APM’s Professional Charter, the Five Dimensions, and the Professionalism Standard

A frequent question asked by prospective and aspiring project management candidates is how best to develop their “professionalism” in a way that will enhance their career opportunities. For anyone looking to develop a career in project management it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine which route to take. A cursory glance highlights organisations such as APM, PMI, OGC/APM-G and BSI who offer a sector wide view, accreditations, tools and training courses and then groups like BCS, ECITB and RICS who are more focussed on the profession in a particular sector. All have different views on project management and much to offer, they confirm what a broad church project management is, but are they helping the individual and industry truly understand what will make a true “PPM professional”?

The topic of professionalism within project management has been steadily gaining momentum over the last few years in the UK; in part this discussion has been driven by the APM’s initiative to gain Chartered Status (launched in 2007) and also the desire to differentiate on competence rather than just the foundation provided by knowledge. So it was interesting to see the APM talking about their new professional standard in project management which will be piloted this spring (April 2010). So what is it all about?

The APM say that after working closely with both public and private sector stakeholders they have identified that everybody has a different idea of what PPM Professionalism is. They also say that they have discovered widespread support for a single recognised and valued, quality professional standard. As such they created an expert working group drawn from the public and private sectors and training organisations to create their draft standards. The output is the APM standard of professionalism which comprises the following five dimensions;

  1. Breadth of knowledge;
  2. Depth of competence;
  3. The Demonstration of achievement through professional qualifications;
  4. Commitment through continuing professional development;
  5. Accountability through adherence to a code of professional conduct;

The stated aim is to have a pathway to achievement of the standard which is rigorous yet diverse and flexible, thus reflecting the many options available to PPM practitioners who strive to achieve competence.

So what does this really mean?

At the moment detail would appear to be thin on the ground. The APM have launched a website, which has a single page listing the 5 dimensions and (for now?) how they relate to the APM’s own products

  • For Breadth they align The APM Body of Knowledge and reference the National Occupational Standards from the ECITB.
  • For Depth they align The APM Competence Framework
  • For Achievement they align the APM’s qualifications and how they align to the IPMA’s 4 level Certification Program.
  • For Commitment they describe CPD and the way a targeted development plan can enhance your PPM career.
  • For Accountability it references the APM’s Code of Professional Conduct which you commit to when you become a member of the APM.

Arras People welcome this initiative from the APM and we are looking forward to hearing more about the pilot, its form and its outputs. We are particularly interested in how the diversity angle is pursued by the APM through the pilot and beyond; other stakeholders “products and services” (PMI, OGC etc) must be aligned and included in the professional standard in project management if it is to become a meaningful measure for the UK community and the users of our services.


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