Driving project success through confidence in competence

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APM’s revised Competence Framework measures the competency of project teams – a critical factor in project success.

What makes a project successful?
Competent project teams for one. According to APM research, The Conditions for Project Success, the competency and skills of project professionals was ranked most highly among perceived critical success factors by the 850 participants.

It also attracted the single largest group of comments. These focused on the importance of teamwork, team building, team ethos, attitudes and ‘soft skills’. For example: “People deliver projects so it’s critical that you get a good team established early and communicate through regular reviews to make people feel comfortable and empowered.”

And yet, nearly half (47 per cent) of those quizzed rated the competency of their team on their most recent project as only moderately good at best. While 8 per cent said it was either poor or absent.

Which is why the release of APM’s revised Competence Framework is so timely.

How will the framework help organisations get the best from their project managers?
The new framework provides a modern, fit for purpose tool to help organisations in a host of different ways, including staff retention and development, upskilling and team building and creation.  The 27 refreshed competences and 14 role profiles (see example) have been developed to cover not just project management, but programme and portfolio management and project management office roles too.

This breadth allows the framework to support the development of knowledge and skills at all levels in an organisation. It’s an effective benchmarking tool which enables organisations to establish, embed and measure the effectiveness of project management skills across the workforce.

Identifying the skills-sets across the workforce means they can be put to full and proper use in the right roles and in the right team structures: a more effective use of skills and knowledge and a more focused and driven workforce.

The flexibility of the framework means it can be adopted wholesale, or adapted and integrated into existing frameworks.

Identifying training and development needs for project professionals through self-assessment
The assessment form allows project professionals to carry out the assessment themselves, making it transparent right from the outset. Line managers can also make the assessment, the comparison of results being a good starting point for discussion and a steer for personal development plans.

For individuals, the ability to demonstrate your value as well as identify development needs is also becoming more important.

Self-assessment can be a valuable opportunity to identify strengths and weaknesses. This in turn will act as a guide for training and development needs, highlighting areas that need to be worked on to prepare them for that promotion or even a new job opportunity.

The competences are clearly defined with outcome focused performance indicators, and as the material has been tried and tested by professionals, it can be relied upon and used to measure changes in performance and experience over a period of time.

The simple assessment can be carried out using the competences from the framework and the self-assessment form, both provided free to project professionals registered on the APM website.

The time is right to identify and develop those skills and knowledge, not just for successful project organisations but for successful individuals, too. A new industry benchmark offers that opportunity and it should be grasped with both hands.

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Posted by Gill Hancock on 17th Jul 2015

About the Author
Gill Hancock is the Head of Professional Standards and Knowledge for the Association for Project Management. Gill is an experienced project manager with many years’ experience working in business and education environments. Projects include the refresh of the APM Project Fundamentals and Management qualifications, Higher Apprenticeship in Project Management and Version 6 of the APM Body of Knowledge, as well as input into International certification regulations. Gill trained and worked as a careers adviser before making the move to project management.

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