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This is going to be long, so here’s the summary:

  • APM is applying for a Royal Charter
  • PMI objected at the time
  • The Privy Council decided that they were going to recommend a Royal Charter for APM
  • PMI raised legal challenges
  • The High Court has conducted a judicial review into the objections
  • PMI’s objections have been dismissed.

Now, if you want the full story, read on.

How did we get here?

In 2007 APM announced its intention to achieve Chartered status for the project management profession. APM explains why as follows:

As a UK charity dedicated to acting for the public good, it is committed to gaining Chartered status on behalf of the project management profession in the UK.  That will secure recognition, status and enhanced standards for the profession at a time when the UK’s need for effective and efficient project sponsorship and delivery is greater than ever.

PMI made an application to object to APM receiving Chartered status and that kicked off a long process of judicial review, the results of which were announced on Thursday.

Why did PMI object?

I have searched all over for an explanation of why online, but I can only find the original email sent out to members by the PMI UK on 9 June 2012 which sets out these reasons:

  1. In order for APM to be granted Chartered status, it needs to have been judged by the Privy Council to represent most of the project management profession. APM’s acquisition of Chartered status would be an acceptance that it exclusively represents the vast majority of project managers in the UK. With over 6000 members and many more credential holders, PMI also represents a very substantial number of project managers in the UK. The Chapter’s management team expressed concern that the Privy Council has not taken into account that due to PMI’s large UK membership, APM cannot claim to represent most of the profession.
  2. It is in the public interest and the interests of the profession that there is diversity in the marketplace for project management qualifications and tools.
  3. The project management profession in the UK benefits from the plurality of approaches on offer. With a million members in 185 countries, PMI brings a unique global perspective to project management to its UK members, something that APM, as a UK-only organisation, cannot replicate.
  4. The Charter application process has not taken into account the views of all project managers, particularly those that utilise the global approach championed by PMI.

The first point on the list is particularly important. In 2009 the Minister of State at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills notified the Privy Council Office that his department did not recommend granting Chartered status to APM because of this reason – APM should have as members most of the eligible field for membership and he didn’t feel this criteria was met.

You need a unanimous decision in order for a Charter to be granted. Without the support of the Department of Business Innovation and Skills there was not going to be a unanimous decision and APM put its application on hold.

So what happened?

Well, APM did some lobbying. The government changed, new people got put in charge, the departments involved were reorganised and someone new looked at the evidence again. In 2011 the Department for Business Innovation and Skills withdrew its objection.

PMI’s concern that the Royal Charter will result in an anti-competitive advantage for APM’s members was rejected. While PMI and APM compete for membership and membership fees, the representative from the Office of Government Commerce said that it would be in the public interest for the APM to be granted Chartered status because:

  • It is possible to belong to both organisations
  • APM is by a considerable margin the largest project management professional body in the UK
  • The title of Chartered Project Professional would not be limited to members of APM.

With a unanimous approval now on the cards, APM asked for its application to be taken off hold and to be considered by the Privy Council.

What did the Privy Council decide?

The Privy Council considered the application and the objections and came to a decision. On 4 July last year the Treasury Solicitor (who works on behalf of the Privy Council and the Cabinet Office) notified PMI that they would be recommending to the Queen that APM are granted a Royal Charter. This recommendation was due to go on the agenda for a meeting in October 2013.

PMI challenged that decision – three of their challenges were rejected out of hand and two were maintained. This meant that those two claims had to be fully assessed, so the Chartered status application went before a judicial review earlier this month.

So PMI challenged again? What did the judge decide?

Mr Justice Mitting said that he believed this was the first time that the grant or refusal of a Royal Charter has been the subject of litigation, which makes this case pretty ground-breaking!

PMI challenged on two grounds.

The first challenge: decision was biased and pre-determined

First, they alleged apparent bias (because the government might make more money from their PRINCE2 qualification as this can count towards APMP) and actual pre-determination (because there is a long history of government interactions with APM).

The judgement concluded:

No reasonable person could reasonably believe that Government support for the grant of a Royal Charter to APM could possibly be motivated by the desire to profit financially from the promotion of its own PRINCE 2 qualification. Further, even if such a motive could be inferred, it would not vitiate the decision.

I had to look up ‘vitiate’. If it’s new to you too, it means ‘weaken the effectiveness of’. So basically the government has the right to make decisions in its financial interest if it wants.

