Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Qualifications and Skills Briefing: Programme Management within the NHS

We thought we should use the blog to help spread this news: our CEO, Melanie Franklin will be conducting a free half-day briefing for NHS Senior Managers, Senior Project Managers, Programme Managers and Directors on why project, programme and change management are relevant and important to the changes currently being made within the NHS. An experienced Project and Programme Manager herself, and having worked with PCTs at both Board level and Clinical Board level, Melanie understands the challenges they face.

The briefing will explain how the requirements resulting from the Darzi recommendations and the impact of World Class Commissioning (to name but two initiatives) will necessitate changes to working practices in the NHS, and the resulting increases in the types of service and the location in which services are offered. Another key initiative that PCTs are expected to deliver is the Tackling Health Inequality programme, whose aim is to ensure that everyone has access to adequate medical and social care. Care Pathways are part of this programme and are designed to ensure there is an appropriate response to patient’s needs.

In Melanie’s words: “The impact of these changes will lead to another change in the structure of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and their relationships with Acute and Mental Health Trusts, Ambulance Services, the voluntary sector and the local authority. They have big implications for how the PCTs organise themselves and the timetable for delivery is both tight and non-negotiable. World Class Commissioning is a large-scale change programme whereby PCTs are expected to separate providers and buyers services in order to be able to commission the best service providers. Practice-based commissioning (PBC) is part of this programme, allowing groups of family doctors and community clinicians to develop better services for their local communities. All of this work can most effectively be defined, agreed and implemented using MSP™ (Managing Successful Programmes) underpinned with a strong project management ethos,” Melanie says. “But without this approach, staff at all levels are likely to find themselves confused about the direction of the organisation and the contribution they are expected to make. We’ll be examining the strategic importance of programmes, and the structure that needs to be in place to support the successful definition, management and completion of programmes. We’ll also compare and contrast the definitions for project and programme management, change management and business as usual, and see how these different areas of work contribute to the success of an organisation.”

The briefing will address how the implementation of programme management demands a culture that supports matrix management and performance management – delegates will be able to see examples of how this has been achieved in different organisation and to review the strategic importance of defining and implementing projects and programmes, as well as seeing how the origin of the different projects and programmes is likely to affect those involved.

The briefing will also give delegates a feel for our services, venues, trainers and their approach to training. Attendees will gain an understanding of different types of qualifications and skills-based courses available for individuals and organisations, and how these fit into the development plans for people performing different management roles within their organisation.

This event will benefit Senior Managers, Senior Project Managers, Programme Managers and Directors. The schedule will run from 8:45 for a 9:30 start to 11:30 followed by a questions&answers session.

Event details:

Where: Manchester Business Park, UK
When: 26th February
Time: 9.30-11.30
Cost: Free

Want to book? Contact Sam Tuckey on 020 7089 6161 or email

Monday, 26 January 2009

PRINCE2® 2009

There is a lot of talk around about the “New PRINCE2” | “PRINCE2 2009” | “PRINCE2 Refresh” | “PRINCE2 Update”… call it as you wish, it is happening (as we have mentioned in this very blog). However, there is no reason to panic, because the PRINCE2 you all know and love is not changing – it is simply a case of an update to the product. Here we give you a bit of history on the methodology, as well as an answer to the question “should I wait for the new PRINCE2 to arrive to take my exam?”.

Read on!

Why is PRINCE2 so popular?

Many people think that PRINCE2 is largely adopted by UK organisations because of its origins at the CCTA (now the OGC) which first rolled out PRINCE2 as the standard to be used on all government IT projects.

In fact, from those early origins, the take up of PRINCE2 has grown at phenomenal rate, and today there are tens of thousands of PRINCE2 Practitioners around the world, from Abu Dhabi to Zimbabwe. The method’s old links with IT have long since evolved, and it is used widely in both the public and private sectors globally.

There are arguably two reasons for its ever increasing popularity. The first, of course, is that it is much simpler and more cost effective to use an existing best practice standard, and flexing it to the organisation’s needs, than it is to try and create a customised set of standards.

The second, and most important reason, is because of the high levels of compatibility that PRINCE2 has with other standards.

The International Project Management Association (IPMA) has an established and internationally accepted standard – the International Competence Baseline. This is the basis for IPMA's four-level certification program, used around the world. PRINCE2 is highly well-matched with this standard.

