PM4NGOs Launched as Independent Organization to Promote Project Management in Development Sector

PM4NGOs Launched as Independent Organization to Promote Project Management in Development Sector – Elects First Board of Directors

In September 2010, Project Management for Non Governmental Organizations (PM4NGOs), a new international NGO, was born and held its inaugural Board of Directors meeting at InterAction in Washington, DC, USA. PM4NGOs began as an initiative to promote the use of professional project management methods in the development sector.

Since 2007, a group of humanitarian relief and development organizations including World Vision, Care, Catholic Relief Services, Oxfam, Mercy Corps and Plan International have been working together with the prominent professional societies in the field and with LINGOs, a consortium of NGOs focused on sharing learning resources and experiences to improve the capacity of NGOs operating in the developing world. Over the past three years they have designed a curriculum, tested it in over 30 countries with over 200 field-based project managers from fifteen different organizations.  Most recently a curriculum has been translated into an independently accredited certification scheme with the help of the APMGroup International in the United Kingdom.

PMD Pro Certification leads to need for independent accrediting body
The Project Management in Development Professional (PMD Pro) certification was launched in early in 2010 creating the need for an independent accrediting body. While PM4NGOs had operated as an initiative of LINGOs for the past three years, the creation of an independent organization was necessary to maintain the integrity of the standard and its independence from any single organization. Recognizing that need, the LINGOs Board of Directors asked that PM4NGOs become a separate entity and LINGOs transferred all intellectual property related to the PMD Pro certification scheme to the new organization.

The founding board members represent international humanitarian relief and development organizations, organizations that provide training services to those agencies, and members of professional societies including the Project Management Institute, the International Project Management Association and Prince2 practitioners.  Vadim Usvitsky, Director of Special Projects at World Vision International was elected the Chairman of the Board. Other officers included Trevor K. Nelson of Nelson Project Consulting, Leah Radstone of APMGroup and Barbara Wallace of InterAction.

Board Members include Eric Verzuh, CEO of the Versatile Company, a Registered Education Provider of PMI, Martin McCann, CEO of RedR, Mike Culligan, Director of Technology and Projects, LINGOs, David Palasits, Manager of Staff Development and training for Catholic Relief Services, Steve Marks, Director of Project Performance Consulting Ltd., and John Cropper, Program Manager for Oxfam.

 

From Left: John Cropper – Oxfam, Vadim Usvitsky- WVI, Ernesto Mondelo- Inter American Development Bank, Eric Verzuh-Versatile Company, Barbara Wallace-InterAction, David Palasits- Catholic Relief Services, Leah Radstone-AMPG International, Mike Culligan-LINGOs

 “A very important role of PM4NGOs is to make certain that access to the new certification is broad and the price affordable” said Vadim Usvitsky, Board Chair. “We work in an environment where professional credentials are very important but not often available. We want to make sure the PMD Pro reaches all project managers that are interested.”

The PMD Pro certification has three levels as illustrated by the triangle above. What makes the certification unique is that it incorporates other commercial certifications into the requirements for PMD Pro2 and PMD Pro3. Decades of work has gone into the project management methods used in the private sector and it was decided that rather than duplicate that effort, PMD Pro would take advantage of all the tools and techniques that had been developed over the years. In addition, candidates are required to master and pass an additional examination demonstrating the application of project management to the development sector.

LINGOs provides project management capacity building for NGO sector in Southern Africa, Haiti and Latin AmericaBy launching PM4NGOs as a separate organization, LINGOs has become a source of project management capacity building efforts by organizations in the sector. The Inter American Development Bank (IDB) has asked LINGOs to be the Executing Agency to develop the project management skills of NGOs in Guatemala, Panama, Brazil and Paraguay.  A second initiative between LINGOs and IDB targets the IDB funded local NGOs in Haiti. Both projects will reply be based on the PMD Pro1 curriculum and include training, coaching, community building and ongoing online learning opportunities.

A similar collaboration is underway in nine countries that make up World Vision International – Southern Africa Region. The Strengthening Project Management in WVI-SAR will train over 500 field-based project managers and over 25 trainers to carry the training program throughout WVI-SAR and to local implementing partners.

