Growing Demand for National System of Project Management Specialists Certification

23 november 2016 | Upravleniye Proyektami

Head of the Department for Project Management in the Public Sector of the Analytical Center Iliya Vinokurov wrote an editorial for the Project Management magazine in which he talks about the popularity of project management in the public sector, support from the country’s top leadership, interest in project management in the regions and, most importantly, about what is being done to train personnel in this relatively new sphere of the public sector.

Iliya Vinokurov
Iliya Vinokurov
Department for Project Management in the Public Sector

“Introducing project management, especially in the public sector, requires not only financial and administrative support from the upper echelons of power. Sufficient numbers of competent specialists are needed for the introduction of the project management approach as well as for the implementation of specific projects,” Mr. Vinokurov believes.

“Today there are several thousands of specialists in Russia who are certified in project management and who work in various organizations. At the same time, the vast majority of them work in the private sector and the chances of them going to work in the public sector are rather slim, given that they are highly paid professionals who can hardly expect generous offers from the State under the current economic conditions. In addition, roughly 70% of all Russian project management professionals work in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, which means there is an acute shortage of this kind of professionals in the regions. And there is only one way out of this conundrum: we need to organize mass training and professional development for public sector employees. And this means that not only mass training but also mass certification should be organized, in other words, exams that people will have to take to confirm the acquired knowledge.

There are 3 major options for project management certification in Russia: PMI, IPMA and Prince2. They are deservedly popular; however, they have some significant drawbacks when it comes to mass certification for the public sector. The principal drawback is the price. Certification through any of these channels costs an average of 30-45 thousand rubles. In addition, the project management approaches espoused by the 3 certification standards differ from each other, and if we want to ensure further effective interdepartmental cooperation on project implementation, we should minimize any discrepancies in the basic concepts. And last, but not least, in their purest form none of the aforementioned standards take into account the specific features of the Russian market or the Russian public sector and that is even more important in the context of what we are trying to achieve here,” the expert stresses.

The optimal solution in this situation, according to Mr. Vinokurov, is to create a national project management certification system that would take into account all the latest developments and global trends in project management certification while be also established in compliance with the Russian project management standards and international standards recognized in Russia. Mr. Vinokurov believes that an important factor, especially for public sector employees and organizations, is conformity of the project management certification system with the national system of professional qualifications, especially in the light of the new law “On independent assessment of professional qualifications” recently signed by the President. The expert also outlines the importance of keeping the prices reasonable to ensure the new certification system is affordable, including in the country’s regions where it could be offered through a chain of regional certification centers or through online systems allowing candidates to take the certification tests remotely.

Mr. Vinokurov also notes that a system like this is already being created on the basis of the Analytical Center for the Government of the Russian Federation and the Center for the Assessment and Development of Project Management (CADPM). The cooperation between the Analytical Center and the CADPM ensures that the new certification system is being developed by the leading Russian experts in project management that sit on the expert board of the CADPM and who are aware of all the latest trends and nuances of applying the project management principles in the public sector. Methodologies and infrastructure for training and certification of basic level specialists (PM Standard 0 - Project Team Participants) have already been developed and implemented. A specialist that gets a certificate at this level has the basic knowledge and skills and understands the basic concept of project management within the relevant Russian Federal Standard (GOST) and international standards (ISO), which creates a firm foundation for the effective cooperation between all the participants of a project team from low level specialists to top managers in charge of projects, programs and portfolios of projects to ensure effective strategic level project management.

The higher level certifications such as Project Coordinator (PM Standard-1), Project Manager (PM Standard-2), Senior Project Manager (PM Standard-3) and Project Director (PM Standard-4) assess the competence of managers with regard to the complexity of the tasks they have to handle. They must know how to use project management tools and also must have experience in project management. The certification system will apply to all key roles and positions in project management, program management, management of project portfolios, and project office functionality in the organization. It also includes top management dealing with the management and organizational support of project implementation. The price of getting certified through this program is about 5-7 times less than the foreign project management certifications, which makes it far more attractive, especially at a time when our country is going through some serious financial difficulties. In addition, remote learning certification courses will further reduce the costs of project management education.

On the whole, the creation of a national certification system is an important step in the development of project management, especially in the public sector where international standards traditionally face resistance. Naturally, Russia specialists are also taking an active part in the development and writing of ISO standards, however, in practice translated international standards generally tend to fail to meet all the requirements of the Russian market, which means that in the long run we need to rely on our own state standards that take into account the specific features and priorities of project management in Russia. Especially given the fact that the work to evolve and improve national standards is continuing.

For more see the Project Management magazine.

Please note that the 'Proyektny Olimp' (Project Olympus) contest reached completion in early November. It was organized by the Analytical Center to support the public sector organizations at all levels that are actively introducing project management tools in their operations.