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  • Blog
  • Project management
  • Programme management
  • Career progression
  • Collaboration
  • PRINCE2

Author  Allan Thomson

ProPath Product Ambassador, Axelos

December 16, 2021 |

 3 min read

  • Blog
  • Project management
  • Programme management
  • Career progression
  • Collaboration
  • PRINCE2

The pressure of increased and more rapid change in organizations – and the world in general – has put added demands on project and programme managers.

Alongside the expertise they need in their specific discipline, these professionals also require an understanding of the “big picture” – an awareness of what’s happening beyond their own initiatives.

In addition, being responsible for leading change can be a lonely activity. A great way to help project and programme managers engage with other people and share information is through communities of practice.

What is a community of practice?

A community of practice establishes a formal forum in which professionals can review their challenges and share best practice. This is a relatively new concept in the PPM space but has presence in other sectors such as a group of engineers working on similar problems or a network of surgeons exploring novel techniques. Members of a community of practice are practitioners in their field of expertise.

This concept is driven, typically, by a quarterly meeting where the agenda expects members to agree on objectives, listen to a presentation on a topic of interest and engage in an open discussion about this and other pertinent topics relating to projects and programmes.

As well as the community identifying a particular area to concentrate on and share experiences, it also allows members to highlight their own challenges to seek help and advice from other members facing similar things.

The forum provides a formalized and safe environment where everyone can contribute and obtain value from each other’s experiences and expertise. And though the formal diary date is quarterly, it also means members can make contact with each other in between meetings if they have a pressing problem to address.

The idea is to avoid what can happen when change professionals are so busy with the day job that they risk walking “blindly into the darkness”. Instead, input from their peers can shine a light on possible solutions that they can implement in real time.

Communities of practice are also an opportunity for people to share various pieces of knowledge, i.e. the knowledge they earned from their AXELOS ProPath certifications.

Adding to the “toolkit” of knowledge and skills

Along with bringing people together for an organized meeting every quarter – which would include bouncing ideas off others about complicated change initiatives – the idea for a community of practice is to send people back to their respective organizations with new skills and knowledge acquired from their fellow community members. Having more “tools in the toolkit” will help make their best practice approaches more effective.

By establishing a consistent structure, designed to support professionals who might otherwise feel isolated, project and programme managers can begin to solve both individual and organizational problems.

This means opening the door for people to understand different best practices – spanning projects, programmes, risk and portfolio management – deliver meaningful change in their organizations and create diverse career destinations.