Walk the Talk

Ramp-Up (PMBOK® Guide) Adoption in your Organization



This paper describes how a leading global consulting company implemented a common project management (PM) approach based on A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) (Project Management Institute [PMI], 2008).

Many companies struggle to effectively implement PMBOK® Guide management practices into their organizations. This paper explains the journey a large, international consulting company took to achieve that goal using three specific adoption enablers:

  1. Methods and tools,
  2. Training and coaching (including Project Management Professional [PMP]® study programs); and
  3. Project management core practices.

These areas are addressed by the white paper:

  • Company background;
  • Business need for adopting a common project management approach based on the PMBOK® Guide; and
  • Details about the three adoption enablers the company used as part of its implementation strategy, including development and deployment approaches.

The paper concludes with a recap of specific learnings and recommendations for effective, sustainable adoption of PMBOK® Guide management processes in an organization.

Introduction – Attaining Effective PMBOK Adoption in an Organization

Chapter 1 of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)—Fourth Edition (the PMBOK® Guide) (Project Management Institute [PMI], 2008) states that the PMBOK® Guide is “a recognized standard for the project management profession,” offering “established norms, methods, processes, and practices” (p 3). Many companies aspire to implement PMBOK® Guide management principles into their organizations, but few companies attain (or sustain) real project management improvements from their PMBOK® Guide adoption efforts. The difference lies in how a company interprets and supports the PMBOK® Guide integration into its organization.

A critical factor is the level of commitment a company invests into interpreting the PMBOK® Guide into its project processes, as well as the quality of tools, training, and support the company provides its employees to effectively and consistently practice them.

This paper tells the story of how Deloitte Consulting LLP (Deloitte) made significant investments to transform its project management capabilities through a multifaceted program aligned with the PMBOK® Guide.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited Overview

To better appreciate the magnitude of the challenge Deloitte faced when implementing a common project management approach across its organization, an overview of its parent company is provided in Exhibit 1.

Consulting represents one of four global businesses for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a US$28.8 billion company with over 182,000 employees working in 153 countries across the world.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited Worldwide Organization in 2011


Exhibit 1: Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited Worldwide Organization in 2011

Consulting work amounted to approximately US$6.3 billion of the company's U.S. business, and nearly US$8.7 billion of business for the worldwide organization in 2011. Deloitte Consulting LLP offers services in the areas of corporate strategy, human capital, and technology to companies across many industries, including government. The technology work is becoming increasingly distributed and complex as Deloitte takes on multi-year, multi-country systems integration projects for global clients.

The Need for a Common, Industrial-strength Project Management Approach

In addition to Deloitte technology projects becoming more complex and geographically distributed, the marketplace for this type of work is being reframed by other trends and customer expectations:

  • Maturation of project and portfolio management tools;
  • Global competition and budget constraints;
  • Industry credential requirements (such as PMBOK® Guide and Capability Maturity Model Integration [CMMI]); and
  • A greater focus on quality delivery and process improvement.

For these reasons, Deloitte invested in a scalable, leading project management approach based on the internationally recognized PMBOK® Guide, to be deployed and consistently practiced by its global workforce.

Deloitte's strategy for effective deployment of this common project management approach was defined by three specific enabling areas:

  1. Deloitte Methods & Tools: Deloitte's project management content was aligned to the PMBOK® Guide and applied in its methods (e.g., package and custom solution methods). It is continuously updated to address improvements and new requirements.
  2. Deloitte Training & Coaching: Deloitte provides a variety of training courses (e.g., Web-based training, webinars, and instructor-led training) for their methods and tools, as well as study programs for practitioners to obtain their PMP® credential. Deloitte also provides method coaches who help practitioners adopt the latest methods and tools on their client projects.
  3. Deloitte PM Core Practices: Deloitte rolled out project management core practices defining the basic project management tasks projects should perform to help govern projects effectively.

Each of these enabling areas is further described in this paper, covering their objectives, development and deployment strategies, as well as mechanisms to help promote their continuous improvement.

