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Chartered Project Professional – Elective Competence 14: Capability Development

John Bolton John Bolton

Published: 21st April 2020

ChPP candidates must be able to demonstrate experience that satisfies the specific Professional Practice assessment criteria. They will also at interview need to demonstrate their advanced Technical Knowledge and understanding against the stated Technical Knowledge assessment criteria. Here we look at ChPP Elective Competence 14: Capability Development.

Aspiring Chartered Project Professionals who do not already hold a recognised assessment for professional practice must be able to show that their experience satisfies the specific Professional Practice Assessment Criteria with a written submission. As part of this they will also need to show competence in twelve competence areas. Ten of these are mandatory and two are selected from a selection of 14 Elective Competencies. The one we are looking at here is ChPP Elective Competence 14: Capability Development.

Introduction to the project Capability Development

From the APM Competence Framework Capability Development is:

“The ability to assess organisational maturity in relation to project, programme and portfolio management; identify the additional capabilities required, and to help with the development of those capabilities. Capability development addresses the continual improvement of competencies within the organisation in relation to the successful management and delivery of change initiatives. It includes, but is not limited to, assessing maturity and development of improvement strategies to increase organisational and individual capability through the provision of formal learning; it also takes advantage of less formal approaches such as the provision of coaching and mentoring, and of arranging suitable opportunities to build experience”.

Choosing this competence as part of a ChPP application will appeal more to the practice managers, line managers of project managers, or perhaps programme managers. The role of a PM in the development of individuals is very lightly touched upon in the Leadership and the Teamwork competences. This one is more profound in its implications and therefore there is a need to be more precise and more eloquent in what is a quite specialist are.  

What needs to be demonstrated for ChPP?

The APM have helpfully split this important subject into a set of key criteria that must be demonstrated. And these are as follows, not forgetting that you only need to demonstrate four of them: –

PP1.1 conduct a skills analysis on individuals within an organisation to identify gaps in competences required to deliver a successful project.

When considering the capability of a single (or group) of individuals the ChPP applicant will need to demonstrate that they have undertaken several steps. Firstly, they will have to have settled on a measure by which to assess ‘Competence’. Consider this as the benchmark, it normally comprises several main sections and thereafter a series of criteria by which that competence can be measured as evidenced. This is very clearly evidenced through the nature of this article itself.

The main competence in question is ‘Capability Development. And this PP1.1 is one of the measures to be demonstrated. The second thing they need to do is an assessment of individuals against the competence criteria (in effect what ChPP is trying to do). Their analysis of these results (commonly referred to a training needs analysis) provides a comprehensive gauge of the overall need to fill the gap between the current state and the desired state articulated in the competence framework being used. ChPP candidates will need to show how they undertook this activity.

PP1.2 develop a training and development strategy in relation to project management

As above the TNA will be the focus for generating interventions to close the gap between current and future state i.e. in what do people need to do and how to behave differently. These interventions will include the traditional training and learning (going on an APM Project Management Qualification with Parallel Project Training for example). The strategy the aspiring ChPP needs to consider the demands of the individual and the group. Discovering that the organisation is rubbish at risk management might lead to a protracted and comprehensive development of that competence right across the business, involving all. On the other hand, individuals with significant gaps in their knowledge or behaviour may need specific targeted interventions.  

PP1.3 implement a training and development strategy in relation to project management

This is the demonstration by the ChPP applicant of how they created a tactical plan drawing on the guidance of the strategy mentioned above, the project to raise the overall competence will need a leader, possibly as project manager or more commonly a Learning and Development professional acting in such a capacity. Again, the specific nature of these interventions will draw on existing measures (classroom based, face to face, etc), more innovative activities, such as virtual, self-directed, etc. learning. It may also be apposite to offer coaching and mentoring interventions, an area that usually demands that the mentors and coaches themselves are assessed and trained, as necessary.

PP2.1 use tools and techniques to determine an organisation’s capability to support a project

This criterion requires the ChPP candidate to demonstrate that they have deployed some fo the techniques above. It is highly likely that this criterion can be demonstrated simply by demonstrating PP1.1, PP1.2, etc. The specificity of this though will require demonstration of the use of tools such as web based competence a capture and analysis tools (a lot of organisations use excel), and techniques would include sending out questionnaires to those being assessed, interviews of them, group workshops, brainstorming, etc. These will inform the TNA and thereby the analysis.

PP2.2 apply relevant competency models to an organisation’s workforce in relation to project management

This will require the ChPP to demonstrate how they encompassed the use of something like the APM Competence framework. This is a fine benchmark against which to assess project managers. It does of course underpin the whole ChPP application process, so it represents a good example. Other organisations have their own, the UK Civil Service for example has the Project Delivery Capability Framework (PDCF). They all seek to achieve the same thing, just potentially with a different emphasis and bias.

PP2.3 monitor and evaluate organisational learning against objectives

There will need to be demonstration of follow up and how the ChPP applicant has measured the changed state of prior and after the interventions as managed by them This will involve a re-sampling of the competence assessment and evaluation of how successful it has been and what else needs to be done.

What does a good submission look like?

Project3: I ran a training needs analysis project for a Company X. Pulling together multiple contractors, I undertook an online assessment of 800 project and programme managers using the Whizz Bang Isn’t It Great Assessment Tool. This measures knowledge and experience based on the APM competence framework. Through observations and workshops, I also undertook a behavioral observation of the highest performing project managers working with specialists in this field. I produced a report at the end of the project for the client identifying the key planks of a training strategy. This included a range of interventions including specific classroom-based activity, but also coaching and mentoring interventions.

I observed the poorest knowledge mirrored those seen in other organisations (Governance, Earned Value and Configuration Management). The behavioural observations produced extremely interesting results. My study found that many of differentiating behaviours of highly performing project managers are not reflected in the standard competence frameworks. As a result of this project we recommended that Company X develop a more behavioural approach to the development of project and programme managers. Whilst I observed through feedback some success with behavioural change on classroom courses, the more interactive behavioural workshops were far more profound in evoking a change in attitude and were far more influential in improving project outcomes.

212 words – WARNING – I am not suggesting that this would be successful, I am not the assessor who will be assessing it, but I wouldn’t mind betting it has a strong chance of being suitable.

Please remember for ChPP Elective Competence 14 – What YOU did, lots of I, me, and my.

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