Oxford Policy Management (OPM) is an international development consultancy which aims to help low- and middle-income countries achieve growth and reduce poverty and disadvantage through public policy reform. OPM is rolling out a new project management training programme for staff across a range of project-related roles to enable the company to more consistently deliver high-quality projects, and use common project terminology and processes across departments in all of its global locations.
About Oxford Policy Management
The leading international development consulting company, Oxford Policy Management, embarked on a new project management training programme in 2022 to enable employees in a range of project-related roles to develop a common understanding and common terminology for their wide-ranging projects. These employees spanned highly experienced project managers who have been managing projects for many years to new Project Management Office (PMO) staff, and includes roles such as Project Finance. The aim being to support the establishment of an in-house project management methodology based on the Association for Project Management’s (APM) knowledge-based approach.
With projects spanning the globe, there is no typical OPM project. Projects might range from a 1-week desk-based analysis to large multi-million-pound projects lasting several years. They can include projects, for instance, to improve access to clean energy, recommendations for women’s economic empowerment or supporting education policy. Projects typically analyse the current situation, propose future changes and help to implement recommendations into law or policy by working with governments, experts and decision makers around the world.
The aim of all OPM’s work through the projects they implement is to deliver implementable policy that drives change through long term impact.
OPM wanted industry standard accreditation as part of its goals for improving project delivery, and so aimed to develop a company-specific methodology aligned to an internationally recognised knowledge-based approach. This means training in the new in-house methodology incorporates study and qualifications based on project management best practise.
Parallel have been very flexible, accommodating what we need across our diverse global locations
While the wider aim is to improve OPM’s project management methods and establish consistency in tools, techniques and delivery, they are also creating a project management office (PMO) and training all staff involved in project work. The project management training programme was devised, and is being delivered, by Parallel Project Training. The programme is initially focusing on courses to give staff the foundation/introduction to the methodology and terminology that will be consistent with the processes being created internally.
So far virtual classroom courses with a live trainer on screen have been delivered concurrently in OPM offices in the UK, Nigeria, Kenya and Berlin where similar time zones allowed. Separate virtual courses have been completed in Nepal and India, and distance learning course in Australia and Indonesia, where delegates studied in their own time rather than during a scheduled period.
The Importance of Flexibility
Andy Fathers, the Deputy Project Services Manager at Oxford Policy Management commented:
“Parallel have been very flexible, accommodating what we need across our diverse global locations without compromising the quality of training they’re providing. It also enabled us to have groups from a mix of countries with the advantages of interaction between people based in different locations.
The virtual delivery format was very well received and Parallel were flexible to the needs of OPM as a global consultancy. Now we can bring that accredited project management offering and that consistent project management standard and approach to every project we complete.”
Parallel have been providing this type of flexible virtual learning across the world since long before it became the norm due to COVID. Since 2009 they have been well known for their blended learning approach that enables them to deliver truly tailored solutions to their clients. In many ways they were ahead of the curve and had the advantage of over 10 years’ experience delivering training programmes remotely, in addition to classroom settings, when COVID struck. What has changed since early 2020 is that organisations can now see the benefits of virtual courses for their staff’s learning and development.
But just because training can be delivered virtually doesn’t mean it is always the best solution so some OPM training and exams have been in-person – it’s the flexibility to do both to a highly professional level that Parallel provides.
OPM has had impressive results from both live virtual training, distance learning, remote exams and in-person exams.
Now everyone in the company is talking the same language whether that’s project managers working on totally different projects or project team members in different offices or different countries. They are now using a common terminology to discuss tools, tasks, progress and reports. And they will learn from each other’s successes and mistakes to more efficiently and consistently deliver successful outcomes in the future.
Combining live virtual learning, distance learning and face-to-face learning has proved to be highly successful for Oxford Policy Management
OPM is well-known for the quality of its technical expertise, and can now align that technical expertise with exceptional management and delivery of every project. Given the significant improvement in project management knowledge in those who have completed the training, the company now plans to build on these new project management capabilities by training more people
John Bolton, Programmes Director at Parallel Project Training, who delivered some of the training sessions, remarked,
“At Parallel we have a genuine desire to fully understand an organisation’s training goals and are flexible enough to offer training programmes to suit a company’s specific requirements. Combining live virtual learning, distance learning and face-to-face learning has proved to be highly successful for Oxford Policy Management, allowing delegates to work in a way that suited their diverse global locations and time-zones yet enabling mixed groups where that was feasible. Their project managers and project teams not only achieved formal qualifications but the skills to continuously improve the way in which they deliver projects in the future.”