Building High-Performance Project
Talent—A Transformational Initiative
Through a focus on talent, culture and process, the Canadian
Department of National Defence’s Project Manager Competency
Development Framework helps drive successful outcomes.
In an effort to develop strong, effective project managers, the Canadian Department of National Defence
(DND) has created and implemented a comprehensive and robust program that aims to effectively develop and
formally qualify all project managers to position the organization for ongoing project management success.
The DND’s Project Manager Competency Development (PMCD) framework was ...view middle of the document...
At the time, the DND offered project management training focused on PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management
Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), but had not yet established formal professional development requirements
for project managers. This resulted in the ad hoc selection of project managers—many of whom were
experienced DND engineers with little or no formal project management training.
©2015 Project Management Institute, Inc.
Building High-Performance Project Talent—A Transformational Initiative
“Prior to 2007, DND did not look at a project manager from the perspective of experience and competence, so
there was no rolling together of knowledge and experience in a formal program or process that properly qualified
an individual to be a project manager,” stated Eric Bramwell, Director of the Project Management Support
Organization (PMSO) in DND’s Materiel Group, who was deeply involved with the development of the PMCD.
“Combine that with reduced talent after significant attrition occurred in response to a program review, in the
1990s, plus a demographic causing significant retirement, and the experience base had become less than it
needed to be. We definitely knew we had to fix the talent gap,” said Mr. Bramwell.
Treasury Board Secretariat Introduces Project Complexity and Risk
Assessment (PCRA) Model
In 2007, as the DND was recognizing the need to professionalize its project managers, the Treasury Board
Secretariat (TBS) issued a new management policy with a comprehensive system for rating government projects.
This system, known as the Project Complexity and Risk Assessment (PCRA) model, was based on the degree of
project complexity and risk.
The idea of the PCRA was that projects would be evaluated throughout their life cycle and assigned a score
based on: the type of project; its complexity and cost; technology required; number of people involved;
procurement issues; and other criteria.
“DND’s PMCD dovetailed nicely with this new policy and the shift in how the government would assess and
approve projects,” said Mr. Bramwell. “Before PCRA was developed, the largest determining factor for approving
or assessing projects was almost solely the project’s budget.”
Other Jurisdictions Committed to Project Management Training
Another factor leading to the creation of the PMCD was that other countries, such as the United States, the
United Kingdom and Australia, had formalized their own project management training programs. Therefore,
models were available to use as a foundation for DND requirements. Also, public scrutiny of government
expenditures was increasing, along with media attention on the DND. Given the level of public funds being spent
on defence, it was considered both responsible and appropriate that adequate measures be taken to mitigate
Ian Mack, Director General, Major Project Delivery, Sea (Chief of Staff of the Materiel Group when the DND
PMCD framework was conceived),...