Professional Bodies in Project Management

Last year, the Arras Project Management Benchmark Report covered a section on professional bodies in project management, specially we were interested (and still am!) in project management professionalism. Interesingly 54% of respondents were not a member of any professional body (e.g., APM, PMI, IPMA, BCS etc)

Within this 54% of people, 30% said they were previously members but allowed their membership to lapse.  Now I think these figures are pretty high and pretty disappointing. Over half of the project management profession are not involved in any kind of association, which for me means we’re only seeing half of the picture. Any developments or progression that happens in the project management field over the coming years are being carried forward on the basis of only half of the professional group.

Coming back to the 30% of the respondents who had previously been members it is interesting to see their reasons for not renewing their membership;

Seeing no reason to join is a worrying concern and shows what the professional bodies need to be thinking about in terms of their target audience. In an ideal world my reasons to join would include something like a professional career development plan that is linked to an industry standard – the body would support development and career growth through innovative tools and supporting materials. I would also like to see the professional body give my project management career a stamp of approval that meant something within the employment market.

Experience and qualifications more important to the project management professional is easy to understand enough but I think experiences and qualifications would have an even greater impact on an individual’s career if they were part of an overarching package recommended and recognised by the professional body. It’s not enough to just have a PRINCE2 qualification; we know that a lack of certain softer skills are often the reasons cited for project failure but only a few professionals are willing to take up softer skills training to plug their skills gaps. Is it because this training is uncertified or doesn’t give a accreditation at the end? Either way, the professional bodies should be developing and endorsing a fuller training package for its members – a package that is recognised by employers and organisations.

No tangible benefits is an interesting response and one which I would like to hear from others about. What tangible benefits should a professional body give you? Regular communicatons on news from your industry? Meetings and presentations? Research and whitepapers? Other career related resources? Something much more substantial like a scheme where you’re not in therefore you can’t practice??

I’m intrigued to hear your thoughts on what a professional body for project management should be doing for you. Leave a comment or tweet and let us know

You can also get involved in this year’s Project Management Report, it takes up to 8 minutes and is confidential. The report is available to all those taking part in February 2011 (for everyone else it’ll be available mid 2011, so take part and receive the report early!)

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  1. Hi Lindsay,

    Professional membership has given me a lot of benefits, particularly networking opportunities and the chance to see how project management works in other sectors (I’ve found that PM is the same across the board – public, private etc).

    However increasingly I’m finding that I’m getting just as much value out of participating in free online forums such as linked in, blogs etc. So it has started to make me wonder whether the £120 annual fee is worth it. So I blame the internet for the decline in professional memberships!


  2. Professional bodies are certainly changing as a result of the Internet, although membership within APM has, in fact, grown. We have seen over 2000 new members in the last year and continue to maintain a retention rate of over 90%.

    As Jon says, a key value that professional bodies offer is in the ‘intangibles’ – networking and shared learning etc. APM aims to continue to offer these opportunities (particularly online) and add value to the users’ experience. We’ve seen this with the APM Body of Knowledge Refresh programme which has involved over 700 people to date. A collaborative effort in a ‘trusted space’ that can only have happened with our new online facilities.

    Above all, one of the unique values professional bodies must offer is status and recognition. This is clearly a valued commodity – our announcement of APM Registered Project Professional (coming next year) has seen approaching 650 people registering their interest in the last two weeks.

    1. Thanks Scott, also read your response on the APM blog and totally agree with the point made;
      “What is interesting from the report are the reasons why people aren’t members. These include ‘no reason to join’, ‘too expensive’ and ‘no tangible benefits’. It seems there are some waiting for recognition and status to be delivered to them. I would argue that the professionals themselves have a major contribution to make in creating the valued profession we all want to see.”

      To see the rest of Scott’s post:

  3. Programme & Project Management professional bodies broaden the scope of programme and project managemt horizons, networking, networking opportunities, sharing important lessons learned in the project management industry, etc.

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