ISO 21500

ISO 21500:2012, Guidance on Project Management, is an international standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO starting in 2007 and released in 2012. It was intended to provide generic guidance, explain core principles and what constitutes good practice in project management.[1] The ISO technical committee dealing with project management, ISO/PC 236 was held by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) which had approved four standards that used PMI materials. one of which was ANSI/PMI 99-001-2008, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge - 4th Edition (PMI BoK® Guide - 4th Edition) (revision and re-designation of ANSI/PMI 99-001-2004): 11/20/2008.[2]

ISO plans for this standard (21500) to be the first in a family of project management standards. ISO also designed this standard to align with other, related standards such as ISO 10005:2005 Quality management systems − Guidelines for quality plans, ISO 10006:2003 Quality management systems − Guidelines for quality management in projects, ISO 10007:2003 Quality management systems − Guidelines for configuration management, ISO 31000:2009 Risk management – Principles and guidelines.[3]


The process approach to project management developed in the 1980s, largely in Europe.[4] The main focus of this approach is the use of structured processes throughout project execution in order to achieve its objectives.[4] Project management then is a structured process about converting a vision into reality and the major emphasis was on developing and defining processes in order to meet project objectives.[4] Research has demonstrated that organizational effectiveness is a direct function of the decision-making criteria and goal-centered activities embedded in processes [5] and implicitly, a process based approach to project management.
Project life cycles come out of this process approach to project management. In fact, several core concepts in the Project Management Body of Knowledge are based upon the process based to project management, particularly, project management processes, integration management, and the management of quality and risk.[4]


ISO 21500 was developed to offer guidance on the concepts and processes of project management with the goal of implementing processes and best practices to improve project management performance.[6] While, the standard describes important concepts and processes of project management it does not provide detailed guidance and general management topics are limited to relevant aspects of project management.[7] The standard as developed by the ISO was modeled on the Project Management Institute's Body of Knowledge (PMBoK), although there are some key differences.[8]

The ISO project management standard is only 47 pages long and is limited to the introduction of the processes, their inputs, and their outputs.[9] The PMI standard is more than 450 pages in length and describes processes, inputs, outputs and associated tools and techniques.[9] Both organizations use the concept of process as an integral part of project management. ISO and PMI segregate project processes into five process groups with some minor variances in labeling.[8] The differences between the two standards is minimal with respect to process groups and subjects/knowledge areas.[7] The substantive difference in the two standards is with the detail and description of tools and techniques, because ISO 21500:2012 do not provide it.[7][8] Another major change is the introduction of a new subject by ISO, namely, "stakeholder management".[9]


One reviewer noted that the ISO 21500 project management processes were probably more useful in a cascade approach to scope definition as an alternative to using iterative approaches and therefore less attractive for project-oriented organizations.[9] Similarly, for the PMBoK, the major development in this coordinated approach was the requirement that a knowledge area always starts with the associated management plan.[9]


Since ISO 21500:2012 is a guidance document, it is not intended to be used for certification/registration purposes. However, the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) does offer accreditation in order to standardize the project management structure for students at DTU.

See also

For industry analysis of ISO 21500, see also:


