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OUTSIDE THE BOX: Forum HPM Framework Project Manager Position Family

The Project Management Position Family (PMPF) is a lifetime career planning, development, and support tool for the on the move professional.

The professional first encounters the PMPF when they are about to enter the workforce. They may have just graduated from college or just completed a tour of duty in the military. Whichever is the case, they are looking for their first professional position or for guidance on how to prepare for their first real job.

Project Management Position Family Functions

The PMPF is a complete environment for career planning and professional development. It not only helps the professional define their current and target position but it will also identify the training and development needs as they progress along a defined pathway leading from their current to their targeted position. The PMPF provides the following functions:

  • Establish your current skills profile.
  • Define your target PMPF position.
  • Create a career path from current to target position
  • Establish a strategy to move to the next position in your development plan.
  • Complete on-the-job development activities
  • Complete off-the-job development activities.
  • Update your current skills profile.
  • Revisit your target position and career path.

The Architecture of the PMPF

The PMPF consists of a database and an expert system that uses the database to provide the functions listed above.

It is best to think of the PMPF data infrastructure in several layers. At the highest level, and the level that the individual interacts directly with, is a matrix with six columns (sectors) and five rows (position levels).


The PMPF is defined using the six sectors shown in the table below. For this application of the PMPF, T stands for project management. In other applications T will stand for Information Technology. The B stands for any business process. So, the architecture defined in Figure 1 is a robust architecture.


Sector Label

Characteristics of this Sector


These professionals understand technology and can discuss it in great detail. They are not particularly interested in the business applications of the technology but enjoy working with the technology as an end in itself.


These technology professionals understand the language of business but they are not able to take a proactive position in solving business problems. They are able to react to requests from the business side for technology solutions.


These technology professionals are equally comfortable discussing technology and business. They can be expected to proactively suggest technology solutions to business problems. They know how to exploit technology for business value.


These business professionals are equally comfortable discussing business and technology. They can be expected to proactively suggest business solutions using technology. They know how to exploit technology for business value.


These business professionals understand the language of technology but they are not able to take a proactive position in using technology to solve business problems. They are able to react to suggestions from the technology side for solutions to their business problems.


These professionals understand the business and can discuss it in great detail. They are not particularly interested nor do they understand technology applications to their business.

Figure 1: PMPF Architecture

Position Levels

For project management applications the PMPF is defined using the five position levels shown in Figure 2 below.

Position Level

Characteristics of this Position Level

Individual contributor


Project manager








Figure 2: PMPF Position Labels

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Role Levels

Imbedded in the PMPF cells of the PMPF matrix are 11 role levels (0-10) shown in Figure 3 below.










Assistant Technician




Associate Technician








Senior Technician





Assistant Consultant




Associate Consultant

Assistant Manager




Associate Manager



Senior Consultant

Senior Manager









            Figure 3: PMPF Role Levels

Figure 4 is a generic description of this layer of the PMPF Landscape. 


Figure 4: Generic Role and Role Level Structure

From this figure you can see that the PMPF defines a dual ladder career path. At the project level the individual has two choices for moving forward. One is to continue as an individual contributor by following the consultant track. The other is as a manager by following the managerial track. But this is only a surface level characterization of the PMPF. The PMPF is much deeper and broader as the next section describes.

The PM Position Family Landscape

Figure 5 is the presentation layer. At this layer, the PMPF presents the individual with a graphic picture of the position landscape. The figure below is a depiction of that layer. 


Figure 5: The PM Position Family Landscape

Every position that exists or will ever exist can be mapped into a single cell in this landscape. This graphic will be used to map the individual’s current position, target position, and the pathway that will be followed to reach the target position.

Strategic Value of the PMPF

While the PMPF can be used for the planning of a single career development plan for a project manager it can also be used for an enterprise strategic plan. To do this we require two PMPF landscapes. One is the current inventory of PMPF positions. The other is the PMPF landscape of some future date where the demand for such positions is needed to staff the strategic plan. The differences between the cells will estimate the over supply or under supply of each cell in the landscape. These will be the guide for approving project resources requirements or suggest career development plans that will be needed to meet under supply situations. The supply/demand situation can be estimated for any future dates and career development programs put in place to achieve balance of supply and demand. No such system exists today to develop the staffing requirements to meet future needs.

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