Have you ever considered why upto 43 percent of professional project managers either do not belong to a professional body or association and even greater numbers believe that the professional body or association does not provide them with any discernable benefits.
I personally have serious doubts regarding the multitude of Project Management Associations vying to become the de-facto worldwide organisation and in doing so causing considerable confusion among organisations and in particular personnel managers which is in fact actually devaluing the whole profession.
I have been studying Prince2, APM, PMI and the Australian based AIPM system found at http://www.aipm.com.au for the past two years and it seems to me that they all have several things in common, namely they are expensive to join, their fees are repetitive, they have multi-layered costing structures and apart from Prince2 they have less than optimal procedures that contain a lot of ambiguity.
Reading through their books gives one the impression that people no different from you or I, have decided that creating another project management association would be a good money making scheme. So like any amateur website designer these associations have copied and elaborated on each others basic template in an effort to convince us to part with our hard earned money under the illusion that there is some significant differentiation between them.
In actual fact, everyone knows that the only reason for joining such associations is to gain some form of credibility not only with employers whose personnel mangers have almost no perceivable knowledge of Project Management but also employment agencies that are equally ignorant of the workings of the profession.
The APM and PMI in actual fact detract from this ultimate goal of professionalism by not only clearly recognising that professional Project Managers in their associations can be down graded by functional and the various forms of matrix organisations to the level of administrators or controllers with limited or no real authority to actually run the project they are charged with properly. This total lack of trusts and respect on behalf of organisations for project managers can never be considered a good thing or the way forward for the profession as a whole.
A reasonable counter argument could be that these so called professional bodies and associations are just reflecting real life in the corporate work environment, however, it would also be reasonable to expect that the same professional bodies and associations should be looking at the situation purely from their members perspective and with this single principle in mind should be aiming to do all that is possible to solidify their members professional status.
I believe that Prince2 maturity model in encouraging companies to take on a much more professional attitude towards projects and the practice of project management is going in the right direction. The fact that its methodology of itself supports the fact that a project manager is a professional and competent manager in his or her right and is not just another administrator or controller speaks loudly on behalf of the profession as a whole.
When it comes to professional bodies and associations the AIPM is a different kettle of fish; this association covers the southern hemisphere but also has an international dimension and does not profess to have nor wants to be the de facto methodology in conducting projects. The ethos of this association is built on project managers proven competency in managing successful projects. I guess their system closely follows our work based NVQ system. Membership to this association is based on a series of work based structured assessments conducted by fully qualified project managers. Membership is certificated at at each level and a person has to be deemed to be competent before moving up to the next level. The two drawbacks to this system from a project manager’s perspective is the time it takes to cover all the different competence levels (around one year to eighteen months) and the fact that you have to get your education and training from another outside sauces. However, having different accredited competency levels and having your own personal coach cum assessor who stays with you throughout the whole process helps to mitigate this problem.
To be honest I think the APM and PMI are clearly only in it for the money which is borne out by their segmentation of the functional aspects of the profession into additional expensive specialisation qualifications like the RMP. Lets face it, Risk Management at a professional level is a business speciality in its own right that far exceeds the limited uses associated with project management. Therefore the overriding question is, how far will this segmentation go. Will professional project managers eventually need to obtain additional professional acronyms on their business cards and stationary for use of packages for instance PMP-MS Proj, PMP-@Risk or for specific functions within the project management remit like PCM (Professional Configeration Manager) , PCfM (Professiona Conflict Manager etc all baring an additional very high annual membership charge for recognition of the perceived specialisation.
Lets face it, if one achieves a professional status then it is implied that one actually knows how to perform these activities, of course if one does not have proficiency in them, then one has obviously not yet fully mastered the tools of his or her trade and is therefore being a little optimistic in calling him or her self a true professional.
I believe that project managers promoting the principles of these quazi professional bodies by becoming members can not only detract from the long-term career progression of individual members but also undermine the quality and standing of the Project Management profession as a whole.
If project managers want to be fully respected by companies they must take care of and support their own profession. In my opinion this can be best served by embracing the principles and qualifications afforded by Prince2 for the management methodology and structure combined with the additional professional competency evaluations afforded by the AIPM.
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