Competence Training for Project Management: Holistic Analysis Framework

Competence Training for Project Management: Holistic Analysis Framework

Sara Marcelino-Sádaba, Amaya Perez-Ezcurdia
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1934-9.ch008
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Organizations currently need project managers that are capable of performing in environments where change has gained great relevance. To accomplish this, these professionals must possess very diverse skills. On the other hand, project management is a young discipline that requires research to help us understand how to develop these skills. This chapter provides a holistic research framework proposal that is based on four elements: competences, approaches, scenarios, and levels of analysis. We affirm the importance of the meta-cognition competency, which is not commonly mentioned in previous studies but has proven to be very useful for a professional development that is self-regulated, reflective, and experience-based, with emphasis on the opportunities offered by new technologies. Two fundamental challenges are introduced: achieving a list of unified competences and transferring individual competences to the project teams and the organizations where these competences are displayed.
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The Project Management activity has drastically changed in recent years, primarily because the markets are more competitive than before and they evolve at great speed. Clients are increasingly demanding more for less and public opinion has a relevant role nowadays, which was not present in previous generations. Project deadlines tend to be shortened, requiring they be completed as soon as possible since the start of their operations has a very significant economic impact. Likewise, budgets are very tight and both factors may negatively affect the quality, which is something that the market does not allow under any circumstance. Often times the requirements to be met are not clear at the beginning or change throughout the project as a result of constant changes as well as increased uncertainty in the project environment.

On the other hand, digitization has provided new opportunities but has also introduced additional complications. The products to be supplied are technologically more complex since new requirements have been introduced as required by the market. Also, new technologies have emerged such at the Internet of things (IOT), BigData, additive manufacturing, Cloud Manufacturing or the Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR&VR), among others, which are affecting the requirements of products as well as the manner in which the projects are managed to achieve them. One of the main characteristics of the industry 4.0 is the high degree of automation of the processes. Applying this way of working will undoubtedly affect the managing of projects, especially the control processes where most of the information must be digitized, replacing paper with digital resources managed through specific applications or control software.

Communication within a project currently has nothing to do with how we communicated just ten years ago. The project team has multiple tools and devices available and also has a large amount of data, from which they must select the most relevant for making their decisions. Somehow, the size of the projects has increased and not only due to the existence of increasingly more ambitious mega-projects. In general, all projects have more variables, more interconnected elements, more legal provisions to comply with, etc. A characteristic that increases the complexity of managing the communications is the internationalization of the projects and the fact that part of the team is located offshore.

Therefore, project managers must adopt new roles, which must be defined each day. The same holds true for their training, which is often based on unconscious assumptions based on old ideas (Lonie & Desai, 2015). We must also not forget that students have also changed and have their own expectations and motivations, which must be taken into account.

The challenge entailed by training our current professionals is shared by most of the disciplines. Encouraging progress has been made in many related professional fields that are worth noting. The objective of this chapter is to identify a working framework that arranges the studies on competences training of project managers as well as propose lines of work in terms of the current challenges and trends.

The methodology that is followed is a combination of bibliographic review and discussion. Initially, on the one hand, we search for research published in terms of training by competences in the project management discipline. Additionally, we will also consult the models on the competencies of project management, which have been drafted by the two most important project management associations: PMI (Project Management Institute) and IPMA (International Project Management Association). On the other hand, we have searched for recent review type publications on training adults for pursuing a profession. A wide perspective was sought, not only in the adopted approach but also in the disciplines that were being reported. In particular, we collected publications on the education of adults, on management and health sciences. In a subsequent phase, the sources consulted were extended following the snowball tactic.

Key Terms in this Chapter

E-Learning: Virtual learning space aimed at facilitating the experience of distance training for companies as well as for educational institutions.

Self-Regulated Learning: Learning that occurs independently and throughout one's lifetime. For this, students must activate and maintain their thoughts, conducts and emotions in order to reach their own training goals.

Experiential Learning: Learning based on professional experience. It must be planned and subsequently evaluated.

Cooperative Learning: Situations where several trainees work together to achieve shared learning goals. Creating, interpreting, explaining and discussing are a comprehensive part of the group activity.

Competence: Know how in specific situations that require applying knowledge, abilities and attitudes in a creative, flexible and responsible way.

Community Of Practice: Network of professionals that share experiences and knowledge, normally through specific Internet platforms for the purpose of generating professional knowledge.

Meta-Cognition: Knowledge about our own though processes.

Reflective Learning: Thoughtful and inventive learning. Personnel involved reflect prior, during and after learning situations, analyzing what has happened and the reasons why to improve in the future.

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