Frequently Asked Questions - National Project Management System


What is NPMS?

The National Project Management System (NPMS) is PSPC's project management framework. NPMS provides project management guidance, best practices, tools and templates as well as project management and technical supporting documentation to support effective project management across PSPC.

What are the benefits of the NPMS?

The NPMS has been developed to provide national consistency in the identification and delivery of projects and to provide practical tools and templates to organize project information. The NPMS is meant to enhance communications on projects and to facilitate reviews and approvals. The NPMS is a management methodology to be applied in a manner that will generate a more efficient environment for projects.

Why is NPMS called a "System"?

NPMS is a "system" in the sense that it is a "group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole" (Webster). NPMS is not a closed loop, IT System with automated processes. Rather NPMS is a design and delivery framework that provides enough flexibility for widely varying project types to be delivered end-to-end, using consistent processes, deliverables, tools and best practices. NPMS was originally called a "system" to differentiate it from its Real Property predecessor.

What is the Business Projects – IT-Enabled Stream? Are there other streams?

There are two Project Management Streams in NPMS: the Real Property Stream and the Business Projects – IT-Enabled Stream. The Business Projects – IT-Enabled Stream "develops solutions to achieve and maintain efficient and effective business processes and service delivery". Business Projects can include solutions that are facilitated by Information Technology as well as others that have no technological components at all. Some Business Projects may transform business practices.

Are all projects within PSPC required to use NPMS?

Yes. Any initiative that meets the NPMS definition of a project is to apply NPMS « Full », « Lite » or OGD procedures.

What is considered to be a project?

According to NPMS Policy, "a project is a defined undertaking with a beginning and an end to be executed to create a unique product or result. Business Projects – IT-Enabled are either:

  • New Solution Projects - which develop new solutions to achieve efficient and effective business processes and service delivery that are facilitated by Information Technology; some of these projects may transform business practices; or
  • Maintenance Projects - which implement changes to existing products, results, services, applications or systems.

Within this stream, it is further assumed that for an initiative to be considered a project, it will have a separate, defined budget and have some dedicated human resources. The intent is to distinguish operational initiatives that can resemble projects but which may not need to incorporate all PSPC project management best practices.

Are projects that started prior to the launch of NPMS required to use NPMS?

No. However it is highly recommended that they adopt its best practices, deliverable templates and so on. Active projects that have not yet reached the EPA control point are required to use the NPMS deliverables relevant to the current phase of their project.

What does OGD mean?

OGD stands for "Other Government Department".

Why do we need NPMS and what about TBS ?

The NPMS framework has been designed to meet:

  • PSPC's commitments to Treasury Board under the Management Accountability Framework;
  • The requirements of Treasury Board's Policy on the Management Projects and Investment Planning Policy; and
  • The requirements of PSPC's new National Project Management System Policy.

NPMS aligns with all the Laws, Regulations, Directives and Policies that apply to PSPC projects.

Who is responsible for assuring that the project team is following the NPMS Framework? Who is monitoring projects to assure that they are abiding by the framework?

Each branch is responsible for ensuring the compliance of its own projects. This includes requiring status reports on key indicators and applying monitoring and control processes to ensure that desired outcomes are delivered on time, budget and scope.

What role does the Client play in NPMS?

The Client / Business Line Owner are responsible for the following activities:

  • Providing input to the scope analysis and definition process;
  • Supporting the Project Manager in the development of the Scope Statement;
  • Approving the project scope baseline and all significant changes to the project scope, time and cost;
  • Approving the Project Charter;
  • Accepting the project's product or result once acceptance criteria have been met.

Does NPMS apply to all branches within PSPC?

Yes, the PSPC NPMS Policy and Principles applies to any branch or department-wide initiative that meets the NPMS definition for a project. NPMS sizing rules are then applied to the initiative, to determine the appropriate version of NPMS to be used based on size, complexity and risk.

Are consultants responsible for knowing and understanding the NPMS framework?

Anyone working on a project in PSPC will need to know and use NPMS.

What are NPMS Directives?

NPMS Directives describe the mandatory control point deliverables and minimum management approval levels for two project streams.

NPMS Directives have been developed as follows:

  • For Real Property Projects:
    • The National Project Management System Directive for Real Property Projects
    • The National Project Management System Procedure for Real Property Projects funded by Other Government Departments (OGDs)
  • For Business Projects - IT-Enabled:
    • National Project Management System (NPMS) Directive for Business Projects - IT-Enabled
    • National Project Management System (NPMS) Procedure for Business Projects - IT-Enabled Funded by Other Government Departments (OGDs) and Agencies

Within the NPMS Directives, different procedures have been defined for large, complex projects (« Full ») and for smaller, less complex projects « Lite ». In short, « Lite » projects require fewer control point deliverables and approvals than do full projects.

Is NPMS aligned with The Project Management Institute's Project Management Body of Knowledge?

Yes, NPMS uses the nine core PMI knowledge areas and then adapts and aligns these within the Government of Canada and PSPC policy, legal and regulatory context.

