≡ Menu

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.

7 comments

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.

Overview

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!

Screenshot

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.

Screenshot

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).

Summary

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.

0 comments

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.

2 comments

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.

0 comments

Should I take CAPM or PRINCE2?

Qualifications

What credentials should you choose?

Recently I was contacted by someone who wanted advice about which project management certification scheme to pursue. Should she take CAPM or the PRINCE2 Foundation? Is it possible to take CAPM and then PRINCE2 Practitioner or are the standards different? Are PMP and PRINCE2 seen as equivalent by employers in the UK?

I think these are quite common queries, and I’ve certainly been asked these questions a number of times.

Here’s my take on whether CAPM or PRINCE2 is the best route forward for an aspiring project manager.

The difference is experience

The main difference between CAPM/PMP and PRINCE2 Foundation/Practitioner is that the PMI qualifications require experience to even apply to take the exams and PRINCE2 doesn’t. Anyone can take PRINCE2 exams with no project experience at all (although it will be certainly easier to understand the concepts if you have spent at least some time working on projects).

Because PMI requires experience and PRINCE2 doesn’t, I don’t think they are seen as equivalent. Hiring a CAPM or a PMP guarantees me someone with project experience and the theory to back it up. Hiring someone with PRINCE2 means they have done a 5 day classroom based course.

The standards are different

One of the downsides with project management as a profession is that we haven’t yet standardised the jargon or agreed on one set of best practices. Project management bodies across the world have their own take on it, and while none of them seem radically different, they are all different enough to mean you need to learn their way before taking their exams.

So, you could take CAPM and then follow it up with the PRINCE2 Practitioner but the standards are different, with different jargon and you’d have to learn a whole different set of methods for the Practitioner exam. Frankly, I don’t think that is worth it in the early days of your career, especially if you don’t yet have a job role  with ‘project’ in the title – pick one set or the other.

PRINCE2 Foundation: 365,000 in UK

PRINCE2 Practitioners: 215,000 in UK

CAPM: 20,933 in world

CAPM in the UK

PMI has a relatively low, but growing, penetration in the UK. I think the project management in schools programme and the excellent Synergy events are really helping to raise the profile of PMI here, even though the Chapter, which has around 3,000 members, has been around since 1995.

Employers may not know about CAPM, even though it was introduced in 2003 and there are 20,933 CAPM credential holders worldwide*. This is especially true if you are applying to firms where project management is relatively new to them or their project management department is small.

However, PRINCE2 has had a foothold as the standard certificate in the UK for years due to its background in civil service projects and being the de facto standard for all government initiatives. There are around 365,000 Foundation certificate holders and 215,000 Practitioners in the UK alone**.

Given the prevalence of PRINCE2 (and the fact it is easier to get) I would personally opt for that right now and then look at moving to CAPM (or the APM experience-based certificate, which is APMP) once you have had a project management job for a bit. These will show that you have practical project management experience as well as theoretical knowledge.

Study the job market

One of the best ways to find out what recruiters are looking for is to talk to agencies. Arras People and Wellington are two specialist project management recruitment firms so you could check their websites to see what job ads ask for in your sector. Make sure that you are spending time bolstering your CV with the right things.

Look at what sort of experience employers are asking for so you can build your CV to reflect what will make you employable. You will find many employers won’t care what credential you have as long as you have one, but some employers and industries will give preference to candidates with particular qualifications.

The certificate decision

Lots of people end up with multiple certificates from multiple bodies over time, so don’t think that you are taking a decision now that will stop you going for other credentials later in your career.

If you do opt to go for PRINCE2, then do the Practitioner as well if you can afford the extra 2 days and the cost. The first 3 days of the Practitioner and Foundation courses are identical. Everyone takes the Foundation exam on Day 3, then the Foundation candidates go home. Then the others do exam practice for a day and take the Practitioner exam on Day 5. You really don’t learn anything new except exam techniques, and you do get a extra day of revision. It is worth doing the extra 2 days and attempting the Practitioner exam if you can.

Whatever route you choose, you have to make the decision based on what you feel employers in your sector will be looking for, what you can afford and what experience you currently have.

Good luck with your choices!

* Figures from PMI Customer Care in an email to me, 31 May 2013

** Figures from APMG International in an email to me, 28 May 2013

8 comments

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.

0 comments

Day of Gratitude 2014

We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK but somehow we’ve managed to adopt the Black Friday sales madness and the shops were full of deals and people. Still, I can’t quite bring myself to post this on Thanksgiving, even though this show of appreciation has become a bit of an annual thing on A Girl’s… Continue Reading->

Get Your Projects Fit with The Lazy Project Manager

I am not fit. Since having my two boys I am heavier than I have ever been, except while pregnant. My only exercise is balancing in small spaces while standing on the train to work. I fuel getting up for the night feeds with cereal bars and chocolate croissants. Luckily, my projects are healthier than… Continue Reading->

Managing change on projects: James T. Brown at Synergy 2014

“We have to get them to want what we have to deliver,” said Dr. James T. Brown at the PMI UK Chapter event Synergy earlier this month. “We have to go through this process to prove you are a good person and to make them anticipate the deliverable.” He was talking about wooing. It’s what… Continue Reading->

Project Managing the Freezer [The Parent Project Month 21]

The house is in crisis. The middle pages of Percy And The Kite have fallen out. Without the mid-section, you have no way of knowing how Percy fares in the kite contest although he does look (spoiler alert) very pleased on the final page. The final page is sticky-taped to the back cover. That one… Continue Reading->

Synergy 2014: Conference Highlights

“When what you do is not unique, the way that you do it makes the difference.” That’s how Ricardo Triana, Chair of the 2014 PMI Board of Directors opened Synergy last Thursday. Synergy, organised by PMI’s UK Chapter, was attended by around 600 project managers from around Europe. “Project management,” Ricardo went on to say… Continue Reading->

Why Project Management Is Like Surviving The Hunger Games

**Spoiler alerts** Don’t read this if you haven’t read the first book of The Hunger Games series. It’s the UK general release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 this week. Selecting the team for the District, planning for the Games, sharing a clear objective. Sounds like project management, doesn’t it? Here’s why project management… Continue Reading->