILL YATES: Right. The dates that are critical, there are a few of them, so hang in there with us as we talk through that. But the Fifth Edition PMBOK Guide was released in January 2013.
ANDY CROWE: Early January.
BILL YATES: Early January 2013. We expect to have a publication about every four years. So to that end, the process that we’re going through right now is we’re looking at, okay, an exposure draft. Well, the exposure draft just came out. That was released March 7th, I think it was, of this year. And so we’re looking for a second stage, another release in the second quarter. I actually got a verification from somebody who oversees the standards at PMI just yesterday that we should – they’re still on target to hit – end of Q2 this year we should receive the remainder of that draft. Now, that draft, again, that’s going to be chapters 4 through 13. That’ll be the meat.
ANDY CROWE: And what is that? What are chapters 4 through 13, Bill?
BILL YATES: Yeah, chapters 4 through 13 go into those knowledge areas, those 10 knowledge areas. Starts with integration, ends with stakeholder management. It’s got the big ideas, you know, the time, the scope, the cost, the quality, the big topics, the sandboxes that we play in, if you will, as project managers. So to get at – to answer your question specifically, we anticipate that the final published Sixth Edition PMBOK Guide will be Quarter 3 of 2017.
NICK WALKER: So this is not a rush job.
LOUIS ALDERMAN: It will be.
ANDY CROWE: Nick, I was a volunteer on the Third Edition. And there is so much work to be done by the volunteer committee. And one of the things we had that just sticks in the back of my mind, we had to adjudicate over 7,000 comments. People would read it. They would comment. They would ask questions. Some of them found problems. Some of them had ideas that they thought would make it better. The committee has to review it. It is an intensive process, and a labor of love for the people who do it.
NICK WALKER: But you say that the exposure draft was released on March 7th of this year. And you’ve seen the draft. So what are your impressions of it so far? Bill?
BILL YATES: Yeah. I like what I see. Let’s start at a high level. One of my first checkpoints is going to be, okay, have they added another process group? No. It’s still initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and closing. Good. Is there another knowledge area? Because last time there was.
LOUIS ALDERMAN: That’s right.
ANDY CROWE: Louis – yeah, yeah, yeah.
BILL YATES: They added – what was the one they added last time?
LOUIS ALDERMAN: Stakeholder management.
BILL YATES: Sure, yeah. So they took communications, that topic, and split it into two; and really stakeholder management came out of that. There are no new knowledge areas, so we still have those 10. So that’s good news. And then, as we started to look at what’s in the exposure draft, what do we have so far? What do we not have? Because they’ve done it a little bit differently this time. They split out. The exposure draft has less information for us at this point to view. As I’ve alluded to, it doesn’t have chapters 4 through 13 yet. But the two sections that we saw in the exposure draft we’re able to line up with the Fifth Edition PMBOK Guide and kind of flip the pages and see what kind of changes we could – we would note.
ANDY CROWE: So there are some new elements to it. We’ve added three processes. We’ve retired one. Is that correct?
BILL YATES: Right.
ANDY CROWE: And so we now have gone from a net of 47 to 49. So I’ll say this. It’s sort of the nature of this standard to grow. And there’s a bunch of reasons why. There’s an old joke that I like, that a camel is a horse designed by committee. And so when you get a bunch of volunteers together with the PMBOK Guide, they have good ideas. They bring in fresh practices. They maybe bring in things that have irritated them about past editions that they want to see rectified in this edition. And so a lot of times it’ll grow. It’s just the nature of it to grow. That’s what we’ve seen here. A little bit of growth.
But this is manageable. This is containable. This net of two processes, two new processes net is workable and probably reflective of what’s going on. We also have reason to believe that stakeholder management is starting to get more attention in general. And that is a good thing. I wasn’t – I was glad they added stakeholder management as a knowledge area in the Fifth Edition. I think it needs more attention. I think it needs more.
BILL YATES: Right.
NICK WALKER: Do you still have questions about what’s to come? When you look at what’s there, does it spark, oh, I wonder about this?
BILL YATES: Yeah, absolutely. And the key word is “draft.” Right? It’s an exposure draft. And as Andy has pointed out, 7,000 comments. Can you imagine?
ANDY CROWE: And that was several editions ago. I’d love to know what it is now.
BILL YATES: Yeah, it’s going to be – it’ll be an incredible – the time and the change that will be impacted. So it’s hard to say; right? It is a draft. But Louis has done some analysis on some of the nitty-gritty details, if you will, and what they’ve shown us so far. So we do have – we’ve got some view for the inputs and the outputs, and we have those 47 processes that are now expanding to 49. So we have a few things that we can comment on. Louis, what are some of the observations that you’ve made off of that?
