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Upskilling in projects and programmes the virtual way

Blog posted by: David Smallwood – Director, e-careers, 01 December 2021.

The demand for project and programme managers is evolving rapidly across organizations – as is the way these professionals are trained and certified in a virtual world.

Our company has, more recently, been training an increasing number of business analysts to run projects. This is no surprise when considering the volume of advertised vacancies for business analysts and the expectation that they will also have project management experience and certifications.

Does this somehow make project managers defunct? No. Instead, we’re seeing companies now transitioning project managers to work in more strategic, programme-related change or lead much larger projects.

Consequently, project managers we know who are certified in PRINCE2® are starting to incorporate PRINCE2 Agile® and Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) in their armoury of skills and knowledge.

So, what is driving this development in learning and certification?

The upskilling imperative

There has been a move in numerous organizations to create more agile-orientated environments; not just in projects or programmes but expecting whole companies to work in a more agile way.

Increasing digitisation puts a premium on agile approaches to deliver digital products, so a method like PRINCE2 Agile is suitable for projects where an Agile delivery team is operating in a project context.

But what about project managers moving into programmes?

We tend to find that the project/programme/portfolio structure in organizations is often lacking because it requires people with the right skills to ensure each approach to change is used appropriately.

Having professionals with programme management knowledge helps create the alignment necessary across change initiatives and builds maturity in the business. The net result is an ability to reduce costs and make continuous improvement integral to the organization:

making processes better, removing waste, reducing variability and increasing profitability.

MSP 5th edition is clear about the fact that holistic business change isn’t just about one area such as IT, it’s about people as well.

Recognizing businesses as constantly-evolving organisms, MSP also helps to create the vision a programme needs. This way, programmes take on a bigger meaning that everyone in the organization can understand.

The past two years of the Covid-19 pandemic have shown even businesses worth millions that they are not too big to fail. And they have seen the advantage smaller organizations gain from shifting and pivoting in response to external factors. Therefore, bigger companies are starting to focus on gaining the knowledge, skills and ability to pivot when necessary and be more adaptable in adverse conditions.

How, then, are companies developing their people to do this?

Training and examinations in a virtual world

The emerging trend is a heightened demand for virtual training and exams versus face to face. While virtual training had its critics initially, it’s now a way of allowing people located anywhere to access professional skills.

This offers companies a lot of positives: training budgets – not necessarily having to accommodate travel, hotels and other expenses – can now go further. And this offers an opportunity to upskill people with a variety of certifications, including PRINCE2 Agile, MSP, Management of Risk (M_o_R) and Management of Portfolios (MoP).

The lack of formality in virtual training also encourages more human qualities and more effective collaboration. Delegates get a lot more value and real, practical ideas to take back to the business. For companies, return on training investment goes up.

I think what we’re seeing is a change in mindset about training. Enabling people through knowledge and skills means there’s no reason they shouldn’t perform more effectively. Without this, they’re less likely to think differently and will probably do what they’ve always done.

Learning and growing with a company makes a professional better and more motivated. As I’ve heard Richard Branson say, train people well enough that they could leave if they wanted to but treat them well enough to ensure they don’t.


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