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Project management according to IPMA ICB4

Version 1.1 (22-Apr-2024)

The following catalog is based on the Individual Competence Baseline 4 (ICB4) of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) and uses its chapter numbering.

Here I list the essential skills and areas of activity of a project manager in a comprehensible form.

4.3.1 Strategy and procedure

The project is based on the organization's strategy and vision.

Choose a project approach that is compatible with the corporate strategy and values. Check whether you can use existing processes for your project and, above all, take a look at the quality policy.

Align the project goals with the long-term goals of the organization (vision). Define the critical success factors (KEF) so that you have a direction right from the start. You should share these with everyone involved in the project and check whether you have set the success factors correctly. You must be able to justify the project benefits economically and compare the estimated costs with the benefits.

Also choose some key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can use to measure project performance and efficiency.

Motivate your team with the right KEFs and KPIs and set milestones.

4.3.2 Management, structures and processes

The PL utilizes the organization's resources and services for its project.

Gain an understanding of what makes the organization tick and which structures and processes are used there. The way you communicate with the organization should also be based on the customs. Your reports should not only inform in an understandable way, but also motivate.

Use the existing roles and responsibilities to support your project. Contact the HR department if you are looking for resources with suitable skills.

Assess how fit the organization is with regard to project management in order to adapt your approach to their understanding. However, you should never just do a "flat project" just to spare the organization. Remember that you are also developing the organization for the better as you carry out your project.

As a general rule, you are carrying out the project together with the organization and are therefore dependent on its support. You should therefore maintain good relationships with the line functions.

4.3.3 Conformity, standards and regulations

The PL ensures compliance with and observance of laws, standards and regulations throughout the entire duration of the project.

Every organization must comply with regulations and regularly demonstrate compliance. As a project manager, you must follow these rules without exception and also adopt established standards and ethical principles. These include, in particular, regulations in the areas of safety, health and the environment (SHE). The project objectives should also always combine social, environmental and economic aspects. Make sure that your project team can work in a pleasant and safe manner and that you do not endanger others through your approach to the project.

Ensure that the project objectives / success factors are sustainable for the organization. Evaluate your actions and the project objectives for their impact on the environment and society. Almost every organization has a sustainability strategy to guide you here.

If you outsource services to third parties as part of your project or if you procure funds, you must take the organization's procurement practices into account.

Be clear about whether your actions could pose a risk to the organization and, conversely, whether they are an opportunity for improvement.

If there are awards from past projects about procedures that have proven themselves, try to use these for your project (good practices). Thinking outside the box could help if you choose specific procedures. By benchmarking, you can learn how other organizations have mastered certain requirements . Compare these with your organization's approach and identify gaps that you can fill with improvement measures. Share your knowledge with the organization.

If you use your own processes, you should describe and standardize them

4.3.4 Power and interests

The PL identifies informal sources of power and influences them in the interests of the project.

Interests and the exercise of power influence your project. You need to understand that there are other, informal interests in addition to the formal interests (project objectives). These are often not easy to recognize, as individuals or groups do not make them known transparently.

Exercising power exerts influence and can jeopardize the success of the project. You need to identify sources of power and interests and understand their motivations in order to be able to deal with them in the interests of the project.

Much of the informal power that is not given by roles, structures or processes is driven by personal interests. Stakeholders will often try to exert their influence.

4.3.5 Culture and values

The PL manages the project in such a way that the culture and values of the organization are appreciated.

Understand and use your understanding of the organization's values and culture. Appreciate the culture and adapt the project to the customs. Knowledge of the vision, mission and quality policy is helpful here.

But there are also programs that have been set up specifically to change the culture of the company.

Make sure that your actions do not appear antisocial.

4.4.1 Self-reflection and self-management

The PL is aware of its strengths, values and preferences and uses these for the project.

Understand your values, emotions and preferences, think about how they influence the way you work.

Become aware of your strengths and talents and make targeted use of them. Also become aware of your weaknesses and take advantage of support.

Set yourself goals and pursue them. Do your work systematically and identify things that distract you.
Stay on track and commit to a course of action once you have chosen it. By doing so, you signal a consistency of value that makes it easier for you to lead people.

Plan and record your working time and required resources and set priorities. Turn down tasks if they do not fit in with your plan. Develop a tactic for achieving your next milestones.

Speak clearly and appropriately.

Take criticism and advice as a welcome opportunity to develop yourself. Positive energy makes you efficient and effective.

4.4.2 Personal integrity and reliability

The PL acts reliably and consistently in line with its own values.

Act in accordance with your own values. Be reliable and consistent with your actions and make consistent decisions. This will earn you trust. Let others know what you are going to do and why, and then act accordingly. Behave according to the situation.

Focus on sustainability and strive for results that have a long-term impact.

Work on your personal deficits.

