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Career Paths for Project Managers

24 May 2011
Career Paths for Project Managers

Has your organisation a career path for project managers?

While many organisations accept that project management is a core competency, there is no specific career path available for project managers within these entities.

To keep project managers feeling valued and fairly compensated and to preserve and grow the company’s investment in project management, organisations need to consider the merits of offering project managers a clear, progressive path for developing their capabilities and their careers over the longer term.

For companies and particularly HR executives considering such an initiative, a sustainable model already exists in the form of the IPMA (International Project Management Association) four-level credentialing system

Having access to such a model eliminates the cost and effort of designing and developing from scratch a project management career path.

The pre-defined development and clarification of the four levels of project manager positions set out the requirements for experience, credentials and demonstrated core competencies which the individual must meet or exceed to advance to that level.1

The model describes:

  • the identification and description of core competence requirements, roles and responsibilities at each level;
  • the design of appropriate instruments to assess competencies and performance;
  • the building a project management culture in which certification is seen as central to career development

Essential to the placement and promotion of project managers within the career path are the elements of credentialing and assessment. Such a career path should require that all project managers obtain professional certification. In the IPMA certification system, individuals must complete an assessment of their professional competencies. The three-part assessment is based on a determination of the candidate’s technical, behavioural and contextual competencies. The assessment is both rigorous and robust and involves

  • Self-assessment
  • Written examination tests
  • Written project reports
  • Proven experience
  • Independent third party interview assessment

Such an assessment process conducted independently takes a lot of the “heavy lifting” off the shoulders of the HR executive as the candidate has, in essence, undertaken a job interview by two professional project management experts.

In an increasingly competitive global business environment, an organisation’s ability to attract, develop, retain and effectively deploy talented individuals is a key to attaining strategic objectives. The benefits to be derived from such a model impact both the individual and the organisation.

Individual level

  • Higher employee job satisfaction
  • Globally recognized credentialed individuals
  • Defined career road maps
  • Proper compensation

Organisation level

  • Improvements in recruitment and retention
  • Accurate capacity planning
  • Optimal readiness planning
  • Predictable services delivery
  • Lower employee attrition

Standardising and strengthening its definition of project management roles, to support project professionals in their career growth can provide the organisation with the consistent structure and accurate employee information that will help improve employee satisfaction and retention of some of the organisation’s most valuable resources