Thursday, 31 July 2014

Ten Reasons to Think Beyond PRINCE2 with AXELOS

Project management competencies matter. You need the soft skills to do your job properly. That's just one particular reason why attainment of some form of the PRINCE2 certification is not the salve for your project management career hope wounds - those cuts can get larger if you allow. Below are ten reasons as to how far you have to be willing to go with PRINCE2 - and where else you might have to go to make the most of your project management potential...

Aside from other AXELOS courses like MSP, MoP, MoR and Agile Project Management, your career path in project management is dictated by more than just the PRINCE2 Practitioner we've all been sold as the ultimate prerequisite. though it doesn't hurt, it is neither the be all, end all, too.
AXELOS courses like MSP, MoP, MoR and Agile Project Management means your career path in project management can be catapulted by more than just the PRINCE2.

  1. PRINCE2® is the beginning of a journey, not the end If you are new to project management, PRINCE2 may seem like the right qualification for you because it has no prerequisites for entry or perhaps you are looking for a new Project Management position and every job that is advertised has a PRINCE2 Practitioner qualification as a CV essential. But, passing one 2.5 hour examination does not make you a Project Manager; rather, it is the beginning of a learning experience that will last a lifetime!
  2. PRINCE2® is a method, not a standard Methodologies are essential to project management, but perhaps we could be better if we understood the standards that we were trying to achieve. There are many standards out there, PMI may set the best known one, combining a knowledge of PRINCE2 and the PMI standard would make an awesome mix.
  3. PRINCE2® covers only about 15% of what a Project Manager does There is more to project management than Principles, Processes, Themes and Techniques, most of a project manager's thoughts and actions are taken up with engaging stakeholders and managing people. I was recently involved in a programme where some very talented scientists had been 'promoted' to the Project Manager role, they were very good in their scientific role, but had been given no leadership/management training. As a result their dealings with Project Teams were often seen as, shall we say, less than ideal. If you have never heard the names Maslow and Belbin, there is a whole new world with skills that will help anyone to improve their project management. So-called 'soft' skills (more commonly referred to as 'competencies') are an essential part of the armoury of any successful Project Manager.p3m global knows that competence amongst your P3M team and its respective individuals matters
  4. Most people think of PRINCE2® as the contents of the 'Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2®' guide, forgetting the 'Directing Successful Projects with PRINCE2®' guide One of the biggest barriers to the success of PRINCE2 is that many Project Boards, Steering Committees, Project Executives and Project Sponsors want it implemented from the project manager down. The fact is that to be successful PRINCE2 requires everyone to play their part. Training for these senior managers has been available for many years, but I have rarely seen anyone take advantage of it.
  5. Many Project Managers in the know believe that PRINCE2® does not work! Their experience of failure may be because their organisation is not sufficiently mature to make it work Improving the organisation's project management maturity (the level of organisation’s readiness and experience in relation to people, processes, technologies and consistent measurement practices) of an organisation is often the key to long-term success. There are many models that may be examined e.g. P3M3, OPM3 CMMI etc. Any of them can lead to an understanding of why any particular methodology may not be working.
  6. Your organisation already uses another method This is a great opportunity to expand a project manager's experience and perhaps to add to the organisation's ability to manage projects successfully. (Editor's Note: Additionally, AXELOS has become more agnostic in terms of the pre-requisites for taking the PRINCE2 Practitioner Examination)
  7. Be Agile! One of the current methodology trends in project management is the movement toward 'Agile' and its implementation frameworks, e.g. XP, DSDM and Scrum. Originally employed by small software companies in Southern California, it is easily learned, but difficult to fully understand. It is now used within many different kinds of projects and programmes. Forward-thinking project managers would do well to supplement their toolkit with all/any of these capabilities.
  8. Think P3O® If an organisation is to deliver its business objectives it will need to successfully establish, develop and maintain appropriate business structure to allow senior management to take informed decisions concerning strategic alignment, prioritisation, risk management and much more. P3O is a way of delivering such a structure along with identifying and realizing business outcomes and benefits. 
  9. What about Programme Management? There is a common saying that we are all promoted to a level of incompetence, so some of us are more effective as good project managers than we would be if we were on a Programme Management career path. Likewise, you may discover that PRINCE2 and project management may not be your 'thing'; perhaps moving on to Programme Management (with a bit of a primer in MSP or Program Management Essentials!) is where your true expertise lies?
  10. What about Portfolio Management? Ditto to the above, so long as you substitute all mentions of programme management with portfolio management, and consider courses we offer like Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP), the Portfolio Management Workshop and our version of the AXELOS-offered Management of Portfolios (MoP) Overview.
One For Good Measure: The University of Grey Hair
Now that I am the 'Silver Fox' and grey hairs considerably outnumber the dark ones I can fully realize that the old saying 'there is no substitute for experience' may well be true. Certainly the world is full of people that are far cleverer than I will ever be, but sometimes I have seen a situation so many times that I can predict the outcome. As we say in the Project world 'learn by experience'; let’s have lessons learned, not lessons identified.

