Both as individuals and as organizations, we are continually exchanging goods and services - this is very much the basis of the commercial world we know today. This free exchange would be impeded unless on the whole there were a basic trust and common expectations about the nature and quality of the products involved and the processes by which those products had been created. To this end, business communities and governments have worked to produce standards. An important part of this has been the definition of agreed terminology so that we have a clear idea of what is meant by particular terms.

We would hope that standards are reasonably precise and unambiguous while being flexible enough to deal with the vagaries of the real world. It would also be hoped that standards would reflect accepted current best practice. A desirable feature of such standards would be some kind of accreditation of qualified practitioners so that customers for a product or service could know that they were dealing with someone competent in the particular area of expertise.

The British Standards Institution has had a leading role in the United Kingdom in this field and in 1996 published BS 6079 'Guide to project management'. While this 49-page document may have some claim to approach being a 'standard' because it reflects what the compilers of the document feel is current best practice, it is really, as its name suggests, a set of guidelines that are often couched in general terms of broad advice. In many ways it is like a general essay on project management.

The advantage of its being in the form of a British Standard, as Adrian Dooley has pointed out, is that this can give these broad, but important, project management principles more credibility in some quarters of the business community. A disadvantage of this format in our view, is that apart from other BSI standards, the project manager reading this text is given no information about where further guidance on the techniques described can be obtained.

A key question is how this standard fits in with the other UK standard PRINCE 2 or even why two separate standards are necessary. It is emphasized by the promoters of these two standards that they are not meant to be competitors. Pippa Newman, a CCTA Associate involved with promoting PRINCE 2 has written of PRINCE 2 that 'one of its major roles is to provide a means by which the British Standard can be implemented'. As will be seen, this could imply a

Adrian Dooley 'BS 6079 A base for the future?' in Project Manager Today 9(4) pp12-13, April 1997.

Pippa Newman 'PRINCE 2 The method for the next millennium' pp 14-15 of the same issue of Project Management Today as above.

degree of co-ordination between the developers of the two approaches that is not evident when the two documents are closely studied. One of the reasons for the differences in the two approaches might be their different origins - although PRINCE 2 is now meant for a rather wider context, its origins are in IT/IS development, while BS 6079 has more of a hard engineering background. However, once again, as Adrian Dooley commented:

'With a bit of work an organisation could be consistent with both. The biggest problem is the need to harmonise the differing terminologies used by the two approaches. As someone who is keen to see project management develop as a mature discipline, 1 feel terribly frustrated by the lack of consistency in the profession. Why is it that the two bodies developing tools to promote better project management, both funded by the government, producing their respective documents at about the same time, cannot work closely together to agree consistent terminology at even the simplest level?'

Some of the differences between PRINCE 2 and BS 6079 are summarized in Table B.l.

The main elements of project management dealt with by BS 6079 are:

• the project life cycle;

• project organization;

• the planning process;

• project control;

• supporting techniques.

We will now look at each of these in turn.

The project life cycle

BS 6079 sees a 'project' in terms different from those of PRINCE 2. It uses the word to refer to the whole of the system life cycle from the initial idea right through the system's operation to final decommissioning. The BS 6079 definition of project is similar to the view of a 'project' used in Chapter 3, when the cash projections for alternative 'projects' were calculated. When developing information systems, however, the development project is more usually seen as starting after the feasibility study has established that the project appears to be worthwhile and finishing when the system is handed over for operation. In fact, as Euromethod will demonstrate, it is possible to treat individual phases within that project as projects in their own right. As it happens, despite the BS 6079 definition of project, most of the BS 6079 guidelines for planning and control are compatible with the information systems development view of the project being completed at system hand-over.

Figure B.l illustrates the main project phases as seen by BS 6079. Note that 'implementation' in this context means 'implementation of the project plan'. Information systems developers often use the term 'implementation' to refer merely to the installation of the system once it has been developed. A further interesting point is that while the standard recommends the equivalent of the

Table B.l

Comparison of PRINCE 2 and BS 6079



BS 6079

Main focus Definition of project

Project organization

Project authority Stage organization

Planning method

Work definitions


Supporting techniques

Financial control


Temporary organization to deliver a business product

Supplier vs Customer focus

Project Board

Detailed planning done by Stage

Product-driven (Product Breakdown Structures)

Product descriptions in the plan - turned into Work Packages by Project Manager

Only minimal reference to techniques (such as to Activity Networks)

Configuration, quality and risk management

Cost control not dealt with in detail


Covers the whole system life cycle

Functional departments vs. project team


Concept of phases/ milestones matches Stages - but no focus on incremental planning at phase level

Task-driven (Work Breakdown Structures)

Statements of Work (SOW) in the plan

Detailed descriptions of techniques like Earned Value Analysis those for PRINCE 2, plus financial control and procurement

Financial control dealt with more fully

PRINCE 2 Project End and Lessons Learnt Reports, no mention is made of the Post Implementation Review, or Post Project Review as it is now called.

Project organization

BS 6079 does not have PRINCE 2's emphasis on the Supplier-Customer relationship. Neither is the concept of a Project Board or steering committee presented. The focus of attention is on the project as a set of activities that cut across the normal functional structures of most organizations. A heavy emphasis is put on the desirability of a matrix management structure, where staff belong to a particular functional group in the longer term but may be allocated from time to time to multi-disciplinary teams that have been given the responsibility for achieving the objectives of a particular project.

Figure B.l BS 6079 project life cycle.

It can be argued that the need to create an environment for successful projects, which can take time, is an important message for the perceived readership of BS 6079.

One usually expects standards to be applicable fairly immediately, but the writers of BS 6079 warn that it might take an organization three to five years to move from a totally functional to a matrix organization. Rather surprisingly for a document that is supposed to be focused on project management, there is a section on the broader topic of how to bring about organizational change. This is an example of where a reference to a fuller treatment in another text would have been useful.

The other management role that BS 6079 emphasizes is that of task owners. Each task that is identified as needing doing in a project requires an owner, someone who will be accountable for its successful completion. Figure B.2 shows the relationships among the different project roles as envisaged in BS 6079.

Figure B.2 BS 6079 project roles.

Functional manager

Figure B.2 BS 6079 project roles.

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