Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Project management for all
Project management for all
A key area businesses in the UK that need to address is their project-management capability, according to the Government white paper Twenty-First Century Skills. A key element of a new association for project management (APM) qualification designed to help to close this skills gap is being able to understand the language and concepts of project and programme management.
Once people have a language to use, they communicate better. With more and more organizations turning to project management in parallel to their business-operations management to deliver their strategic objectives, a knowledge and understanding throughout the company or organization, albeit at a basic level, is invaluable if an organization wants its project management to be as effective as possible.
APM has developed “Project Management for All” because it also recognizes the importance of knowledge and understanding at a strategic level in an organization. Projects and programmes often suffer from a lack of understanding of the impact that decisions at board level can have on the resourcing of projects and programmes.
The introductory certificate provides an opportunity for individuals throughout an organization to gain recognition for general project and programme-management knowledge and adds to the current suite of APM qualifications available to the project-management community for those with the need to demonstrate greater and more specific knowledge and skill in project management.
The APM introductory certificate in project management does not require students to become project or programme-management practitioners or professionals but it will immerse them sufficiently into the world of project and programme management to enable them to understand what goes on and to understand the language and terminology, whatever their role or department or areas of responsibility.
The syllabus covers, in a light-touch fashion, the principles of project and programme- management, planning, scheduling, communications, project-quality management, teamwork, project-resource management, risk management, project handover and project review. The subjects are related to the successful delivery of projects and programmes rather than general management, although topics will have common usage since projects do not happen in isolation of an organization. It is a qualification for all, whether the candidates are school leavers or managing directors.
Having an appreciation of what project management can do strategically for an organization is a powerful business tool to have. Project sponsors or senior responsible owners differ in their approaches to their roles in the successful delivery of projects and programmes and the degree of competence also varies. Many underestimate the importance of their role in influencing and leading others not directly involved in the delivery of projects or programmes. Everyone in the organization, whether barely or intensely involved in projects and programmes, needs to be suitably trained and given the opportunity to develop further.
Candidates are required to take a one-hour multiple-choice examination paper. The questions are drawn from the syllabus that covers the key elements of the APM body of knowledge, the main document used to define the elements of project management in the UK and beyond.
Developed with the support of the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the introductory certificate in project management can be studied either through attendance at a two or three-day workshop or through reading from texts identified in the syllabus. APM can provide those interested with a list of accredited providers who have had their course materials assessed as being appropriate for this award. Alternatively, those who have developed their project-management knowledge by “osmosis” in the workplace may feel they are already capable of tackling the examination.
The certificate does not make anyone a project manager but it will help in developing individuals who work alongside projects and project- management team members, project-support personnel and other project and programme- management practitioners.
Organizations can facilitate development for general awareness or for specific abilities in project management, for competence in delivering projects and for developing broader capabilities for more complex projects and programmes. However, quality training and development taking place across an organization, without appropriate recognition of achievement for individuals, is not always sufficient. Confusion often exists between developing, gaining recognition for that development and the ability of an individual to “perform”.
Formal recognition comes from formal endorsement of an individual's knowledge, his or her understanding or capability or track record or a mixture of all four areas. Formal endorsement will typically come from an external organization and its examination and assessment opportunities or qualifications.
APM provides recognition of individuals as an independent third party through the awarding of qualifications. External recognition of this nature can show employees that their employing body values their efforts and rewards them by supporting them through qualifications. This, in turn, can be used to influence the buying decisions of clients when it can be shown that the quality of project-management personnel has been verified by an external organization.