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PM Today Podcast: Developing Best Practice With The AXELOS® ProPath™ Certification Scheme

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Launched in spring 2021, AXELOS® Global Best Practice’s ProPath™ certification scheme is providing project professionals everywhere with flexible designation pathways, equipping them to drive change, benefits, and best practice in their organisations.

PM Today first spoke to ProPath Product Ambassador, Allan Thompson, in the first of this podcast series dedicated to AXELOS® ProPath™. In this latest podcast, created in association with AXELOS®, we catch up with Allan to find out more about how ProPath equips project professionals to deliver best practice.

Stream the podcast now to find out about the three certification pathways in detail, how they are tailored to serve different specialisms, locations, and languages, what early adopters are saying about the scheme, and Allan’s personal advice for you and your project management career!

Amy: OK, so hi everyone and welcome to this second episode in our special podcast series with AXELOS® Global Best Practice. My name is Amy Hatton and of course you know me as the Associate Editor of PM Today. And today we’re going to be delving a little deeper into the AXELOS® ProPath™ Certification Scheme. In particular, we’re going to look at the practical steps involved in becoming an AXELOS® ProPath™ holder, and also how ProPath™ can help organisations and individuals deliver best practice. So, I’m delighted to welcome back the very lovely and knowledgeable Allan Thompson, who is the ProPath™ Product Ambassador at AXELOS Global Best Practice. Allan, hi.

Allan: Glad to be back talking with you, Amy, and also talking with listeners as well. So, it’s great to be here.

Amy: So, of course, Allan we’re back here to talk about AXELOS® ProPath™. In our last chat together, you very kindly gave our listeners a really detailed rundown of what ProPath™ is all about in terms of professional certification options. Can you just – for those who may not have heard the last episode – can you just recap and remind us of the main benefits of the certification scheme?

Allan: So, the benefits for individuals, Amy, the AXELOS ProPath certification scheme provides individuals with the most effective practical guidance and endorsement of acquired knowledge on how to plan and direct the work of a group or an organisation. The focus is to deliver value as they monitor the work and its progress and take corrective action where necessary. Professionals with the designations of the portfolio will be able to be a key player for change within an organisation, gain knowledge of a range of delivery modes including Agile, Linear, and Hybrid, deliver consistent results and reduce costs, ensure the organisation makes good investments, improve speed to market by increasing efficiencies and provide governance and deliver successful change in their organisation.

Amy: Okay, and Allan, how about organisations? Because of course a lot of project professionals are likely to want to pursue this kind of professional certification in the context of their employment, their day-to-day work. So, what are the benefits from the organisation’s perspective?

Allan: For the organisation, Amy, AXELOS® ProPath™, with its clear pathways of certifications, can help train the professional staff organisations need to thrive and survive in the future, providing them with the knowledge and skills that will benefit their organisation. These then we’ll help fulfil the requirements of Project, Programme and Portfolio professionals as a result – and benefit the organisations as well. Knowledge of a range of delivery modes including Agile, Linear, and Hybrid (which is a mixture of both), helping to deliver projects and programmes according to the organisation’s needs. Ensuring the organisation makes good investments by delivering consistent results and reducing costs, improving staff, customer, and stakeholder satisfaction, and improving staff confidence which will be required since, going forward, change will be the only constant facing organisations.

Amy: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you rightly say that change is the only constant, and of course, one of the big changes that has happened over the past few decades is that project management has become a truly global endeavour. So, I’m sure that one of the things that our listeners will want to know is which certifications are included. And in particular, can you talk to me about the languages side of it in terms of what AXELOS® ProPath™ offers there?

Allan: Certainly can, Amy. I know we’ll talk about the individual designations shortly. But I’d also like to stress to the viewers that the following languages are going to be acceptable into the scheme itself to take on board the global nature of what we do as a business. So, the following editions of the translated versions are also accepted into the ProPath™ scheme. And this is for PRINCE2® fifth edition, from 2009. This is: Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, Mandarin, Czech, Italian, Japanese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. And for MSP® fourth edition, it will be Polish, French, and Dutch.

Amy: Wow. So there really is a lot on offer for the global market, then.

Allan: We’ve endeavoured to do so.

Amy: Okay, and what about your repository of supporting materials? Can you give us an idea of how delegates can go about purchasing or accessing those?