  1. ^ "ISO launches work on international standard for project management". ISO. 2007.
  2. ^ "ANSI Standards Action, page 17" (PDF). American National Standards Institute (ANSI). 2008. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  3. ^ "New ISO standard on project management". ISO. 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d Christophe, N. Bredillet. "Exploring Research in Project Management: Nine Schools of Project Management Research (Part 5)." Project Management Journal ISSN 8756-9728 38.2 (2007): 3-4.
  5. ^ Nwagbogwu, Derrick Chukwuemeke. The correlation between project management effectiveness and project success. 2011. citing work by (Bastons, 2008; Campbell, 1977; Yukl, 2008)
    • Bastons, M. (2008). The role of virtues in the framing of decisions. Journal of Business Ethics, 78(93), 389-400. doi:10.1007/s10551-006-9332-x
    • Campbell, J. (1977). On the nature of organizational effectiveness. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
    • Yukl, G. (2008). How leaders influence organizational effectiveness. Leadership Quarterly, 19(6), 708-722. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2008.09.008
  6. ^ Varajão (2016) citing D. Milosevic, P. Patanakul, Standardized project management may increase development projects success, International Journal of Project Management, 23 (3) (2005), pp. 181–192
  7. ^ a b c Varajão, João, Ricardo Colomo-Palacios, and Hélio Silva. "ISO 21500: 2012 and PMBoK 5 processes in Information Systems Project Management." Computer Standards & Interfaces (2016).
  8. ^ a b c Drob, Catalin, and Valentin Zichil. "OVERVIEW REGARDING THE MAIN GUIDELINES, STANDARDS AND METHODOLOGIES USED IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT." Journal of Engineering Studies and Research 19.3 (2013): 26-31. ProQuest. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.
  9. ^ a b c d e REHACEK, Petr. "Standards ISO 21500 and PMBoK® Guide for Project Management.International Journal of Engineering Science and Innovative Technology (IJESIT) ISSN 2319-5967" Accessed on 10/11/2016 at [1]
  10. ^ Zandhuis, Anton, Rommert Stellingwerf, ISO 21500 Guidance on project management - A Pocket Guide, Van Haren Publishing, May 2013, Netherlands, front cover
  11. ^ "Are Project Management Guides Useful?". Max Wideman. 2014. Retrieved 2016-01-22.


  • Turner, J. R. (1999). The handbook of project based management (2nd ed.). London: McGraw-Hill.
  • Turner, J. R. (2006). Editorial: Towards a theory of project management: The nature of project governance and project management. International Journal of Project Management, 24, 93–95.
  • Turner, J. R. (2006). Editorial: Towards a theory of project management: The functions of project management.International Journal of Project Management, 24, 187–189.
  • Turner, J. R. (2006). Editorial: Towards a theory of project management: The nature of the functions of project management. International Journal of Project Management, 24, 277–279.
  • Winch, G. M., The construction firm and the construction project: A transaction cost approach,Construction Management and Economics, (1989) 7, 331–345.
  • Winch, G. M. Managing construction projects:An information processing approach, Oxford, UK:Blackwell Science. (2002)
  • Winch, G. M. Rethinking project management:Project organizations as information processing systems? Proceedings of PMI Research Conference, 2002: Frontiers of Project Management Research and Application [CD]. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
ISO 10006

ISO 10006:2003, Quality management systems - Guidelines for quality management in projects, is an international standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization.

ISO 10006:2003 gives guidance on the application of quality management in projects.

It is applicable to projects of varying complexity, small or large, of short or long duration, in different environments, and irrespective of the kind of product or process involved. This can necessitate some tailoring of the guidance to suit a particular project.

ISO 10006:2003 is not a guide to "project management" itself. Guidance on quality in project management processes is discussed in this International Standard. Guidance on quality in a project's product-related processes, and on the "process approach", is covered in ISO 9004. A new "Project Management - Guide to project Management" ISO 21500 has been published in September 2012.

ISO 31000

ISO 31000 is a family of standards relating to risk management codified by the International Organization for Standardization. The purpose of ISO 31000:2009 is to provide principles and generic guidelines on risk management. ISO 31000 seeks to provide a universally recognised paradigm for practitioners and companies employing risk management processes to replace the myriad of existing standards, methodologies and paradigms that differed between industries, subject matters and regions.

Currently, the ISO 31000 family is expected to include:

ISO 31000:2009 – Principles and Guidelines on Implementation

ISO/IEC 31010:2009 – Risk Management – Risk Assessment Techniques

ISO Guide 73:2009 – Risk Management – VocabularyISO also designed its ISO 21500 Guidance on Project Management standard to align with ISO 31000:2009.

List of International Organization for Standardization standards, 20000-21999

This is a list of published International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards and other deliverables. For a complete and up-to-date list of all the ISO standards, see the ISO catalogue.The standards are protected by copyright and most of them must be purchased. However, about 300 of the standards produced by ISO and IEC's Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC1) have been made freely and publicly available.

