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The power of certification in PPM

Arms and hands of two project managers discussing certification over project guidance textbook on office desk in front of them

Why should learning and training in portfolio, programme and project management (PPM) lead to certification?

People take training courses, but if they are not tested and certified at the end they can’t demonstrate understanding of the finer detail that gives them a more accurate view of the topic.

This level of proven knowledge allows professionals to modify what they do less well and continue to do what they excel in, based on their personal experience.

In turn, organizations planning a radical change need to have the necessary skills and competent people to deploy them. Therefore, they hire PPM people who have assimilated the right information for a role that is often life-changing for those on the receiving end of a change initiative.

Without training and certification, there tends to be a proliferation of different ways of working and variable standards; if there isn’t a common best practice method, you’re likely to get a “patchwork quilt” of ways to deliver projects and programmes in an organization.

One senior manager I spoke to about his staff said, “our project managers are a bit spotty”, meaning some are good at what they do and others less so. Obtaining a certification helps to drive out the “spottiness” in PPM performance.

Certification – what is the payback for organizations?

According to AXELOS’ report, The Power of Professional Certification, 63% of organizations want to see ROI from an investment in training and certification. It’s likely that they’ll observe improvements over the course of two to three projects after their managers have been trained; appreciating more fully the complexities of projects, how to deliver better, the associated risks and the controls needed.

It’s not unlike learning to drive: you get the process from your driving instructor, but you’re still a novice even after passing your test. A year later, you’re driving naturally and are “unconsciously competent”.

There is a risk though when PPM professionals return from training courses and encounter the same culture and a resistance from leadership to running change initiatives using best practice methods.

As mentioned in AXELOS’ PPM Benchmarking Report 2019, there is benefit in senior managers studying a certification like PRINCE2 so they can understand and support their newly-certified project managers.

The future of PPM certification

Organizations are increasingly demanding their change managers do more for less and in much shorter time scales. The investment, today, simply isn’t there for throwing money at problematic projects. Instead, accomplished project managers need to run them in a more logical way and prioritize what matters.

Certification is here to stay. It is still the best method we’ve got to support PPM professionals in knowing what to do and how to do it. And it remains the most salient way for an organization to assess whether a project manager has the technical competencies and skills required for a project as well as a suitable method to deploy.

Download the AXELOS white paper, The value of certification for project managers.

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The value of certification for project managers Industry
This white paper explores the value of certification for project managers, with particular reference to the PRINCE2 certification. Read