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APM PQ Assessment Centre A Bluffer’s Guide Nick Rickard V1.0.

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Presentation on theme: "APM PQ Assessment Centre A Bluffer’s Guide Nick Rickard V1.0."— Presentation transcript:

1 APM PQ Assessment Centre A Bluffer’s Guide Nick Rickard V1.0

2 Topics Introduction Assessment Centre structure Preparation Assessment Criteria Feedback Summary

3 Topics Introduction Assessment Centre structure Preparation Assessment Criteria Feedback Summary

4 Introduction - Facts You will be there because you will be seen to be ready –Your CV assessment rates your performance to date as worth of PM Licence Level 2 (ie APM PQ)‏ Stress goes when you are prepared Preparation is quality not quantity You need to give a compelling performance –Need to have good evidence across the assessment criteria and demonstrate the behaviours of an APM Practitioner

5 Introduction - Disclaimer The knowledge refresher against the assessment criteria and suggestions listed here got me through… this time –The scenario changes from centre to centre –It is a subjective assessment and not consistent (despite APM claims)‏

6 Topics Introduction Assessment Centre structure Preparation Assessment Criteria Feedback Summary

7 Structure - Application Completion of APMP (APM Professional) training and exam (PM Level 1)‏ Complete DE&S (Provek) CV through the PTG team Results will indication whether performing at PM Licence Level 2 (APM PQ) standard and therefore ready to apply Apply through DE&S PTG team

8 Structure - Centre Assessment Centre considered the best method for selection APMP Exam tests knowledge APM PQ tests ability to apply the knowledge –This is essential, do not just quote theory

9 Structure - Centre 3 days (not all full)‏ –Total of 2 days assessment –Written, group and role play exercises –(Comparable to B2 Assessment Centre)‏ Assessment based on performance over 3 days against 30 assessment criteria Passmark 85/120

10 Structure - Criteria 30 Assessment Criteria –7 key ('bold') criteria which must score at least a 2 (next slide)‏ 21 criteria based on work produced –Eg 'identify project issues', ' apply a risk management process...' 9 criteria on approach to work –Eg 'Communicate succinctly...', 'lead and influence a small team' –Criteria 16-18, 25-30

11 Structure - Scoring System 4 – Extensive evidence provided 3 – Good evidence provided –Average required for pass 2 – Partial evidence provided –Minimum for 'bold' criteria 1 – Little or No evidence provided

12 Structure - Scenario PM role –The exercises are based on a scenario –Small / medium sized organisation looking to expand / diversify therefore new project –You will mostly be in role as the Project Manager ie write “I will do...” – Scenario develops through centre and through assessment criteria ie business case first, project eval last

13 Topics Introduction Assessment Centre structure Preparation Assessment Criteria Feedback Summary

14 Preparation - Criteria Get to know the assessment criteria, ways to demonstrate, and evidence required Revise APMP learning – Terminology: risk, issue, dependency – Processes: risk, quality, config control – Commercial company: profit-driven

15 Preparation - Examples Produce own stock answers –ie generic risks that apply to most projects –Application of processes Past papers –DE&S PTG Project Scenario Exercises (question not scenario) are very close to those at the centre

16 Preparation - Presentation Centre includes a 5-10 min presentation – Suggested topic is career to date / recent career and learning points – Relate to project management and APM PQ criteria – Review (Provek) project based CV

17 Preparation - Courses No specific courses – Revision of any weak APMP topics

18 Preparation - Tactics Realism –The centre is a staged scenario –Accept ‘unrealistic’ scenarios –Get on with it, play the game Concentrate on assessment criteria – Process is more important than the 'right' answer –Time management, all deliverables

19 Preparation - Suggested Answer Format Bullet points, not verbose text Sub headings to make easy to read – And help author to plan

20 Preparation - Tactics Can only get marked on clear evidence of application of knowledge –Explain everything - “relevant stakeholders” –Apply the theory to the scenario and give specific risks/actions/issues –Go further – “teambuilding”, what is it, Spell out processes –don’t take steps for granted

21 Preparation - Tactics Will be told which assessment criteria are being covered for each exercise – So cover them explicitly

22 Preparation – Group Work Accept the false scenario and work for common benefit Be prepared to concede in the interest of moving the group forward Allow opportunity for all to lead, contribute, scribe, etc – More on this under relevant Assessment Criteria – Group membership changes for each exercise

23 Preparation - Role Play Use preparation time fully, plan for the interruption in another exercise Take control – time and situation Role(s) are played by assessors, they are not actors but try to take it seriously Don't rise to provocation Try to turn tables, what would that person suggest You can only be assessed while you're talking so don't let them gush their life story

