An overview of the APM Competence Framework 2nd edition and Project Professional Qualification

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Posted by APM on 18th May 2016

The SWWE Branch was very pleased to have Colin MacKenzie from APM Ibis House, to talk about APM’s competence frame work, edition 2, and the new Project Professional Qualification.

Colin explained the need for professionalisation of project management and outlined the work that APM were doing to develop clear career frameworks with various routes through to the Registered Project Professional, (RPP), designation: qualifications, experience and membership. 

The APM competence framework edition 1 was launched in 2008. It is recognised that it only addresses project management and not other PM professionals, including programme, portfolio and PMO.  Customers were also demanding more flexibility and simplicity.

Edition 2 is simplified and streamlined. The number of competencies has been reduced from 47 to 27, with application and knowledge expectations described for each. The previous 1-10 rating scale has been reduced to 5: aware, practiced, competent, proficient and expert. The complexity guidance has been revised.

Working with industry, 14 role profiles have been developed for project, programme, portfolio and PMO, which indicates the expected level of each competence for the specific role.  Of course these are guides, and it is assumed that organisations will adapt them to meet their own business needs. But for the first time, APM as a professional body is giving its opinion of the competence expected for a range of project professionals.

To use the framework, Individuals can read the competences and decide which are relevant to their particular role. Read the performance indicators for knowledge and application and score themselves. Seek external validation from peers and line management. Measure themselves against a specific role profile, and identify any gaps that need to be developed, and prepare their professional development plan. 

Colin summarised the benefits of the revised competence framework:

  • Role profiles give you the professional body view of competence and provide a trusted benchmark
  • Enables organisations to make (consistent) comparisons across their PM community
  • Identifies the differences between professional body benchmark and actual skills within your organisation
  • Identify skills gaps and can be used to support professional development plans
  • Facilitates movement between the four project professional disciplines
  • A modern framework that can be used as it is or integrated into an existing framework

Further information is available from the APM web site. It is recognised that the role profiles were not yet available to individual members, only corporate members. This is being worked on.

Work is in hand to ensure all APM qualifications and the RPP designation is aligned with the revised competence framework.

Colin then turned to the new Project Professional Qualification, (PPQ), which was launched on 21 April at the APM Conference.  This has been designed as a developmental qualification as part of the qualifications route to the RPP designation. It sits above the existing  APMP qualification and is aligned with the revised competence framework.

The existing qualifications have been renamed: the Introductory certificate is the Project Fundamentals Qualification, and the APMP is the Project Management Qualification.  The existing Practitioner Qualification, (PQ), is the same level as the PPQ, but does not replace it. The PQ is still aligned to IPMA level C, where as the PPQ is not aligned with IPMA.  The two offer different approaches to assessment: the PQ continues with an assessment centre, whereas the PPQ is based on a series of exams.

The PPQ involves four 3 hour exams.  There are 3 core modules which focus on project management, (professionalism and managing others, planning and control, and governance), and 1 elective module, chosen from project management, programme management and portfolio management.  A PMO elective is being considered. Candidates have 3 years to complete the 4 module exams.

The exams are mapped to the intermediate level competencies and are aimed at professionals with 3-5 years experience who have successfully delivered projects.  The PPQ will provide credits towards applying for full membership of the APM. Exam questions are competence based, covering knowledge and application. 

The PPQ has been developed by practitioners with practitioners to ensure the qualification meets industry needs.

Benefits include:

  • Relevant to all project professionals, making it more inclusive
  • Enables organisations to develop the right skills for the right roles to improve project success
  • Enables organisations to demonstrate their commitment to developing talent across their whole project community
  • Provides individuals with structured personal development solutions
  • Enables individuals to engage more effectively with peers and clients
  • Increases individuals employability

The next steps include a marketing campaign later this year to raise awareness of the new qualification names, the launch of a revised APM web site, and a review of the RPP designation to align it with the revised competence framework.

The presentation slides are available on the APM Resources Page or available to view below.


Martin Gosden
SWWE Branch Chairman

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