Allan: Yes Amy, each of the certifications within AXELOS ProPath has the related core guidance material, along with other support material available. These can be purchased in print, PDF, or online subscription format, from our official publisher, TSO, and this can be obtained at their website, https://officialpublisher.tso.co.uk/axelospropath. That takes you to the landing page in TSO. There are options to purchase convenient packs to suit your path – or individual titles. In addition, digital content to supplement and fully support your studies is available in our content hub, at AXELOS.com/content-hub when you sign in to AXELOS.com.

Amy: And tell me a little bit about what this all actually looks like in reality. So, from our listeners perspective, I’m talking, you know, the day-to-day reality of pursuing a professional certification scheme like AXELOS ProPath, Time commitment, how long it takes to get the designations…can you just give them a flavour of what to expect there?

Allan: The most important thing about time commitment, there’s no time duration. It’s based on the time that the individual is willing to put in to achieving the certifications.  But it depends on the individuals career requirements at the time. So, AXELOS ProPath has been designed to provide a progressive development structure of best practice certifications that are specifically geared towards delivering meaningful change in the organisation. So, there’s three AXELOS ProPath routes to choose from. There’s AXELOS® ProPath™ Project Expert, which requires PRINCE2® Foundation and Practitioner, MSP® (Managing Successful Programmes) Foundation and Practitioner, Management of Risk (M_o_R®) Foundation and Practitioner – and at the end of that the candidate will automatically get the designation, AXELOS ProPath Project Expert Designation. The other two, the next one being AXELOS® ProPath™ Agile Project Expert, which is similar to the first designation route but with a focus on PRINCE2® Agile and PRINCE2® in an Agile context. So, one’s PRINCE2®, the other one’s PRINCE2® Agile. There’s also the AXELOS® ProPath™ Programme Leader, which involves Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) Foundation and Practitioner, Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices – our P3O® Foundation and Practitioner level – and Management of Portfolios (MoP®) Foundation and Practitioner – so once the certifications are achieved, then that provides that designation as well. So, just to recap, depending on the route, when all three certifications are achieved, the individual will automatically receive that designation, that specified designation.

Amy: And look, I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly – I mean, I’ve been with PM Today covering the sector for a good ten years or so now, believe it or not. Time flies! But in that time, what I’ve really been interested in is the way in which project management has really evolved, hasn’t it, into some very discrete, yet connected and sophisticated functions. So, of course now we’ve got the rise of the PMO. We’ve got those who are involved in Project Portfolio Management and leadership. There’s all kinds of areas where project management is really leading the way in driving the organisation. So, would you say that any of the specific certifications are particularly appropriate for those working in particular areas like, as I say, PMO, risk management perhaps, that kind of thing?

Allan: Absolutely, Amy, and I think it’s a very, very important point to note. For example, there is the increase in the presence of PMO being adopted into organisations and for that, we have the P30 product, which we have mentioned is one of the designations. The leadership angle can be covered by Management of Portfolios (MoP), which is always within a senior role within the organisation itself. We also have a dedicated risk specialist product which is M_o_R. And that is specifically for people managing risk in your organisation. When you’re looking at pure project management, your Linear or Agile space, you’ve got PRINCE2 and you’ve got PRINCE2 Agile – both global best practices. And also, when you’re looking to include other leadership aspects, but also bringing in strategic change into organisations, which MSP fifth edition covers in the AXELOS ProPath pathway. But it’s important to note that the methods and frameworks that we use are basically used in a diverse range of industries across the globe.

Amy: I mean, this is such a diverse industry, as you rightly say Allan. And we’re seeing project management everywhere these days in every single, as you say, industry, in every sector, in every profession. I think, from the point of view of our listeners and our readers, one of the things they really love to hear about is the experience of those who’ve been there and done that – as I know, of course, you have in your own seasoned career. So, is there any personal advice that you would give to our readership to aspiring project professionals of the future? What are the main things you’d advise them to bear in mind as they’re moving forward?

Allan: I think that they have an exciting future in front of them. Because lots of research that we’ve done shows that project management is going to be very important going forward as organisations strive to catch up, post-COVID, etc. And it’s also important to note without projects being delivered, effectively, then programmes and portfolios and all the other aspects of the business organisation don’t happen. So, it’s an exciting journey, but you’ve got to start where you are in a career and basically see how you can get the benefits of this pathway into your career. And what is it you need to do? Do you need to have experience of risk or are you a PMO manager? Which part of your expertise do you want to enhance? And it’s important to note, there’s no time limit about the ProPath journey – that’s up to the individual. There’s only timings when you’ve got the certifications, then that can affect your designation as we’ve discussed. My advice is, because you only get one career, take your time and take small steps, and also benefit from the AXELOS ProPath scheme.

