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Greg Githens, Member
The 'PMBOK' refers to all published knowledge, where as the 'PMBOK guide' refers to the document published by PMI that refers to a smaller subset of the PMBOK. This is a frequent point of confusion.
The statement that it is "complex for smaller projects" might be made under the (incorrect) assumption that the PMBOK guide represents a formal approach to managing projects. The guide clearly states that it is up to the project team to select and use the knowledge appropriately. Many people hear the word "standard" and think that it is a prescriptive standard (in the engineering sense of the word); when the intent is to describe generally accepted knowledge that requires judgment for proper application and results.

PMBOK vs PMI Guide
Cristobal Colón, Member
You make a good distinction between the two concepts.
A PMBOK could be a parallel or subcomponent of a larger knowledge management system within an organization.
The PMI Guide merely offers a solution for those organizations that desire a proven PMm structure and model to incorporate into their knowledge management system.
In my experience, the organization's tolerance for structure dictates to what level you want to employ the the PMI Guide or PMBOK for that matter.

Further Clarification of Bodies of Knowledge
Greg Githens, Member
All legitimate professions have bodies of knowledge, and those bodies of knowledge may contain good practices and discredited pratices. The knowledge belongs to the practitioners, not the standard-setting body; the standard setting body (for example, PMI volunteers) is merely trying to make a judgment about what people know.
I think that calling the PMBOK guide a "proven PM structure" is taking it a little far from the intent of a professional standard.

PMI Offers a PROVEN PM Structure
Cristobal Colón, Member
Is it the word "proven" or "structure" that counters the professional standard terminology? The PMBOK wouldn't be what it is if it was not a proven methodology. I believe there is a structure proposed in the PMBOK and if the practicioner desires it, this structure can be implemented in pure form. I agree, that taking this approach could prove complex for smaller projects, but for larger ones, this is a valuable "standard" or "structure" -- you pick.:).

Semantics and Intent
Greg Githens, Member
The thrust of my comments are to clarify misconceptions about what constitutes a professional standard and to clarify the PMBOK intent of the usage of the book. Yes the guide describes a structure, and that structure provides a useful way for professionals to communicate with each other. It's usefullness is primarily because it provides consistency.
It is overstating the intent to say it is proven and it is also overstating it to call it a methodology; both the idea of proof and of defining the word methodology contributes to the overstatement. That is why my original comment was a reaction to the supposed disadvantage of "complex for smaller projects."
Stated differently, the PMBOK guide is a description of "what is" and not a description of "what should be."


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