Training project of BASF IT Services GmbH with Integrata as partner
With PMP® certifications to a global common understanding
Globally operating companies have to assert themselves in various markets in order to be successful. Internationalisation with all its linguistic and cultural aspects places special demands on all lines of businesses to achieve globally valid standards for all participants. As a worldwide leading chemical company with about 109,000 employees, six Verbund sites and 385 manufacturing sites, BASF is present in almost all countries of the world and achieved sales of EUR 63.9 billion in 2010.
In the course of increasing globalisation, BASF rose to the challenge to develop an international common understanding concerning project management methods, tools and standards for all employees working in the field of information services. Altogether 3,000 employees attend to all IT functions worldwide. Hence, for the professionalisation of the IT project management only an internationally accepted project management certification came into consideration. In addition, this should also enable proof of the project management competence towards external customers and at the same time further increase the attractiveness as an employer.
The decision was made in favour of the Project Management Professional PMP® certificate, which is based on the PM standard, developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI®). The PM standard defines the essential processes and fields of knowledge in project management. It is the basis for the internationally recognised certification to PMP® which has been successfully completed by over 320,000 project leaders since 1984. The PMP® certificate represents the worldwide standard for project managers.
A competent external training partner was looked for to optimally plan the ambitious project from scratch. Christian Lipponer, training specialist at BASF IT Services GmbH, explains why Integrata AG was chosen: “The coach Jean-Pierre Lhomme already convinced us in preliminary talks not only with his broad experience in the field of project management, in particular PMP® certifications, but also with his didactic competence to convey course content by actively including the participants.”
An important feature of the training philosophy of BASF IT Services GmbH is the concept of active cooperation, personal responsibility and individual initiative of the training participants. The coaches of Integrata work with established holistic learning methods (suggestopedia) to prepare the demanding topic in a didactically valuable way. With suggestopedia methods, all senses are activated to make the learning process easier. So all learning types are addressed and each participant finds the optimal learning strategy for himself. The coach, who can draw upon his longstanding project experience, was able to make the course content come alive with numerous practical examples.
Modular structure of the PMP® Training
The training in preparation for the PMP® certification itself was carried out in a multi-module structure. The eight-day seminar series was divided into three modules. Ronald Dörr, who supported the project for Integrata as PMP® and coach together with Jean-Pierre Lhomme, explains the advantage of the modular concept in comparison to a block seminar: “The participants are given time to go through the learning content again and prepare themselves for the next module. In addition, the knowledge acquired in the seminar can be applied to everyday work and experiences can be exchanged and reflected upon in the next seminar session. The project PMP® certification can be managed better by all participants due to the breaking down into milestones, and the length of time is, nevertheless, reduced because the participants are able to take the exam soon after the last module.”
The fields of knowledge of the project management, according to PMI®, were divided into the three modules as follows:
In the two-day first module, methodical and technical principles from project initiation and planning to budgeting, earned value management and quality planning, assurance and control were imparted to the participants.
In the three-day second module, the participants dealt with the topics of time, cost, quality and risk management.
The three-day third module contained the fields of knowledge of HR aspects of project management, leading role of the project leader, conflict management as well as professional and social responsibility in projects.
In all modules, the coach partly explained the knowledge on the flip chart – partly the participants worked out the knowledge by themselves in small groups and subsequently presented it to their seminar colleagues. The participants had the opportunity to process the knowledge in greater detail through this activating methodology.
Special success factors of the project
“As experienced coaches and project managers we know that the PMP® certification provides a common basis and language for project management,” Roland Dörr explains the success of the cooperation
between BASF IT Services GmbH and Integrata. Emphasis was placed on special success factors to lead the project to an optimal result for all participants.
At the end of the last module a realistic test exam was carried out in which – as in the PMP® exam – 200 difficult multiple-choice questions had to be answered within four hours. On the one hand this enabled the participants
to practise the exam situation and on the other hand to estimate the
current status of their exam preparation. Most participants had taken their last exam, lasting several hours, years or decades ago. That is why the mock exam was particularly helpful to reduce any fears of the four-hour certification.
Another advantage of the concept was the limitation of ten participants per training group. The participants were able to work quicker, more effective and more intensive in small groups. The mixing and intercommunication of participants throughout all units was an additional significant success factor.
The participants were connected globally in a project management community and exchanged information on preparation courses, exam and on questions all about IT project management in the BASF group via connect.BASF (a BASF internal online business platform for networking and the exchange of knowledge).
The participants were consciously supported through further arrangements of networking. In between modules, they were encouraged to team up to transfer groups and learning partnerships to polish up the learned. This proved to be significant for the sustainability of the learning process.
At an after work drink, the already certified persons were brought together with colleagues who had not yet taken the exam in order to exchange experiences. In addition, a new training format called Focus Sessions was introduced, which served to strengthen the exchange of knowledge and know-how transfer within the PM community. In the course of the two to three hour Focus Sessions experienced IT project managers give other colleagues an understanding of special fields of knowledge of project management. This is how already certified persons could collect for themselves the relevant personal development units (PDUs). To attain the PMP status, 60 PDUs have to be accredited by the PMI® within three years after the exam. One PDU corresponds to one hour of planned and structured project management activity or advanced training.
Thanks to the thought-out concept, it has been successful to create a common international understanding for project management methods, tools and standards. Ralf Sonnberger, managing director of BASF IT Services GmbH, sums up positively: “The PMP® certification is an additional component for strengthening our project management competence. The cooperation with an experienced training partner helped us to manage all challenges of this ambitious project.”