“Executive decision-making does not normally start with a blank sheet of paper.” Mr Justice Mitting

The objection that as APM and the government have worked closely together the decision was practically a given was also rejected. Mr Justice Mitting said that decisions are not made in a vacuum and that prior involvement with the APM would have influenced the decision, but that the review process conducted by government officials was robust.

The second challenge: decision was contrary to policy

The basis for PMI’s second challenge was that the recommendation to grant a Royal Charter was contrary to the Privy Council’s published policy.

Mr Justice Mitting explained a bit about the history of judicial reviews and concluded: “I cannot see how PMI’s challenge can be brought within the established framework of judicial review and I would be prepared to dismiss its claim on that ground alone.”

But he went ahead and reviewed the challenge anyway.

There are five points in the policy for bodies who are applying for Chartered status, and PMI claimed that APM failed to meet three of them. However, Mr Justice Mitting said that the policy makes it clear that these are guidelines and that each case will be decided on merit. Therefore an application that looks like it doesn’t meet the published policy won’t automatically fail.

Mr Justice Mitting dismissed the claims.

What happens now?

And what does that mean? The recommendation that APM is granted Chartered status can go before the Queen’s representatives. While there might be some other steps in the application process, I think it will be ratified which means Chartered status is go.

I haven’t seen a public announcement yet from APM about the next steps for them but we await that announcement with bated breath. Watch this space…!

You can read APM’s statement online and read the whole judgement on the BAILII website.


Review: uCertify’s PMI-RMP Prepkit

uCertify logoIf you are planning to take the PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)® credential, then you’d be advised to get yourself some study materials. After all, the Practice Standard for Project Risk Management doesn’t exactly make riveting reading, and PMI itself recommends that you review self-study materials as well.

There are plenty of study aids on the market, and uCertify offers an online ‘prepkit’ which boasts a current exam pass ratio of 97%. I took a more detailed look at the tools included.

The basics

Cost: $139.99
What you get: Pre-assessment questionnaire, interactive ebook, quizzes, flashcards, simulated exam, exam readiness test, glossary.
Audience: Aimed at people who meet the PMI-RMP pre-requisites and are studying for the exam.
Duration: You should be able to complete it in 2-3 weeks.
Length of access: No limit.
Downloadable? No.
PDUs? Not that I could see. You do get a certificate of completion once you achieve a readiness level of 90% or more.
Free sample available? Yes.


The system is easy to navigate and the ebook covers the 4 areas that will be tested in the exam:

  • Risk communication
  • Risk analysis
  • Risk response planning
  • Risk governance.

You can search for topics and annotate them, which makes it easy to add your own notes. Each chapter ends with a ‘next steps’ section which points you to the relevant quizzes, flash cards and exercises or lets you jump to the next chapter. There are also keyboard shortcuts which let you jump around the materials easily.

The first thing to do is to take the pre-course assessment which lets you judge just how much you know about risk management before you start learning properly. Embarrassingly, I scored a measly 60% and failed all the risk governance questions. At least this told me where I should be focusing my efforts if I want to pass the exam!


My score on the pre-assessment test

Tests and assessment

One of the best things about this training course is the comprehensive assessment feature. The test history and performance analytics module lets you review what you’ve been studying, how long you study for and create a study planner. The study planner calculates whether you can hit your proposed exam date and be ready for it given the amount of work you are putting in at the moment.


Test Analytics homepage

There are lots of built-in quizzes including flash cards that you can use to assess yourself. A quiz is defined as about 30 questions, and an exercise is about 140 questions. You can take either a quiz or an exercise in ‘learn’ mode first and review the questions you got wrong. Then you can take it in ‘test’ mode and see how well you do. Regardless of how many questions you are taking, the default length of time for the test is 120 minutes although you can change this manually per test if you want to beat the clock (or remove it completely if you don’t want the pressure).


This is a very cost-effective way of studying for the exam and I was impressed with the quality of the materials. It would be good to be able to download the course book and flash cards so that you could study offline – personally I don’t find it very easy to read long texts on screen but I know this works for other people.

I tried quite hard to find something I would improve about this course and I couldn’t. I didn’t have massively high expectations as I hadn’t heard of the company before but I was pleasantly surprised at the usefulness of the materials and I really do think that they would help me pass the exam. That, of course, is the thing I haven’t yet done (and I don’t have any plans to sit it either) so I can’t make a final judgement as to whether this prepkit would be enough alone to pass. I have a feeling it would be, combined with the Practice Standard, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. If you are a PMI-RMP, what did you use to prepare for the exam and was it worth it?

Thanks to uCertify who provided me with free access to the PMI-RMP Prepkit for the purposes of this review. Read more about the course and try it for free here.