Amy: Yeah, I mean, I think I do agree with you. In my own experience, it is a temptation, particularly when you’re young and passionate, and just starting out on your career, to want to achieve everything at once. That said, however, it is, of course, part of pursuing a successful career, that you want to be able to improve your professional skills. And for a lot of people considering doing this via AXELOS ProPath, they are of course going to be speaking to their employers, their organisations (we touched on this at the beginning of the interview) about supporting them in that. Do you have any advice for them in terms of how to have that conversation with your…essentially with the people who will be supporting you in going forward?

Allan: Absolutely. And it’s important Amy for them to show the journey to their employers that AXELOS ProPath can provide and explain to the employers the advantages that the AXELOS ProPath scheme can provide to the individuals, i.e. the most up to date best practice guidance, which covers the entire organisation. And individuals need to convey to their employers: through AXELOS ProPath, individuals learn the bigger picture and understand the bigger picture. And by understanding the bigger picture, it can help their organisations thrive and prosper in these challenging times, because they understand how portfolios relate to programmes and programmes relate to projects and how risk and PMO certification supports the entire architecture.

Amy: And of course, as we mentioned, at the beginning of the interview, ProPath was launched in spring 2021. So, in some ways, still very new. But I’m sure has been having time to bed in now. And I’m guessing that you’re probably starting to get some feedback from early adopters of the certification scheme. What kind of things are you hearing from them?

Allan: We’re getting positive feedback, which is always good, Amy. And I’ve got a couple of testimonials from a couple of early adopters. The first one being from Ian Clarkson, who’s a Practice Director at QA, which is a PPM training organisation. And he said: “This is where AXELOS ProPath provides clarity for the professional, giving them visibility of the future, and showing them what they need to do, depending on their chosen pathway. It’s both simple and takes the friction out of career planning by selecting the relevant global best practice training and learning, which is both credible and authoritative.”

Amy: Yes, of course, Ian, I’ve worked with Ian many times. he’s a great supporter of the magazine so lovely to hear what he’s thinking about things. Has anyone else been feeding back to you?

Allan: Yes. Debbie G. – a trainer and one of the first people to achieve the AXELOS ProPath Project Expert, and AXELOS ProPath Agile Project Expert designations, said recently: “I think that the advent of AXELOS ProPath should change the way project and programme professionals think about their career development. First, it shows you have thought about a career path and how having multiple but complementary certifications, knowledge and skills fit together, starting with one certification, but seeing the pathway beyond that allows you to set a more long-term goal. While earning individual certifications is great, this gives you something more to aspire to. And for organisations employing Project, Programme and Portfolio practitioners, aiming to achieve ProPath designations shows a higher level of commitment from the people they are investing in and expecting to deliver meaningful and valuable change.”

Amy: Well, and of course, it’s also perfectly possible that some of our PM today readers are already on the AXELOS ProPath certification pathway. So, I’m just wondering if any of them have got feedback for you. Because I know that AXELOS Global Best Practice is always very committed to hearing from the PM community and to working with them collaboratively. What’s the best way for them to reach you and to communicate any feedback that they’ve got?

Allan: They can reach out to me on LinkedIn, Amy, that would be the best route to get in contact with me.

Amy: Okay, fab. Allan. Thanks so much. I think that’s probably all we’ve got time for in today’s interview. But I would like to thank all of our listeners for joining us. And obviously, thank you so much for making the time. I know you’re a busy, busy guy, spreading the word about AXELOS ProPath and everything it’s got to offer. So, thanks very much for being with us. It’s been lovely talking to you today.

Allan: Thanks Amy. It’s been a pleasure today.

Amy: Okay, guys. So, as I say, I think that’s all we’ve got time for today. Just a quick reminder for any of you who want to explore AXELOS ProPath further, the easiest way to do that is to head over to axelos.com/ProPath. Or, of course, you can just google AXELOS ProPath, all of the information will come straight up. And in addition, don’t forget, of course, to follow both AXELOS Global Best Practice, and PM Today via all of our online channels, our website, and our social media. I can certainly say that AXELOS Global Best Practice have got a huge repository of information, resources, communities, exchanges…lots and lots to get your teeth into in terms of your professional development and learning. And of course, you know, PM Today is carrying all the latest news views, opinions, and expertise from the sector. We’re always really delighted to connect with you and communicate with you. So do keep in touch and look out for our next podcast coming soon. Thanks ever so much for listening. Bye, bye.

Amy Hatton
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