Project Management Body of Knowledge

The Project Management Body of Knowledge is a set of standard terminology and guidelines (a body of knowledge) for project management. The body of knowledge evolves over time and is presented in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (the Guide to the PMBOK or the Guide), a book whose sixth edition was released in 2017. The Guide is a document resulting from work overseen by the Project Management Institute (PMI), which offers the CAPM and PMP certifications.

Much of the PMBOK Guide is unique to project management e.g. critical path method and work breakdown structure (WBS). The PMBOK Guide also overlaps with general management regarding planning, organising, staffing, executing and controlling the operations of an organisation. Other management disciplines which overlap with the PMBOK Guide include financial forecasting, organisational behaviour, management science, budgeting and other planning methods.

Project Management Institute

The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a global nonprofit professional organization for project management.

Project management

Project management is the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified time.

The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all of the project goals within the given constraints. This information is usually described in project documentation, created at the beginning of the development process. The primary constraints are scope, time, quality and budget. The secondary – and more ambitious – challenge is to optimize the allocation of necessary inputs and apply them to meet pre-defined objectives. The object of project management is to produce a complete project which complies with the client's objectives. In many cases the object of project management is also to shape or reform the client's brief in order to feasibly be able to address the client's objectives. Once the client's objectives are clearly established they should influence all decisions made by other people involved in the project – for example project managers, designers, contractors and sub-contractors. Ill-defined or too tightly prescribed project management objectives are detrimental to decision making.

A project is a temporary endeavor designed to produce a unique product, service or result with a defined beginning and end (usually time-constrained, and often constrained by funding or staffing) undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives, typically to bring about beneficial change or added value. The temporary nature of projects stands in contrast with business as usual (or operations), which are repetitive, permanent, or semi-permanent functional activities to produce products or services. In practice, the management of such distinct production approaches requires the development of distinct technical skills and management strategies.

Project stakeholder

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), the term project stakeholder refers to, "an individual, group, or organization, who may affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a project" (Project Management Institute, 2013). ISO 21500 uses a similar definition.

Project stakeholders are entities that have an interest in a given project. These stakeholders may be inside or outside an organization which:

sponsor a project, or

have an interest or a gain upon a successful completion of a project;

may have a positive or negative influence in the project completion.The following are examples of project stakeholders:

Project leader

Senior management

Project team members

Project customer

Resource Managers

Line Managers

Product user group

Project testers

Any group impacted by the project as it progresses

Any group impacted by the project when it is completed

Subcontractors to the project

Consultants to the projectRather than focusing on one subset of stakeholders, Lynda Bourne advocates prioritizing all stakeholders and focusing your attention on the "most important" at this point in time. Her view of importance encompasses an assessment of the power, proximity and urgency associated with each stakeholder. She calls her methodology a "Stakeholder Circle".The rationale for this emphasis on decision makers is part of project stakeholder management and a key component in affecting change in an organization. John Kotter describes stakeholder analysis and stakeholder management as essential components of change management.

Social project management

Social project management is a non-traditional way of organizing projects and performing project management. It is, in its simplest form, the outcome of the application of the social networking (i.e. Facebook) paradigm to the context of project ecosystems, as a continued response to the movement toward distributed, virtual teams. Distributed virtual teams lose significant communication value normally present when groups are collocated. Because of this, social project management is motivated by a philosophy of the maximizing of open, and continuous communication, both inside and outside the team. Because it is a response to new organizing structures that require technologically mediated communications, Social Project Management is most often enabled by the use of Collaborative software inspired by social media (i.e. Ongozah). This paradigm enables the project work to be published as activity stream and publicized via the integration with the social network of an organization. Social project management embraces both the historical best practices of Project management, and the open collaboration of Web 2.0.

While Project management 2.0 embraced a philosophical shift away from centralized command and control and focused strongly on the egalitarian collaboration of a team, social project management recognizes the important role of the project manager, especially on large projects. Additionally, while Project management 2.0 minimized the importance of computer-supported scheduling, social project management recognizes that while many projects can be performed using emergent planning and control, large, enterprise projects require centralized control accompanied by seamless collaboration.

ISO standards by standard number

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