Deloitte Methods and Tools

Deloitte made a formal decision to align its project management practices to the PMBOK® Guide. Today, the project management and quality management content in Deloitte's methods reflect the PMBOK® Guide —Fourth Edition. Over time, Deloitte's project management and quality management (QM) method content has evolved in its quest to become more useful, reliable, and efficient for Deloitte practitioners.

Interpreting the PMBOK® Guide to Meet the Company's Requirements

Through collective client experiences and an internal journey, Deloitte has learned that literal application of the PMBOK® Guide into a company's methods is typically NOT effective. In support of this, section 1.1 Purpose of the PMBOK® Guide on page 4 of the PMBOK® Guide explicitly states: “This standard [i.e., PMBOK® Guide] is a guide rather than a methodology. One can use different methodologies and tools to implement the framework” (Project Management Institute, 2008, p. 4).

The structure of the PMBOK® Guide content by Project Management Process Group, Knowledge Area, and Project Management Processes (42 in total for the Fourth Edition) is an effective way to academically categorize and learn the content. However, as the PMBOK® Guide suggests, the PMBOK® Guide content should serve as a “guide” and be interpreted and tailored to meet a company's specific requirements in order to be effectively put into practice.

In this manner, Deloitte interpreted the PMBOK® Guide into a method structure to meet our project and client requirements. To this end, the method was designed to be widely adopted and consistently applied by Deloitte practitioners. Exhibit 2 (next page) shows how the PMBOK® Guide Process Group Model was translated into a Deloitte method execution map that Deloitte project teams can understand and perform.

Translating the PMBOK<sup>®</sup> Guide Process Group Model for Deloitte


Exhibit 2: Translating the PMBOK® Guide Process Group Model for Deloitte

Deloitte also developed the concept of project management usage models to guide the scope and breadth needed for a project's project management and QM activities, based the on the size, complexity, and requirements of the project.

Subsequently, Deloitte reviewed the 42 management processes defining the PMBOK® Guide—Fourth Edition (Project Management Institute, 2008) and streamlined them for integration into Deloitte's core project management and quality management tasks related to project planning, execution, monitor and control, and closing, as illustrated in Exhibit 3.

Interpreting the PMBOK<sup>®</sup> Guide Management Processes for Deloitte


Exhibit 3: Interpreting the PMBOK® Guide Management Processes for Deloitte

Deloitte also added some tasks to support some Deloitte-specific requirements not addressed by the PMBOK® Guide. For example, the Quality Management Knowledge Area was supplemented with Deloitte's Quality Support activities – tasks that go above and beyond what is defined for Quality Management in the PMBOK® Guide— covering activities related to project (engagement) reviews, method coaching, and specialist support.

Providing Integrated Tools to Support the Common Project Management Approach

Another component of Deloitte's common project management approach was tools and automation. The tools complemented the other components by promoting and automating the processes and practices defined in the project management method content. Exhibit 4 presents two custom Deloitte tools that play significant roles in deploying the common project management approach:

Deloitte Custom Project Management Tools


Exhibit 4: Deloitte Custom Project Management Tools

Deloitte deployed a custom estimation tool called project estimator and planning suite (PE&PS) that provides parametric estimates tailored by method and is based upon Deloitte's vast experience with previous projects delivering similar work.

Deloitte also deployed a project management information system (PMIS) tool called project management center (PMC), built on Hewlett-Packard's project and portfolio management (PPM) application and customized to meet Deloitte-specific requirements for work planning and project controls (i.e., risks, issues, action items, decisions, and change requests). The processes and workflows defined in PMC align with Deloitte methods and are available to all project team members on Deloitte engagements, including clients and third-party vendors.

These two custom project management tools and Deloitte methods use the same terminology, processes, and work breakdown structure (WBS) in order to provide an integrated, consistent project management approach covering the entire project life cycle, from initial estimating to final solution delivery.

Continuous Improvement

Deloitte methods and tools are committed to continuous improvement, soliciting and responding to end-user feedback and project leadership priorities. Deloitte methods and tools typically have one to two releases a year to implement improvements, enhancements, and updates.

