Driving the vision through to 2020

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BoK, apprenticeships, chartered, 40th anniversary, web site, RPP, success being the norm and a solid performance.  Some of the topics we discussed when the Board got together in March at the end of the associations financial year.  Not only did this meeting see the completion of the business year, which is promising to have been very good despite the economic climate, but it also saw the end of our current 5-year strategic plan and the beginning of our new 2020 strategy.

The last five years has seen the organisation prepare to become one not only worthy of Chartered status, but to provide leadership in the drive towards project professionalism. The membership has grown to over 19,700, over 10,000 candidates taking our qualifications each year; the association has new offices, an improved IT infrastructure and a larger professional team at Ibis House to suport this expanding population and range of services. We have a new website, our relationships with organisations and government is stronger than ever. We have launched new accreditation schemes for corporate development programmes, universities and training providers. We have introduced the APM Five Dimensions of Professionalism as a common theme in all we do. We have run more than 1000 events through our branches with more attendees and better feedback than ever before. We have produced more SIG Guides and re-launched the APM Conference, Awards and Project magazine. And, of course, we have launched the APM Registered Project Professional standard.

At the Board meeting in March we signed-off the APM Body of Knowledge 6th edition final draft; signifying the last deliverable from the strategic plan. This has been a 2 year collaborative project involving over 1000 people from a broad range of sectors, engaging with people who are known to us and who have never worked with APM before.  I was very pleased to see the energy and intensive discussion that was generated in this process as an indicator of the passion for the subject held by so many people. 

Of course, we did anticipate that wed be a Chartered body by the end of this strategic period. We are still make good progress towards that goal, but it has taken longer than wed expected and we must still maintain our dignified silence to allow due process to be followed. However, we are more prepared to take on the responsibilities of being a Chartered body than ever before. The drive towards professionalism is what is taking the organisation forward.

In our 40th year and with the profession on the cusp of one of its greatest triumphs the London Olympics it seems timely that we should look to the next milestone in the professions development; a world in which All Projects Succeed.

This is the vision that has driven APMs new 2020 strategy. It was first announced by Mike Nichols at the APM Awards in October 2011, and since then we have consulted widely, which has allowed us to refine the strategy that supports the vision into a deliverable plan. The first tranche of work officially started in April, although much of it started before then, with the development of a web resource for the APM Body of Knowledge, the Higher Apprenticeships in Project Management, and an update to the Full member standard.

For some, the vision is so challenging as to be virtually impossible. Its certainly not easy, but it reflects the demands of society. Why shouldnt people expect a world in which all projects succeed, would you board a plane or drive a car with a high probability of failure? The vision raises valid questions about what success actually is and how project professionals, others contributing to the delivery of projects and organisations must develop their practice to meet these heightened demands. We couldnt claim to have all the answers; but the need for project success is essential in todays society, we cannot allow these questions to go unanswered. 

Momentum towards this goal is already gathering pace. The Olympic Learning Legacy events, which have attracted over 600 delegates to the first three events of the roadshow have highlighted how excellent project and programme management, consistently applied well, can deliver the most challenging projects and programmes. The Major Projects Authority, under the leadership of David Pitchford, is committed to major improvements in the delivery of public sector projects while leading figures; Tim Banfield, Mike Nichols, Sir John Armit and Sir Peter Gershon have all leant their voices to the need to consistently, persistently, boringly deliver projects successfully. APMs role is as the lightening rod through which this energy is channelled, making the movement towards complete project success stronger and more far reaching than ever before.

We have encapsulated both the vision and the movement that supports it, in the APM vision document All Projects Succeed. This document will provide a flavour of the journey the profession will undertake to this goal.

2020 is not that far away, but Im sure with the support and drive of the profession that by the time we get to that milestone, we will be well on our way towards a world in which all projects succeed.

Alistair Godbold

Posted by Alistair Godbold on 19th Apr 2012

About the Author

I am a Senior Consultant with the Nichols Group and a Programme Manager with over 30 years' experience delivering projects and programmes. These have ranged from large multi-disciplinary high integrity safety related systems in regulated environments, building and relocation, through organisation wide business change and IT projects. I have also advised companies on improving their project control and delivery effectiveness, setting up Programme Management Offices, project control systems and processes with the accompanying governance, skills and behaviours.

I have conducted a number of project and organisational reviews, designed and led a group providing assurance for a portfolio of over £14bn. I have led the development of individual Project Management capability, competency and organisational maturity and worked on projects and reviews in the UK, Australia and in Brazil. I have worked in a wide range of industries including; aviation, rail, nuclear and mining. I have a BSc(Hons) in computer science, and MBA in project management, I am a Fellow of the APM, the Institute of Engineering and Technology and the Royal Society of Arts Manufacturing and Commerce. I am also an RPP and a CEng.

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