Turning point in project, programme and portfolio management

Successful Viennese meeting of ISO/TC 258 brings much progress

Vienna (AS prm, 09.02.2015)
Reception hosted at Vienna City Hall

ISO/TC 258 at work and at the reception hosted at Vienna City Hall

Three working groups of ISO/TC 258 convened to develop international standards on project, programme and portfolio management at Austrian Standards in Vienna from 2 to 6 February 2015. This meeting of around 60 experts from all over the world was, as one of the experts said, one of the most constructive and most productive ones in the history of ISO/TC 258.

Working Group 1 - ISO 21502

Working Group 1 discussed comments received on the draft of ISO 21502. This document provides guidance to organizations on how to manage a project and programme portfolio so that it contributes to the organization's values.

One day before the scheduled end of the meeting, all the comments had already been dealt with. After consulting Miles Shepherd, the chairman of ISO/TC 258, the decision was taken to directly release the document for publication as the International Standard ISO 21502 rather than submit a final draft to voting. Hence, this standard was completed within almost three years. It is expected to be published in mid-2015.

Working Group 3 - ISO 21503

In early 2014, Working Group 3 of ISO/TC 258 started developing ISO 21503. Its purpose is to support organizations in the governance of projects, programmes and portfolios, for example with regard to resource planning or alignment with the organization's strategies.

Previously, proposals had been presented at the Working Group level. Hence, it was rather surprising that the Working Group resolved not to adopt the document revised in Vienna as a committee draft but immediately as a draft international standard (DIS).

ISO/DIS 21503 will be submitted to the inquiry among ISO members in mid-2015. If approved, the standard could already be published in early 2016.

Working Group 4 - ISO 21504

In early 2014, too, Working Group 4 began drawing up ISO 21504 on programme management. That document is to help the top management of organizations by describing how a defined number of interrelated projects are to be planned, integrally managed and controlled.

Dipl.-Ing. Dipl.-Kfm Reinhard Wagner, convenor of the working group: "The development of this standard is challenging as it is difficult to differentiate between programmes, projects, portfolios as well as their governance." Nevertheless, Working Group 4 was also able to achieve a breakthrough in Vienna and adopted its document for submission as a committee draft to ISO/TC 258.

At the next meeting to be held in Toronto, Canada, work is planned to proceed to the draft international standard stage. As a result, it seems to be realistic that ISO 21504 will be published as an international standard in early 2016.

Framework programme

The importance of those standardization activities was also highlighted during the framework programme organized in conjunction with the meeting of the three working groups. At a reception hosted by the City of Vienna at Vienna City Hall, OSR Dipl.-Ing. Werner Schuster explained how important project and programme management as well as supporting standards are for completing projects on time and in budget giving examples of ongoing infrastructure projects of the City of Vienna. Moreover, the participants were introduced to the exemplary role played by the City of Vienna in standardization that was honoured by the "Living Standards Award 2015".

Project manager training was one of the topics addressed at a reception organized by Project Management Austria and hosted by its Chairwoman of the Board Mag. Brigitte Schaden, BSConsulting.

The guests were also able to learn more about the fact that, figuratively, project management also involves leadership when they visited the Sigmund Freud Museum that is located across the street of the office of Project Management Austria.

The farewell reception was hosted by Wiener Stadtwerke at the Remise Transport Museum of Wiener Linien. There, the experts of ISO/TC 258 gained impressive insights into the historical development of public transport in the metropolis of Vienna as well as in the further development and expansion of Wiener Linien.

Next steps

The activities of ISO/TC 258 are actively supported by the working group AG 129.09 "Project management" of Committee 129 "Quality management systems" at Austrian Standards.

Because of the relevance of the standards developed by ISO/TC 258, the participants of AG 129.09 proposed to take over the international standards ISO 21502 to ISO 21504 into the Austrian body of standards.

These project proposals will soon be examined by Committee 129 and then submitted to the public for comments. Enterprises and organizations interested in actively participating in the standardization of project, programme and portfolio management are invited to contact the competent committee manager of Austrian Standards, Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Karl Grün.