24 Topics Introduction Assessment Centre structure Preparation Assessment Criteria Feedback Summary

25 Assessment Criteria Session 1 Written - 2h15 - Business Case 30min to read, break, 1h30 written response Business Case (headings will be given in exercise) background reasons for undertaking (business goals and objectives)‏ define scope options evaluation (inc do nothing)‏ benefits benefits realisation, success criteria cost and timescale, key milestones Investment appraisal – DCF, NPV, IRR, payback period, RoI allows financial viability to be compared with other projects confirms why the investment is worth it assumptions, constraints, dependencies risks and issues approvals

26 Assessment Criteria 1. Determine stakeholders and their influence and interests Identify stakeholders and include external stakeholders not included in the Case Study Look for additional analysis outside Business Case – base on external Stakeholder management – Power(Influence) v Interest(Support)‏

27 Assessment Criteria 2. Design the optimal project organisation Project Sponsor (responsible for benefits) Project Board / Steering Group (chair: sponsor, user, supplier, assurance) Project Manager (responsible for delivery of P(Q),C,T) Project Team, functional lead and project support, Finance and Commercial, workstream leads User (requirements and acceptance), stakeholder, assurance (independent) programme office, project support office, quality manager, resource manager, admin 3. Analyse and understand Project Success Criteria and Business Benefits Project Success Criteria – satisfaction of user needs P(Q),C,T Business Benefits – organisational reasons for doing the project But make SMART – Key Performance Indicators V-curve: User ReqsVerificationAcceptance into Service Detail ReqtValidationSystem Acceptance System Design

28 Assessment Criteria 4. Analyse and understand project constraints and dependences Constraint - process that must adhere to – legal, OJEC Dependences – something that must be done or supplied by a third party 5. Identify project risks and assumptions Cause, uncertainty, effect There is a risk that X may occur because of Y resulting in Z There is an opportunity that X may be realised because of Y resulting in Z Ensure you do RISKS and OPPORTUNITIES Assumptions – aspects to be treated as facts for delivery of project Do not mix up risks and issues risk – could happen – probability x impact issue – when a risk occurs combinations of risks (small risks summing to give large risk) risk – treat, terminate, transfer, tolerate, fallback assumptions, contingency (fallback) plan enacted if a risk occurs

29 Assessment Criteria 6. Identify project issues Certainty – Will impact and cannot be resolved by PM Also capture action required by Project Sponsor Do not mix up risks and issues risk – could happen – probability v impact issue – when a risk occurs 7. Demonstrate an understanding of project context and the overall business case State the objective of the project clearly Do Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) Think payback Make recommendation project context – internal (policies, structure, manpower) and external (customers, legislation, demand) PESTLE - Political, Economic, Social, Technical, Legal, Environmental

30 Assessment Criteria Session 2 Group - 3h00 - Project Management Plan 30min to read, break, 2h30 written response Project Management Plan project overview execution strategy scope of work, WBS, PBS schedule milestones organisation and RAM roles and responsibilities monitoring and control methods risk management plan and register budget change management quality communications procurement plan H&S information management spend time analysing the schedule and information given, don't dive into producing the PMP – is there adequate cost / resource planning? why: change to be delivered what: objectives, scope, acceptance criteria how: strategy for managing and monitoring how much: budget who: roles and responsibilities when: timescales, milestones where: location (costs)

31 Assessment Criteria 8. Define the scope of the project Draw PBS and break down to WBS Define in scope and out of scope Consider requirements not directly in the Business Case Analyse the data given – do not accept at face value 9. Demonstrate a comprehensive application of project management planning Produce/Analyse OBS Produce/Analyse schedule Produce/analyse RAM/RACI Look for adequate planning in terms of cost and resources List all other plans that should be included in a PMP Look for things not in the Business Case

32 Assessment Criteria 9. Demonstrate a comprehensive application of project management planning (cont) Product Breakdown Structure (PBS) – project deliverables Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) – understand time, cost, duration, effort and risks Organisation Breakdown Structure (OBS) RACI – Responsible, Accountable, Consult (Communicate), Inform Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) – cross relates WBS to OBS (using RACI) scheduling determines project duration, id all tasks, scheduling logic, sequencing, refine resource scheduling – not 100% efficient, changeover time if working on multiple projects, reiterate optimism, underestimate task duration and/or cost

33 Assessment Criteria 10. Apply a risk management process competently to the project risk management process – initiate, identify, assess, plan response, implement response risk management plan methodology roles and responsibilities budget for risk timing, when do assessment analysis, scoring risk thresholds, escalation routes reporting format and timing tracking and review

