PA Consulting employees among world's first Chartered Project Professionals

12 November 2018

As a number of business management sectors attempt to increase the quality control among their professionals, the Association for Project Managers has launched a new Chartered Project Professional standard. Among the first to receive the award are 10 members of PA Consulting Group.

Contrary to the law or accounting professions, for instance, consulting is a comparatively open field to work in, as the occupation does not have a protected status. As a result, anyone can call themselves an advisor, a consultant, or a project manager, explaining for a large part the large number of consultants in the UK – something that has led to a growing number of former government officials and statesmen to offering their services as independent consultants after leaving office.

Now, in a bid to provide a level of quality control as well as informing clients that they will receive value for money, the Association for Project Managers (APM) has launched the Chartered Project Professional (ChPP) standard. The professional benchmark is aimed at demonstrating attainment of a defined level of technical knowledge, professional practice and ethical behaviour, forming the basis of the assessment that applicants must pass to gain inclusion to the Register of Chartered Project Professionals.

PA Consulting employees among world's first Chartered Project Professionals

Among the initial cohort of professionals to have attained the ChPP status are 10 employees from UK headquartered PA Consulting Group, making them some of the first of their kind in the world. The PA project management experts who have obtained the designation are Emma Burrows, Trevor Birch, Roger Byrne, Alex Garrard, Mark Harper, Andy Hockley, Isabelle Linden, Rob McDonald, Alex McNichol and Mike Wallace.

The individuals have been recognised as experts in project and programme delivery, as well as being a ‘safe pair of hands’ for challenging client projects. The endorsement reflects personal development over a number of years and a commitment to continued excellence in their chosen field. The Chartership also demonstrates the increased status of project management in organisations/clients and the public.

Commenting on the achievement, as well as celebrating her own ChPP obtainment, PA Consulting’s Emma Burrows said, “I have been operating with the P3M domain for over 15 years within several organisations and across a number of different markets. Chartership is a huge step in consolidating and underpinning the experiences that I have gained and also provides the clients that I work alongside with the confidence and assurance that they are getting ‘qualified’ advice and support. I genuinely feel privileged to be one of the first to take the step into Chartership and will be hugely proud to attain ChPP status.”

Related: Four firms nominated for project management consultancy of the year.


Managing the demand for change in project management

16 April 2019

The forward-looking nature of project management means that regardless of the type of project, thorough planning and risk assessment are essential to ensure it is delivered on time, on budget, and in line with the client’s requirements – while delivering the expected results. Consultants Eman Al-Hillawi and Peter Marsden elaborate in the article below. 

However, it is important to recognise that in this fast-moving working environment, and with projects increasing in scale and complexity, a degree of change is inevitable. Putting the right mitigation strategies in place early on can provide project managers with much-needed agility, allowing them to respond quickly to any new issues that arise.

When the goalposts move or project managers are issued with an unexpected client request, adopting a holistic approach is essential to ensure that changes are implemented successfully the first time around, reducing the risk of any problems arising in the future. Rather than considering the demand for change in one area of a project in isolation, it is important to conduct a full impact assessment, taking into account any knock-on effects on people, processes, systems and infrastructure. For example, a sudden need to digitalise a key HR process may have implications for recruitment, or the need to upskill existing staff through new training programmes, or both. 

Implementing a Portfolio Management Office (PMO) can also enhance project managers’ ability to spot interdependencies and better manage unforeseen changes. Where a number of projects or programmes are being undertaken simultaneously, this function is particularly useful, providing stakeholders with increased visibility and driving intelligent decision-making. For example, spotting an unexpected delay to a particular project could enable resources to be reallocated across the portfolio at an early stage, helping to drive efficiencies within the business and keeping budgets on track. 

Managing the demand for change in project management

As part of their efforts to make the most of available resources while keeping costs under control, project managers should consider using blended teams wherever possible. By combining the organisation’s existing employees with different skills and experienced project managers, it is easier to ensure that the correct levels of skills and resources are utilised at each stage of a project. Furthermore, this method can provide the additional flexibility needed to respond quickly to new developments without unnecessarily prolonging project timelines or increasing costs. 

It is worth bearing in mind that introducing some mitigation strategies may require an initial cost outlay and, as such, effective communication with stakeholders from the very beginning of a project is key. One example is to allocate a contingency budget to the project. This helps to facilitate the project manager’s ability to address key issues that require unplanned spend, without the need to undergo a time-consuming budget approval process. By educating all involved parties about the inevitability of change during projects, it is possible to put buffers in place, both financially and in terms of the project timeline. Over the course of a project, this should enable project managers to react quickly to change and take effective action without compromising on the timescales and delivery of client objectives. 

Likewise, where project delivery is reliant upon large and diverse teams, clearly communicating the impact of unexpected changes, and the required response, is also vital to ensure everyone is on the same page and disruption to day-to-day processes is kept to a minimum. When curveballs to project delivery occur, a failure to brief the team on how these should be addressed could also have a significant impact on levels of motivation and morale, which in turn has the potential to have a negative impact on productivity across a project. 

While meticulous forward planning will always be an essential element of project management, it’s equally important to recognise that to a certain extent, change is unavoidable. The ability to respond effectively to new developments as they occur is therefore vital. By making change a central part of discussions with stakeholders and clearly communicating with all parties on a programme, project managers can take new issues in their stride while continuing to deliver exceptional results for clients. 

Eman Al-Hillawi and Peter Marsden are principal consultants at business change consultancy Entec Si.