Meanwhile, the Project Management Institute's Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK™) is a statement of the sum of knowledge within the project management profession. It has been adopted by many organisations in the USA and elsewhere as the basis for their project management.

Once again, there is a high level of compatibility between PRINCE2 and the PMBOK. Some believe the adoption of PRINCE2 enhances the implementation of the PMBOK standards by providing greater depth and structure to the establishment of project environments and by providing a more rigorous approach to the setting up, running and closing down of individual projects.

While pundits sometimes argue that PRINCE2 is only a method and does not create experienced project managers, those who have the qualification are instantly able to understand and communicate with their colleagues on project teams. And as we all know, effective communication is paramount to working harmoniously together.

The updated PRINCE2 method, which is due to be published in late Spring 2009, has been made easier to use and understand, which will no doubt spread the appeal of the method even further. A report published in January 2009 by UK financial services recruitment firm Joslin Rowe, shows an upsurge in demand for project managers in financial institutions.

The report ( says that in times of economic turmoil, organisations turn to their project and change management professionals for advice.

Should you wait for the new PRINCE2?

The answer is no – the PRINCE2 examination board, APM Group, has advised people to keep taking their exams before the new edition is published in the late Spring. Emma Jones, the Chief Examiner, says: “The principles of PRINCE2 are not changing, so although the new PRINCE2 manual will simplify the presentation of the method, the fundamental content hasn’t changed. If an organisation is using PRINCE2 then it’s far better to gain understanding of that as soon as staff need to. There will be no difference between the current qualifications and the 2009 qualifications. There will be no requirement to retrain or upgrade. All the enhancements will be easy to digest and understand simply by reading the new manual”.

However, those of you who have only the Foundation qualification - or are getting closer to taking a re-registration exam - we strongly recommend you do the training before the change happens – this is because the course will be slightly different and you it will be essential to do the 5-day training course if you wish to understand the new format.

Want to know up-to-the-minute news on the refresh? Visit the main author’s blog !

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Middle East P3M Community of Practice Conference – the after match

The third Middle East P3M Community of Practice Conference, hosted at the Dhow Palace Hotel by the Middle East Project, Programme and Portfolio Management (P3M) community of practice last Monday 19th January was a resounding success. The first delegates arrived at around 7.30am – but the event ended up starting only at 9am, after the delays due to the traffic in Dubai and audio problems… Despite the late beginning, Andy Murray’s presentation was received with joy – and Richard Renshaw of Nakheel followed with great acceptance too. A sumptuous lunch was provided and enjoyed by all, and after the meal our very own Melanie did her presentation, and was followed by Andrew Hudson. According to the delegates, our Client Relations Director, William Franklin, was the “bouncer” – no one could go out the doors without speaking with him! Our Managing Director, Salman Bhatti, took on the role of event manager, while Feroze Khan (the General Manager of Maven Training’s Dubai office) was looking after delegate registration – which went on all morning as attendees were drifting. The event officially finished following a lively “ask the panel” session at 3.30pm and the final delegates left at around 5pm following a round table session with some of the presenters. Looks like it was a Maven Training Day in Dubai…

All presentations are available at the Middle East Project, Programme and Portfolio Management (P3M) community of practice website.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Qualifications and Skills

Our CEO, Melanie Franklin, talks about her newest project - our Qualifications and Skills Free Briefing and how it will help people find their way around Project and Programme Management related training for 2009.

"A new year and new presentations to write. Today I am back from my holiday, and my first task is to write a compelling and relevant briefing that explains the different project, programme and change management examinations. This feels like a useful spend of my time, because as the CEO of this company, I am receiving so many queries from people in and out of work about how to improve their CVs and how to make themselves more marketable to potential employers.

In part, this is driven by fear – I think there is a genuine concern, by many people who appear to have stable jobs, that redundancy is just around the corner. Even though they are overworked and under pressure, and leaving the office for a few days feels risky, people realise that if they have to apply for new roles, a CV that only says they have been on a couple of internal training courses over the last couple of years is not going to make them that marketable.

Employers look favourably on people who are already qualified, as it gives them a sense of comfort. An examination qualification is external validation of what the CV is saying about the person - making them a much less risky hire. Also, it means that the employer will not have to release them for training once they are employed, which is a bonus when times are tough.