4.4.3 Personal communication

The PL communicates with all relevant parties in a targeted, precise and comprehensible manner.

Structure the information according to recipients. Communicate precisely and comprehensibly with all relevant parties. Use metaphors to communicate in a more catchy way. Use body language and visualize content to convey it better.

Let others finish speaking and listen actively. Create open and respectful communication and use humor to strengthen team cohesion and reduce tensions. Also change your perspective and slip into the role or situation of another person. By understanding rationally and emotionally what is on the person's mind, you can adapt your way of communicating and achieve a better understanding.

Use modern means of communication. Moderate meetings.

4.4.4 Relationships and commitment

The PL uses its social skills to build and utilize relationships.

Relationships form the basis of productive collaboration. Building stable relationships requires effort. The ability to build strong relationships requires social skills such as empathy, communication and trust. This is about building direct relationships (1 to 1) and building networks. Show interest in people and actively seek out new contacts. Offer your help. You are present, open and keep others up to date. Organize events and moderate groups in social networks.

Expect others to act according to shared values.

Familiarize yourself with the values of others. Think positively and trust in verbal promises from others.

Share your goals and visions and commit everyone in your team to contribute to the goals. Ask others for their ideas and involve them in planning and decision-making.

4.4.5 Management

The PL uses appropriate leadership styles in different situations.

Leadership means guidance. The competence includes the ability to use suitable leadership styles in different situations. Leadership styles consist of patterns of action, types of communication, attitudes to conflict and ways of controlling the behavior of team members.

Set an example of responsible behavior.

Be positive about the project and generate enthusiasm.

Define metrics and develop visions and values.

Align individual goals with the common goals.

Take on the role of an advisor and support others through coaching and mentoring.

You should be perceived as the project manager by the project participants (stakeholders).

Explain your decisions. Encourage the expression of opinions and discussion. Transfer responsibility to your team and trust in their competence. Do not introduce control mechanisms for individual work steps (micro-management).

Do not ignore uncertainties, otherwise you will lose sight of the big picture and lose effectiveness as a manager. Be aware of uncertainties and remain mindful. "Uncertainty loses power and influence over us. What's more, it even becomes a resource for change."

Correct your decisions if necessary.

4.4.6 Teamwork

The PL builds a productive team by encouraging, supporting and leading it.

The Teamwork competency is about bringing people together to work towards a common goal.
It is about building a productive team by shaping, supporting and leading it. When adding people to your team, consider their preferences, strengths and weaknesses. Then negotiate common norms and rules.

Allow team discussions. Ask about concerns. Pay attention to signals that arise from a disruption of cooperation within the team and react immediately. Encourage the formation of networks within your team. Develop team members by sharing knowledge, offer seminars and run workshops. Take lessons learned from past projects or from your current project to reflect on improvements. Delegate tasks, set performance criteria and explain your expectations.

Keep your team up to date by providing regular and structured information.

Give feedback to both the individual and the team (retrospective).

Accept that people make mistakes, offer constructive criticism and identify potential for improvement.

Protect the success of the project from errors.

4.4.7 Conflicts and crises

The PL selects areas of responsibility for their team members in such a way that conflicts are kept to a minimum.

Conflicts and crises can be triggered by differences of opinion. They are a threat to the project. Fundamental mechanisms must be recognized in order to react accordingly. Crises can arise from conflicts.

Assign team members to different areas of responsibility if you can avoid conflicts by doing so and only delegate conflict-prone tasks to those members who can master these situations. Reflect on stressful situations and try to assign them to a conflict phase so that you can better analyze the causes and work out a solution strategy. Learn from conflicts and set up your team in such a way that there are no further conflicts. Also think about your own role in triggering a conflict.

4.4.8 Versatility

The PL uses various methods and ways of thinking in order to solve as many problems as possible.

The competence Versatility defines the ability to apply different techniques and ways of thinking to solve problems.

Encourage creativity and overcome obstacles by developing and testing concepts as a team.

Bear in mind that problems often have several causes and that their solutions can have an impact on other areas of the project.

Think analytically and extract relevant information from complex data. Draw clear and comprehensible conclusions.

You should be able to deal effectively with uncertainties and stressful situations. Make the most of them and see them as opportunities for change. Think in context and see the big picture (Bic Picture)

4.4.9 Negotiations

The PL selects strategies and arguments against the background of their own interests and constraints in such a way that negotiations are objectively successful.

Negotiation is a process in which two parties seek to strike a balance between their interests.

Reflect on your own interests and constraints and back them up with facts. Have alternative paths ready. Think about a negotiation strategy in which, among other things, you choose the order of your arguments wisely. To do this, you need to put yourself in the other party's shoes.

Don't forget to document the results of your negotiation.