34 Assessment Criteria 10. Apply a risk management process competently to the project (cont) combinations of risks (small risks summing to give large risk) risk – treat, terminate, transfer, tolerate, fallback assumptions, contingency (fallback) plan enacted if a risk occurs Look for risks not in the business case Do not get confused with issues 11. Apply a quality management process competently to the project Quality assurance: validates, provides confidence control: inspection and testing planning: management system continuous improvement: LfE, feedback

35 Assessment Criteria 11. Apply a quality management process competently to the project (cont) Quality Plan customer requirements organisation, roles and responsibilities quality systems quality standards deliverables – acceptance criteria QA and QC processes and procedures change and configuration management Confirm Assurance Manager responsible for Quality State QA policy – refer to ISO 9001 and or Company’s QA Policy Develop Acceptance criteria from Project Success Factors / KPIs Define QC checks throughout the process leading to overall acceptance – quality assurance Quality review by Project Manager around testing events – pass, provisional with minor defects and forward action plan Failed: Project stops until problem rectified Include User LFE – cause and effect Think Product quality and Process quality

36 Assessment Criteria Session 2 Written - 1h20 - Selection Criteria for an ITT read quickly and written response 12. Demonstrate an ability to incorporate best value approaches Describe best value = appropriate quality output/resource input i.e. appropriate quality return to satisfy need for lowest reasonable output (cost) then weight matrix scoring regime but explain rationale not just technical, also soft issues, eg capability, subcontractors, previous performance 13. Demonstrate an awareness of generic legal and contractual issues Contractual – IPR, Liquidated damages, payment milestones, change process Legal – H&S, EU law, Environmental Statute, competition statute apply to the scenario

37 Assessment Criteria Session 3 Group - 2h15 - Preparing/planning for a Negotiation Meeting 1h30min to read and prepare, break, 45min of role plays and evaluation 14. Prepare for a negotiation with a supplier of critical services to the project Identify negotiating objectives and priorities for ranking them Identify negotiating factors – where, when Roles – good cop, bad cop, commercial lead, supported by PM etc Suggest strategy, must have, can trade, bottom line and role - must / should / could Consider alternative perspectives – theirs and ours – predict opponent's preferred position Suggest fallback if no agreement – elevate to sponsor if outside limit, walk away etc Do not just negotiate on cost, think about trading other factors as well negotiation – agreement, consensus – prepare, discuss, propose, trade/bargain, agree

38 Assessment Criteria 15. Analyse conflict situations and apply an appropriate style to resolve the issue Consider core issue – why has this arisen? Consider different approaches to resolve conflict Propose approach to resolve that supports plan Maintain good comms and body language – empathise Consider alternative strategies if not going to plan 16. Objectively reflect on the performance of self and others Identify strengths and weaknesses – confused, aggressive etc Analyse and present evidence to back up findings and recommended improvements At the end reflect on overall learning points – did we resolve the conflict

39 Assessment Criteria Session 4 Group - 2h45 - Manage Change to Case Study 15min to read, break, 2h00 plan and written response, break, 30min questions from assessor 19. Optimise Project Plans to respond to a major change Propose options for dealing with change Identify all impacts on Business Case, scope and Project Plan Consider how change would be implemented. Analyse options Recommend an option with justification in the context of project plans 20. Apply effective change control and configuration management Configuration Control – documentation and change management (baseline, change log)

40 Assessment Criteria 20. Apply effective change control and configuration management (cont) Discuss change control process Relate process to project Identify configurable items Use change log Consider impact of change on configured items 21. Balance conflicting stakeholder expectations Identify stakeholders affected by change Discuss the impact on them Consider options for managing to protect project deliverables Anticipate their reactions

41 Assessment Criteria Session 4 Written - 1h05 - Plan to Monitor and Control the Case Study Read quickly and written response 22. Demonstrate an ability to monitor project progress and take suitable controlling actions Describe a range of monitoring and controlling actions Apply them to the scenario Approach - Discard full EVM as too expensive and time consuming, delegation of work stream and short interval monitoring and control Delegation - Develop Work Streams based on previous PBS, WBS and RA/RACI work. Agree timescales and budgets to deliver with work stream owners ensuring requirements are clearly articulated through KPIs and Success criteria Monitoring / Reporting: Hierarchy of monitoring and reporting from WS owner through PM to Board Parameters to be monitored P through acceptance, C, T, Risks, issues and change requests highlight report – period covered, work completed, budget update, schedule update, work planned, risk status, (effect of mitigation), issue status (resolution), general observations, escalation conditions, quality checkpoints – informal meeting / , as per report

