Monday, 26 October 2009

Interview with Lisa Sherwood, MSP delegate with Maven Training

On the week commencing the 19th October, Lisa Sherwood, a programme manager in the public sector took the MSP Foundation course at our Maven Training centre. A few questions were posed afterwards to find out her thoughts and opinions on the qualification so take a look at what she said about it.

1) Who do you think it is so important to have the MSP qualification?
MSP is the most widely recognised programme management qualification in the UK, and it's an indication of your committment to managing business change so that you realise the benefits.

2) How does the MSP qualification complement PRINCE2?
Well, it's from the same best practice stable as PRINCE2 so it allows PMs and PgMans to talk the same language when discussing their management areas.

3) How does it prepare you for going back to the office after gaining the qualification?
I feel much more confident now that I know the language of programme management and understand it's principles, governance themes and processes.

5) What level do you feel the course is aimed at?
MSP isn't for the faint hearted - there's a lot of information here and a lot of detail to absorb, so if reading isn't your thing, it probably isn't for you. Similarly I think it helps if you have had exposure to some level of PgMan before, either as a project manager or as a programme manager, or you've been part of the business change team in your organisation. Senior business leaders would also benefit - those who will be part of sponsoring boards or senior responsible owners, so they can understand their roles and those of the team around them.

6) What is the next step after an MSP course?
To use the new skills! I'm already trying to apply what I've learned to a new programme of work that I'm responsible for. I'd also like to expand my knowledge of P3M3 and programme offices. Future training course possibilities include Change Management and Management of Risk (M_o_R).

7) How do you implement MSP into organisations when you are the only person accredited with the qualification?
Well, I think you have to communicate, communicate, communicate. Part of your return to work should be to brief your colleagues on what you've learned and plan the implementation according to what you've learned. If your organisation doesn't use any form of methodology to manage the change - it would seem a very good time to start!

8) How has it helped you individually and what part of the course has interested you the most?
I'm more confident now with the differences between projects and programmes as well as understanding how important it is to align to the corporate strategies that drive your business. MSP & PRINCE2 help you to do that by ensuring the reasons for doing the programmes and projects remain sound.

Thank you for answering our questions Lisa and we hope to see you again soon.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

New style Practitioner results letter from Maven Training

For all examination based courses, Maven is moving to a new style of results letter for the Practitioner results. The new style will be a pdf version of the letter, which can be emailed to each of our delegates. The reason for this change is twofold. We are protecting our delegates from the impact of the proposed mail delivery strikes, as we know that waiting for results can be nervewracking and we have always sought to notify delegates as soon as we are given the results from the examination bodies. Secondly, we know that many of our delegates keep records of their achievements, and whilst the printed certificates are great for framing and displaying, the new version of the results letter can be used as an attachment when sending on-line applications for association memberships, job applications etc. This approach ties in with our commitment to supporting the launch of the new Chartered Project Professional status from the Association for Project Management, where the application will be on-line, and evidence of success in our project, programme, risk and change management examination courses will be a valuable achievement towards chartered status.

The emailing of results will be a permanent change, and is in line with our environmental policy, which seeks to cut down on paper and ink usage wherever possible.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The APM Project Management Conference - Delivering Projects Professionally

Maven Training is going to be exhibiting at the APM Conference so make sure you come down for a chat on our latest products and range of bespoke services. We are re-launching our APM Introductory Certificate course and would be keen to hear from past delegates or potential new delegates on their thoughts on the project and programme management environment at present. We are happy to discuss how their individual organisation is operating and working to combat the different problems that have arisen.

Location: The Brewery, London, EC1Y 4SD, Wednesday 21st October 2009

The APM Project Management Conference 2009 is an interactive forum bringing together project management professionals and key decision makers across the public and private sector. It aims to set out and debate key subjects on the national project management agenda.

It will address issues including project sponsorship, training and development, growing the skill-set of project professionals and the benefits of the new chartered status.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Monday, 12 October 2009

The importance of qualifications for long-term contracting success

Employers want recognised, up-to-date qualifications plus relevant experience from their contractors. But, as many successful contractors will testify, taking time out to get training or to re-register their qualifications can be the last thing on their minds – especially when another contract beckons.

So it happens that the most experienced consultants can find themselves without the qualifications that are deemed necessary in the first round of assessments – which are often done by HR people. With 2012 and all the opportunities presented by the Olympics, contractors need to make sure they don’t miss out on opportunities to win the best contracts just because their CV doesn’t make the grade.

Richard Rose is a trainer of PRINCE2®, who also works as a consultant, so he understands the pressures that contractors face. “Many of the candidates I see are hoping to improve the balance of their CVs with a recognised project management qualification. Often, these are very experienced people but there is an expectation these days that you need to have passed the exam to get considered for the jobs, so contractors are under pressure to conform.”

Richard says many organisations - and particularly local authorities - insist that both potential employees and contractors are PRINCE2 qualified. “Organisations view it as proof of the candidate’s capability,” he says, “and if you haven’t got it, they often won’t even look at your CV.”

Jan Eldon has been contracting since 1997 when he set up his own IT support consultancy. With clients mainly in the IT, insurance and Telecoms industries, Jan has also worked for publishing companies and pharmaceutical giant Unilever.