In all negotiations, remember that you are aiming for a positive working relationship

As far as possible, free yourself from emotions and take a sober and objective view of the negotiation; after all, this is not about personal issues, but about a project whose outcome will be a compromise between many interest groups and individuals.

4.4.10 Focus on results

The PL focuses on the essentials and rejects other tasks in order to achieve the project goals quickly.

Focusing on results means focusing on the key objectives and results of the project. The results are guidelines for all project activities. You formulate supporting goals and a strategy for achieving the project goals. Assess the impact of your actions on the project outcome. Learn to say "no" when you are given tasks that do not fit into your strategy. Keep disruptions away from your team. Divide tasks into feasible work packages and provide the necessary means, resources and infrastructure.

You need to promote your approach to get enough support. Also get supporters for your advertising.

4.5.1 Project design

The PL outlines a draft project design by evaluating key aspects such as time, expectations and financial resources.

The project design or project approach describes a first draft of how the project will be structured and organized. Aspects such as time horizon, organizational culture, strategy, expectations, resources and funding play an important role in the selection.

The goals of the organization are the top priority.

Also include the 5 competence elements from the perspective in your decision. Experience from previous projects (lessons learned) should also be taken into account.

They estimate the complexity and impact of influencing variables and consider initial measures for simplification.

Justify the chosen project approach and explain the effects and chances of success to the organization.
Since factors and success criteria can change over the course of the project, the project design must be questioned and adapted.

4.5.2 Requirements, benefits and objectives

The PL derives the requirements for the project and the project objectives from the needs of the organization.

What are the requirements for the project, what goals must be achieved? Be aware that the organization has needs from which you must first derive requirements. If the organization wants to increase its productivity (need), this can happen in different ways. You choose requirements for your project that will satisfy the needs in the end. You must relate these to each other. Also divide them into operational (short-term) and strategic goals (long-term). Create partial results / milestones and define the order in which these are to be achieved. Agree on requirements and document them. Define acceptance criteria for all requirements.

4.5.3 Scope of services and delivery items

PL describes the scope of services, i.e. the project results, and clearly distinguishes the project from the non-goals.

The scope of services describes the desired results (objectives, success criteria) and thus the benefits for the stakeholders.

Essentially, the scope of services describes the limits of the project.

Once you are clear about your goals and the intermediate steps (delivery objects) required to achieve them, develop a project structure plan (PSP). You configure your project by booking resources, assigning roles and defining responsibilities. Make it clear to everyone involved in the project that the project performance depends heavily on the configuration.

Continuously monitor the work packages achieved against the plan and react accordingly in the event of deviations. Avoid increasing the scope of services during the project due to additional requirements (scope creeping).

4.5.4 Procedure and deadlines

The PL draws up a project structure plan which shows all the processes in the project.

Temporal structuring of all processes (elements) of a project.

Start by drawing up a project structure plan containing all activities.

From this, you generate work packages by planning the duration, deadline and effort (resources) for each activity.

The work packages are then displayed in a process schedule (GANTT). You calculate the critical path.

Make sure that your resources are optimally utilized, i.e. that there is no underutilization or overload.

4.5.5 Organization, information and documentation

The PL defines the working methods and organizational form of the project team.

You set up a temporary project organization by defining the working methods, cooperation and interfaces within the organization. To do this, you define roles and responsibilities and specify the information that is to be exchanged. Documentation plays an important role here.

Three levels are defined, namely client level, project level and component level.

4.5.6 Quality

The PL defines the quality aspects and the types of monitoring in a quality plan.

It is about the quality of the delivered objects. Their benefit for the organization and their creation within the planned schedule are quality aspects. In a quality plan, you define the quality aspects and also the types of monitoring. You define quality objectives and start to take appropriate measures if your monitoring indicates a deviation from the quality objectives. You define an audit scheme and monitor your project systematically. You present the quality status in a regular project review and share this information. You regularly validate whether the intended project goal and the planned delivery objects still represent the desired benefit for the organization. Your team must demonstrate quality awareness and you must ensure this.

4.5.7 Costs and financing

The PL ensures that the project is financed by raising funds, sets a budget and monitors the use of funds.

Costs are incurred through the expense of project performance in the form of the consumption of funds and working hours. Financing stands in contrast to this and are the measures that procure money and resources to cover the costs. Cost structures and categories help you to monitor the status. You manage costs by defining a costing method, creating a budget and setting cost targets. You develop a financing strategy and identify sources of funding. You cooperate with investors.

You ensure proper management of the payment flow with the support of the organization's finance department. Of course, you adhere to the organization's approval processes. The cost reports are adapted to the organization's formats. You report on deviations and propose corrective measures. Also keep an eye on the organization's available resources and escalate if they no longer cover the needs in the project (vacation time).

4.5.8 Resources

The PL plans the resources and ensures that they are used appropriately.

Resources include personnel, expertise, facilities, equipment, materials, infrastructure, tools and other assets required to carry out the project.