My job is to help people identify what training and development activities are most relevant for their situation, and that’s why I enjoy the open forum that we create at our briefing evenings. I really enjoy the two way flow of questions and answers between myself and those that attend the briefings, because at the end of the evening, I feel I have been able to answer questions that often employees don't want to ask their employers.

Having re-read this article, I am even more committed than ever to making the briefings a great event – so I had better stop writing this and get on with putting my presentation together. Hope to see you there!"

Friday, 16 January 2009


By Graham Devine, Training Consultant

In my work as a Project Manager and trainer I increasingly hear criticism of PRINCE2…”It doesn’t work!”, “It’s too bureaucratic”, “We don’t like to tell our staff about PRINCE2 – it’s too much for them – we ‘hide’ PRINCE2 in our own project management method”, “We are looking for something better!"

I don’t have problems with these views – but what’s behind them; that does worry me.

In its simplest form PRINCE2 is a book that describes a view of the ‘best practice’ approach to running projects – it’s presented as a ‘framework’ so that it can be tailored appropriately (not prescriptively). Now, the book is based on long standing pre-existing principles, concepts and methods drawn from ‘learned’ sources such as the Association of Project Management’s ‘Body of Knowledge’ (with some equivalence to the PMI in the USA) and the real-world ‘lessons learned’ and creativity of experienced professional project staff from many sectors.

Surely the critics of PRINCE2 cannot want to ditch all of human thought on projects as bunkum? Let’s get some facts straight:

Firstly, there is the view that PRINCE2 is a ‘tool’ when it is not – a Michelin star chef’s recipe book is not a tool. It’s essential ‘knowledge’ – but reading it alone does not make a person a master chef (I know I wouldn’t want to eat in the newly opened seafood restaurant run by the entrepreneur who read the recipe book the previous weekend and has never cooked anything more than a boiled egg!). Secondly, PRINCE2 presents a multitude of things that should be considered in project management but it does not tell you how to do them for your projects. Similarly, although a recipe may give you some tips about how to create the dish, it will not give you the detail (‘first, fillet your Sea Bass’ [but how?]). Nonetheless, the recipe guides you towards a better, more structured way of cooking (you know, first crack the eggs open, and then put them on a frying pan). This is exactly what PRINCE2 does: teach you what the steps are so that you, with practice, can work your magic to deliver better projects!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Middle East P3M Community of Practice Conference

The Middle East Project, Programme and Portfolio Management (P3M) community of practice will hold its third Members' Conference in Dubai on 19th January 2009 at the Dhow Palace Hotel.

The Middle East community of practice was established in June 2007 to enable like-minded professionals to regularly meet to share best practices in project, programme and portfolio management. The 1-day conference will include a mixture of plenary sessions, seminars, workshops and panel debate. The line-up of speakers is quite impressive - and our very own CEO Melanie Franklin is one of them:

•Janice Crompton – Comptency Development Manager, Unitied Utilities
•Dr Mohammed Dulaimi - Director of Research and Innovation, Abu Dhabi International Centre for Organisational Excellence (ADICOE) and Director of Project Management MSc Programme, The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
•Melanie Franklin – Soft skills author and Managing Director, Maven Training
•Qamar Hamid – Associate Director, Mubadala
•Andrew Hudson – Portfolio Management expert and Managing Director, ChangeDirector
•Andy Murray – PRINCE2 Lead Author and Director, Outperform
•Paul Rayner – Chair of the APM Programme Management special interest group (ProgM) and Managing Consultant, Logica
•Richard Renshaw – Senior Manager Special Projects, Nakheel Program Mngt. Team - Palm Island

There are several benefits of attending this event are multiple - case studies, hearing about P3M developments from internationally recognised experts, networking... - so if you happen to be in Dubai on the 19th January, don't miss the chance! Click here for more information and to register.

Monday, 12 January 2009

BPUG and the BPUG International Congress

The Best Practice User Group is the user group for programmes, projects and risks. Their mission is “to help users adopt, use, share and shape the application of OGC Project and Programme Management Products”.

The first BPUG International Congress – which happened in February 2008 – saw over 150 delegates from nine different countries get together to discuss key programme and project management issues, as well as share experiences, ideas and success stories. Following last year’s success, the next BPUG International Congress will take place on the 10th and 11th of February 2009 at the Royal Lancaster Hotel – which overlooks London’s Hyde Park.