42 Assessment Criteria 22. Demonstrate an ability to monitor project progress and take suitable controlling actions (cont) For an actual workstream: Daily engagement – informal briefs from all WS owners – on track or any issues. Weekly review with all WS owners. Review P(Q),C,T progress against baseline – captured by PSO. Analyse and understand variance. Show graphs to identify principle of variance id. Forecast of achievements for following week. Fortnighty – as above but formal PSO update to schedule with progress used to generate “traffic light” report to sponsor. All significant variance (trigger at +/- 10% or Critical Path) explained, corrective actions identified and any Issues elevated. Monthly Meeting with sponsor around traffic light and “by exception” Control: understand reason then apply appropriate action – overtime, resource re-allocation, non critical path timescale extensions. Use of management reserve contingency Look for blip or trend Issues elevated communications plan – stakeholders, information required, frequency, method

43 Assessment Criteria Session 5 Group - 2h05 - Review and present to Sponsor on whether Project has been a success 10min to read, 1h00 to plan and prepare, break, 45min questions from assessor and evaluation 23. Plan and conduct a suitable post project evaluation review PPE considers: KPIs / Success Criteria Processes People LFE – cause and effect Recommend success or failure Plus learning points for QMS / continuous improvement Consider information that needs to be reviewed and criteria Project success and benefits realisation Identify pros and cons of deliverables and processes Decide whether success or failure and support with facts Consider how stakeholders will be engaged and involved in review process Consider all information from project

44 Assessment Criteria 23. Plan and conduct a suitable post project evaluation review (cont) post project evaluation – review benefits (business case), objectives (PMP), quality (quality plan), change (change log), risk (risk management plan) – between project handover and close, understand cause and effect V-curve: User ReqtsVerificationAcceptance into Service Detail ReqtValidationSystem Acceptance System Design 24. Objectively identify lessons learned separating causes from effects Contribute to the review in the spirit of improvement Identify successes and failures considering Critical Success Factors and downstream benefits Determine causes and outcomes Consider how to embed learning in workplace

45 Assessment Criteria Session 5 Written - 1h00 - Essay Question Prep beforehand, read quickly and written response Question selected from list in APM booklet Demonstrate experience and capabilities in project management, real examples and application Weight all parts of question equally

46 Assessment Criteria Presentation - 0h30 Prep beforehand, 10-15min presentation, 10min questions from assessor (questions may relate to dips from other exercises to help build evidence) 17. Present information clearly and factually Structure presentation to make key points in allotted time Speak clearly and do not read from notes Use appropriate body language Illustrate and make learning points Do not overrun 18. Answer questions relevantly and succinctly Clarify/demonstrate understanding of question Answer questions coherently and succinctly Maintain good working relationship when answering Pause for thought when necessary

47 Assessment Criteria Throughout 25. Communicate succinctly in writing Answer the question Avoid unclear notation Do not bother with intro or summary Plan Bullets Order headings Make it easy 26. Lead and influence a small team Active interest Suggest ways forward Take turn at flipchart Intervene to keep team focused Listen to others and involve them Be sensitive and use appropriate style and timing when intervening as a leader Lead or follow as situations dictate

48 Assessment Criteria 27. Work effectively as a team member Support the team in carrying out the work Be actively involved throughout Contribute to a plan to the work and stick to it Show consideration and build on their input Remain consistently cordial 28. Communicate verbally in an appropriate way (including listening) Use appropriate language and tone of voice Explain others and own position clearly Maintain body language and eye contact Ask questions to encourage team to get involved Do not appear to be stopping appear to be listening

49 Assessment Criteria 29. Obtain information through the use of appropriate questions Adopt appropriate style for questioning Maintain good relations Ask succinctly and coherently Clarify and check understanding with questions Be consistent 30. Present compelling recommendations to the project sponsor Present evidence with logical and convincing arguments Have enthusiasm and belief Make appropriate response to questions Show empathy with sponsor Eye contact

50 Topics Introduction Assessment Centre structure Preparation Assessment Criteria Feedback Summary

51 Feedback Post assessment centre report –c2 weeks later, no feedback at the time Report –Scores and rationale for each criteria –Use to focus on improvements –Can be subjective –1-4 is a limited range and assessor can easily present the evidence to push up or down

52 Feedback If successful submit certificate to PTG – Collect level 2 Licence – Special bonus award

53 Topics Introduction Assessment Centre structure Preparation Assessment Criteria Feedback Summary

54 Know the assessment criteria – and which are being assessed Apply (not quote) the theory – give specific worked examples Support the group work GOOD LUCK!!!

55 APM PQ Assessment Centre A Bluffer’s Guide Nick Rickard


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