ChPP Part Three – Understanding Continuous Professional Development

Chartered Project Professional Part Three – Understanding Continuous Professional Development

The Chartered Standard requires that applicants provide a true and accurate record of their Continuous Professional Development (or CPD for short). It is one of the questions that we get asked more and more from aspiring RPP candidates or those renewing their PMP accreditation and we have no doubt that it will also form the basis of lots of ChPP enquiries.

There are two ways in which CPD is required, one is mandatory and the second may be helpful. The essential first part is that all applicants must demonstrate 35 hours of CPD within the last 12 months, and we will talk about this in more detail later.

The second way is that if your projects are more than five years old you will be required to demonstrate that you continue to a) have an up to date knowledge of current practices and methods; and b) that you are actively involved in the project management profession. This latter component requires a 500-word statement from you on the online application form. When you are writing this, you can easily consider your CPD as a nudge. Clearly your actual 35 hours must be recent. The other can be a long time ago as you have continued to be part of the profession and developed yourself accordingly. To be clear we are not suggesting that in your 500 words you simply write a whole load of CPD, but if you do start now and start to assemble valid examples of CPD you will be better served, and the 500 words that you do write will come easier.

So, the 6-million-dollar question is what counts and what doesn’t. In actual fact the APM themselves have a rather good page on CPD (www.apm.org.uk/cpd) with a lot of pointers and tips about what to include and what not to include. We are going to precis some of this, but it is really valuable to consider CPD in the more holistic sense rather than just a chore to record so that application like this can be made. When considering CPD it is not uncommon to sit and wrack your brains for hours trying to trawl up examples and write them down. This is not always the most helpful thing to do. Indeed, the principles are as follows (and seasoned PM’s will have no difficulty in recognising the principles).

1 Establish the requirements.

Carry out a gap analysis of where your existing knowledge / competence is in need of supplementing.  This can be through a reasoned assessment of your existing skills and competence, discussions with managers, peers, staff and through separate personal development activities.

2 Plan

Establish a single or sequence of events that will help you plug that gap. This may fall into one of the recognised categories discussed later.

3 Execute the plan

This is the simple bit of attending the actual event. Whatever you do, it is vital to keep a record of the date, time and other material facts. How long you were there, who was the host, what form did it take. For less formal events (such as e-learning or simply reading) you can simply record the author the title and the duration.

4 Reflect

This is the really-really important bit (did we repeat that?). The bit that a lot of folk miss is that the purpose of CPD is hinted at in the title. Development, so what does this exactly mean? In short “an event constituting a new stage in a changing situation” (Google dictionary, 2018). What can you do now that you couldn’t do before? How has it developed you? Was it worthwhile or not? If not, what else needs doing? Have you tried to use this new skill? Was it effective? If not, why not?

Hopefully you can see how CPD is not just an end, it is a journey, a journey that as a professional project person you are on and to grow and mature in your role, you will need to seek ways to further develop yourself, but it is pointless in developing ones-self for situations that have no purpose.

We are if nothing else at Parallel, pragmatists. We realise that his approach to CPD is idealistic and in reality, your CPD will be a back catalogue of courses, reading project magazine, attending self-awareness workshops and so on, so please don’t think we are ignorant of that. However, the preceding steps will help you as the form is likely to follow the same structure of the current RPP CPD form and the same headings will apply. If you fill in the form looking back at the last 12 months, trying desperately to remember when you actually went on that planning workshop course, we do sympathise. But please remember the principles and if possible try and show what you developed in yourself and why, it will be hugely valuable in your application (indeed mandatory).

What then is CPD in a practical sense? The following is a list of things you can legitimately use as examples of CPD. They fall into two main categories, the formal and the informal. The formal ones are

  • Validated and Accredited Qualifications such as the APM-PMQ, Managing Successful Programmes, PMP, etc.
  • APM Branch & SIG events; going as an attendee or perhaps even serving on the committees.
  • formal distance and open learning courses such as those offered through the Open University or perhaps even Adult Education Colleges.
  • attending relevant courses such as perhaps a Health and Safety Assessor short course.
  • attending relevant conferences and/or seminars, such as the APM annual conference, Women in Project Management Conference etc.
  • attending relevant workshops these may include specialist events at conference or elsewhere.
  • job secondment to another role with the purpose of developing you with reference to the above
  • in-house presentations, with lots of these available in most large organisations.

The informal ones are

  • Learning on the job, this is going to depend on the opportunity and remember to qualify it needs to have a purpose and reflection. CPD is not just a record of the jobs you did.
  • Peer guidance and discussion through a managed process and not just a chat around the water cooler.
  • Structured reading of say a PM textbook or an article in a magazine.
  • Work shadowing, observing an expert in a field you wish to develop in.
  • Preparation of CPD presentations to colleagues and other professionals, this may include things like lessons learned seminars, structured accounts of the project highs and lows.
  • Exposure to new situations at work which require action, where you have been brought in to help develop a solution to a specific problem or sent of problems.;
  • Participating in careers conventions and seminars, these may be as acting as a company advocate or a graduate ‘buddy’. Helping others can be just as developmental as helping yourself.
  • Listening to podcasts, webinars, webcasts and other learning for research purposes and technical information, don’t overdo it and make sure they are relevant. Parallel Project Training Podcasts is a great place to search.
  • Reading blogs, articles, e-books, journals that increase your project related knowledge or skills, such as this, the act of preparing your ChPP application will count as a few hours (don’t overdo it though)
  • Being coached or mentored by a fellow professional, where this is available, make sure you take advice from someone qualified to give it. Bad advice is readily available in all sorts of places.
  • Self-study through reading text books or study pack, download a copy of the Body of Knowledge or the APM-PMQ study guide to help top up knowledge components.
  • Volunteering to work perhaps as a trustee or school governor.
  • Relevant out of work activities, such as running clubs and societies (even scout groups need business plans).

Whatever you choose, write it up and keep a record of it in a file somewhere. As mentioned the formal parts will need to go into the online application. The informal ones will help compile the project experience statements. Whether you do this prospectively (i.e. your application will not be for a while yet) or retrospectively, with everything else in place, make sure you have checked the principles and the detail of the above and you ought to be fine.

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