New ISO Standard for Project Management: Is this Necessary?

For those who haven’t heard, there is a new ISO standard being developed for project management —- ISO 21500.

Considering that PMI standards are already establshed internationally, the first question that comes to my mind is “why?”

Apparently, this standard will build on existing global standards, and will incorporate the work of a number of national standards as well. The project brief for the effort claims that there is a need for common terminology in the face of multiple standards, and that the ISO name recognition goes beyond project management circles, thus gaining broader accceptance.

I’d be curious to hear from others. Is there a compelling need for this? Is there room for another standard, even if this one is from a recognized body like ISO? Does this help or hurt PMI (i.e. can it help PMI by opening up new avenues for promoting project management?). What happens if the two major standards bodies conflict?

My personal opinion is that there will be minimal impact to PMI. PMI standards are well established. The PMP (and now PgMP) credential is sought after by organizations looking to staff and individuals looking to boost their credibility. PMI will probably align with the ISO standard anyway. The ISO standard will probably only serve to augment the industry with additional credibility and recognition. PMI will continute to flourish through its maturity and its focus on community.

Here’s the announcement from ISO about their new standard…

About the Author

Jerry Manas is an internationally best-selling author and researcher, and Senior Writer/Editor at Planview, the leading Enterprise Portfolio Management software company. His books Napoleon on Project Management, cited by management guru Tom Peters for its timeless principles, and Managing the Gray Areas, touted by Orlando Magic founder Pat Williams as "a new path for leaders," were critically acclaimed, with the former being translated into 8 languages. More recently, he co-authored 42 Rules for Creating WE, which was hailed by Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as "today's greatest guide for team success." His latest book, released January 2010, is Project Lessons from the Roman Empire. Jerry is a founding member of The Creating We Institute (, an international thought leadership community dedicated to fostering WE-centric practices. He is also co-founder of PMThink! and a founding member of the Project Management Institute's New Media Council. Visit his website at