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Professional bodies essential in the project management industry
Tue, 12 Feb 2013 11:50
Issued by Trinitas Consulting
The definition of a professional body, as sourced from Wikipedia, is as follows: A professional association (also called a professional body, professional organisation, or professional society) is usually a non-profit organisation seeking to further a particular profession, the interests of individuals engaged in that profession, and the public interest.
According to the Analytic Quality Glossary, “a professional body is a group of people in a learned occupation who are entrusted with maintaining control or oversight of the legitimate practice of the occupation.
Professional bodies have, in some countries, a significant role in the oversight of education linked to specific professions”. The UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) stated in 2011 that a professional body is an organisation that oversees the activities of a particular profession and represents the interests of its members.
Professional bodies also act to maintain their own position as a controlling body. “This is where control, legitimated by public interest becomes confounded by control based on self-interest” (Harvey and Mason).
From these definitions, one can draw the core roles and characteristics of a professional body; a non-profit organisation, seeking to further a particular profession, maintaining control or oversight of the legitimate practice of the occupation, safeguarding the public interest and representing the interests of the professional practitioners or individuals engaged in that profession.
From these broad roles, further duties can be established, such as; ensuring a balance when conflicting obligations arise while promoting and enforcing ethical conduct and a high level of education within the profession.
A significant role of the professional body is to inform the Body of Knowledge. The knowledge framework is a useful basis for the development of academic programmes which could be supported by the professional body. Failing this input, learning institutions offer courses that are not linked to the practicing project manager, but is designed and conceptualised in the towers of the academia.
Relevance and competence are at issue.
Through membership to a professional body the engaging of like-minded professionals working in diverse environments is enabled. This allows members to broaden their knowledge base, while the attendance of workshops and certification programmes contributes to members’ personal and professional growth and development.
Professional bodies in the project management industry provide concepts, definitions and summaries of project management to facilitate a common understanding while advising on advancing industry methods and tools.
These bodies provide funding for research and development, provide standards for the industry as a whole to follow and engage with national and international standardisation bodies while actively promoting project management at several levels and creating a network for project managers to engage in.
Within the project management industry, ethical conduct and education are incredibly important. If there is no professional body present ensuring that standards are being upheld, the cost of the resultantly poor level and execution of project management will be crippling.
An example of a project management professional body in South Africa is the Association for Project Management South Africa (APMSA), which was launched in the ‘90s. The aim of this professional body is to promote project management best practice and to serve the needs of the APMSA members and the profession as a whole through the development and promotion of project support services knowledge standards and competence standards.
In an effort to ensure a high level of education within the project management industry, APMSA runs events to improve knowledge and practice in the field of professional project management.
APMSA is affiliated with the International Project Management Association (IPMA) and has embarked on the IPMA certification initiative for project management. Certification is assessed according to ISO 17024 requirements through a separate organisation. APMSA has a comprehensive Study Guide which serves as the APMSA- IPMA Body of Knowledge for use in this APMSA-IPMA Project Manager Certification Programme.
This strategic objectives of this professional body include to; promote best- practice in project management, offer comprehensive support to assist with professional project management development and practices, lead the profession in setting the standards for project management in South Africa, champion the profession through the enhancement and improvement of the understanding of project management as a profession and to develop and nurture strategic partnerships to advance the work of the professional body.
Within any industry, country, office or household, where weak leadership and guidance is available, wayward and unethical action becomes evident. Although this may only be perpetrated by a handful of inhabitants or participants, the effect on the community is devastating. Without professional bodies to serve various industries, havoc occurs as industries function as a law unto themselves.
Therefore, the importance of professional bodies - and the resultant promotion of the profession, building of skills in the industry, development of a deeper understanding, enhancement of fundamental comprehension, instilment of values and guiding principles and the cultivation of respect and environmental protection - cannot be overemphasised.
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