Skip to main content

Will BoK7 make much difference to training for PMQ/PFQ?

14 Apr 2020

New syllabuses for PFQ and PMQ will be introduced by APM in early May; these are based on the APM Body of Knowledge version 7, or BoK7.

So what is different? Perhaps the biggest change is inclusion of the iterative project life cycle, because this provides an alternative path to the traditional linear life cycle. It requires a radical rethink which challenges many of our previous assumptions.

The advantage of previous syllabuses has been the consistent, logical approach to managing a project, which allowed a consistent, logical approach to teaching the syllabus.  Follow the basic linear project life cycle and make sure the planning in the first two phases of the life cycle is detailed enough to allow phase three to proceed without too many nasty surprises (or unknown unknowns). So the BoK6 PMQ syllabus included assessment criteria 4.1 "describe the principles of governance (such as policies, regulations, functions, processes, procedures and responsibilities)" - not the type of statement that induces enthusiasm in a prospective candidate (or trainer)!

Projects still come in at two or more times their original budget or years late. Can the changes in the PMQ syllabus help prevent this?

Take two of the new topics:

1.  Inclusion of the iterative life cycle with big modifications to the whole approach to planning. The linear life cycle defines scope/quality and ensures that duration and costs are consistent with it.  The result, scope tends to be dominant and duration/costs are increased to maintain scope. If costs and duration are held constant, as in the iterative life cycle, then scope and quality may vary. At least the project is finished within budget and on time, although may be with reduced scope. The radical Agile Manifesto (2001) says, "we have come to value individuals and interactions over processes and tools, responding to change over following a plan. While there is value in the terms on the right, we value the terms on the left more"

2. Inclusion of the critical chain method for scheduling activities.  It builds on the critical path method that has been the cornerstone of the courses for many years. Parkinson's Law (1955) stated that "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion". So float was considered as time available to complete an activity - no incentive to complete an activity early. The critical chain method replaces float with buffers, resourced  by removing contingencies from individual activities.

What is most exciting is that both these approaches challenge the status quo and demonstrate the effectiveness of new ways of thinking.