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APM Body of Knowledge is the beginning of the debate, not the end

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Despite the seemingly endless stream of news surrounding the Eurozone debt crisis and resulting economic insecurity, there is a continued commitment by UK government towards infrastructure projects that will provide the stimulus for financial recovery.

This is a welcome strategy and one that has to succeed, because history tells us that project failure not only means non-delivery of intended benefits, but also exponential increase to costs.

This is the driver behind APMs vision of a world in which all projects succeed. We believe that with the right capability in initiation, sponsorship, governance and delivery all projects can be successful, delivering benefit to all those whose lives they touch. This is not to under-state the serious challenges that stand in the way of achieving this vision. But even if it takes many generations to come even close to achieving it, adopting such an inspirational approach maximises the likelihood of doing so.

Realising a world in which all projects succeed is a collaborative effort involving not just project professionals but also policy makers, sponsors and end users. APM has and will always play a pivotal role in providing a trusted space in which these discussions can be hosted.

2012 is proving to be a significant one for the profession: it is our 40th anniversary, we are a Learning Legacy Partner for the London 2012 Olympics, we will showcase individual project success through the well-respected APM Awards, and we will shortly be launching the much discussed APM Body of Knowledge 6th edition.

Since starting in 2010, the Body of Knowledge project has engaged with over 1000 people drawn from APM Specific Interest Groups and corporate organisations across public, private and third sectors. The final public consultation has been completed and the document has been signed-off by APMs Professional Standards and Knowledge Committee and the APM Board.

As one of APMs 5 Dimensions of Professionalism, the Body of Knowledge aims to define the breadth of the profession. It is a taxonomy rather than a methodology, a starting point rather than a single solution. This taxonomy will develop as practice develops, exactly as it always has done and always will do. We are developing a web platform which will allow the full body of knowledge to evolve and grow, allowing for incremental change while maintaining the integrity of the central content which has been written by the community for the community.

It is the nature of consensus that the Body of Knowledge itself cannot satisfy absolutely everyone. But the tens of thousands of hours discussion and learning that helped us get to our current position have provided a highly valuable collaborative forum for reflection and for gaining inputs from a wide variety of sources, a significant number of them new to APM.

We live in interesting times: project management has a critical role to play in meeting the challenges being set out in developing the new economy that will lead to financial recovery. A world in which all projects succeed is a deliberately unreasonable ask; but it is needed, and it is possible.


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  1. Adrian Pyne
    Adrian Pyne 21 May 2012, 11:52 AM

    The development path of the new BoK was long and difficult. Not suprisingly there are many and disparate views inside APM. For example, there are still strong voices in APM that do not believe in programme or portfolio management (although most of us have realised the earth is round), so arguement on subjects large and small  was inevitable and will not cease. We could and do get terribly religious about our profession, and while there might be some I might like to burn at the stake, and I am sure would do likewise with me, being a broad "church" is a good thing. It means that ideas are challenged and tested.Lots of people did not get their own way, this happened with me on some issues, some of which I felt rather strongly about. I just hope that this does not lead to too many voices who will feel that the new BoK heralds the coming of the apocalypse. For me, there are things in the Bok I might not like (or even greatly dislike), but I know that there are many right ways to do things and not all of them are my idea - goodness its hard to admit that. So even more than before, a new toolbox is about to arrive, use what feels good and adapt it.As to changing it, well it is up to US to ensure that as new concensus emerges on particular subjects, we evolve the BoK on the new web platform.