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IMPROVING PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Two new standards join the ISO series.

"By Clare Naden on 23 March 2021" www.iso.org


Successful project management is fundamental to greater efficiency and better outcomes. It is also often inextricably linked with programme and portfolio management along with related governance. Which is why two key standards in ISO’s series of documents for the sector have just been updated and expanded, providing even more extensive guidance on these issues.


ISO 21500, Project, programme and portfolio management – Context and concepts, is a foundational standard that provides overarching guidance for the use of the ISO 21500 series of standards. It gives an overview on project, programme and portfolio management and their governance. The standard is now joined by ISO 21502, Project, programme and portfolio management – Guidance on project management, which offers guidance and structure in managing projects with a focus on benefits and outcomes, from inception to completion, including project-related oversight and direction activities.


ISO 21502 provides guidance on the various practices needed in each phase of the project’s life cycle, including planning and control (such as addressing risks and issues, and change control), as well as managing benefits, business and societal change and information.

These two standards are part of the ISO 21500 series that also includes:

  • ISO 21503, Project, programme and portfolio management – Guidance on programme management

  • ISO 21504, Project, programme and portfolio management – Guidance on portfolio management

  • ISO 21505, Project, programme and portfolio management – Guidance on governance

  • ISO/TR [1] 21506, Project, programme and portfolio management – Vocabulary

  • ISO 21508, Earned value management in project and programme management

  • ISO 21511, Work breakdown structures for project and programme management

The ISO 21500 series was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 258, Project, programme and portfolio management, whose secretariat is held by ANSI, ISO’s member for the USA. The standards can be purchased from your national ISO member or the ISO Store.

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