Have you ever heard of the term “PMI ism” and wondered what it stands for? Rita Mulcahy first coined this term.

Here is the definition of “PMI ism” as defined by Rita:

PMI ism = understanding project management from the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) point of view.

You may (actually… you probably do) manage projects differently in real life, but for the purposes of your PMP® exam, you need to answer questions the PMI way.

Even project managers with decades of experience may not be able to ace the PMP® exam without studying because they haven’t learned to do things the “PMI way.”

PMI integrates “PMI ism” into the PMP® exam whenever possible, which is why if you are trying to obtain your PMP® certification, you need to be aware of what PMI-ism is.

What does PMI believe about project management?

  • No gold plating (or adding extras) is allowed. On the surface, gold plating may seem like a good practice to build goodwill with the client, but it can lead to incompatibility in latter phases of the project or cost your company a lot of money.
  • Meetings are used for decision making. The project manager should have an agenda going into every meeting. Meetings are not for idle chatter and status reports.
  • Assume your project has a PMO (project management office) unless told otherwise.
  • Sunk cost (or the amount of money you’ve already spent on the project) should not be considered when deciding whether or not the project should continue.
  • Never tolerate discrimination (racial or sexual) under any circumstances, despite cultural differences.
  • When there’s a conflict, try to see the other side’s point of view and create win-win situations.
  • All changes must go through the change control board and be formally approved by the board before they can be implemented on the project.
  • Before execution can begin, the project management plan, including all the subsidiary plans, must be created.
  • The projects must follow the initiating – planning – executing – monitoring & controlling – closing cycle.
  • The organization is continuously looking for ways to improve the project management process by collecting and reviewing lessons learned from every project.

What does PMI expect out of the project manager?

  • The project manager is managing a project $10M+ and a team that spreads out across multiple time zones unless told otherwise
  • The project manager is responsible for completing the project on time and on budget.
  • The project manager should proactively identify risks, come up with mitigation strategies, and implement the mitigation strategy if the risk does occur.
  • The project manager should tailor the PMBOK® to fit his/her project. For example, if his/her project does not use any outside vendors, then the whole procurement section can be ignored.
  • The project manager may take stretch projects (or projects they don’t have experience in) if they inform management that they don’t have experience.
  • When there’s a change to one constraint, the project manager must understand what the impact will be on other aspects of the project. For example, if the project schedule has been shortened, the project manager must understand what the impact will be on the project costs, risks, and quality.

What are PMI specific terminologies that falls into PMI ism?

  • Organizational Process Assets (OPA) =  historical information of all projects of your organization and project management policies / templates, are readily available.
  • Enterprise Environment Factors (EEF) = all the factors not in the immediate control of the project, such as the organization’s culture and systems. A major component of EEF is PMIS (project management information systems). Even though the project manager does not have control over EEF, s/he still has to deal and live with it.  
  • Change Requests = Corrective Action, Preventive Action, Rework and changes that would affect the project configurations / baselines / plans. Changes can only be made to the project once a change request has been submitted to the change control board (CCB) and approved.
  • Lessons Learned = a reflection on what went well and what did not go well on the project. These lessons are documented for future projects and are important outputs.
  • Expert Judgment = an important tools and technique that refers to making decisions through the use of an expert’s knowledge/experiences. An expert is anyone with specialized knowledge (e.g. consultants, team leads, SMEs, project sponsor, clients, etc.).
  • Meetings = When the project team, relevant stakeholders, and project sponsor get together to make decisions regarding the project outcomes.  
  • Management plans = Every knowledge area in the PMBOK® has it’s own corresponding management plan. This tells the project manager and project team how that knowledge area should be executed. 

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