Project Head Managers to Now Have Their Own Occupational Standard

27 july 2015

Project management experts are currently working on development of an occupational standard for project head managers. The provisions of the future document are being discussed by representatives of the expert community, while the document itself is expected to be submitted for consideration by the Russian Ministry of Labour. The development of the document was the initiative of the Russian Project Management Association SOVNET.

The new standard takes into account the key elements of the national system of qualification in the Russian Federation. The legislative framework for the document are the Labour Code of the Russian Federation, the Presidential Decree No 23, dated January 22, 2013, On the Rules for Development, Approval and Implementation of Occupational Standards”, the Federal Law No 273-FZ dated December 29, 2012 On Education in the Russian Federation, as well as a number of decrees by the Russian Ministry of Labour passed in 2012-2013.

The Chair of the SOVNET Board Alexander Tovb admitted that the working party comprised of project management experts were facing a true challenge: while knowing all the ins and outs of project management, none of them had much expertise when it came to development and drafting of occupational standards. “We took the employment functions analysis method as a basis,” the expert said. “This method helps to define the framework of project head managers’ employment functions, as well as identify related functions characteristic of a number of other occupations”. The document offers a classification of employment functions and duties, stipulating requirements in respect of candidates’ qualifications and experience, necessary skills and expertise.

The project complexity evaluation method, which stipulates the complexity factors and their rating scales, as well as the general guidelines for referring projects to a specific degree of complexity came separately (attached to the document). Yet another attachment to the document describes a set of individual and social elements of project head managers’ professional competency. These elements mainly refer to such personal qualities as leadership skills, degree of personal involvement, self-control, creativity etc., which are hard to evaluate through ratings, yet are essential elements of the occupational competence.

 “From the very start we had decided to try and look at the standard through the users’ eyes - project head managers, employers, and training centres,” Grigory Tsipes, the Sovnet vice president and member of the working group, explains. “The goal was to keep the creative input and the interpretations to a minimum, and we tried to keep to the chosen path”. The existing standard ISO 21500 was taken as a basis. The expert called the attention of the panel to complicated aspects that require clarification and possible fine-tuning, like, first and foremost, the overall structure of the text. “The standard is not something of a reading book, it is a concise document which regulates project management in a manner that is both lucid and succinct”, the expert believes. It may subsequently be supplemented with an electronic dummy to facilitate the practical implementation of its provisions, but presently this is a highly structured text. Another prickly challenge is to identify skills and competency levels of project head managers. The choice of criteria determines both the set of candidate specifications and their remuneration rates. The requirements concerning formal qualifications and training are also important, since it is hardly a major secret for anyone that the majority of project management profs can offer the required skills and expertise acquired through practice, yet have no university degree or other formal qualifications. And they should not be banned from practicing this occupation by virtue of this standard. “Our reckon was that people who have education in economics and management could just go ahead and work as project head managers based on their university education, while those holding degrees in humanities and technology will have to receive further vocational education or produce a relevant certificate”, Ms. Tsipes said.

Summarising the expert debate, the panel resolved to approve in whole the submitted draft occupational standard for project head managers and to recommend further fine-tuning, with due consideration for the criticism, comments and suggestions voiced in the course of the discussion, as well as those submitted outside of it in writing. In summing up the conclusions of the discussion, adviser to the head of the Analytical Center, Sovnet vice president Yuri Trubitsyn confirmed that at least two more round-table conferences are going to be held in the near term with the provisions of the occupational standard being discussed with other expert groups.