AXELOS to maximise profits in PRINCE2 and other best practice products

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Paul Naybour
Paul is a project management consultant and account manager with particular expertise in the analysis, process development, and implementation of change program management, risk management, earned value management, and bespoke project management training development and delivery. Paul is the Business Development Director of the company Parallel Project Training

The formation of AXELOS as a joint venture between Capita and the Cabinet Office to manage project management qualification such as  PRINCE2®, and ITIL®. This is a dramatic change for the development of a business model for project management training. Capita has committed to pay £10m as an up front payment and then £9.4m per year over the next three years. This is a huge shift from the APMG Group which while a profit making organisation always seemed to trace it’s culture back to the days when it was the trading arm of the Association for Project Management. It is clear that the government (and Capita) see this as money making venture by offering project management courses, not about the successful delivery of projects. Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office said: “We are committed to getting Britain ahead in the global race,.. we want to exploit these hidden gems and use the profits. It’s a great endorsement of the civil service that major companies use PRINCE2® and ITIL®, but business expertise and investment is needed to develop them commercially.”

However this AXELOS will face a few challenges.

  1. The support of ATO ecosystem has always been vital to the growth and promotion of the best practice qualification, read more about Brian Wernham’s views on AXELOS.   However the acquisition of the certification rights by Capita put the other training providers in a difficult position. This is because Capita also deliver training across the public sector via civil service learning. In effect Capita are both a major training provider and also the accrediting body. In the past the APM Group were very careful to avoid this conflict of interest. If the Accredited Training Providers feel they are operating at a disadvantage then the overall market may suffer and the energy generated from a competitive market place may fall way.
  2. While the number of people taking best practice qualification continues to grow, especially outside the UK, the family of course still have a strong hold in the UK public sector and it’s suppliers. As the UK public sector continues to cut expenditure this demand for training could well fall. This would make it increasingly difficult to earn the revenue needed to make the payments to the government.
  3. Continued development of the standards and qualifications relies on the good will and support a a active but dedicated bunch of practitioners, who offer their author services often at low cost. If AXELOS has huge commercial pressure to deliver revenue, will it have to goodwill of the authors and also the resources to continue developing the best practice. For one thing is sure best practice has a shelf life, and needs to be continuously refreshes.
  4. It’s unclear if AXELOS wish to offer their own on-line training products. It certainly has the leadership to make this happen. Their strategy is to  exploit “the relational aspect of play linking human activity with the activity of the world”, in other words, ‘gamifying’ learning so that it sinks into people’s brains faster.”. This raises two questions, what about the likes of ILX and QA who have invested years in developing this material. And second and most importantly what about the development of behavioral change, not doubt generic knowledge can be delivered through games, but what developing the competence to deliver complex and challenging projects. We all know good training is industry specific and relevant to the client organisation. Will we really develop a game for each sector?

This all presents many risk and challenges for the Association for Project Management. They seem to have been treading water a bit since the APM Chartered Status stalled. Thinking through how they work with or compete with AXELOS must be a priority. As they say we live in interesting times?

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  1. I’ve always thought that what was missing what people actually adopting PRINCE2, often they take the course, go back to work and carry on as before or only improve slightly. To help people adopt PRINCE2 and a better management technique I’ve created a free tool to measure and check how you are delivering projects, please feel free to take a look and use:

    Feedback and questions are welcome


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