LOUIS ALDERMAN: Well, the first observation I made, I did sort of a comparison side by side with the Fifth Edition. And moving to the Sixth Edition, it’s apparent, we don’t have the detail yet, but it’s apparent that all of these tools that we’ve worked on for so many years are going to be treated somewhat differently. I think they’re going to be grouped and not necessarily treated as individually or as discreetly as they have in the past. So we used to have a spec that would give us an idea of how much the PMBOK Guide has grown. For example, the Fourth Edition had about 517 inputs, outputs, tools, and techniques. When we went to the Fifth Edition, that grew to a whopping 618.
BILL YATES: Right.
LOUIS ALDERMAN: So when a student preparing to take a PMP exam tries to figure out, how do I get my arms around all of this information, how do I organize it, that’s one of the things we like to bring to the table from Velociteach is a way to organize that information for understanding and remembering. So in looking at the Sixth Edition, we see that the relative number of inputs is actually going down.
BILL YATES: Right.
LOUIS ALDERMAN: A lot were consolidated, used more commonly. There are some threads that are easier to remember for exam purposes, if you will, because things are more streamlined. So the numbers are going down from 256 inputs to 238.
ANDY CROWE: And they’re probably chunkier; is that right, Louis?
LOUIS ALDERMAN: Yes.
ANDY CROWE: They’re probably a little bit more coarse.
LOUIS ALDERMAN: Right. You know, I don’t think we lost any inputs. Maybe some have been consolidated.
BILL YATES: Right, got it.
LOUIS ALDERMAN: Talked about at a higher level. From an outputs perspective, which is the real reason we do any process anyway, we want the output from it…
BILL YATES: There you go.
LOUIS ALDERMAN: That’s the important part to me of any process. That number has actually grown from 153 outputs called out in the Fifth Edition to 182.
BILL YATES: Wow.
LOUIS ALDERMAN: That’s a pretty heavy percentage increase. So I think that we’ll still focus a lot on those important outputs. Now, the tools are an area that has not been exposed yet. The standard dealt with – that first exposure draft we looked at deals more with the standard. And it talks about the processes, the inputs, and the outputs. The Guide, the second phase of this exposure, is going to give us a lot more information about the tools and techniques. So we are anxiously awaiting to hear that information, too.
BILL YATES: Yeah. Nick, going back to your question, what is in the exposure draft, if you take the PMBOK Guide, all, I don’t know, 600 and whatever pages it is in the Fifth Edition, if you try to compare, we’ve really got, like, chapters 1 and 2 of that. And then flip to the back, there’s an Annex that’s another roughly 50 pages. That’s what we have to compare to the Sixth Edition exposure draft at this point. So that’s how we’re doing our analysis. We’re anxiously awaiting those other chapters, chapters 4 through 13.
ANDY CROWE: Rubbing our hands together.
NICK WALKER: Spoken like PMBOK nerds, for sure. Can’t wait.
BILL YATES: Yeah.
LOUIS ALDERMAN: You didn’t see the Band-Aid on my glasses, but…
NICK WALKER: All right. Now, in earlier podcasts, we talked about some fairly recent developments and ideas in the area of Agile and the talent triangle. Can we expect to see more of those in the new edition?
ANDY CROWE: We do expect to see more. So part of the challenge, Nick, is the PMBOK Guide started off as traditional waterfall. It’s very structured. The processes were not terribly iterative and adaptive. Not to say they couldn’t be used that way. But they were – it was a waterfall document. Agile came along, took a completely different approach. PMI ultimately embraced Agile, and now it’s a question of how do you synthesize these things back together because Agile and waterfall don’t always synthesize well.
In fact, that’s something a lot of people struggle with. They talk about doing hybrid models. And then when they actually try and do it, sometimes instead of getting the best of both, they get the worst of each, and it doesn’t marry well. So it’s really been a challenge. If you go back a couple of editions, the word “Agile” wasn’t even mentioned in the PMBOK Guide. And since then it’s become – they’ve been embracing it more and more. But that synthesis is really tricky to do.
BILL YATES: Yeah. I can’t wait to see how they actually pull this off. We’ll see that in the next exposure draft. And through that, what they’ve said so far is – again, back to chapters 4 through 13 that cover the knowledge areas. The introduction to each of those chapters will make reference to adaptive or Agile methods. And, okay, we’re going to talk about building a schedule. And as we go through this area of time management, here are some things to think about for Agile practitioners. I can’t wait to see what they do with that.
ANDY CROWE: Yeah, because the way those two approach scheduling is completely different. It’s completely different.
BILL YATES: Right, right.
ANDY CROWE: It will be fascinating to see, no question. And you mentioned the talent triangle, Nick. So that’s definitely this idea of technical, this idea of leadership, this idea of strategic and business management, that triangle coming into play. Yes, we expect to see a new chapter on the role of the project manager and how that works within the talent triangle, how the PMBOK Guide – maybe as well as how it maps to the talent triangle. So the talent triangle is getting a lot of attention these days. It’s not just an afterthought. It’s sort of a keystone.
