Copyright to Mounir Ajam © 2012.
Published here November 2012.

Introduction | Setting the Scene | Project Phases and Stages
PMBOK® Guide Process Groups | Process Groups vs. Project Life Span 
Clearing the Doubts | Putting it All Together | Conclusion

Mounir Ajam, has a Master Degree in Engineering & Construction Management from University of California Berkeley and is a graduate of PMI Leadership Institute Master Class. He has over 25 years of experience in engineering, construction, and project management working with Exxon, Shell, BASF, Total, and Saudi Aramco. Mounir has been an active volunteer in PMI® groups such as the Congress Project Action Team, the Advisory Group for Registered Education Providers and the judging panel on PMI providers and educational awards. He is a co-founder of the Global Project and Process Management Association (GPPMA) and served as Board of Director Chairperson for 3 years. He may be reached at


Our observations in this paper are based on interactions with project management practitioners, online discussion groups, as well as surveys and polls that we have conducted in the past. It is quite clear that a large number of project management practitioners (>60% in the survey) do not understand (or at least misunderstand) some of the key concepts in project management.

So our first action in this paper is to explain the title, why "Re-defining"?

The quick and simple answer is this. We think that some of the common project management terms used in the practice of project management are not well defined. As a consequence, the outcome of this lack of clarity is starting to damage the field of project management. We realize that many would not agree with this statement, which is why, in this paper, we want to challenge the conventional wisdom and trigger some reflection on what we are about to present.

In our humble opinion, project management thought leaders and professional associations have done a great job in defining project management and we have no wish to undermine their work. Nevertheless, the challenges we have observed are many and these have led us to recommend this "Redefining". We single out two specific contributors:

  1. Many of those thought leaders have moved on to the higher levels of project management and are working on topics related to organizational project management, strategic project management, project management maturity, program management, and various other "advanced topics". They seem to be forgetting or are moving away from reassessing basic project management. Perhaps they feel that basic project management is already sufficiently mature? Or perhaps this level of detail lacks sufficient interest? Or perhaps what we have is now too entrenched to be changed?
  2. The second main contributor is the wide spread popularity of project management certifications, such as the Project Management Institute's ("PMI's") Project Management Professional ("PMP") certification[1] although the issues are not limited to the PMP alone. We are not criticizing the PMP certification here but we do critique the organizations that administer, award, and promote the PMP, including PMI, some of its chapters, and some training providers who depend on the PMP as the main source of income for themselves or their organizations.[2] With their eagerness to promote the most popular PM certification today, their focus is on passing a multiple-choice exam rather than on learning proper project management.

Why is this factor a contributor to the title of this paper? Because, many technical people without real project management experience and many with limited project management experience are becoming PMP. Further, the way a large percentage of PMP preparation classes are taught, the focus is on the process groups and processes, with inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs. These are leading to numerous points of confusion around project management, project management terminology, and most importantly, the practice of project management. In short, the dominant confusion is around the process groups and the project life cycle.

As a result of our observations and experiences, we decided to tackle these issues by developing a project management methodology, and publishing a series of books and offering services using this methodology.[3] The following content also summarizes our "SUKAD"[4] approach.


1. Referred to as PMI® and PMP® respectively.
2. Note that the author is the co-founder and CEO for a project management solutions provider that offers PMP and other PM certifications.
3. We call the methodology: "The Customizable and Adaptable Methodology for Managing Projects™" (CAM2P™). Most of the content in this paper comes from blog articles that we have published and from our second book, Redefining the Basics of Project Management yet to be published. Visit our web site at
4. "SUKAD" stands for Success Unique Knowledge Attitude Development
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