Management / We are all project managers now

We are all project managers now

After years of being associated with tunnels and bridges, project management has moved beyond infrastructure. Firms across different countries and sectors now acknowledge the need to manage their processes and keep costs and timing under control. As businesses begin to recognise the importance of project management worldwide, questions are being asked about the standards required. AXELOS, a new joint venture between Capita and the Cabinet Office, is focusing on how these can apply to different staff and situations, as well as how workers can develop a career path in project management.It provides guidance and qualifications around best practice, from ITIL, which focuses on service management, to Management of Risk (M_o_R) and project management standard PRINCE2.

The company has worked on a number of major schemes, but CEO Peter Hepworth, pictured above, has plans for growth. “It’s hard to measure the adoption of our products, but if you look at the number of exams taken, you can see strong growth outside the UK, as well as in the UK,” he says. “In the US there’s a lot of interest, and the biggest international user of PRINCE2 is the UN, to make sure their aid development is correctly managed. “Our Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) product was used to deliver the Olympic Games. I was in Tokyo after they had won the right to host Tokyo 2020 and the focus was ‘When can we have MSP?’ They want to see the same success as London has had.”

Hepworth is interested in new countries and new techniques, such as simulation scenarios. “Young people are learning things online and changing how it is done,” he says. “There’s online training for PRINCE2, and we are looking to optimise that with simulation. At the same time we need to look at issues such as cybercrime. We are also speaking to business schools and universities about how we can improve the quality and awareness of courses they teach.”

When asked about future priorities for AXELOS, he answers: “Career path.” He says: “For the individual, it’s about how your career can develop. There’s a different skill set between project and portfolio management, and no linear route. It comes to modularisation. We have been able to offer different dimensions.”

The company varies its training approach. Its Portfolio, Programme, and Project Management Maturity Model (P3M3) , for example, encourages users to assess their performance against benchmarks. Mike Acaster, PPM portfolio manager, says: “PRINCE2 is applicable to many sizes of organisation, but sometimes it’s better to be a bit more specific. It’s about tailoring advice for that context. In some cases it has been tailored, and people don’t realise it’s PRINCE2 – you have to scratch the surface.

“If we look at one of the bigger projects, that of Maasvlakte2 in the Port of Rotterdam, this involved about 20,000 people and was being run using PRINCE2. The project director and the port company both agreed it was the governance structures they developed using PRINCE2 that kept them on track.”

Meanwhile, Hepworth is clear anyone can benefit from project management guidance. “We are all project managers now,” he says.

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