Use Competency Assessments to Close Project Management Skill Gaps

Use of Competency Assessments to select your project team will improve project success by matching the right people to each project and identifying the project management skill gaps that need to be closed.

Our research shows that many Project Management Offices (PMOs) and senior managers struggle with the issue of job responsibilities for project roles. This affects their ability to deal with their larger mandate of creating a project management culture within the organization. The reason is that all too often project teams, business analysts and project auditors work at the task level and do not demonstrate a clear understanding of the full scope of their role responsibilities on a project. This leads to problems with accountability, approvals and timely progress for a project.

Competency Assessments are a very useful tool to help in this situation. They make the difficult job of selecting resources for a project team much easier by comparing the project management skills requirements for the project role, with the skills, knowledge and experience of selected candidates as well as the project’s requirements. According to our latest project management research only 29% of Project Management Offices use competency assessments to select project teams. Therefore, the large majority do not.

With competency evaluation tools, the best people with the right knowledge, skills and experience will be assigned to a project and the project will have a much greater chance of success.

The next level in defining job profiles for all project role positions is to create competencies for each position.

A competency is the skills, knowledge, ability, characteristics and experiences associated with high performance on a job. Competencies can also help distinguish high performance from average and low performance. The Project Management Office or human resources function must develop competencies for the various roles on a project. This includes:

  • Project Sponsor
  • Project Manager
  • Project Control Officer
  • Business Analyst
  • Project Team Member
  • Project Auditor

Determining the right competency requirements for each role requires knowledge and experience of best practises in project management. If your organization has a good knowledge base, it is possible to create your own competency requirements for each role.

With competencies for each project role in place, the Project Management Office or Human Resources function can then use a 360-degree feedback process to select the best team for any given project. They can do this by comparing the skills and competency level of individual project team candidates against the competency requirements for the project role and for the specific project.

Competency assessments can also help the Project Management Office identify project management skill gaps between current competencies of all project team member roles and required competencies for each project. This presents an opportunity for the Project Management Office or Human Resources function to identify project management training needs which will help to close the gap between the individual’s current competencies compared to the competency requirements for their role assignment. There are some organizations that are taking project management out of a fixed structure, such as a Project Management Office, and putting it into the hands of every employee as a competency. However, for this approach to be effective it is even more necessary to identify competencies and implement the competency assessment process to assess all individuals, before putting them onto a project.

It is difficult to develop a competency assessment for the various project roles. This is why Business Improvement Architects has developed a competency assessment tool, “Project Success Templates, Project Management Competencies Assessments”. This project management tool incorporates competency requirements sourced from worldwide best practices in project management from hundreds of project teams around the world. It provides 4 reusable tools for the roles of Project Manager, Project Team Member, Project Auditor and Business Analyst. Each tool lists the core competency requirements for each of the above project roles and incorporates automatic scoring to conveniently assess individual candidates and identify skills gaps.

With competency assessments to guide you you’ll be able to greatly improve your chances for project success and remove project management skills gaps that may be hindering performance on projects.

Michael Stanleigh

Michael Stanleigh, CMC, CSP, CSM is the CEO of Business Improvement Architects. He works with leaders and their teams around the world to improve organizational performance by helping them to define their strategic direction, increase leadership performance, create cultures that drive innovation and improve project and quality management. Michael’s experience spans public and private sector organizations in over 20 different countries. He also delivers presentations to businesses and conferences throughout the world. In addition to his consulting practice and global speaking he has been featured and published in over 500 different magazines and industry publications.

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