Standards in Project Management are not new. We have many examples of other professional project bodies which have their own well developed standards. You might be asking

‘Why do we need Complex Project Manager Competency Standards?’

Answer, existing project management standards don’t deal with the skills and behaviours needed to deal with the integrated, ambiguous and uncertain elements you will face in modern projects. With increasing demand from government and industry for managing complexity, it is important to recognise that a shared understanding and common practice for evaluating professional performance is needed.

Like any occupation, having a set of Competency Standards provides a description of professional practice which reflects the unique roles and contexts within which the profession operates. Standards are common place in many professional fields including engineering, finance, medicine, and of course project management, the benefits are many and include:-

  • Agreement on what skills and behaviours are important, making links between proficiency and recognition of competence for entry and advancement within a profession;
  • Providing a basis for an agreed collaboration model, to develop and improve internal procedures for companies and government agencies;
  • Providing the common understanding for academic institutions and companies to develop training programs, professional development and career progression;
  • Agreement as to what minimum levels of competency must be demonstrated, providing a benchmark for recruitment and proposal evaluation; and
  • Increase confidence in the profession by reinforcing the level of professionalism.

Participants at Canberra Event –
October 2018

Participants at Sydney Event –
November 2018

ICCPM’s Complex Project Manager (CPM) Competency Standards were developed as a result of extensive collaborative effort and consultation with The Australian Government, Department of Defence, Industry and Academia, to produce competence criteria for managing projects in complex environments. Since their development in 2006, these Standards have been used internationally by project organisations to support the implementation of best practice principles for project success. All ICCPM training programs and diagnostic tools are mapped to the Standards.

Developing competency standards is an extensive process to ensure they reflect the needs of the discipline, and reviews must occur regularly to maintain their currency. ICCPM maintains the standards on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Standards were last reviewed in 2012. This review is being conducted by the Global Alliance for Project Performance Standards (GAPPS) and has provided avenue for a high quality, independent and extensive process.

To ensure recommendations are shared, and that the revised standards reflect the international nature of the discipline, iterative public consultation workshops have been held in the Netherlands, Austria, Canberra and Sydney, with Bali, Hungry and other Australian cities scheduled for early 2019 before the final standard is released toward the end of next year.

What’s Coming Out of The Review

We have had fantastic representation from government, practitioners and academia attending our reviews, providing valuable insights and recommendations.

It has been made clear to us that the awareness of complexity has increased since the last review, and a clear message has been received –

It is increasingly important that project and program managers are skilled in complexity and that the supply is not keeping pace with the demand.

There has been stimulating conversations around the future of project management, project environments and the future workforce, including consideration towards:

  • The shift towards projects with increased complexity;
  • The rise of Artificial Intelligence and the introduction of AI tools to help project managers monitor projects dynamically; and
  • The emergent and pluralistic aspects of soft systems, allowing for greater flexibility, adaptability and responsiveness.

Interestingly, we are also repeatedly hearing about the need for stronger focus on the ‘leadership’ rather than ‘management’ of projects to guide the competency review. Participants have identified that there are special attributes related to leading in complexity, highlighting the following for consideration:

  • Better development of critical thinking skills;
  • Ability to communicate complex issues with clarity;
  • And the ability to drive creativity and innovation – the encouragement and protection of entrepreneurship.

There’s Still Time to Get Involved

The next step is the review of workplace actions to measure competence, further identifying the key competencies for leading in complex project contexts, and how to distil the standards into a form that is easier to understand and adopt within organisations internationally.

If you are interested in contributing to this review it’s not too late to get involved! We will continue to host workshops and online discussion – follow us for upcoming dates. Think about how your company could benefit from adopting the standards and training your staff in complexity. Find out more about our Certificate IV in Responding to Organisational Complexity, and start building your organisational capability in complexity.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the review so far. Find out more about the standards here.