Project management has taken another significant step towards becoming a profession. After several years of debate and decisions in the UK High Court (see: Project Management is a Profession), the Privy Council considered the application by the Association of Project Management (APM) at its meeting on 12 October 2016 and has now issued an Order of Grant, which has triggered a process which will see the association awarded a Charter.
This process combines a modern assessment of the ‘worth’ of an organisation and the members it represents, their value to society, with the traditions of the UK Crown going back centuries. In keeping with history, the Charter will be printed on vellum and have the Royal seal attached. In keeping with the modern age the APM will then need to reconfigure its structure, and how it qualifies project managers.
Once the Charter has been sealed APM will implement the procedural, legal and accounting transition to re-constitute itself as a Chartered body during 2017 including transferring the assets and liabilities of the existing charity to a new Chartered Body Corporate. The new body will then conduct a public consultation on the criteria for admission to its planned register of Chartered project professionals, placing project managers on the same professional level as other professions in the UK.
Achieving Chartered status on behalf of the project management profession is expected to:
- raise standards through a robustly assessed register of project professionals who are committed to professional development and a code of conduct;
- enhance the status and recognition of project management as a means of delivering effective change that improves our economy and society;
- facilitate continued collaboration and research with other professions to develop the practice and theory of delivering successful change across sectors and industries.
Whilst this process is very UK centric, and based on the traditions of the Royal Courts, it has much wider implications. When the transition is complete in 2017, project managers, or at least the newly designated Chartered Project Managers will be on the same professional standing as Architects, Engineers and Surveyors.
Whilst there will still be on-going debate of the nature of ‘professionalism’ in the 21st century in at least one major jurisdiction the concept of placing project management in the same frame as other ‘modern professions’ is close to becoming an accepted fact. The challenge will be to drive the change in behaviours needed to allow project managers to live up to the code of behaviour and ethical standards expected of a professional – as many of my other posts on ethics show, this will not be easy.