Wednesday, 12 April 2017 08:32

OUTSIDE THE BOX Forum: Certification is Based Only on Vetted Experiences

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There was a time that in order to become a member of the British Computer Society (BCS) an individual had to validate competency at what was defined as an entry level professional.

That level was reached after about 4 years of increasing practice and responsibility under the guidance, management, and vetting of a BCS member. It was they who approved an individual for BCS membership. Much like an apprenticeship would work. Once approved for membership the individual was now a card-carrying professional with all of the pomp, circumstance, and responsibilities attached.

I had the opportunity to be a consultant to the BCS during the formative years of their Professional Development Scheme (PDS) and can personally attest to its rigor. Those who held the vetting responsibility took their role seriously. The PDS was based on an Industry Structure Model (ISM) that defined 64 job functions defined at 9 levels of competency. 29 of the 64 roles are defined at the professional level only. A total of 245 roles populated the model. 168 of the 245 roles were professional level status. Project Management was defined at 5 professional levels beginning at Level 4, the beginning professional level and extending through level 8, the director level.

There were feeble attempts to bring a version of that program to the US under the sponsorship of the Data Processing Management Association (DPMA) but never was treated seriously. That was in the 1990s, but I never forgot the experiences and what I learned from the BCS regarding competency assessment and validation. I always thought that the BCS program could be adapted to project management.

Below is an adaptation of the BCS Industry Model for your consideration. It can easily be aligned with project management.

Level 0: Trainee

This is the base entry level in the profession for those with minimal qualifications. They are often direct entrants from the secondary education system and may not have previous work experience.

Essential Characteristics

  • Operating within a structured and closely supervised environment.
  • Participating in a planned program of training and experience acquisition.
  • Following initial training can function effectively across a limited set of routine tasks.
  • Possesses basic oral and written communications skills.
  • Is capable of learning new processes and applying newly acquired knowledge.
  • Demonstrates an organized approach to tasks and the ability to produce required results.

Level 1: Technician

This is the standard entry level to a role. It is often the appropriate level for adequately educated trainees.

Essential Characteristics

  • Operates within a structured and routinely supervised environment.
  • After initial training uses methods, procedures, and standards applicable to assigned tasks with less frequent need for direct supervision.
  • Demonstrates a rational and organized approach to tasks.
  • Has developed sufficient oral and written communication skills for effective dialogue with colleagues and superiors.
  • Is able to absorb and apply new technical information rapidly when it is systematically presented.
  • Within a short time horizon, is able to plan, schedule and monitor own work.

Level 2: Senior Technician

The lower of two levels for those who are familiar with the scope of their tasks but who do not carry supervisory or team leader responsibilities.

Essential Characteristics

  • Operates within a supervised environment with frequent review of tasks.
  • Is familiar with, and uses as directed, all applicable methods, procedures, and standards.
  • Is able to function effectively across tasks within scope using available tools, methodologies and/or equipment, with only infrequent reference to others.
  • Is able to demonstrate effective oral and written communication ability covering all routine activity and contacts.
  • Is able to rapidly absorb new technical information as required.
  • Demonstrates a systematic, disciplined and analytical approach to problem-solving.
  • Has acquired an appreciation of the wider field outside his/her own specialization and has developed a good broad understanding of the discipline.
  • Within a limited time horizon, is able to plan, schedule and monitor own work completely.

Level 3: Associate

The upper of two levels for those who are familiar with the scope of their tasks but do not carry supervisory but may have team leader but not project management responsibility. It is distinguished from Level 2 by the depth and complexity of the technical knowledge base covered and the extent to which supervision is required. Level 3 implies a high degree of accountability for self-controlled work. It may include a guidance role for the less experienced colleagues.

Essential Characteristics

  • Depending on the scope and complexity of the work operates within a largely unsupervised environment but within a clear accountability framework.
  • Is familiar with, uses effectively and can select appropriately from applicable methods, procedures and standards.
  • Is able to function effectively, productively and meet time and quality targets across tasks within scope using available tools, methodologies and/or equipment with reference to others only by exception.
  • Can assume team leader responsibilities for the work of less skilled professionals .
  • Demonstrates both formal and informal communications ability; orally and in writing, when dealing with all colleagues and clients.
  • Is able to rapidly absorb new technical information as required.
  • Demonstrates a systematic, disciplined and analytical approach to problem-solving.
  • Has a good appreciation of the wider field outside his/her own specialization and has developed a good broad understanding of computer systems and techniques.
  • Understands how the specific role relates to the relevant are of employment, to its clients and to the employing business as a whole.

Level 4: Senior Associate

Level 4 will normally be achieved after clear evidence is available of full competence in a specialized role. At this level, full technical accountability for work done and decisions made is expected. The ability to give technical or team leadership will have been demonstrated as well as a high degree of technical versatility and broad industry knowledge.

Essential Characteristics

  • Takes responsibility either for substantial technical decision-making or for teams of staff. If the latter demonstrates the basic qualities associated with team leadership and project management.
  • Is thoroughly familiar with the available tools, methods, procedures and/or equipment associated with specialization. Possesses adequate technical depth to make correct choices from alternatives in all these areas.
  • Is able to apply selected tools and techniques in such a way as to meet set targets of cost, time, quality and performance.
  • Is able to communicate effectively both formally and informally with all those with whom working interfaces arise whether they be colleagues, clients or customers.
  • Shows initiative and makes time available to ensure general competencies are up to date in line with the development of the individual.
  • Possesses a clear understanding of the relationship of any specialized role to the context in which the work is carried out. More generally, this understanding applies to the employer’s business and the needs of those who will use the end product.
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Robert Wysocki

outsidetheboxRobert K. Wysocki, Ph.D. President EII Publications, LLC, has over 50-years experience as a project management consultant and trainer, author of 25 books on PM and BA. His materials are used in over 450 colleges and universities worldwide. His interests include Hybrid Project Management, Digital Transformations and customized textbooks. His website is eiipubs.com and he can be reached at rkw@eiicorp.com.

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