Project Management Competency Model Explained

Editorial Team

Project Management Competency Model

The project management competency model outlines the needed skills and knowledge for effective project management. These skills are vital across various industries. Project managers are key to project success. Improving their skills brings about better outcomes.

There are many competency frameworks out there, like those from PMI, Prince2, and IPMA. It’s vital to recognize that project management is changing. New methods like Agile demand different competencies not covered in some models.

Overview of Project Management Competency Model

The Project Management Competency Model helps project managers evaluate their skills and grow professionally. It covers knowledge, how well one performs, and personal skills.

  1. Knowledge: This stresses the need for a wide understanding of project management. Project managers should know the basics well to lead projects successfully.
  2. Demonstrated Competence: This part is about using project management skills well in various project phases. It shows the importance of experience to manage projects effectively.
  3. Managing Oneself: This area focuses on being good at managing your time and being aware of oneself. Project managers need to be skilled personally to handle complex projects and meet goals.

The Project Management Competency Model helps project managers find their strong points and areas to improve. It guides them in making a plan to get better and be more effective.

NASA’s Project Management Competency Model

NASA leads in aeronautical and space science research. It values effective project management and systems engineering. To improve its technical workforce, NASA developed its own Project Management Competency Model. This model shows what is needed to do well in project management at NASA.

The model covers many skills, like leading projects and putting plans into action. By outlining these skills, NASA makes sure its project managers know how to handle its big variety of projects.

NASA wants to make project management better and more consistent with this model. It sets up a system covering important skills. This way, NASA’s project managers can meet the unique challenges in the space industry.

NASA often checks the skills in the model to find any gaps. This leads to training that helps project managers grow and succeed in their jobs.

Common Competencies in Project Management

In addition to specific skills, there are common competencies critical to both project managers and systems engineers. These competencies ensure smooth collaboration and effective communication.

NASA’s Project Management Competency Model lists 14 shared competencies. They are grouped into five main areas:

1. NASA Internal and External Environments

  • Understanding NASA’s mission and goals
  • Knowledge of NASA’s organizational structure and processes
  • Awareness of external stakeholders and their influence

2. Human Capital Management

  • Identifying talent and recruiting the right team members
  • Developing and managing a diverse workforce
  • Providing mentorship and coaching to team members

3. Security, Safety, and Mission Assurance

  • Adhering to safety protocols and ensuring mission success
  • Managing risks and mitigating potential threats
  • Ensuring compliance with security guidelines and policies

4. Professional and Leadership Development

  • Continuous learning and staying updated with industry trends
  • Building effective leadership skills
  • Adapting to change and promoting innovation

5. Knowledge Management

  • Capturing and sharing lessons learned
  • Documenting best practices and knowledge repositories
  • Facilitating knowledge transfer within the organization

These competencies serve as a foundation. Project managers and systems engineers use them to work well together. This helps them align their efforts for the success of projects and missions.

Using Competency Models for Skill Development at NASA

NASA knows how important skill development is for its staff. It uses a Project Management Competency Model to help managers learn necessary skills. This model guides them through their career and helps in training.

The model was made with help from successful NASA managers and engineers. It shows what skills and experiences are needed at different career levels. This helps from team member roles up to large project managers.

The model’s accuracy was checked by internal and external groups. It has been updated over time. This keeps it fresh with new practices and requirements.

The model covers many needed skills for project management at NASA. Skills like starting a project, handling resources, and finishing a project are included. It also touches on knowing the NASA environment and managing people.

The model is always being improved to stay up-to-date. Over 30,000 words from past models were reviewed to make this happen. This helps keep the model strong and relevant.

NASA also has Systems Engineering Development frameworks. These share 14 skills with the Project Management Model. Skills like Risk Management and Product Integration are examples.

NASA offers training to keep learning and growing. The APPEL Knowledge Services (KS) courses help employees at every career stage. They focus on developing important skills outlined in the models.

The Program and Project Management Development Framework guides workers as they advance in their careers. It suggests activities like finding mentors and joining INCOSE and PMI. It also emphasizes saving important technical knowledge.

NASA encourages working with INCOSE, PMI, and the International Astronautical Federation. These partnerships offer more chances to learn and network.

Applying the Competency Model in Corporate Settings

Organizations like PMI, GAPPS, IPMA, and APM have created competency models that are useful for businesses. These models help companies find out what skills their project management teams lack. They can then create personal development plans to improve these skills. By using these models, companies make sure their project managers have the skills needed to handle complex jobs well.

In human resources, the competency model has shown great use. McLean & Company identified 19 key HR competencies, such as program planning and project management. Companies can see where their HR teams need more training by applying the competency model. This helps in targeting areas that need improvement.

The engineering industry benefits from a similar approach. The Department of Labor’s Engineering Competency Model outlines five key areas. These include personal skills and technical knowledge needed in the field. Engineering firms can pinpoint the expertise needed for various roles. This helps them create specific training programs to fill in any skill gaps.

Software engineering also has its own model for competency. This matrix breaks down competencies into seven levels, covering things like software design and team collaboration. Technology companies use it to ensure their engineers are well-prepared. This preparation allows software engineers to be successful in their positions.

It’s vital for businesses to employ competency models to identify and address skill shortages. These models boost employee performance and help achieve company objectives. They help align project management teams with the best industry practices, leading to successful projects.

Benefits and Limitations of Competency Models

In the project management field, competency models are very helpful. They give a clear framework for building skills and evaluating performance. These models help project managers know what they need to succeed and push projects to success.

One big plus of competency modeling is its help with job descriptions. It makes clear what skills are needed for a job. This helps hire the right people, improving project results.

Competency models also improve communication in an organization. They set a common language for project management skills. This helps teams work well together and reach their goals more smoothly.

These models are great for finding training needs too. They show where skills are lacking. This makes training more focused and effective.

They help match project efforts to business goals. By linking competencies to company objectives, projects are more likely to succeed. This helps the whole organization do well.

Competency models encourage team members to grow their skills. They offer a guide for career advancement. This creates a culture of learning and improvement.

Consistency in performance reviews is another advantage. Competency models provide clear standards for evaluations. This makes feedback accurate and helps with targeted development.

Also, these models support strong talent retention strategies. By knowing the key competencies, companies can keep their best people. This makes teams happier, reduces turnover, and keeps projects on track.

However, competency models do have limits. They might not cover everything in agile or adaptive project management. It’s important to add other knowledge and skills for specific projects. Staying flexible is crucial for success in managing projects.

Limitations of Competency Models:

  • May not fully encompass agile or adaptive project management practices
  • Should be supplemented with additional knowledge and skills relevant to specific project contexts


The project management competency model is key for project managers and organizational success. It helps people find their strong points and areas to grow. This lets them focus on improving the right skills.

Organizations use competency models to boost their project management team’s abilities. This ensures projects are handled more effectively.

For project managers, staying current with new methods is crucial. The industry changes fast. Keeping up with these changes helps managers handle complex projects well.

The competency model helps organizations figure out their project management level. It shows where knowledge or skills are missing. Then, targeted training can fill these gaps.

In the end, the project management competency model is very important. It helps project managers get better at their jobs. It also helps them stay important in a changing industry.

By focusing on skill development and using competency models, project managers and organizations can excel. This leads to more successful projects.