1. Some inconsistencies in the usage of “outcomes”


in PMI 2021, and some suggested amendments


A two-part commentary on “outcomes” in PMI 2021, 7th Ed.



By Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon)

Sydney, Australia


Increasing discussions on outcomes and benefits in the project mgt, literature

In earlier articles in this journal I have quoted from Pells 2021c, who includes a note on an increasing focus on project outcomes and benefits in the project management literature in the past decade or so.

The identification and selection of projects represent the front end of a broader, more comprehensive lifecycle model for program/project management. On the back end, post project, the focus in the last ten years has been on project outcomes and benefits, ultimately the critical determinants of project success.

Stated aspirations of a stronger focus on outcomes in PMI 2021

The 7th Edition of The Standard for Project Management and A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMI 2021) includes, in its own words, the following stated aspiration to focus more on outcomes rather than deliverables. (Both quotes are from the Preface, p. x).

…..a stronger focus on outcomes rather than deliverables.

…..to focus more on intended outcomes rather than deliverables

I will be labelling such outcomes as “post-delivery outcomes” in this series, for reasons which will become apparent shortly.

The above stated aspiration led me to look more closely into how PMI 2021 has gone about increasing its focus on outcomes in what is essentially a completely new document. PMI 2021 has four major sectors

  • Preface
  • The Standard for Project Management
  • A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)
  • Appendices (5), Glossary and Index

I found some sixty six outcomes-related entries in the Standard and PMBOK Guide sectors, which will shortly be set down in full in Figures 2 and 4. This article will identify five categories of “outcomes” – only one of which qualifies as “post-delivery” – and  discuss the frequencies of their inclusion in various sections of both the major sectors.

The results suggest that some terminological and allied modifications would appear to be warrented to help overcome many current inconsistencies – some of which can be quite confusing. These are mainly associated with a lack of clear definition of what type of outcomes are being discussed in the various contexts being discussed in PMI 2021. This first article will focus on these inconsistencies, and suggest some approaches to clarifying them.

(The second article of this commentary will discuss some outright contradications in outcomes-related entries in PMI 2021, and some more complicated consequences.)


Overall frequencies of outcomes-related entries in the major sectors of PMI 2021

I first sought to identlfy all the distinct entries I could find in this document which referred directly or indirectly to outcomes. As already noted, I found sixty six such entries. Figure 1 shows the major sectors and sections of PMI 2021, and records the number of outcomes-related entries found in each. I cannot claim that these entries are fully comprehensive, but believe that they are reasonably complete, and representative.

Figure 1. The frequency of occurrence of outcomes-related entries in PMI 2021

All identified output-related entries are detailed in the following Figures 2 and 4

As indicated in the right of Figure 1, I have quoted each outcomes-related entry in detail in Figures 2 and 4, which follow shortly. It will also be seen that I have also given each of these entries an alphabetic-and-number tag to help later referencing – P for Preface, S for Standard, and G for Guide (PMBOK), together with sequential numbering.


To read entire paper, click here

How to cite this work: Stretton, A. (2023).  1. Some inconsistencies in the usage of “outcomes” in PMI 2021, and some suggested amendments, commentary, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue VIII, August. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/pmwj132-Aug2023-Stretton-Some-inconsistencies-in-the-usage-of-outcomes-in-PMI-2021-2.pdf

About the Author

Alan Stretton, PhD     

Faculty Corps, University of Management
and Technology, Arlington, VA (USA)
Life Fellow, AIPM (Australia)


Alan Stretton is one of the pioneers of modern project management.  He is currently a member of the Faculty Corps for the University of Management & Technology (UMT), USA.  In 2006 he retired from a position as Adjunct Professor of Project Management in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia, which he joined in 1988 to develop and deliver a Master of Project Management program.   Prior to joining UTS, Mr. Stretton worked in the building and construction industries in Australia, New Zealand and the USA for some 38 years, which included the project management of construction, R&D, introduction of information and control systems, internal management education programs and organizational change projects.  He has degrees in Civil Engineering (BE, Tasmania) and Mathematics (MA, Oxford), and an honorary PhD in strategy, programme and project management (ESC, Lille, France).  Alan was Chairman of the Standards (PMBOK) Committee of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) from late 1989 to early 1992.  He held a similar position with the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), and was elected a Life Fellow of AIPM in 1996.  He was a member of the Core Working Group in the development of the Australian National Competency Standards for Project Management.  He has published 250+ professional articles and papers.  Alan can be contacted at alanailene@bigpond.com.au.

To see more works by Alan Stretton, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/alan-stretton/.