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Do we need continuous professional development (CPD)?  In my view, the answer is simple – YES!

I often hear comments along the lines of ‘I don’t need to learn anymore’, ‘I cannot see benefit in attending another course, I did one 5 years ago’ or ‘the business cannot afford to invest in staff attending another course’.

Although I recognise that spending resource (money and/or time) on courses is often seen as a waste of time, I think there is a flawed logic if CPD is not maintained. The individual and the organisation have to keep adapting and learning new/better ways of operating, and by this process will save and benefit more in the longer term. This applies to all sectors and job roles, in this article I will focus on project management.

Project management is a professional endeavour that needs to be developed and maintained – one size does not fit all. Organisations cannot assume that once employees have undertaken a project management course that benefits will be reaped – there needs to be a framework to work within. The organisation needs to adopt structured project management to align with business strategies and objectives, thus making the most out of project management and realising the benefits the process brings. The organisation needs to learn, develop and enhance its capabilities to deliver projects; this process is ongoing, and needs to be able to adapt and change depending on the business environment and changes in project management as a profession.

Likewise, individual project managers need to be aware of how their projects align with the business, it is not just about delivering a single project or programme. We need to make sure that we are delivering against the business strategy and wider objectives – we need to be fully aware of the business and the reason why projects are being undertaken. To be able to maintain effective delivery project managers need to make sure they are informed of project management methodologies and adopting new techniques to support project delivery.

As a previous academic, and now a practising project manager, I am very interested in translating theory into best practice in operational environments. I am also a passionate advocate of continuous professional development (CPD) and that we need to be continually improving and adapting ourselves so as to best deliver projects – simply relying on a course we did 10 years ago is no longer good enough.

CPD takes a number of forms:

• Undergraduate and post-graduate degree courses
• Professional qualifications (e.g. APM, PRINCE2, PMP)
• Research projects
• Self-study courses
• Reading a book, academic journal or professional magazine
• Attending a seminar, event or conference
• Networking
• Taking part in webinars
• Reading blogs and websites
• Active engagement in discussion forums
• Mentoring and learning from others
• Utilise social media, e.g. YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter
• And many others…

In my view, I strongly recommend that we all continue to pursue our own, and our organisations, development via CPD. We may only be able to spare an hour a week to contribute to a discussion forum or watch a YouTube video on project management, or we may be lucky enough to be able to take time out to undertake a degree or a professional qualification – either way, it all helps ourselves, our organisation and the project management community.

So I set you a challenge – what will you learn this week and how will you implement this new knowledge?