NICK WALKER: So overall, from what you’ve seen so far, can you get to a point where you say, this is good, this good? Or is it just this is what it is? It is what it is?
ANDY CROWE: Some degree, we’re still waiting for the second exposure. But the good news is, as we look at it, first of all, when we went from the Second Edition PMBOK Guide, or the 2000 PMBOK Guide, when we went to the Third Edition, it was a pretty traumatic change. A lot of change was introduced all at once. And a lot of that was deeply necessary, but it was involved. Fourth Edition wasn’t that big. Fifth Edition cleaned up some things and grew and expanded. And so what we’re seeing with the Sixth is it’s sort of continuing that trajectory. There’s a lot of things being cleaned up, a few things being added. Maybe not a lot of change at this point. Or at least not a lot of unmanageable change.
BILL YATES: Right.
NICK WALKER: So what’s the next step? Again, what are we waiting for now, Bill? And where do we go from here?
BILL YATES: Yeah, we’ll receive another exposure draft that’ll come out later in Quarter 2. So we’re anticipating seeing that. That’ll be, again, chapters 4 through 13. Then we’ll have the complete, if you will, PMBOK Guide, Sixth Edition, again, draft version, to go through and see. Again, we can’t wait to see what they do with Agile. We know they’re going to place it on the beginning of each knowledge area; also an Appendix in the back that’ll be dedicated to Agile. Very curious to see how they approach that and what that’ll include. So really later in Q2, later this quarter, we’ll start to get a sense for exactly what does this thing look like. Like Louis said, then we’ll finally see the tools, as well; right?
LOUIS ALDERMAN: Absolutely.
BILL YATES: And see what they’ve done with that. So those are really next steps for us.
NICK WALKER: And food for more future podcasts, obviously.
BILL YATES: True.
NICK WALKER: With the PMBOK nerds.
BILL YATES: Yes.
NICK WALKER: As a matter of fact, we’ve got a guest coming on a future show who may be able to speak into this a little bit, Bill.
BILL YATES: Yeah. And I can’t wait to tell John that he’s a PMBOK nerd.
ANDY CROWE: He probably knows that already.
NICK WALKER: He probably won’t be insulted.
BILL YATES: You’re right. Yeah, I think a couple of podcasts from now we have scheduled John Stenbeck to join us for a podcast. And we’re going to focus on – we’re going to dive deeper into Agile and iterative processes and how they’re going to be reflected in the Sixth Edition PMBOK Guide. John Stenbeck, he’s an author, he’s a speaker, a consultant on Agile practices. He’s a project manager, and he’s a PMBOK nerd. And I think he’ll have a good time going into that. Some of the things that we’re going to explore is, as a project manager, is my world changing? Now Agile practices are actually going to be in the PMBOK Guide. What does that mean to me? How does that impact me? So that’ll be a fun conversation. We’ll pick that up for sure.
NICK WALKER: All right. Exploring the changes, the many changes. Well, before we sign off today, let’s talk about what you’ve been reading these days. Louis, since we’ve got you here, why don’t we pick your brain a little bit? What’s on your reading list?
LOUIS ALDERMAN: Well, you know, this is maybe a departure from project management. But one of my roles at Velociteach is to manage a lot of creative designers. And a book that I’m rereading – I’ve read it many years ago, and I’m rereading it at this point – is a book by Gordon MacKenzie, who was a creative artist with Hallmark greeting cards for over 30 years and managed a group of creative designers. And the name of his book is interesting. It’s called “Orbiting the Giant Hairball.”
LOUIS ALDERMAN: Yeah, exactly. And, you know, he’s written the book from that creative artist perspective. In fact, all of his other books are about how to do watercolor art and art techniques. But this one is how to navigate the corporate structure, the bureaucracy, the normalcy in a corporation, and yet not squelch the creativity of an artist or a designer, trying to force-fit that person, that creative mind into a corporate profile. So it’s an interesting read. And I’m really taking to heart how to be more creative in how we deliver these nuances and concepts of the PMBOK Guide for those preparing to take the PMP exam.
NICK WALKER: Yeah, I mean, you guys are a creative bunch. Sure, you’re nerds. But you’ve got to bring it down to my level; right?
BILL YATES: That’s right.
NICK WALKER: Hey, as always, it’s been great. Andy, Bill, always a pleasure. Louis, great to have you in the mix, if for no other reason to keep these guys in line; you know? So we hope you’ll tune back in on May 3rd for our next podcast. In the meantime, we invite you to tweet us at @manage_this if you have any questions about project management or any of the project manager certifications. And if you know someone who would be a good guest for the show, let us know, even if it’s you. That’s all for this episode. Talk to you again soon. Until then, keep calm and Manage This.