Mike Austin, p3m global
Mike Austin is the Lead Trainer for p3m global. His track record is that of a highly motivated Project Management Trainer who has an outstanding understanding of the PRINCE2® methodology and M_o_R® management of risk methodology and the ability to successfully communicate it to others. Send Mike an email today.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A Project Deadline That Won't Slip: Subscribe to The P3M Globe

I come from a newspaper background, cutting my teeth in the seat of the Cherokee Nation - Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Fascinating place, fascinating industry, prepares you well for other walks of life. To this day, if a blog post is submitted to me (your editor, in case you didn't know already) after deadline, it remains akin to a troll's fingernails on a chalkboard. Deadlines were a way of life, the rule without exceptions: there was absolutely no room, as legendary comic George Carlin once put it, to test the elasticity of them.

Naturally as the career expanded, I ended up with responsibilities that used the writing & editing capacities, but left me to rethink the loose ends that often need to be secured first. You know, the ones that don't actually extend the deadline, but merely strain the elasticity of the Time, Cost and Scope of the project triangle we all are so familiar with now (and brings the troll out from under the bridge and into my proverbial classroom). So suffice it to say, it's nice to bring a bit of normality and familiarity to the job.

The P3M Globe, a daily online newspaper from, is as close as I'll get to the old days, and it's good enough for me. Evolved from our old PM-Partners Weekly, p3m global are breaking away from the old format and into an evening daily (or an afternoon/late morning edition for those in the Western Hemisphere, especially Tahlequah!). Coverage collates the best of the #PMOT and #PM hash tags, with familiar voices like the PMI blog team, Voices in Project Management; Bernardo Tirado, Susanne Madsen, ProjectManagers.NET, APM and many more. Whilst not all of them write their own stuff, The P3M Globe exemplifies why sharing the strongest pieces and thought leadership (or retweeting, to use common parlance) on Twitter is to the benefit of the consumer and a great way to think not only about your job, but about how to your job well.

But more importantly, it forces the narrative and those in the know on the #P3M, #PMOT and other leading project management hash tags to bring their A-game continuously. Good content rolls and gets pushed. Whenever people thank me for promoting their writings via the latest edition of The P3M Globe, I make it a point to let them know that what they're putting out into the Twitter ether earned the push. Ergo: for the best words on Twitter about our practice, a subscription to P3M Globe from p3m global and is the way for the "on the go, no time to check Twitter", user to get it.

Dan Strayer is the Marketing Coordinator for p3m global. A native of Manchester (by way of the US), Dan currently edits all forms of p3m global Media, including this blog, the monthly newsletter (subscribe here), and all forms of social media output by p3m global that you can see in the icons below. Other recent ventures from p3m global Media include Slideshare and Prezi. Get in touch with Dan on Twitter via @p3mglobal or @danlstrayer.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Semantics of the Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP) Course

This week, we thought it would be useful to spread some of the joy regarding the development of the new PMI Portfolio Management Professional certification (PfMP), which will add a portfolio level to the PMI's suite of qualifications.

"What is portfolio management?" I hear you say. Well, the official definition from the PMI is "a component collection of programs, projects or operations managed as a group to achieve strategic objectives." The APMG define it as "the totality of an organisation's investments (or segment thereof) in the changes required to achieve its strategic objectives." Basically, making sure you are doing as much of the right stuff as you can – and demonstrating that you are doing it.

Want one of these? Steve Butler's got the lowdown 
on how to get one. (Courtesy:
To put it in simpler terms, consider a car. You have a nice bright shiny new car. It is of no use to you unless you have the skills to drive it…that is your project management layer – or the ability to maintain it or have it maintained…the operations layer. That enables you to get from A to B.

But what is B? Where are you going? If you are taking three kids to school, it is no good having a sports car. If you are moving furniture around, it's no good having a little four seat saloon car. So the vehicle is programme management layer – it's no good being a really good driver (the project management layer) with really good skills as a car mechanic (the operations layer) if you don't know where you're going.

The final part of the picture is how you are going to get there – if you like, the SatNav bit. How can you most efficiently get to where you are going without sitting in traffic for hours on end, or running out of petrol. Conceptually – the world of portfolio management! It's all about saving money, getting more value out of what you are doing – more bang for your buck. If you consider programme management as "doing the thing right"… portfolio management is doing the right thing.

So the PMI is in the final stages of producing a certification to demonstrate someone's ability and experience at the portfolio layer. What's the point? Well, portfolio management is being adopted more and more - across industries and across the globe. So, there is a corresponding demand for more knowledge, resources and professional recognition. The PfMP credential is intended to validate and demonstrate a practitioner’s knowledge and experience. It will also differentiate practitioners from their non-credentialed peers, and, because it is transferable among methodologies and industries, it helps make them more marketable. It will complement existing qualifications such as the MoP and provide the first globally-accepted credential for the role of a portfolio manager.