What are the NPMS Knowledge Areas?

The nine core knowledge areas are integration, scope, time, cost, quality, risk, procurement, human resources and communications. In addition the Business Project stream has developed an Information Management (IM) Knowledge Area, since this domain is integral to the business. On their part, the Real Property stream has developed the Safety, the Environmental, the Financial and the Claims Management Knowledge Areas.

What is the difference between the NPMS Model and the Business Projects – IT-Enabled Roadmap?

The NPMS model is a high-level visual depiction of the NPMS control point deliverables and corresponding approvals. The Business Project Steam has produced « Full », « Lite » and Technical Deliverables visual models. The Business Projects – IT-Enabled Roadmap is the high-level textual procedure document that corresponds to the NPMS models. It outlines what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. The roadmap is adapted to project complexity and risk as well as to the purpose and desired outcomes of the project.

What is PMAC ?

PMAC is PSPC's Project Management Advisory Council. It was set up to facilitate inter-branch cooperation in order to:

  • Strengthen project management capacity,
  • Share best practices, enhance similarities in procedures and project documentation, and review project procedures,
  • Ensure systematic use of project management tools within the department to monitor progress, expenditure and risk associated with projects,
  • Ensure continued Real Property Branch collaboration with TBS on a dry run implementation of the Project Management Policy, and
  • Review and approve NPMS, specifically the Business Projects - IT-Enabled Stream.

Who are the representatives that sit on PMAC ?

PMAC is co-chaired by RPB and ITSB. The members of the committee include representatives from each branch. These representatives are directly involved in project development, delivery, policy or approval processes, or they are involved with the PSPC Integrated Investment Plan, whose projects are delivered via the NPMS Framework.

Who do I contact for questions and to provide my feedback on NPMS?

You can contact your Branch PMAC representative or you can send an Email to for Real Property questions and to for IT related questions.

How do I get training on NPMS?

Staff wishing to attend NPMS training can make requests to the following e-mail addresses:

Will NPMS Training be mandatory?

No. However a Branch or Sector can decide to make the training obligatory for their employees. The available courses can be added to employee learning plans.

Is there a cost for NPMS training?

A cost recovery fee of $250 per participant is required in advance of participation at the IT-Enabled training session. Please refer to the RPB course calendar This link is available only to clients with access to The Source, the PWGSC/PSPC intranet. for the cost associated to the RPB NPMS training.

What is the difference between an OPMCA and a PCRA?

TB's Organizational Project Management Capacity Assessment (OPMCA) assesses the organization's level of project management capacity for the purpose of establishing project approval authority. The OPMCA is conducted every three years.

TB's Project Complexity and Risk Assessment (PCRA) assesses the complexity and risk of individual projects. Any project with an estimated cost exceeding $1M needs to conduct a PCRA Assessment.

If a PCRA exceeds the Department's project approval authority, the Department will have to prepare a submission to Treasury Board.

The PCRA will also affect the number of independent reviews the project may be subject to during the project lifecycle. (« Full » NPMS / 5 reviews; « Lite » NPMS / 3 reviews; Projects requiring TB submission, 7 reviews).

What is an IAR?

An IAR is an Investment Analysis Report, which is Real Property's version of a Business Case.

What is the difference between a PPP and a PMP?

The Preliminary Project Plan is the plan that will be used to meet the project objectives during the Identification Stage up to Preliminary Project Approval (PPA), in other words, to manage the project up to PPA. The Project Management Plan (PMP) is the document that defines how the project will be managed during the Delivery Stage and to the end of the project lifecycle.

What is PPA and EPA?

Preliminary Project Approval (PPA) and Effective Project Approval (EPA) are Treasury Board project approval gates. NPMS uses the same terms for gates that occur at the same point in the project lifecycle as Treasury Board's gates. PPA approval is given to the Business case and the recommended solution along with sufficient funding to take the project to the EPA approval gate. EPA approval is given to the solution design along with spending authority to proceed through construction, implementation and project close out. The terms PPA and EPA are used regardless of whether or not a project requires Treasury Board approval.

Who prepares NPMS deliverables?

For IT-E Projects:

The Project Manager is accountable for NPMS deliverables. During the Project Inception and Project Identification Stages, responsibility normally rests with the client organization's Project Manager. During the Project Delivery Stage, responsibility rests with the Project Delivery Organization's Project Manager. Project Manager can delegate either the creation or finalization of any deliverable to a member of the project team; however, the Project Manager retains accountability for content quality and the thoroughness of analysis.

For RP Projects:

The Project Leader is responsible for preparing NPMS deliverables in the Inception and Identification Stages and has overall accountability for all approval documents. The Project Manager is responsible for providing support to the Project Leader in the development phases, and preparing deliverables in the Delivery Stage.

Who approves document deliverables? If the document deliverables are altered, do they need to be reapproved?

Who approves a deliverable will depend on the project governance. See Annex A and B of the NPMS directives. For instance, if significant changes are made to any of the project deliverables, it may have to be re-approved.