Feb 152012
project management fundamentals

Most medium and large organisations will have become used to projects of one sort or another being part of their daily business. Many of those organisations have also developed a commitment to improving the success rate of their projects because they have experienced first hand what happens when an individual is assigned to managing projects with no prior training and, worse, when there are no formal processes or controls in place – and it isn’t success. Large organisations tend to have an understanding of the benefits of some rigour within the project management process through trial and error. They recognise that allowing a member of staff to “drift” into project management does not always deliver the best outcome. For these reasons they support a formal framework for managing projects which might be an internationally recognised methodology such as PRINCE2, APM or PMP, or an internal approach developed over some years and tailored to a company’s specific needs.

They also support the training and development of project managers and those involved in projects in other ways such as a team member or project support staff. Those new to project management are likely to be encouraged to attend introductory training courses such as the APM Project Fundamentals whilst more experienced project managers will be supported during Continuing Professional development (CPD) and advanced accreditations such as the APM RPP (Registered Project Professional).

Of course, project vary enormously in their size and complexity even within the same organisation but are still fundamentally about managing a series of tasks, the people and other resources required with the aim of delivering an end-result that provides a substantial business benefit to the company – a benefit that would, or should, have been defined at the outset of the project.

Unfortunately, the ideal of project management frequently does not live up to the realities – particularly in complex projects – and projects are becoming more complex as technology improves at such a rapid rate. There are great success stories but also many less-than-successful projects – let’s not call them failures because failing projects often end up being altered in some way so that they can be considered “successful”.

But all organisations want to improve the genuine success rate of their projects, which is why more and more of them are investing in the training and recognition of their project managers. Well-trained project managers with globally recognised qualifications are more motivated to succeed and build their careers. But recognition of professionalism is not just about training and qualifications – it is also about continuous professional development and the ability to demonstrate the skills necessary to competently manage complex projects.

With the introduction of advanced professional credentials such as the Registered Project Professional (RPP) credential from the Association for Project Management (APM) there is now recognition available for experienced project managers on a par with the well-established professions such as accountancy and law. By defining strict criteria concerning previous project management experience, the APM RPP is an indication that a project manager is a highly competent manager able to deliver complex projects using the appropriate processes and tools.

Just as chartered status in traditional professions gives a client confidence in the abilities of the professional so registered status in the modern profession of project management instils the same confidence in clients and employers. With the APM RPP effectively a step towards the project management profession gaining chartered status it will cement project management as a recognised profession and do much to negate the effects of the well-publicised and high-profile failures that have occurred in recent projects.

And maybe one day the project management profession will be as highly-regarded as law or accountancy and be just as attractive a career path.