Breaking down barriers is the sign of a maturing profession

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Posted by APM on 2nd Feb 2010

Project management appears in many different guises across many different sectors. But, says Liz Wilson, APMs new head of professional standards and knowledge,  without a general agreement on how to improve project delivery there is little hope of progress.

One of the things that Ive found since joining the Association for Project Management in September this year is that everyone I speak to is committed to a common goal of raising professional project management standards and equipping everyone involved in running projects with a set of useful tools to improve the results they achieve.

Whilst the aim to improve project delivery is a common one, there seems to be little universal agreement on how to do this. Maybe its in the psychological profile of people involved in the project management to be concerned about the detail as well as the overall vision of a project. What I find interesting is that when you scrape the surface a little theres a huge degree of commonality in terms of principles, methods and processes.

As APMs head of professional standards and knowledge, I see my role as finding ways to embrace and value this variety of views and perspectives on knowledge, competence and qualifications within a broad church of project management disciplines.

One way to do this is to ensure that APM qualifications are fit for purpose, and to look at ways of developing the pathways of achievement and recognition. Recognition routes that link achievement in qualifications to grades of membership, and encourage existing members to engage with CPD (continuing professional development), will help further develop project management as a discipline.

Project management appears in the UK and global economy in many guises, from experienced heavyweight project professionals to the many managers who use project management tools and techniques in their day-to-day roles. APM wants to recognise these diverse applications and people to make sure that good project management continues to deliver the goods and keep the world turning.

Shared vision
Creating a shared vision and breaking down barriers between tribes with a common goal is a characteristic of any modern and mature profession. This collaborative approach is a central theme of the APM Five Dimensions of Professionalism and our ultimate aim to attain a Royal Charter on behalf of the profession.

The collaboration was illustrated at the APM Project Management Conference in October where leading names from APM, the Office of Government and Commerce, APM Group and the British Standards Institute joined together to discuss the priorities for the profession. Our ongoing work with the Office of Government and Commerce and their Project and Programme Management (PPM) Leaders Forum illustrates how strong the will for change is.

At a practical level, The Stationary Offices recently published book, APMP for PRINCE2 Practitioners by Graham Williams finally illustrates the complementary relationship between what is often considered two competing qualifications. As a professional body working in the public interest we can do nothing but support this publication and urge practitioners to consider both qualifications as complementary in building their professional capability.

For example, a key stream we want to investigate is how we can help people in the profession build on their current skill and qualification levels. There are many people, who successfully complete Prince2, and we want to encourage these potential project professionals to continue their learning and development by building bridges to APMs current and future qualifications so that previous success can be recognised, both in terms of qualifications and in terms of membership and access to routes to Chartership.

My major task over the coming 18 months or so is the refresh of the current Body of Knowledge, Competence Framework and qualification suites. In taking this forward, I hope we will be able to develop an infrastructure for the future which will enable APM to support good project management education and development from schools (for example within the new 14-19 Diploma), through private training providers, and further and higher education (with such things as vocational Diplomas and accreditation of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees) right up to support of cutting edge research with businesses and universities. I am looking forward to the challenge.

Liz Wilson joined APM from the Chartered Management Institute, where she was head of the awarding body for the last eight years. She has also worked with APM Group to develop the CMI Diploma in Programme and Project Management.

This articles was originally produced for the January issue of Project magazine.

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