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Case study: promoting a successful project management culture

Raoul AdamProject Director | Expert project management at Cegos

The complex world of engineering requires project managers to be at the top of their game. Mistakes cost money. And, in some cases, lives.

With this in mind, EDF – the French state-owned electricity company – wanted to upskill their entire project management workforce, so they could meet the demands of the modern energy environment.

“One of the biggest challenges for our managers is to manage projects in the VUCA world,” says Jérôme Durand, Project Manager at EDF Corporate University, the company’s training arm. “Therefore, we wanted to develop a common project culture along with the necessary soft skills our project managers need.”

These soft skills include the ability to structure projects while focusing on the goal, understanding the financial aspects of the job, and leading an effective negotiation.

To discover more on how and why the program was developed, watch this short interview with Jérôme.

EDF chose to work with Cegos Group, making use of their pedagogical expertise as well as their experience working with project managers across sectors.

The result was the dynamic Project Manager PASS program, rolled out in France and internationally across EDF’s subsidiaries in four continents. It proved to be a huge success and recently won the Brandon Hall Gold Award for ‘Best Use of a Blended Learning Program’.

The key to success

The company had already created a project managers community, allowing professionals to share best practices and come up with solutions to difficult problems. This was aligned with EDF’s ‘Leadership Ambition’ concept, centred around ideas of openness, engagement, and authenticity.

The training program was able to plug into both initiatives to help generate a buzz.

At each stage of the design process, teams from EDF University and Cegos consulted EDF managers to ensure every aspect of the program was relevant and effective.

Two programs were developed, each aimed at those with different levels of experience.

PASS Level 1 – Managing Projects

This program was designed for project managers with at least 3 years of experience. It covers the fundamentals of project management, from knowing how to use the right management tools to meeting EDF standards and developing leadership skills. There is a significant practical element, too. Groups work on a fictional case study while learning how to scope a project, manage their time, deal with conflict, assess risks and distribute costs, among other things.

PASS Level 2 – Experienced Level

This program was created for project managers with at least 5 years of experience. Participants build on their existing knowledge and develop advanced soft skills in leadership, co-ordination, negotiation and networking. They also work on hard skills, such as implementing EDF policy, optimising project costs and sustainable development. The aim of the Experienced Level program is to challenge participants to reach a higher standard of management, so they can excel at working with people as well as with technology.

A truly blended approach

“We chose the blended approach to learning in order to have a mixed solution with enough face-to-face, webinars (to save on travel) and digital resources,” says Stephany Kong, HR Marketing Manager at EDF Management University.

And it worked. Each program took place over 4 months and followed a regular structure:

  • Program launch with a 1-hour webinar
  • 1-day remote learning
  • 2 days face-to-face learning with practical element
  • 2 x half-days remote learning
  • Program close with a 1.5-hour webinar

A one-month interval between each session allowed participants to share experiences and put learning into practice. The blended approach proved successful because it created flexibility for the participants and did not encroach too heavily on their time.

Blended learning also proved beneficial when, during the early stages of the first rollout, the pandemic hit and the whole program had to be delivered online. Although a face-to-face element is now included, the program has been designed for fully remote delivery if necessary.

A growing project management culture

The blended learning approach went down well with the first cohort of participants.

“I have a better understanding of how the project works, the role of each person, project milestones, etc.,” said one.

Another commented: “It allowed me to identify good practices and therefore to be more confident about how to deal with issues or irritants in the project group.”

This year, EDF decided to upgrade the competency level of Project Manager PASS Level 1 and 2 because the latest cohorts were better skilled than the initial cohorts in 2021. This is a solid indicator that the EDF project management culture has progressed, benefiting from the global project manager pathway as well as project community action.

“This was a very good collaboration,” says Jérôme. “Cegos was very client oriented during the design and was always open to answering to our needs during delivery. They were adaptable, flexible, and reactive.”

If you would like to know more about how Cegos can boost the skills of your project managers, contact us today.

Written by

Raoul Adam

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