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Royal Mail links with APM in drive to improve project professionalism

Royal Mail has initiated a drive to improve the standing of its project management community – through the Association for Project Management’s Registered Project Professional (RPP) standard.

The UK’s main letters and parcels service is encouraging its project managers to work towards achieving the pan-sector designation, and currently has 26 members of staff at different stages of the process.

The move is part of a larger drive at Royal Mail – one of the UK’s largest employers – to enhance the project management capabilities of the organisation. This has in turn been prompted by the massive change programmes now underway across its parent company, Royal Mail Group (RMG). 

Ian JonesIan Jones, director of the Royal Mail Operations Modernisation Programme (pictured right), explained: “The imperative for RMG to drive efficiency is widely known, and we are now half way through an intensive modernisation programme that has so far involved a spend of £1.6bn and will impact all 141,000 of our employees.

“With such a far-reaching change programme, the right governance is crucial – and we believe the RPP standard is key to delivering that.”

Ian is in a unique position because, as well as leading the change programme, he is currently going through RPP himself. “Once we had decided this was the right way to go, I was keen to lead by example,” he said.

“For myself, I have found the RPP process very valuable. It’s about providing evidence of how you have used the various competences – and it’s about your own experiences and achievements – ‘I’ rather than ‘We’.”

In encouraging its project managers through RPP, the organisation has been supported by training organisation Provek, accredited to deliver APM’s suite of qualifications. Neil Mooney, Provek’s training director and an RPP assessor, explained: “The process is in two stages – first, completing a structured RPP portfolio of evidence application form, in which candidates demonstrate how they meet the RPP standard. This primarily involves providing evidence of their project track record and 29 core competences derived from the APM Competence Framework. This is very detailed, demanding and of course must be in the candidate’s own words. In the case of Royal Mail, we now have a number of people ready to submit their application, and others who still have gaps to address.

“Once they have passed this stage, candidates attend a professional review, which involves a presentation by the candidate followed by an interview with two assessors.

“Provek’s role with Royal Mail has been end-to-end, through structured workshops and one-to-one feedback to help candidates do justice to their track record and competences, and to prevent people who should pass from failing.”

Peter HorstedPeter Horsted (pictured left) is executive assistant to Ian Jones, and the project manager who has been the driving force behind Royal Mail’s move towards enhanced project professionalism. He commented: “People are at the heart of what we do, and RPP is a key part of our commitment to develop our people – it’s about really recognising the skills and talents we have in the organisation.”

Another of the Royal Mail group who is about to complete his RPP submission is automation programme manager Richard Moor. He commented: “I think the process will make me more rounded as a project manager, and it’s starting to change the way I work – for instance, with negotiations, RPP encourages you to ‘think outside the box’ and look at how you could do things differently.”

Following the announcement of the new route to RPP for Fellows of the Association, APM have released a revised portfolio of evidence application form and candidate guidance notes. If work has been carried out on the old version of the application form then don’t worry – the original and new version of the portfolio of evidence application form will both be accepted until 30th June 2012. From 1st July 2012 only the revised version of the portfolio of evidence application form (v1.2) will be accepted.

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