They plan resources and monitor their appropriate use. They take into account both the number of people and their skills.

You influence the procurement of resources and look for alternative sources of supply. You negotiate with the organization and with external service providers when it comes to the provision of resources.

4.5.9 Procurement and partnership

The PL initiates the procurement of resources within the organization and describes their characteristics for a request on the market.

Procurement is mainly aimed at suppliers outside the parent organization. Resources are procured that are cheaper, more suitable and more available than those of the organization.

From the resource requirements that you have already determined, you create tender documents and forward them to the organization that will carry out the procurement. You define the characteristics of the resources and decide in negotiations together with the organization and the potential suppliers.

You monitor contract fulfillment by suppliers, identify deviations and demand corrective measures. You may have to insist on the contract being terminated.

You should consider contextual information such as strategy, sustainability and social aspects when making your decisions.

4.5.10 Planning and control

The PL steers the project team through the individual phases of project planning by properly completing and evaluating phases and initiating the next phase.

The plan provides a holistic overview of the management of a project; depending on the design, all elements are brought together in one plan. After you have received the project assignment from the organization, you organize a workshop with all project participants to kick off the project. Your project is divided into phases, of which the planning phase and the control phase (implementation) are the two middle, active phases. Once you have completed one phase, you must move on to the next phase in an orderly fashion.

In the control phase, you measure the progress of the project through performance controlling. You report on the status and draw up forecasts. If changes to the project process or the delivery objects become necessary, e.g. because framework conditions change, you must request these from the organization and document them (logbook). You create a lessons learned report for each phase, which contains reasons for deviations or special incidents.

4.5.11 Opportunities and risks

The PL identifies opportunities and risks on an ongoing basis and derives suitable measures to maintain and increase the benefits for the organization.

The management of opportunities and risks is an ongoing process of identifying, analyzing and weighing up actions. They must always be viewed in the context of corporate strategies.

As part of risk management, you draw up a response plan that looks at the opportunities and risks already identified in terms of their impact on the organization and lists appropriate measures (for use or avoidance). The response plan is communicated within the organization.

4.5.12 Stakeholders

The PL knows the expectations of the stakeholders and influences them through targeted information.

Stakeholders are all persons, groups or organizations that are affected by the project or can influence it.

Stakeholders have interests and expectations and must be treated individually. You comply with this by specifically satisfying the different information requirements. This allows you to exert influence. Consider whether you can enter into alliances with certain stakeholders and thus make better progress via a controlled network. You develop a stakeholder strategy and a communication plan.

Use the organization's management as an ambassador and authority. Engage stakeholders.

4.5.13 Change and transformation

The PL assesses the organization in terms of its ability to change and identifies potential resistance.

Change and transformation happen when parts or the entire organization turn away from established practices and introduce new processes. This often happens under cost pressure or is expected by the market.

Assess whether the organization is adaptable and include past experience in your assessment. Identify the biggest obstacles to change and consider measures to circumvent them.

Identify resistance to your project (to change) and recognize and use people who are innovative and want change.

List the possible objectives of a change and the situation for the organization (target picture) and derive the requirements for your change project from this. Develop a step-by-step plan. Do not disregard the organization's vision and strategy. Develop an intervention plan that identifies possible interventions if the change process comes to a standstill. Conduct workshops and training sessions and use reinforcement techniques.

Stichwortverzeichnis <im Aufbau>

Success criteria (EC) are the desired results of projects.

Stakeholders (SH; -> 4.5.12 Stakeholders) assess the success of projects based on the EC. They are defined at the start of the project, but can be adapted during the project. They are known to all project participants and set out in writing. An increase in the number or scope of individual ECs due to requests from SHs is a risk for every project (-> scope creep) and should be prevented as far as possible.

ECs should fulfill the S.M.A.R.T. target criteria (-> S.M.A.R.T.)


  • Investment in a system within budget
  • Customer satisfaction at 85
  • Error rate below 1,000 ppm
  • Compliance with environmental regulations

S.M.A.R.T. goal criteria are properties of goals.

Definition of S.M.A.R.T. target criteria:

  • S - specific / exactly described;
  • M - measurable / measurable and verifiable;
  • A - achievable / manageable;
  • R - realistic / meaningful;
  • T - timely / reachable in usual time periods;

Critical success factors (CSFs) are conditions without which certain ECs cannot be achieved.

Like the ECs, they are defined at the start of the project. They are "yardsticks" by which the project team can recognize whether the ECs are being achieved or not.


  • Precise description of the EK
  • Project team (skills, motivation)
  • Resources (-> 4.5.8 Resources)
  • Communication (-> 4.4.3 Personal communication)
  • Risk management (-> 4.5.11 Opportunities and risks)
  • Project monitoring (-> 4.5.10 Planning and control)