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How ICB ® and OCB ® interrelate

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Recently I received an interesting question, which I want to answer via the IPMA Blog, because it touches a very crucial topic. The question: “What is the interrelation between IPMA´s Individual Competence Baseline (ICB) and Organisational Competence Baseline (OCB)?” The ICB  defines the competences an individual should possess in order to take part or be responsible for the management of projects. It is broken down into 46 competence elements, covering the technical competence for project management (20 elements), the professional behaviour of project management personnel (15 elements) and the relations with the context of projects, programmes and portfolios (11 elements). The OCB introduces the concept of organisational competence in managing projects and how this competence could be improved. It describes five groups of organisational competence: Project, Programme & Portfolio (PP&P) Governance, PP&P Management, PP&P Organisational Alignment, PP&P Resources and PP&P People´s Competences. These five groupings are broken down into 18 competence elements. A detailed description of the competence elements offer insights for all people interested in understanding how to improve the way projects, programmes and portfolios are managed in an organisation.

Both IPMA Standards address the same aspect – people – but from different perspectives! Let´s start with the OCB. The fifth group of competence elements is PP&P People’s Competences [Group P]. It relates to top management’s overall goals and expectations for people competences, including teamwork, communication, performance and recognition. It is undertaken by the PP&P management supported by Human Resource (HR) management together with other functional managers. There are competence elements for the people’s competences requirements, the current state of people’s competences, the acquisition of suitable competences and their sustainable development. All four competence elements require a baseline and the ICB is an ideal candidate for this. It could be used to define qualitative people´s competences requirements, to assess the current state of people´s competences, to perform the acquisition of suitable competences and the sustainable development of all competences. The ICB could also act as basis for an organisation-specific competence model. Larger organisations typically define their own competence model for all people employed. For the project personnel it could be based on, aligned with or complemented by the ICB.

The ICB is a benchmark for individuals regarding competences needed for performing certain tasks or roles in projects, programmes and portfolios. An individual could use the ICB standalone, but typically an individual is part of an organisation which supports competence development. These activities could be based on the ICB, e.g. education, training, certification or even a career path for project management personnel. How the organisation supports the development of individuals will have an impact on their motivation, attitude and performance. Thus, both perspectives should go hand-in-hand, they form a great combination for more success in projects, programmes and portfolios!

- Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defence, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is President of IPMA, past President and Honorary Fellow of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH, Germany´s No. 1 PM Full Service Provider.

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