As we enter 2011 many project managers face uncertain times ahead. Those in the public sector are unsure what the budget cuts will mean and many in the private sector worry about the impact deficit reduction will have on their projects.
Nevertheless there are some positive signs; project management is becoming more professional and with that professional status is an increased expectation that project managers will deliver. Sir Peter Gershon set the challenge at the Association for Project Management conference with his comments that, “The association’s time has come, and the only question is whether it can and will rise to the occasion?” He expects project managers to stand up and be counted and believes they should be using fit for purpose tools and strong governance to eliminate the root causes of project failure and increase efficiency. This is both a challenge and opportunity. The opportunity is for “professional project managers to be associated with the maximum chance of project success”.
There is an ongoing development of professional project management, which is closely linked to the APM launch of the Registered Project Professional in March 2011. It has been created to set a new professional standard for project managers, based on competence, capability and most importantly a proven ability to deliver complex projects. The success of this new standard, in differentiating professional project managers, will be critical to the development of the APM as the true home for project management. But in a recession will individuals and organisations continue to invest time and effort in growing their project management capability or will they focus on the short term demands to cut spending on people development?
A recent survey by The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) is urging managers to embrace the concept of ‘training on a shoestring’ in light of its research that found 43 per cent of managers expect training budgets to be cut in 2011. CMI chief executive Ruth Spellman says businesses cannot afford to lose another 12 months of training and development in 2011, “Our worry is that by failing to offer adequate opportunities for personal development, bosses risk losing top talent, deepening the already low levels of employee engagement and creating skills shortages at a time when UK plc most needs a skilled workforce to help steer it towards recovery.”
This is especially important in project delivery, as research demonstrates that the competence of the people in the project team is one of the most important success factors in the ability of the project to deliver its success criteria. “Business leaders will need to embrace the concept of training on a shoestring in 2011,” said Spellman. “They need to consider alternative ways to continue to develop the skills of their staff, or risk failing to put them in the best possible position to take advantage of the upturn when it comes. “What businesses need is a cost effective way of continuing to offer training that can be accessed quickly and easily, as and when support is required.”
The past three years has seen an exponential growth of social media, blogging and the use of smart phone apps. New media is now being used as an extremely cost effective and high quality way of delivering project management training. Part of this trend has been the Parallel Learning System from Parallel Project Training. Since its launch in January 2010 this new way to learn project management has seen exponential growth with 38,000 podcast downloads and over 800 APMP study guides sold, this new approach has delivered both significant cost savings but also a higher quality learning experience. “We are always exploring new ways to develop project managers, our latest project has been to publish our pre-course material on YouTube, the feedback to the pilots has been extremely positive with a couple of hundred downloads already” said Paul Naybour, Business Development Director at Parallel Project Training. “The key to this new approach is maintaining integration between the different parts of the learning system” said John Bolton, Programme Development Director “the on-line media has to be compatible with the study guide, e-learning package, podcasts and classroom workshops”.
Parallel Project Training is not the only organisation investing in new and innovative ways of using mobile technology to develop project management capability, the market for distance and mobile learning is developing rapidly with a number of providers launching products in this area in 2010.These new approaches to project management development certainly offer significant cost saving over the traditional five day classroom course. It will be interesting to see how this trend develops over the next few years a organisations start to seek better value from their limited project management development budgets