One of the innovations PMI introduced in the 7th Edition of its Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK 7) is Models, Methods, and Artifacts. This is a set of tools to help you get the Project Management job done.
To me, this is more than just a collation and re-write of the ITTOs of the earlier editions of the PMBOK Guide. It is more a resource guide to the kind of tools PMI’s experienced Project Managers have found helpful in doing their job.
The PMBOK Guide does not set out to be a textbook. And, with the 7th Edition, this is more so than ever before. It does two things in one volume:
And one of those resources is the Models, Methods, and Artifacts chapter. Rather like the APM’s Body of Knowledge (the APMBoK), this is more an overview of ideas and a reading list for further exploration than a detailed guide. And this is exactly what a ‘guide to a body of knowledge’ should be. Hurrah for PMI and the authors of the 7th Edition.
So, in this article, we’ll look at what is in Chapter 4 of the PMBOK Guide 7th Edition. We’ll also assess it and point you to further reading and viewing.
In simple terms, Models, Methods, and Artifacts are the tools to get the job done. PMI describes them as ‘options for enabling outcome’.
In particular, PMBOK 7 defines:
A model is a thinking strategy to explain a process, framework, or phenomenon.
A method is the means for achieving an outcome, output, result, or project.
ArtifactA Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, 7th Edition
An artifact can be a template, document, output, or project deliverable.
Project Management Institute, 2021
So, in a sense, Models and Methods are inputs that help us do the work of managing a project, and artifacts (along with deliverables) are the outputs. However, unlike deliverables, which the client or users want, artifacts are the ‘interim deliverables’ that we need to create along the way.
I find it curious that the PMBOK 7 authors were unable to define artifacts. Unlike the others, what they do is give four examples. My definition would be:
ArtifactMike Clayton, OnlinePMCourses, 2022
An artifact is a deliverable that helps the project in its delivery or governance, rather than serving the end-users or clients.
A big part of tailoring your approach to a specific project is selecting the right models, methods, and artifacts. We have a full article that examines this: ‘Tailoring: How to Determine Appropriate Project Methodology, Methods, and Practices’
And, of course, your choice of methodology will come with its own set of models, methods, and artifacts. Indeed, one might argue that we can define a methodology as:
MethodologyMike Clayton, OnlinePMCourses, 2022
A methodology is a set of process and systems, supported by a set of models, methods, and artifacts.
PMBOK 7 offers us models under 7 categories:
The ‘Other’ category covers a lot of ground:
The range and selection of models are variable across the categories – as is the level of description. Here are some selections to comment on. But bear in mind that I think of myself as something of a connoisseur of Management Models (and have even written a short book detailing 10 of my favorites).
I’m going to score this as ‘Good’: Could be great with minor tweaks and additions. But I’d say it only just scraped into this category. It is not too far above ‘Okay’: Needs significant work.
Whilst I personally applaud the selection of Blanchard’s Situational Leadership II version, others may prefer Pail Hersey’s Situational Leadership. In my own course and article on the topic, I opt for a no proprietary version. A more even-handed approach would have been to discuss the principles and point readers to the options – including published, non-trademarked versions like Fiedler, or Tannenbaum & Schmidt.
I also note that, much as I like the OSCAR coaching model, it seems rather shoe-horned into a section on Situational Leadership. And if you are going to cover coaching models, I’d argue that the GROW model is far more widely known and used. They do, however, cover much the same ground.
To redress the balance, I do think that the models in the Motivation section are well chosen. I’d certainly add the Vroom Model, but the big 3 of Herzberg, McClelland*, and McGregor are there, without the over-used Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but with Daniel Pink’s Motivation 3.0 model.
*And yes, there is a typo on page 159, mis-spelling David McClelland’s name.
For me, the best model for understanding change in organizations is that of Cynthia Scott and Dennis Jaffe. So, I see this as a big omission. However, what is there, is good. We have a full course on ‘Managing and Leading Change’.
In this grouping, we have a real mixed bag. There’s little of value in the vital topic of negotiation, and a rather odd description of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Modes model (which I cover in-depth in my course on Dealing with Conflict in Projects). Planning and salience get one thin paragraph each and look rather like afterthoughts.
I’d like to see a lot more on the vital topic of leadership and certainly more on teams and team dynamics. And there is absolutely nothing here on business culture, strategy, or operations – despite PMI rightly placing Business Acumen into its:
There is nothing on personal effectiveness, influence, or psychology in general (except for motivation). And, for the sake of all that’s vital in our world, where are the models on:
…that drive so many of our projects?
PMBOK 7 offers us methods under 4 categories:
Is it just me, or does that look thin?
And for each, we get a bullet-point list of methods with a paragraph summarizing each. These vary from fewer than 20 words to one with more than 200. Most are (my estimate) in the 35–50-word range.
I can’t, in good conscience, describe this part as anything more than a checklist of tools to learn about. Of the categories, the first (data gathering and analysis) is by far the most complete – although I spot a few obvious gaps. No focus groups, questionnaires, or surveys, for example, And where is the ever-popular PESTLE to go with SWOT?
And the list under the estimating category is decent, though missing some obvious Agile methods like Planning Poker or Tee Shirt Sizing. The meetings list is similar – decent but far from comprehensive.
And, all I can say about the ‘other’ category, is it is a small number of random methods.
I’m going to score this as ‘Okay’: Needs significant work. And that is generous. I was hovering over ‘Poor’: Needs a lot of work.
I see this as the weakest of the three sections. Set against the Models section, it feels rushed. What’s there is good, what’s missing is legion.
Rather than look at individual methods that are missing, though, I’d like to have seen more method categories. I know the Domains section of PMBOK 7 does cover a number of methods in a thematic way, but I’d like to see lists of useful methods for:
The authors start by noting that:
‘there are many documents or deliverables that are not described here, either because
But the authors do provide a good list. And here, I think, the one pagragraph descriptions feel spot on. The 9 categories they offer are:
On this section, I can do no more than quibble over details. Yes, there are a few little additions I’d make, but nothing substantive. This section feels solid to me.
I’m going to score this as ‘Good’: Could be great with minor tweaks and additions. But this one came very close to ‘Excellent’: Everything I could wish. But I have noted that it is not quite everything I could wish!
As I suggested above, there is nothing substantial that I can spot as missing.
I’d like to see a message calendar and a Terms of Reference (Roles and Responsibilities) document. But I shan’t waste my time or yours in looking for individual assets that are missing.
The most important thing to note is that this is a new section in a vastly revised PMBOK Guide. It is the first go-around on this format of information for PMI. So, with that in mind, I would say:
Please do put your thoughts in the comments below. And I shall be delighted to respond to everything.
Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
Manage Project Artifacts: What to Create and How to Keep them Current
Project Work Domain: The Processes to Enable Effective Project Management
Introduction to the PMP Certification (Project Management Professional) with Cornelius Fichtner
PMI Talent Triangle: A Complete Guide [for members and non-members]
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