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What is the Association for Project Management?

The Association for Project Management (APM) is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee. Its charitable objects are "to advance the science, theory and practice of project and programme management for the public benefit".

The APM is the home of project professionals.  The association has over 20,500 individual members in 3000 organisations and over 500 corporate members.  APM was the fastest growing of all the UK's professional institutions throughout the 1990s and 2000s.  

Project professionals demonstrate:

*       breadth of understanding as defined by the APM Body of Knowledge,

*       depth of ability in line with the APM Competence Framework,

*       achievement through professional qualifications and a portfolio of evidence,

*       commitment through Continuing Professional Development,

*       accountability through APM membership and its Code of Professional Conduct.

In March 2009, the UK Government (through its Programme and Project Management Council) recommended professional membership of the APM for Project Managers working in Central Government organisations.   It has also accepted the APM's competence framework  as the industry standard.

What might Chartered status mean for the APM?

In October 2008 the APM formally applied to the Privy Council for Chartered status - an application supported by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) on behalf of the government.  The APM is committed to achieving Chartered status as a key priority within as short a timescale as possible.

Registered Project Professional (RPP)

During 2011 the APM initiated a register of Registered Project Professionals (RPP's) which is a mark that recognises all professionals working in project management including project and programme managers and specialists such as planners, risk managers and project controllers. 

The name positions Project Professionals alongside professionals from industries such as IT, Quality Management and Engineering. 

Registered Project Professionals will demonstrate the capabilities of a responsible leader, have the ability to manage a complex project and use adequate project management tools, processes and techniques.  For the first time, all elements of the APM's 5 Dimensions of Professionalism will beassessed in a single standard, thereby enhancing professional status and recognition.  It raises the bar of project professionalism to a whole new level.

It is intended that RPP's will become ChPP's (or Chartered Project Professionals) when Chartered Status is achieved. 

Where does PRINCE2 fit in?

PRINCE2 is a project management methodology  for the management, control and organisation of a project.  It is published by The Office of Government Commerce (OGC), now based in the Cabinet Office. 

APMG-UK, which administers the PRINCE2 exams, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The APM Group Ltd..

Becoming a PRINCE2 Registered Practitioner is governed by the passing of two exams - the Foundation exam and the Practitioner exam.  Often the two qualifications are taken consecutively within a five-day course. 

PRINCE2  is the UK Government's recommended methodology standard for project management.  This does not mean that it is "mandated"  as there is no expectation that it will be adopted without adaptation to the local environment.

Is PRINCE2 enough?

PRINCE2 does exclude some important aspects of project management (PRINCE2 handbook (2005) p 8) because "there are certain aspects of project management that are well covered by existing and proven methods":

  • People management techniques such as motivation, delegation and team leadership.
  • Generic planning techniques such as Gantt charts and critical path analysis.
  • The creation and management of corporate quality management and quality assurance mechanisms.
  • Budgetary control and earned value analysis techniques.

It also excludes the contracting process.

The OGC Best Practice document on "Common Causes of Project Failure" includes in its list several items relating to these exclusions - inadequate approaches for estimating, monitoring and controlling the total expenditure on projects, too little attention to breaking development and implementation into manageable steps.  Thus organisations which use Prince2 will need supplementary training to ensure that their project managers are adequately skilled.

This view was alluded to in a project management careers website (now not available), which is concerned that: 

"PRINCE2 is now seen as the solution to all ills in some quarters. Attending a one week (intensive) course does not make a Project Manager - it makes someone familiar with a well structured systematic approach for managing a project which some people do find difficult to carry over into the real world.

The APM offer much more rounded qualifications that take longer to acquire and like most things in life, the greater the effort, the greater the reward. If your ambition is to be a true professional Project Manager, then I would recommend working through the APM qualifications." 

The website emphasises that PRINCE2 and APM qualifications are complementary and that their ideal candidate would have APM and then PRINCE2 Practitioner. 

The OGC-APM alliance - which APM qualification follows on from PRINCE2?

An article written jointly by Susie Kay, Head of Professional Development at the Association for Project Management, and Peter Johnson, Deputy Director of Skills at the Office for Government Commerce (OGC), was published in Project magazine in November 2006.  It suggests that for students who have taken the Prince2 Foundation course, the APM Introductory Certificate is appropriate as part of a move towards Professionalism;  for associates who have taken the PRINCE2 Practitioner qualification then the five-day APMP level D course from APM is appropriate.

The article emphasises the OGC-APM alliance - "APM and OGC are working together to promote an understanding that to be best equipped for working in a project management environment it would be advisable for an individual to achieve early complementary qualifications from both organisations."