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15 years of engagement in standardization – a review


With the completion of the ISO 21503 "Guidance on program management" an era ends for me this year, the development of national as well as international standards. It all started in 2002, when GPM's Special Interest Group for “Standardization" involved new people in order to renew the DIN 69901 “Project Management” series of standards. For us it was very difficult to get accustomed to writing a standard, not only because of the language used, but also due to the degree of abstraction, because DIN standards must cover all branches and organizations. Later, we developed a series of standards for multiple-projects management, DIN 69909 in parts 1 to 4. The importance of national standardization work emerged in 2007, when a standard for project management was to be developed within the framework of the ISO. We applied with DIN 69901 parts 1 to 5 translated into English. Because the British and the Americans could not decide who should take over the leadership of the working group for project management processes, I was asked to do so. In 2007, the work on ISO 21500 begun. It was already apparent at the first meeting of the ISO project group in London that a battle was raging about the influence on the topic - and I was in the middle of the storm. British versus American, PMI against IPMA, and in between the rather smaller countries and interest groups. Nevertheless, we somehow managed to get together and found a common denominator. In 2012, the first version of ISO 21500 "Guidance on project management" was finally released, after five years of intensive work. In parallel, a Technical Committee (ISO/TC258) was approved by ISO, which has been developing standards for project, program and portfolio management since 2011. In addition to ISO 21500, there are now standards available for portfolio management (ISO 21504) and governance for projects, programs and portfolios (ISO 21505). Standards for "Work Breakdown Structure", "Earned Value Analysis" and "Terminology" are still under construction. Further standards are in the phase of evaluation. It is important from a German point of view that the preparatory work on national standards helps to better represent national interests and to speed up work on the ISO. >From my point of view, the essential standards are now available. A good time to withdraw and leave the standardization work to others. I gained important impulses from the international environment of project, program and portfolio management, as well as many friendships around the world.