PMI Synergy 2013 (video)


In this video you’ll see a snapshot of the PMI UK Chapter’s 2013 Synergy conference, held in London on 8 November.


Project Management News round up for October 2013

APM Introductory Certificate examination can available online

APM book coverAPM’s Introductory Certificate in project management is now available to take online whenever you want. “We wanted to improve the candidate experience when taking our entry-level qualification, making it more accessible, convenient and in line with e-learning opportunities,” said Liz Wilson, head of professional standards and knowledge at APM. “It is a great example of our flexible approach to delivering world-class, professional qualifications.”

You also get your results back immediately. This makes it a lot easier for international candidates to sit the exam and the exam is properly invigilated (although I’m not sure how this works – my experience of invigilated exams involves a disinterested teacher sitting at the front of the room making sure we don’t throw pencils at each other in the exam room).

It’s another example of how more and more stuff is moving online and I expect we’ll see more online options available from other providers in the future.

PMI buys Human Systems International

In mergers and acquisitions news this month, PMI has bought the UK assessment and benchmarking firm Human Systems International. “HSI and PMI are like-minded organizations, focused on providing thought leadership, knowledge and networking opportunities designed to improve company and practitioner capabilities in project, programme and portfolio management,” said Mark Langley, President and CEO of PMI.

You can see that there is a good fit. HSI has what they call “the world’s largest and most robust database” of project management best practices. PMI will no doubt use this information to build resources for their members and hopefully to share the knowledge around a bit so that we all benefit.

The plan is for HSI’s benchmarking approach to remain methodology-independent and standards-agnostic, focusing on the best practices that have emerged over two decades of data collection from multinational organizations. Hopefully that will ensure that all standards get the same treatment and that we don’t end up with research only into certain areas.

New PRINCE2 ebook

There’s a new PRINCE2 ebook available from Knowledge Train. I found out about it through G+. Most of the links shared there aren’t that interesting but this ebook is good and if you are studying for the PRINCE2 exam I’m sure it will help explain the major themes. And it’s free! What’s not to like?

P3O bookUpdate to P3O standards

It seems like every couple of months a standard gets updated at the moment and now Best Management Practice is in on the act. The Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices (P3O) standard has just been updated. It covers the different types of offices that may exist within a P3O structure, the roles required to manage the functions and services that the P3O team carries out and the key techniques and tools used by P3Os.

The standard has been updated to be more in line with the other standards from The Stationery Office including Management of Value and Managing Successful Programmes, there’s some new guidance on Key Performance Indicators and a new case study. I doesn’t sound like the changes have been too radical but the standardisation with their other products is very welcome.

BBC Move to Salford – Committee of Public Accounts Report released

Last year the BBC moved many of its departments to Salford in the north of England near Manchester. This was quite a controversial project at the time, especially as many staff, presenters and executives received relocation allowances, in one case of £150,000.

The Public Accounts Committee report has now been released and it concludes that the move was successful. It was on time and at a total cost of £224m, which was £9m below budget. And there was no disruption to broadcast services. However, it also says that it’s too early to tell if the wider benefits of better serving northern audiences and creating jobs and economic growth in the region will be achieved. The report recommends routine monitoring of benefits through clear measurement and reporting of progress.

The report also talks about the Digital Media Initiative project which was closed down after delivering nothing but costing £98m. I don’t think the premature close of this project was directly linked to the relocation, but there is going to be more investigation into what went wrong and why the committee was told they were making “good progress” and it was “fully on track” when in reality nothing seemed to be happening and the project didn’t achieve anything or deliver any programmes. Watch this space for more from the National Audit Office who will no doubt be releasing their findings.


This video shows the follow up for a project I first heard about at Synergy 2011: using project management techniques in UK schools to equip young people for school projects and also their future working lives. This video shows the end of that particular initiative and what happened at the school after the project management training sessions completed and the students had to present their projects.

This video is about 8 minutes long and I first saw it during International Project Management Day at PMI Synergy 2012.


Behind the scenes at PMI: Interview with Brian Weiss

Brian Weiss

Brian Weiss, VP Practitioner Markets, PMI

I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Brian Weiss, VP of Practitioner Markets for PMI, at Synergy last year because Hurricane Sandy stopped him from making it to London. However, since then I have had the chance to catch up with Brian and find out more about his role at PMI. Here’s what he had to say about his job, the virtual communities, and what’s next for certifications.

Brian, can you tell me what a VP of Practitioner Markets does?

