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South Wales and West of England PM Challenge Competition 2015/16

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Introduction and Context

APM is a registered charity with over 21,150 individuals and 550 corporate members making it the largest professional body for project management in Europe. APM's mission is to develop and promote the professional disciplines of project, programme and portfolio management for the public benefit. The SWWE PM challenge is designed to support this aim by motivating and inspiring newcomers and project managers of tomorrow in the SWWE region. The SWWE Branch held its’ first PM Challenge competition last year to a resounding success where the overall standard was very high. Other APM Branches across the UK have been managing the PM Challenge competition for a number of years and have also been very successful in doing so.   

The APM SWWE project board was unanimous in its praise for the significant effort shown by all entries in the SWWE Branch’s first PM Challenge competition earlier this year. The overall standard was very high and the range of projects selected by the teams, based upon the theme of delivering benefits to deserving community services, was diverse. Every member of the teams excelled themselves and went away from the competition feeling justifiably proud of their achievements in delivering real benefit to the wider community and also, very importantly, the development of their personal and professional project management competences.

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What is the SWWE PM Challenge Competition fundamentally all about?

There are many aspects and features to the competition. Basically the competition is all about corporate hosted project teams, from both industry and academia, competing against each other to deliver a relatively ‘small’ project where they can most effectively demonstrate to the APM ‘project board’ that they have understood and practiced a wide range of project management competences and theory in a realistic project environment that is outside their normal work environment. Last year, the standard of entry was universally high and clearly demonstrated the hard work put in by all of the teams involved.

What are the benefits of the competition?

The APM PM Challenge will test the teams’ abilities across a range of project management skills and competences from technical skills such as requirements management, identification of benefits, business case production, delivery and final handover of the chosen project outputs to the customer. Important behavioural skills such as professionalism, stakeholder engagement and communications skills will also be developed. A project board, made up of a range of senior industry and APM representatives, will assess each of the projects as they transition from creation of the business case to the delivery of the final project and the winners of the competition will be announced at a prestigious Finals and Awards night to be held in Bristol in April 2016. Other benefits are shown below.

  • SWWE PM Challenge Trophy
  • Individual engraved trophies
  • CPD Certificates
  • Individual and corporate team publicity and kudos
  • Enhanced confidence and professionalism
  • Deliver benefits to community projects
  • Mentorship support
  • Improve personal qualities  
  • Enhance the learning experience
  • Project managers of the future
  • Have fun!

Who is able to compete in the competition?

Teams of up to four people will be provided by APM corporate members, including those from academia. Last year, teams from Airbus, Bristol Water, General Dynamics and the University of the West of England competed. The competition is designed for newcomers to the profession so University under-graduates, post-graduates and industry placements are ideally suited to the objectives and aims of the competition but more mature newcomers to the profession will also be very welcome. We are also looking for any branch or corporate members who may wish to support the management of the competition in terms of judging, mentoring or general support.

What do the team’s actually need to deliver?

The competition is managed and assessed by the PM Challenge ‘project board’, a panel of up to five ‘greybeards’ who will ultimately decide who the Winners and Runners-Up are. There are likely to be other prizes such as ‘best presentation’, ‘best storyboard’ and best team to demonstrate ‘values and behaviours’ for the team who most effectively demonstrated that they put the customer at the heart of everything they did. Teams will also have an allocated independent mentor whom they can confer with for general guidance and advice. Last year’s competition was based upon the theme of delivering benefits to deserving community services and it is likely that we will also continue with this theme this year. The PM Challenge consists of four key communications and assessment stages:

  • Phase 1 - October 2015: The PM Challenge Launch Event. This will allow all teams to understand the rules of engagement of the competition and to ask any questions for clarification. The Launch Event will also allow teams to discuss options for collaboration where corporates may wish to join forces with another team;
  • Phase 2 - December 2015: Provision of a business case that identifies SMART outputs and outcomes and benefits to be delivered, associated resources, costs and key risks (5,000 word limit);
  • Phase 3 - March 2016: Provision of a final report which demonstrates how the team has delivered the project outputs and benefits defined in the original business case using a range of competences defined in the APM BoK (8,000 word limit); and
  • Phase 4 - April 2016: The delivery of a 15 minutes presentation at the Awards and Finals Night in Bristol.

How will the team’s be assessed?

At each phase of the competition, all teams will be assessed against a range of published competences taken from the APM Body of Knowledge (6th Edition). The business case, the final report and the final presentation will all be assessed against this standard where the project board will be ultimately be looking for continuity and consistency i.e. does the actual activities, outputs and outcomes stated in the final report actually reflect the original statements in the business case?   

What are the timescales of the competition?


How do I submit a team, get involved or find out more about the competition?

If you would like additional information on this year’s South Wales and West of England Branch Project Management Challenge competition or if you would like to submit a team or participate in this year’s event please contact either or . We will be very pleased to speak with you!  


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