We've written before about PfMP, including a useful set of FAQs about how to attain the certification.
Be sure to check out PMI's literature on PfMP development as well.

Steve Butler is Head of Delivery at p3m global. He was a Co-author of the PMI Standard for Portfolio Management, 3rd Edition, and has been a key contributor to other recent PMI publications, including OPM3, 3rd Ed., and Software Extension to the PMBOK® Guide Fifth Edition. earning special distinction as the only co-author based in the UK. Join the PMI Portfolio Management debate on our LinkedIn Group page - hosted by Steve - today.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

What the World Cup Teaches Us About Project Management

Whether you like it or not, there has been no escaping this year's World Cup. Despite the disappointment of England's untimely departure, the competition continues to dominate the front and back pages. Whilst he is nursing the pain of the USA's recent exit, our resident Yank and marketing expert Dan (Editor's note: a.k.a "Editor" heretofore) has asked me to reflect upon the “lessons learned” from Brazil 2014.

Here's a list of 10 shameless analogies to project management from this year's tournament:
    The ticket to understanding elements of your project management
    potential may lie in this year's World Cup
    (image courtesy Jorge in Brazil
    via @Flickr, re-used with permission. Changes were not made to the image.)
  1. The twelfth man - Whether it's been the sun, the samba or the Selecao, there's no denying that the support for this year's cup has been fantastic. Amid the hype, the USA's coach Jurgen Klinsmann gave a master-class in stakeholder engagement with his letter to America's bosses ahead of their game against Germany.
  2. The death of tiki-taka - Methodologies come and go. As Spain's exit shows us, the trick is to have the flexibility to choose an approach that fits the game and gets a result. This serves as a word of warning to those always following the flavour of the month.
  3. "No tactics without technique" - The English national team have once again failed to make it far on the biggest stage. Over-drilled and under-skilled, Hodgson's men proved that no matter how good the tactics, a team needs a fundamental level of competency before it has the capability to achieve its goals.
  4. Beware! Underdog bites! - In a group of three former world champions, Costa Rica were the lowest risk on the register at the start of the tournament. That hasn't stopped them becoming an issue.
  5. Beware! Striker bites! - What struck me about Suarez' misdemeanour was the public outrage incurred: not by the monster munch itself, but by his silence on the subject, before making an apology. Whether there's an appeal process or not on your project's evaluation, no communication is bad communication in times of crisis.
  6. Home advantage - Brazil may not have been at their scintillating best so far in the tournament, but it comes as no surprise that half of the teams to reach the quarter finals are South American. Familiar working conditions, lofty aims and high expectations have undoubtedly spurred the hosts - and their neighbours - to outperform the rest of the world.
  7. A game of two halves…and extra time and penalties - The number of games that have gone into extra time this year has probably been more popular with the fans than with the players due to the heat. Overtime has seen the levels of performance drop and the number of mistakes increase as legs tire and concentration is lost.
  8. "Rome wasn't built in a day, but I wasn't on that particular job…" - What do 'Big Phil' Scolari, Didier Deschamps and van Gaal have in common apart from a team in the quarters? Charisma. The value of strong leadership for team work, conflict resolution, communication and - ultimately - project success, is undoubted and immeasurable in value.
  9. Calamity in Qatar - Whilst Brazil seems to be getting over its teething problems, Sepp and his cronies continue to baffle with their handling of plans for the World Cup in Qatar. If you want an example of how not to do a risk assessment, how not to engage stakeholders, how not to monitor compliance, or how not to run a project: look no further!
  10. On scope, on time and on budget? - Despite its successes, criticisms that will mar the legacy of the Brazilian World Cup have all come from three classic project management perspectives. First, delivering all that entails an international tournament in a country with more pressing socio-economic and political issues was the cause of the widespread riots that threatened to kill the fever of the cup. Second, spray painted turf at Fortaleza (editor's note: not to mention rickety structures) was a symptom of widespread under delivery. From the pitches, to the stadiums, to the transport infrastructure, Brazil did not come close to meeting requirements on schedule. Finally, the cost of the World Cup will ultimately be judged against the benefits that the tournament brings to the nation over the next few years. (editor's note: Against the backdrop of Rio de Janiero playing host to the next edition of the Summer Olympics, the impact could face even more scrutiny. Given what has transpired in Greece in recent years, the legacy of hosting the 2004 Summer Olympics is negligible and forgotten, especially in light of losing out on so much economically without the burden of the World Cup hosting gig to boot.) Whether the impact of this World Cup demonstrated value for money in Brazil will be a question that overshadows the tournament's place in history.
Nick Sharpe, p3m globalNick Sharpe joined p3m global as a University of Exeter graduate in 2013, working in a consulting capacity to drive improvements in the Project Management methodologies of our clients. After a quick-fire induction on our Project Management Fundamentals course, and initiation into the wonders of the 'iron triangle', Nick was qualified in PRINCE2 and MS Project, and assessing clients project management frameworks. Nick has worked with clients in the recruitment, telecoms and energy sectors, and with HR, Business Services and IT departments.