“You only have to graduate once from school.”

“You only have to graduate once from school.” 22.10.2012 - The IAPM has replaced bureaucracy with flexibility by launching the first international scrum management certification that is indefinitely valid, so re-certification isn’t necessary.

This new certification also reflects the special needs of IT teams in many other respects. Certificate candidates can learn at their own pace with web-aided learning tools and they take the certification examination at their chosen time rather than having to fit the rigid, classroom teaching-like methods of the old-established associations in their busy schedules.

Just over a decade ago, Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle published a book called Agile Software Development with Scrum which led to the international breakthrough of a method that turned the traditional laws of project management upside down. In fact, the discovery of scrum meant a 180 degree turn because the scrum model focused on skills such as own initiative, flexibility, creativity and flat organisational hierarchies. “It’s hard to imagine today,” said Antje Funck, representative of the IAPM, which is currently in the process of further enhancing the international significance of agile project management with its innovative certification programme, “but for many of the veteran project managers on the executive floors Schwaber and Beedle’s book, published in 2001, encouraging people to discard integrated planning in favour of an evolutionary process was something of a culture shock. And the shockwaves are still reverberating in some places.”

There was need for simplification in the IT sector

Antje Funck is part of the inner circle of an international think tank that has been considering the future of project management since 1997. It is called the International Association of Project Managers IAPM and has certified around 300 project managers in the last year. “When the subject of scrum came up on our agenda, we quickly realised that it required a special approach,” said Antje Funck. We knew that the IT sector needed a somewhat ‘less stony path’ to certification. Without pointing any fingers, IT companies and their employees have found it harder than it should be to obtain certification in the past.”

International standards are a must

The IAPM think tank, comprising renowned project management practitioners and scientists, laid down a body of rules that differ considerably in key respects to other organisations’ rules in designing the scrum management certification. “The differences are, however, negligible in respect of the professional competencies that are certified in agile IT project management. We don’t want to change this because certifications have to be comparable, otherwise they cannot be internationally recognized.”

Own responsibility for greater efficiency

One of the key innovations in the IAPM Scrum Management Model is the certification process. It was developed on the basis of IT practices and an understanding of IT project management. “The first task that we tackled was to structure the time required for certification to minimise the impairment of the company’s day-to-day operations – and therefore also the direct and indirect costs of certification for the company and its employees,” said Antje Funck. “The second task was to integrate the very skills that are needed every day in agile project management – own initiative, flexibility, creativity and flat hierarchies – rather than detracting from them by using rigid teaching and learning structures.” Specifically, this means that the IAPM is the first association that leaves the decision on how to prepare for certification entirely up to the individual IT project managers. The central task of any IAPM trainer is to create a training programme in liaison with the certification candidate that is geared to his or her learning type and level of knowledge. The certification candidates can then decide whether they have any knowledge gaps that have to be filled and there are several tools at their disposal for self checks – or they can participate in a workshop if they think it’s the right option for them. According to Antje Funck “it is outdated and inefficient to make adults attend classroom-type learning events.” The IAPM has also introduced a unique and innovative examination concept. Candidates can sit the examination individually on any PC and at any time of the day or night. “Web 2.0 is secure enough for millions of people to do their banking. So it’s only logical to use this efficient framework for examinations,” continued Funck. “There’s absolutely no reason why employees should have to take a day off work and travel for miles to take an examination.”

Certificates with lifetime validity

The IAPM has also eliminated an annoying aspect of certification that has cost companies new customers and project managers career opportunities. Imagine the following scenario: you and two of your competitors have bid for a contract. The customer has already indicated that you’re going to get it. But before he signs the contract, he wants you to give him proof of your team’s certification. Unfortunately, you discover right at this moment that the certificates have just expired! “This concept of mandatory re-certification is an unfathomable obstacle to growth. It generates costs, administrative effort and annoyance,” said Antje Funck. “After all, you only have to pass your school leaving exams once.” The lifelong validity of the IAPM certificates has long since been internationally recognised. “Abolishing re-certification was long overdue in our opinion and it’s welcomed around the world,” Funck added. “It’s important, because it helps organisations to raise the quality and therefore also improve the efficiency of their IT project management.”

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