I have the privilege and honour of working with more than 700,000 project management professionals who are involved with PMI through membership, credentials and other community and networking programs. The core of my job is to support their professional development and create opportunities to leverage PMI’s vast knowledge and networking opportunities.

There is enormous potential for project management professionals with the right skills and expertise; new reports show that by 2020, more than 11 million new project management-related jobs will be added globally, especially in industries like business services, healthcare and manufacturing. My team and I work with volunteers and subject matter experts from around the world to give project management professionals the resources they need for long-term success. We provide a series of networks that connect them, helping them gain knowledge, work more efficiently, deliver innovation and value to their organizations and expand their careers.

700,000 is a lot of project managers. How do you effectively engage such a large group of practitioners across so many countries?

PMI is an organisation of volunteers, and their passion and dedication are unmatched. We currently have over 8,000 active volunteers on nearly every continent who, in addition to their day jobs, lead PMI’s 270 Chapters, build credentials, develop standards, run PMI’s live events, contribute to PMI’s online communities, help develop self-directed learning resources and even serve on PMI’s Board of Directors.

These volunteers drive PMI’s understanding of different geographies, cultures and environments. They are the foundation of our global community, and PMI’s top priority is to help them perform their roles. Based on their active engagement, PMI has a solid base to effectively engage our existing stakeholders, and ultimately reach the 19 million other project professionals around the world who should be part of that community.

A lot of the engagement happens online now. Virtual communities are a relatively new thing. What’s next for them?

As large as the global project management community is as a whole, each member of PMI is distinct; the more PMI can meet their individual needs as professionals, the more value we’ll be able to deliver. Communities of Practice help us achieve that. Logistically, they increase members’ opportunities to network and gain knowledge by eliminating geographic boundaries. On an individual level, they personalise the member experience by providing forums where members can explore their specific career and industry needs, whether it’s in the form of tools and templates, questions, best practices or simply finding people out there that have the same challenges or have been through it before.

Communities of Practice don’t replace the opportunities that Chapter participation offers; they enhance those opportunities by helping members develop more strongly as individual practitioners. We work with volunteers on an ongoing basis to ensure that as the Communities of Practice evolve, they continue to meet member’s needs.

One of the ways you have been addressing the individual needs of project managers is through eLearning. How have the eLearning programs developed and what’s next for them?

It’s impractical to try to meet the needs of the world’s 20 million project professionals – or even PMI’s members and credential holders – with live events. PMI’s eLearning program developed out of the pronounced need for substantive distributed eLearning offerings. Yes, some already existed; however, when we mapped our research against the needs of employers, we found a significant gap in programs for intermediate and advanced project management professionals.

Given the number of project management jobs that need to be filled in the next decade, this gap is unsustainable. So, we’re going to fill it. Our plans for the next few years involve developing eLearning programs that focus on intermediate and advanced subject matter that will help users more successfully meet the needs of their employers and, ultimately, help their employers meet the demands of the marketplace.

PMI is exploring new ways to partner with its Registered Education Providers (R.E.P.s) and other potential partners to deliver different kinds of eLearning courses. As these partnerships grow, we’ll be able to offer a more broad library of eLearning courses, including more for learners for whom English is not their primary language.

That sounds good. In parallel to that type of learning, many people will want to advance their skills through taking a certificate. Are there any new certifications in the pipeline? Or plans to update any of the certifications?

Since our certifications are developed to reflect the growth of the profession, they are constantly evolving. All of PMI certifications will be updated to reflect the Standards updates between June and July 2013. And two specialty credentials, PMI Project Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) and PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP), will be updated 31 August 2013, as a result of recent Role Delineation Studies. These studies produced an updated description of the professional role to reflect the current skills, knowledge and best practices needed to succeed in that role.

PMI continually conducts in-depth studies to ensure that our certification suite is connected to the profession. For example, several studies indicated that the use of agile had tripled, and research demonstrated the value that agile can have in decreasing product defects, improving team productivity, and increasing delivery of business value. The PMI Agile Certified Professional (PMI-ACP) is positioned to recognise and validate knowledge of this important approach. PMI is always looking to identify the most current and critical elements of the professional practice of project management.

Thanks, Brian!

About my interviewee: Brian Weiss was named Vice President, Practitioner Markets in January 2011. He joined PMI after serving as director of global information products and services for the Hay Group, a leading global Human Resources consulting firm. In that capacity, he was responsible for Hay Information Service’s global corporate team, consisting of brand and product management, application and Web development, strategic alliances and corporate initiatives.


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