As I mentioned in last week’s post, the American Society for the Advancement of Project Management sponsored a study on Federal Project Management: Understanding FAC-P/PM and Competency that has now been published on the ASAPM website. It discusses the purpose of certification for program and project managers. So far, the certification process has been focused primarily at the most senior PM levels. This has left something of a gap in developing entry and mid-level managers who constitute the pool from which tomorrow’s leaders will be drawn. Since these “ground troops” are responsible for much of the day to day project management at many levels of the federal government, they need to have the skills to achieve better near term results as well.
Federal PMs Had a Head Start; But Results are Still Uncertain
As some of the earliest adopters of PM methodology, the government is uniquely positioned to develop it further. However, there is still a critical need for better assessment of competencies and outcomes. Without this data, it’s impossible to tell which initiatives and approaches are working well and which ones need to be revamped.
FAC-P/PM was only instituted in 2007. According to the authors of the report, at this time there are relatively few agencies that are even fully aware of the ramifications of the program or how they should be leveraging it to create greater competency and ensure better project (and mission) results. So, the report spends less time evaluating what FAC-P/PM has accomplished so far and more on what still remains to be done.
Competency Takes Center Stage
The certification program is based around competency rather than simply knowledge acquisition. The recommendations at the end of the ASAPM report make it clear that this is the right approach and that it should be given even more importance. The 7 core FAC-P/PM competencies are:
- Requirements Development Management Process
- System Engineering
- Test and Evaluation
- Life Cycle Logistics
- Business Financial Management
- Leadership Professional
This is a big change from the time period prior to 2007 when acquisition received all the attention. The government has realized that there’s a lot more to an actual project than simply what you buy. Interestingly, the GSA is one of the recent adopters of this more comprehensive approach to project management. The ASAPM urges them to take notes from early adopters such as the Treasury Department. Those agencies that have the most experience with this methodology have the best documented results and the greatest appreciation for what PM competency can achieve.
How Is Competency Defined?
It’s a combination of knowledge, experience, behaviors, and skills. Obviously, more than classroom training is required to become competent. Performance management, goal setting, and mentoring also play an important role in developing good project managers. Part of making the FAC-P/PM work will be determining an overarching strategy that can be used by all agencies.
Currently, a lack of inter-agency collaboration and widely varying standards still exist for PM development. These differences must be addressed to make both program implementation and data collection for results-based evaluation of individual projects more streamlined and effective.