Dr Guy Brown is an academic in business, management and leadership with a background in designing and developing contemporary and vocational learning for companies and work-based learners. He leads Northumbria University London campus and works with organizations and professional bodies to ensure qualifications meet the fast-changing competency needs of practitioners in business, project and programme management.
In this first blog post of a series he looks at the value of project and programme management skills for anyone working in organizations today and what learning they need to progress and achieve results for their employers.
Project and programme management are key to successful leadership in organizations.
This is becoming even more pertinent with changing ways of working, such as the challenge of organizational teams that are virtual, cross-cultural and tasked with increased quality assurance and cost-effectiveness and value creation. The new world also means dealing with projects and programmes that have smaller budgets and increased performance measures. So, having the skills to handle such challenges are essential.
But while project and programme management might be considered specialist disciplines for people with project and programme in their job title, the knowledge and skills involved are essential for many careers in today’s fast-moving, ever evolving world. Whether you are a nurse, a professional athlete or an IT manager, you could find yourself leading project or programme activity.
Therefore, these capabilities need to be embedded into all learning, as professionals in any field can’t afford to be without them. But to engage people, the learning has to be relevant and “made real”. This means including project and programme management – such as AXELOS’ PRINCE2® and MSP® (Managing Successful Programmes) – in course modules including leadership, management, strategy and personal development to make them integral to everyday learning. The people who complete programmes at Northumbria University emerge with greater confidence and with skills that show improvements and return on investment in their workplaces.
So, what is the combination of project and programme management learning that today’s professionals need?
- Accredited qualifications
Offering accredited qualifications is an answer you might think obvious given my job; but that’s only part of the solution…
- Engaging employees in the project/programme management lifecycle
Organizations need to create opportunities for all employees to engage in the project and programme management lifecycle using methods such as job enlargement (taking a job role and widening its scope to involve more project-type activity) and job rotation (involving employees in all aspects of the project,) alongside empowering staff to contribute ideas to an important project. Employees need to be considered a brain contributing ideas rather than simply a cog in the process.
- Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Traditionally in project and programme management it was typical to obtain a qualification and think “that’s it, I’ve got the badge”. However, with the dynamic nature of organizations and new people joining with different skills, it becomes more competitive. So, people need to invest continually in their personal development through in-company learning. Professional qualifications such as PRINCE2 and academic studies that are work-related are key to this. Ideally practitioners would combine the practitioner and professional qualifications alongside work-based academic qualifications. At an early stage of your career formal project management qualifications such as PRINCE2 give a sound method, reinforcing the need for project management skills; however, you then need to recognize that it’s not the end of the story. The discipline is changing so rapidly you continually need to be updating.
CPD is essential if you want to stay at the top of your game, grow in project and programme management and attain improved levels of practice at work and increased ROI. Furthermore, the competencies that you need will change as your career develops. You need to continually update.
My own experience as a practitioner who never benefited from formal project or programme management qualifications has led me to recognize the gap in my professional development. This is why I see the importance of embedding project and programme management skills into our qualifications as they are essential attributes, whatever job you do.
Of course, there is still a need for people that have specific project and programme management qualifications but the skills are relevant to any job, at any level in any organization.
See our PRINCE2 and MSP sections for more information about project and programme management.
Read other blog posts in this series from Dr Guy Brown
Engaging project teams
The challenges of virtual teams in project management
Creating leadership in Project and Programme Managers