Deloitte Training and Coaching

Project Management Method and Techniques Training

Deloitte supports and promotes its common project management approach by offering project management training in several course formats. Depending upon individual learning requirements and preferences, Deloitte professionals can attend instructor-led training courses and virtual class sessions; or take self-study Web-based training courses (WBTs), and watch prerecorded demos available through the Deloitte learning portal.

Listed below are sample courses available from Deloitte's current project management learning curriculum:

  • One- to two-hour recorded webinars covering the latest project management content.
  • Two-hour WBTs on the project management content.
    • The project management WBTs are self-study courses with voice-over presentation and participant interactive activities, including knowledge checkpoint tests and a final exam at the end of the course that requires an 80 percent passing grade in order to get credit for completing the course.
  • One- to four-day, instructor-led training (ILT) courses that provide deep dives into new Deloitte method and tool releases, with hands-on participant activities to give learners first-hand experience using the new method and/or tools.
    • Project management-specific ILT courses are also offered, featuring project management techniques courses for work planning, deliverable, and scope management.
  • Four-day project management boot camp for Deloitte managers is a goal-based scenario course with client role-plays that put learners in real-world project situations to hone their skills and learn from mistakes in a safe environment.

PMP Study Group Training

In addition, several Deloitte groups offer Project Management Professional (PMP)® study groups to help their practitioners attain their PMP certifications. While funding outside vendor one-week PMP “crash courses” may accelerate the number of PMP credential holders in a company and demonstrate some commitment to PMBOK® Guide adoption, it does not necessarily help transform project management capabilities or affect real change in the organization. That is why Deloitte invests in internal PMP study group programs.

Varying in length and formality, PMP study groups provide learners with several benefits, including:

  • A forum to discuss perspectives and questions on the PMBOK® Guide content, as well as how the PMBOK® Guide concepts apply to the organization's methods and tools while the participants are learning the material, making it more relevant, real, and easier to understand and apply.
  • Opportunities to receive information and mentoring from PMP coaches who have their PMP certifications.
  • Dedicated study time, and a chance to test one's knowledge and readiness to take the PMP test by completing practice test questions.
  • Tips, tools, and tricks to better understand the PMP process, as well as how to apply and prepare for the exam.
  • Participant networking and community-building opportunities.

A Deloitte PMP study group typically lasts 14-16 weeks and meets on a weekly basis, with each session typically lasting 60 minutes. Each week focuses on a specific PMBOK® Guide chapter, and learners are expected to come prepared to discuss the topic and contribute their thoughts and experiences to the study session, as well as participate in sample exam questions related to the session topic.

Deloitte covers the learners' time and specific expenses associated with obtaining a PMP certification. All Deloitte professionals participating in a study groups are expected to take the exam and obtain a passing grade within a predefined timeline.

Deloitte PMP study group programs are regularly updated to align with the PMBOK® Guide edition and exam content, as well as to incorporate improvements and enhancements captured from learner feedback and lessons learned.

In addition to the Deloitte PMP study groups, Deloitte Learning also offers several PMBOK® Guide-based WBTs from SkillSoft (a PMI® Charter-Global Registered Education Provider) that can count toward PMP training “contact hours” to meet PMP application training requirements.

Overall Project Management Training Sample

Exhibit 5 illustrates the overall project management training curriculum Deloitte produces and deploys to its professional consultants:

Project Management Training Curriculum for Deloitte Consultants


Exhibit 5: Project Management Training Curriculum for Deloitte Consultants

Deloitte invests heavily into the courses offered to its practitioners to build their awareness, knowledge, and skills in the processes, methods, and tools related to Deloitte's common project management approach.

Deloitte Method Coach Program

Deloitte's Consulting Methods & Tools (CMT) organization includes a formal method coach team to help drive the adoption and consistent usage of the methods and tools by Deloitte projects. As depicted in Exhibit 6, CMT supports client projects through methods and processes, enabling tools, and method coaching across the full project life cycle.