PMD Pro1 learning resources availableWhile the projects above are designed for specific countries and organizations, anyone interested in earning the PMD Pro1 can do so immediately. On the PM4NGOs website (www.pm4ngos.org) there are links to recorded modules covering all the content of PMD Pro 1. The Guide to the PMD Pro1 and the Syllabus can be downloaded free of charge and there are links to a sample examination so individuals can test their readiness to take the certification exam. Details about how to register for the examination and the costs can also be found on the site.

For more information on the certification, upcoming training programs and the schedule for PMD Pro2 and PMD Pro 3, contact Mike Culligan by email: mike (at) LINGOs.org.

Field Staff Capacity Building Models for National and International NGOs: the 4 As

Presented at the Interaction meeting in June 2010 and  adapted from an article by Eric Berg and Beth Birmingham in “Monday Developments” (Aug 2010, p 37)

For years international NGOs have struggled to develop the skills and competencies of their staff around the world. This challenge has been complex and daunting: broad geographic dispersion of the target audience, a wide range of experience and competence levels, high levels of staff turnover, challenges identifying content, multiple language requirements, and very limited resources. Fortunately, there is good news.

Over the past decade, development organizations have been able to reach thousands of hew learners with quality learning content at very low incremental cost. What has changed? The introduction of learning innovations that help organizations address the ‘Four A’s’ of capacity building:

Audience – Can the learning content be scaled to reach staff across the world?
Appropriate – Is the content contextualized to the environments where it will be applied?
Accessible – Are the learning resources there for staff to use when they need it and where they need it?
Affordable – Can the resources be deployed given the resource constraints of development organizations?

There is no single simple solution that an address the ‘four A’s of capacity building. However a creative combination of innovation in learning design and content distribution, have enabled a number of organizations to successfully address the challenge.

Blended Learning Design
Enhancements in learning technologies are providing the opportunities for international NGOs to blend the best of their traditional approaches to face to face training with an array of new learning media (skype, webinars, etc.). One example of these “blended learning” environments is a 10-year collaboration between World Vision International and Eastern University. This leadership development program brings NGO leaders together once a year in their region (5 continents) for a workshop atmosphere. Faculty are a combination of both professors and practitioners from the region, serving as facilitators and coaches both in the residency environment as well as the on-line environment (using an on-line learning platform) that continues throughout the year. This on-going interaction beyond the residency or workshop ensures on-the-job coaching and greater implementation of the training content.

New Distribution Models
A second innovation in the world of staff development training is the introduction of new models for distributing learning content. Traditionally, learning has been ‘pushed’ through organizations from a central office without much regional contextualization. Increasingly new distribution models allow learners in the field to PULL the learning they need to their locations – when they need it, where they need it and in the form they need it. The new models are more flexible and available through self-service approach, whether that be through on-line courses, communities of practice, RSS feeds, webinars, or recorded content that is accessible through the internet.

One example, of this shift toward social learning is the work of the Project Management Capacity Building Initiative sponsored by LINGOs and PM4NGOs*. While the program can include face to face training approaches that are more formal where facilitators are ‘sent’ to lead trainings around the world; the same content that is conveyed through formal workshops is also made available through webinars, recorded sessions, and e-learning modules. Now, if an employee in Ghana wants to enhance her skills, she no longer needs to wait for a workshop to be conducted in Accra. Instead, she can begin working on her learning immediately. As a result of these new distribution models, she has a variety of choices from which to choose and can decide what best fits her professional needs, her personal constraints and/or her learning preferences.

Social Learning
While much attention has been placed on the use of new technologies, some of the most important recent innovations have been in the area of social learning. The Project Management Capacity Building Initiative, for example, invites all its learners (regardless of the distribution platform they use) to join open community of project management practitioners. In less than one year, over 750 project managers have joined an on-line community where practitioners from the development sector are available to discuss new approaches and provide guidance for any learner seeking assistance from the community. Similarly, the learning collaboration between World Vision International and Eastern University enhances its instruction through the use of a cohort model where groups of students move through the program together, employing peer support groups intended to support the application of the learning to their job situations.

Conclusion
For international NGOs, the introduction of these innovations couldn’t be more timely. Today, the need to build the capacity of local partners and national staff is more urgent than ever. With these new tools, there are now practical and proven approaches that can help ensure that appropriate, accessible and affordable training is available to a global audience.

*The case study of the project management capacity building work was presented at a LINGOs webinar in September 2010. To access the recording, click here