Is the Project Management Profession Relevant for UK Plc?

08 Oct 2010

By: David Hart

E AND H / Project Management

I’ve recently been nominated for election to the Board of the UK Association for Project Management (APM).  There is a discussion forum on the new APM website where members can ask questions of the candidates (http://www.apm5dimensions.com/group/apm-board-election-2010).

We were recently asked a very incisive question about the relevence of the profession and the APM in today’s world:

I’m fairly new to the APM and my perception is of an organisation and a profession ready to make a step change in how it demonstrates ‘relevance’ for UK PLC.  Do you share this view and if so, what does that mean needs to happen?

My answer was: No – and Yes.

The APM is already demonstrating real relevance, and has credibility, in its role in developing the knowledge, expertise and competence of practitioners.  The qualifications framework and move towards Chartered/Professional status provide a broad-based approach for developing the skills and expertise that the UK needs – and this is now widely recognised, even in sectors that perhaps don’t have a traditional project management culture.  We are at last demonstrating to a wider audience that effective project management is much more than just process or methodology.

However, the APM also has a more strategic aspect to its mission, which is more about where and how the profession (and the disciplines we espouse) can actually contribute most benefit for, as you put it, UK Plc.

It is this second area, the ‘strategic fit’ of our profession within the wider environment, where I think we perhaps do need to look again at where we are going, and maybe a step change is needed.  The benefits of effective project, programme and portfolio management (PPPM) approaches often aren’t appreciated by senior executives – and recognised change experts are still saying that taking a PPPM approach to organisational change often adds no value.  I’m not sure what the answer to this is, but what needs to happen within the APM initially is a debate about what we are here for and where we should be positioning ourselves to best deliver the public benefit set out in our mission statement.  Are we just about the development of technical and professional skills – i.e. in project management – or are we actually about enabling organisations to deliver effective and beneficial change?

It would be interesting to hear what others think.