Sunday, July 5, 2009

Application Area Knowledge, Standards and Regulations

Application areas are categories of projects that have common elements significant in such projects, but are not needed or present in all projects. Application areas are usually defined in terms of:
  • Functional departments and supporting disciplines, such as legal, production and inventory management, marketing, logistics, and personnel
  • Technical elements, such as software development or engineering, and sometimes a specific kind of engineering, such as water and sanitation engineering or construction engineering
  • Management specializations, such as government contracting, community development, and new product development
  • Industry groups, such as automotive, chemical, agriculture, and financial services.
Each application area generally has a set of accepted standards and practices, often codified in regulations. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) differentiates between standards and regulations as follows:
  • A standard is a document established by consensus and approved by a recognized body that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context. Some examples of standards are computer disk sizes and the thermal stability specifications of hydraulic fluids.
  • A regulation is a government-imposed requirement, which specifies product, process or service characteristics, including the applicable administrative provisions, with which compliance is mandatory. Building codes are an example of regulations.
There is an overlap in the concepts of standards and regulations that cause confusion. For example:
  • Standards often begin as guidelines that describe a preferred approach and later, with widespread adoption, become generally accepted as if they were regulations
  • Different organizational levels can mandate compliance, such as when a government agency, the management of the performing organization, or the project management team establishes specific policies and procedures.
Reference: A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK ® Guide)


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