Deloitte's Consulting Methods & Tools Organization


Exhibit 6: Deloitte's Consulting Methods & Tools Organization

Method coaches serve as advisers and mentors to project pursuit and delivery teams. They assist project teams with methods and tools awareness and training to help them understand what is available and how to properly use it to more effectively plan, manage, and execute projects. Deloitte method coaches are either CMT full-time or rotational resources from the field with extensive delivery and project management experience, and a deep knowledge of the methods and tools being deployed. CMT aligns method coaches by service line, such as SAP, Oracle, and custom development Systems Integration, as well as their specific area(s) of skill, such as project management.

The Method Coach Program is another example of the level of commitment Deloitte has made to define, deploy, and support a common project management approach based on the PMBOK® Guide. Method coaches play the role of change champion “in the trenches” with Deloitte project teams, providing support and guidance on how to use the latest methods and tools that promote Deloitte's common project management approach.

Deloitte Project Management Core Practices

Defining project management core practices to support the consistent project management approach was the final step in Deloitte's deployment strategy. Once the foundation was in place (i.e., methods, tools, training, and coaching), Deloitte was ready to define project management core practices to further promote the common project management approach. Deloitte again committed significant resources to gather leaders from its member firms in a committee to identify, vet, and confirm the project management core practices they expect qualifying projects to perform.

The project management core practices play a critical role in wide-scale adoption and are being clearly and consistently communicated to Deloitte practitioners through an executive sponsorship and communications campaign that includes personal messages and updates from many of Deloitte's top leaders.

The project management core practices cover the activities that should be addressed when initiating, planning, and executing a project:

  • Project planning,
  • Work planning and monitoring,
  • Scope management,
  • Deliverable management, and
  • Risks, issues, and change control management.

In tandem with the project management core practices, Deloitte rolled out a program to monitor the results of adoption efforts, as well as feedback channels and procedures to capture project and practitioner reactions, comments, and suggestions. This information feeds scope and requirements for improvements, enhancements, and corrections to future releases of the enablers, which are described in this paper (i.e., methods, tools, training, coaching, and project management core practices).

Putting it all Together

Exhibit 7 summarizes the enablers and components Deloitte has invested in to define, deploy, and promote a common project management approach based on the PMBOK® Guide:

Deloitte's Common Project Management Approach Enablers


Exhibit 7: Deloitte's Common Project Management Approach Enablers


Effective, consistent usage of a common project management approach based on the PMBOK® Guide requires significant commitment, sponsorship, and ongoing investment from an organization. Simply distributing the PMBOK® Guide or “bolting on” the PMBOK® Guide framework to an organization's current methods or documented PM processes will typically have a low success rate.

The following is a summary of the enablers and learning points discussed in this white paper on how to effectively adopt PMBOK® Guide management processes in an organization:

  • The PMBOK® Guide should be interpreted and tailored to align with a company's structure, culture, and needs to make the guiding principles in PMBOK® Guide relevant, useful, and practical to a company's workforce.
    • The interpretation and tailoring takes significant effort, coordination, revisions, time and budget, but the reward can be more consistent, scalable, and sustainable adoption if done properly.
  • The project management tools offered by a company should be aligned with and support the project management practices defined in its methods.
    • Providing tools without accompanying methods/processes could be considered “putting the cart before the horse.”
    • Similarly, rolling out processes with no accompanying tools can hinder effective, consistent adoption.
    • The proper approach should first define the company's processes; then build tools that facilitate and support those processes through simple, practical user interfaces.
  • For consistent, sustainable adoption, the new common project management approach should be further supported by effective training, communications, sponsorship, and coaching.
    • These are important components of an effective wide-scale transformation or change program.
  • Once an organization has deployed the appropriate methods, tools, training, and coaching to support a common project management approach based on the PMBOK® Guide, the next steps for sustainable implementation can include:
    • Establishment of project management core practices for explicit definition of the project management tasks a project should follow.
    • Continuous improvement and maintenance programs to help keep the content and tools fresh, relevant, and useful.


Project Management Institute. (2008) A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK® guide) (4th ed.). Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of Deloitte practitioners. Deloitte is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, financial, investment, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. Deloitte, its affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.

Copyright © 2012 Deloitte Development LLC. All rights reserved.

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited

©2012, Michael J. Baum, Deloitte Development LLC
Originally published as part of 2012 PMI Global Congress Proceedings – Vancouver, BC



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