Jan decided to take a project management course with Maven Training. “With contracting you’re not pigeon-holed exactly, but you can get over specialised when one particular type of contract leads to another of the same kind. In order to be able to break out of this pattern you’ve got to demonstrate skills in other areas and until you’ve got the right blend of skills, qualifications in the area you want to move into can help.”

Taking time out of work and funding courses can be difficult, Jan says. “You’ve got to think about the long term in order to justify taking time out of work and the expense of the course, but to continue to attract the right sort of contracts it’s a worthwhile exercise.”

Richard agrees: “It’s important that contractors invest in their own development. Employees are offered training throughout their careers, but contractors need to think about their aspirations, what they want to achieve in the long term and set out plans to achieve this. They should think not just about the contracts they can and do attract, but what they hope to do in the medium to long term and endeavour to ensure their skill set is updated to ensure they do achieve their goals.”

“It can be frustrating for experienced contractors who think that qualifications are just a badge – they don’t prove you are competent in your field of work. However, what they do signify to employers is that the contractor they’re getting speaks the same language and has a similar mindset to other contractors and employees working in the organisation. This is important to employers because they’ll want their contractors to start adding value from the very start of their contracts.”

Another point to be aware of, Richard says, is the importance of Re-registration. If your PRINCE2 or MSP™ Practitioner qualification is more than five years old, you should renew it. “It’s not so important for employees because their organisations know how they’ve gained experience, but for contractors competing for work, re-registration is vital. This is because the methods are updated and anyone whose qualifications are more than five years old could have gaps in their knowledge. Contractors also need to demonstrate their commitment to their own CPD and re-registration is the best way to demonstrates to employers they are serious about keeping their knowledge up to date.”

Many contractors find it difficult to take time out of work to fit in time to attend courses or to re-register their existing professional qualifications. Some training companies, such as Maven Training, offer flexible courses running at the weekends so contractors don’t have to take too much time out of work.

For further details visit

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Project Challenge Review

By Nicholas Tipping, Marketing Executive at Maven Training

I attended my 4th Project Challenge last Wednesday the 30th September (2nd in Olympia) as a Maven Training exhibitor and I have to say it turned out to be a great day with many interesting conversations. I managed to get to the exhibition around 8:30am and so had a chance to grab a coffee and have a little walk round and chat to some familiar faces. As the time was approaching for the grand opening at 9:30am, everyone awaited in anticipation for the delegates to come rushing in through the door. Unfortunately people can only access the exhibition by the lifts and I heard through the grapevine that queues were mounting outside! Apart from that there were no other hiccups and after half an hour or so, anyone and everyone who wanted to come were safely inside the building.

As the day ran on, I spoke to some of our long term clients and discussed how our current partnerships are progressing; this was met with some fantastic feedback and it is great to see how organisations are reaping the benefits from project and programme management implementation techniques we have worked on together. With our unique approach to building capability and capacity in organisations, we have developed many collaborations and tailored services to which we can work with different organisations with. If you would like to take a look at our range of services please visit our Business Solutionswebsite section which will give you a great insight in to what we can do.

It was interesting to hear from a lot of individuals who had come to the exhibition in search of more information on changes in the industry. There seemed to be a fair share of project managers attending to catch up with the latest news in the project world and attend the seminars to sound out new angles on the subject. At 12:15pm on the Wednesday, our CEO Melanie Franklin presented in Zone A on ‘Building Business Capacity in Project and Programmes’. This presentation was met with loud applause and many delegates I spoke to in the afternoon had great words to say about the presentation which focused on building individuals and organisations capacity to produce maximum productivity (email if you would like further information on the presentation).

Other conversations were also based around delegates who had taken mainly PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner courses and were looking at up skilling by attending additional courses. These were usually in the form of the MSP Foundation and Practitioner and Change Management courses in which we received a high response to. It is great to know in this economical downturn that people are still looking to increase their skill set and qualifications and tie in other methodologies with the project management methodology to give them a greater overview and understanding of the subjects. Whether this is for people needing to combine the skills for their jobs or have the qualifications for their CV, it is very popular to have 2/3 of the courses under your belt nowadays and this trend was very apparent.

All in all a fantastic day and by 5:00pm everyone looked pretty tired and worn out. We hope everyone enjoyed this event and if anyone has any feedback on it, on us or any presentations it would be great to hear about it.

See you all soon

Monday, 5 October 2009

Interview on PRINCE2

Our friend over at PM 4 Girls Elizabeth Harrin has a very interesting blog post which is centred around the PRINCE2 methodology. The questions range from the methodology's origins and background to the positives/negatives and then how it compares to the PMBOK framework overall.

When commenting on the project management statistics, it is interesting to let people know that the methoodlogy is used in 160 countries. As Elizabeth also reiterates, it is available in 9 languages and the manuals are available in 7 languages. There are over 250,000 qualified candidates and 2,000 exams taken per week around the world. There is also a 20% growth year on year.

When we look at another type of certification like PMP (Project Management Professional) we see there are nearly 350,000 PMP'S and the PMBOK Guide is published in ten official languages.

On an additional note, it should be noted that PRINCE2 is not a membership like PMI where you have a subscription side to it and formalised groups but if you wish to network on this subject, then using like minded blogs like Elizabeth's and ourselves it helps spread information and advice on such methodologies.

To read the full interview click here