Comparing project management standards

July 18, 2017

Here's a look at some of the standards you'll explore in an MBA.

A man writes something onto a board
International project management standards can ensure that the effort is directed towards work that matters. Photo © Sebastian Freiler

Taking a structured approach to project management is a great way to ensure the effort which you and your team expend is directed towards work that matters. It can also help you more easily document the work that you do so that you can monitor how well a project is progressing, and evaluate your performance and the performance of others.

There are a number of international project management standards that exist to provide these kinds of guidelines, which can be valuable to explore through an MBA education. Here are a few examples worth knowing about.

The IPMA ICB can help MBA students maintain a standard of competence

For the professional who wants to improve their capabilities and knowledge, the International Project Management Association (IPMA) Individual Competence Baseline (ICB) is a project management standard worth exploring. Broadly speaking, the ICB concerns itself with using competence—defined by the IPMA as a mixture of knowledge, skills, and an ability to apply both to projects—as a metric for evaluation. The ICB can be used by businesses to establish a standard for running and evaluating projects, by executives as a guide for professional development and self-evaluation, and in many other contexts in the world of business.

Though the core idea may seem simple, a great deal of development has gone into the ICB. About 60 member associations contribute to its development, and the standard serves as a framework for all IMPA Member Associations and Certification bodies, ensuring consistency across all participating entities. Complete an MBA in Project Management at a school that teaches this standard, such as WU Executive Academy, to ensure that you pick up valuable insight used broadly in the business world, and you make real progress in your career.

Learning about the PMBOK at MBA school provides valuable guidance for project management

Since 1996, the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), published by the Project Management Institute (PMI), has been a useful reference for professionals in the project management space. It serves as a collection of best practices, terminology, and guidelines that are recognized within the industry, and PMI claims it has become the #1 standard in the world for project management. With coverage that includes everything from budgeting and spending, to human resource management for teams working on projects, and far beyond, the PMBOK can be of great and varied use to project management professionals.

Exploring the PMBOK in your MBA program is a great way to reinforce concepts from classes with specific knowledge drawn from the world of project management. For added benefit, discuss interesting ideas you discover through studying the PMBOK with your professors and guest lecturers. Their extensive experience, whether from the academic or private sector, can provide you with unique and valuable insight into the merits of the PMBOK's prescribed methodologies.

A professor explaines something to a class
Professors and guest lecturers at WU may have valuable insight into concepts from the PMBOK.

The PRINCE2 standard is a widely used methodology worth exploring

Particularly common in the UK's public and private sectors, but used internationally as well, the PRINCE2 standard offers a framework designed to facilitate project management. It covers preliminary planning, as well as methods for keeping ongoing projects under control, and even offers guidance for the best ways to close down a completed project tidily.

Where the PMBOK is mostly useful in teaching essential knowledge for project management, PRINCE2 is more like an instruction manual. It outlines specific processes that can be followed in order to approach projects systematically and get great results. Studying PRINCE2 in an MBA program could therefore be an excellent way to turn conceptual mastery into true benefit for your business.

A man is explaining something on a flipchart
PRINCE2 offers guidance for how to approach project management systematically.

Since many MBA programs draw students from all over the world, the odds are quite good that you will study alongside professionals who have experience implementing the PRINCE2 in their own work. Reach out to them to find out if they have any particular advice or thoughts about the standard. Doing so is a great way to enhance your learning, and could help you to uncover some tips that can enhance your own work.

Are you interested in studying project management at a good MBA school?

Contact WU Executive Academy to learn how you can get started.

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