Once more, we are going to be attending and sponsoring this event, which focuses on the practicalities of programme and project management and provides excellent networking opportunities – thanks to its two-day format and the fun gala dinner. At last year’s BPUG Award Ceremony we won the award for “Best Demonstration of Innovation in Training” – needless to say it was a very proud moment and we look forward to cheering on the winners at this year’s ceremony (of course hoping we’ll scoop something again!).

Some of the highlights will be a session from Andy Murray on the eagerly awaited PRINCE2 2009, plus a plenary case study by Don Mason, PMO Manager, Emirates Airline Group. Don will be talking how adopting good project management governance has aided the development of Dubai’s airport.

Click here to register and we hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009


Browsing through the blogosphere, we found welcome to optimism, a blog about life at the London-based advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy. There, we learned about Yvon Chouinard and his book, "Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman" and thought of sharing a quote/ thought for the year ahead from it:

"The owners and managers of a business that wants to be around for the next hundred years had better love change. The most important mandate for a manager in a dynamic company is to instigate change. In his book 'The Beak of the Finch'Jonathan Weiner talks about an insect that was found preserved in amber. The specimen, millions of years old, is identical in appearance to that species living today - with one big difference. The present-day insect had developed the ability to shed its legs and regenerate new ones after touching plants covered with pesticides. Surprisingly, this ability has evolved just since the time of World War II, when pesticide use began. The lesson to be learned is that evolution (change) doesn't happen without stress, and it can happen quickly."

He goes on to say:

"Just as doing risk sports will create stresses that lead to bettering of one's self, so should a company constantly stress itself in order to grow. Our company has always done its best work whenever we've had a crisis. I've never been so proud of our employees as in 1994, when the entire company was mobilized to change over from using traditional cotton to organically grown by 1996. It was a crisis that led to writing down our philosophies. When there is no crisis, the wise leader or CEO will invent one. Not by crying wolf but by challenging the employees with change.

As Bob Dylan says, "He not busy being born is busy dying."

New employees coming into a company with a strong culture and values may think that they shouldn't rock the boat and shouldn't challenge the status quo. On the contrary, while values should never change, every organization, business, government, or religion must be adaptive and resilient and constantly embrace new ideas and methods of operation."

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

"No train, no gain"

This is the headline of a report published on today’s issue of ‘Metro’, on the London Education section (page 19). The article talks about Train to Gain – a government service that aims to improve companies’ skills sets. This scheme works by providing organisations with the services of a skills broker, whose job is to identify the training needs within the organisation, find training companies that offer these courses, and help with funding information. Maven Training is on the verge of becoming a part of this scheme – both by having a broker analyse our own training needs (we are meeting the broker at 1pm, exciting!), and also by being one of the training organisations on their list, which we already are: on one of our courses this week there is a delegate whose training has been sponsored by the organisation he works in, and funding was helped by Train to Gain. We’ll leave him to his course (he’s got to concentrate on the exams!), but expect an interview to talk about the benefits of this scheme very soon!

Friday, 2 January 2009

A New Year - and a new PRINCE2?

Happy New Year!

The end of 2008 was tumultuous and 2009 promises to bring us all new challenges and new ways of working. As you may be aware the next scheduled update for the PRINCE2® manual is this year! The manual gets updated every few years with suggestions based on current best practice as well as any issues raised. Since its launch in 1996 it has already been updated in 1998, 2002 and 2005.

As the principles of PRINCE2® won't be changing, and your need to understand PRINCE2® or use it on existing projects will mean that you should have training or consultancy in real time.

The update does not mean that the principles of PRINCE2® are changing – they remain very much intact. There will be new examinations which will accompany the new manual. APMG, the accreditation body responsible for the PRINCE2® qualification scheme, will pilot the new Foundation and Practitioner exams in February 2009.

The Chief Examiner Emma Jones has advised candidates who want to take PRINCE2® that they should not wait for the new scheme to be released in mid-2009. She said: “Although the new PRINCE2® manual will simplify the presentation of the method, the fundamental content hasn’t changed. If an organisation is using PRINCE2® then it’s far better to gain understanding of that as soon as staff need to. There will be no difference between the current qualifications and the 2009 qualifications. There will be no requirement to retrain or upgrade. All the enhancements will be easy to digest and understand simply by reading the new manual”.

Recommended blog:
PRINCE2:2009 Project
Andy Murray – not the tennis player, but the lead author for the PRINCE2® refresh – shares his thoughts....