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APM Accredited PMO Practitioner Frequently Asked Questions - Wellingtone PPM

APM Accredited Assurance Practitioner Course FAQ

Interested in booking on to the course, but what to find out if it’s right for you? Your most frequently asked questions are answered below.

Why do we need an Assurance Course? Despite best efforts, unfortunately there is no lack of evidence that projects are often challenged or unsuccessful in the achievement of their objectives and benefits. To counteract this scenario, most organisations are nowadays investing in the dedicated role of Assurance to provide an independent and objective oversight of the likely future performance of projects and enable the implementation of timely actions in projects. Yet, while the demand for this specialist function in project management departments and PMOs grows, knowledge and guidance available are often limited and linked to governmental initiatives, leaving most of these professionals to learn their role on the job, solely. Moreover, given that Assurance professionals are involved in an advice function, there is the expectation that someone with appropriate competencies and knowledge is ensuring that the advice project stakeholders are given is sound and well-founded. It was, therefore, to address the strong demand in this sector for guidance, training and knowledge that the Wellingtone Assurance Practitioner course was developed.

A certification will not prove that I can run an Assurance function will it?Just like having a driver license doesn’t necessarily make you a ‘good’ driver, this course ensures that those in an Assurance role are speaking the same language, working towards the same outcomes, and living the same principles. Those attending, will gain not just from the knowledge base of the course, but also from their peers.

All projects and their context are different so how does this course deal with that? This course acknowledges that there is no one way for conducting project assurance. It consolidates the interpretations that are out there and brings them together in a logical way to give delegates the broadest range of knowledge to be successful in their reality. It gives a wide perspective of the art of the possible regarding Assurance and its integration in an organisation and/or project without forgetting that project management is contextual and so is Assurance and the culture in which it is performed. The course encourages tailoring, critical thinking, and actionable ideas.

Why Wellingtone? Wellingtone is all about project management, which includes the assurance of projects too. We are a recognised and accredited training provider with a track-record in enabling organisations step change in their PPM maturity, either through assisting in their strategy for the management of and for projects, providing project delivery methods and tools, or developing their project management capability.

Wellingtone is therefore competent and experienced in project assurance and used those competencies for the development of an Integrated Assurance course. The Assurance Practitioner course has been designed by a Wellingtone’s Senior PPM practitioner with a background in Assurance functions and co-developed with a group of experienced practitioners who are subject matter experts and perceived as knowledge authorities in the field of project assurance. These individuals work in close collaboration with the APM Assurance SIG and with the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), and are often invited to speak and write on this topic. They are also currently in charge of the Assurance function for the portfolio of projects in private and public organisations, as managers and advisors for that area.

Who has this been validated by? As a quality measure and to validate the content and learning experience approach, a 2-day pilot took place with delegates from a variety of industries, backgrounds, and experience, including an Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) reviewer. The pilot was designed to leverage the views of delegates to ensure that the course is both appropriate and at the right level for Assurance practitioners. Additionally, the course was reviewed by and independent Assessor appointed by the APM.

How does this course support the APM’s Dimensions of Professionalism? The Assurance Practitioner course was designed to support the dimensions of professionalism:

  • By ensuring that Assurance practitioners have a sense of achievement with the support of the APM in what they have chosen as their career – this will help to professionalise this function within the industry.
  • By providing a greater depth of knowledge into the Assurance role for practitioners who currently have limited reference material in this subject area.
  • By providing a breadth of knowledge across all forms of project Assurance matters this course can be used by anyone in an Assurance role to increase the chances of success projects.
  • By ensuring that Assurance professionals are accountable for their development and their role – that those moving into Assurance understand the role and responsibilities that come with it as well as helping those that have been in the industry for a while take a step back and review how the operate and can benefit from best practice, aligned with the APM Body of Knowledge.
  • By demonstrating that companies are committed to best practice Assurance for the first time in a long time – both those delivering this critical course to bring a step change to the industry as well as those that invest in their people to enhance this part of their organisation.

How will I be assessed? We have developed a one-hour multiple choice assessment that is created from a randomly selected set of questions. These are scored by the training team, and a certificate is issued:

  • Pass rate: 60%
  • Distinction: over 80%

Is Assurance a Profession? This is a recurring question in the industry which also came up in our pilot course and generated plenty of discussion. The Oxford Dictionary definition of a profession is “a paid occupation that requires prolonged training, and a formal qualification”. Like auditors, which require a specialist skillset, we concluded that Assurance can be performed as a function (for instance, in a PMO), as a role, or as a profession, albeit an emerging one, which until now had little in terms of formal training offering.

What is the basis for the course given that there is no official standard to follow? The syllabus of the Assurance Practitioner course has been aligned to the APM Body of Knowledge version 6 as well as to the APM’s A Guide to Integrated Assurance. Each topic area and sub topic has been reviewed against the BoK to ensure as full an overview as possible of the material. It also presents the APM’s Measures for Assuring Projects toolkit and covers the competencies required to transition and support the growth of people who have made this industry their career.

Who is this course for? The Assurance Practitioner course is aimed at individuals who have exposure to a P3CM setting (Portfolio, Programme, Project, and Change Management), and want to gain additional knowledge and experience on the discipline of project assurance. It suits anyone exposed to low to moderate complex projects.

I’m new to Assurance, would this certification be good for me? Yes, in our pilot we had one person who had been in the role for just a couple of weeks and found the course very useful. The course has been designed to give those new to the industry both knowledge and confidence that they can go back to their workplace and apply right away.

I’ve been in the Assurance ‘game’ for a while, would this certification be good for me? Yes, the course includes new and emerging, exciting content that integrates different approaches and perspectives on how Assurance is perceived, operationalised and matured over time, enabling critical thinking in action. Often, seasoned Assurance professionals have been exposed to a single way of working or have not considered a wider view on Assurance as an Integrated function, an advantage that this course aims to bring.

Why bother to get it accredited and not just leave it as a Wellingtone course? We wanted it to be more than ‘just’ our opinion and the APM Professional Course process fits with that vision as it accredits courses that have a significant element of project management which can be mapped to the APM Body of Knowledge. The benefits of this includes:

  • Increased credibility for course/s by being accredited by APM
  • Recognition that APM accredited professional courses support the APM professional advocacy via the FIVE Dimensions of Professionalism
  • Recognition to end-users of the training providers’ support of APM professional advocacy model
  • Recognition and awareness of training to support improved project delivery capability
  • A reference point for corporate institutions to inform their choice of training courses

What does the accreditation process entail? The process for accreditation which the course went through included the following steps:

  • Create the syllabus and learning outcomes for submission to the APM for review
  • Once approved to proceed, creation of the course material
  • Alignment of material to the Body of Knowledge (6th Edition)
  • Wellingtone chose to add a step here and delivered the pilot course for practitioner validation
  • Appointment of independent Assessor
  • Review by independent Assessor
  • Interview with independent Assessor
  • Accreditation granted if course and material are found to be to the required standards

How practical is the course? How much of it is theory based? The independent assessment conducted by the APM on this course, assures delegates that the course is unbiased, inclusive, and current, in that it touches on industry trends as well as established ways of working. While it has a strong theoretical basis, it is also accounts for different learning styles and is highly practical, as any assurance exercise should be. It emphasises an approach of ‘learning by doing’, which sees delegates using a case study from end-to-end, enabling the doing of the right projects in the right way, and allowing opportunities to develop certain key soft skills relevant to Project Assurance Practitioners, such as giving and receiving feedback.

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