GAPPS History

The Global Alliance for the Project Professions (formerly the Global Alliance for Project Performance Standards – GAPPS) was formed to provide a neutral platform for bringing together all parties interested in the leadership and management of projects including professional associations, public and private sector organisations and academic institutions.

The impetus for a global approach to the management of projects occurred in 1994 at the annual PMI Symposium in Vancouver, Canada, where there was a meeting of representatives of PMI, IPMA, APM, and the AIPM, at which “… formal cooperation on several global issues, including standards, certification and formation of a global project management organisation or confederation’ were discussed(Pells, p. ix in Pennypacker, 1996). The following year, 29 countries were represented at a Global Project Management Forum held in association with a PMI® Seminar / Symposia in New Orleans, (Pennypacker, 1996) and the primary topic of interest was the possibility of achieving globally recognised project management standards and certification.  Subsequent Global Forums, held in association with project management conferences, continued to address standards and certification but without resulting in any action that would unify development of project management standards and certification frameworks.

In an attempt at achieving progress towards global standards, the International Project Management Association (IPMA) in 1999 initiated a series of Global Working Parties including one focused on Standards. This Working Party met on a number of occasions, usually associated with project management conferences, and interested people from many countries were involved. A number of initiatives were identified, formulated and tracked. One of these was a watching brief to encourage the development of ISO standards for project management and this has since come to fruition in the ISO 21500 standards.  Another was the opportunity for development of global performance based standards for project personnel that would complement existing knowledge based standards (such as PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, APM’s Body of Knowledge, IPMA’s International Competence Baseline, and Japan’s Guidebook for Project and Program Management for Enterprise Innovation) and provide a basis for transferability and mutual recognition of project management qualifications.

The development of global performance based standards for project managers, as a joint initiative of governments, professional associations, and corporations, provides an opportunity to:

  • Provide a basis for comparison of standards and assessment processes across the spectrum of project based standards.
  • Enhance the profile and effectiveness of project management throughout the project management community, both globally and locally.
  • Increase support for project management as a field of practice and as an emerging profession.
  • Respond directly to the expressed needs of industry.
  • Enhance the value and recognition of the performance based standards approach.

The initiative was progressed by development and signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) to guide cooperation amongst interested parties. A Global Steering Committee meeting was held in London in August 2002. The meeting was attended by representatives of signatories to the MOUs plus industry representatives and was hosted by the Services SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) of South Africa. The initiative initially functioned under the name Global Performance Based Standards for Project Management Personnel.

The Global Steering Committee decided to fund the initiative by asking each supporting organisation (standards/qualifications organisations, professional associations, educational institutions, and corporations) to become a financial subscriber to cover research, preparation of materials, maintenance of the global standards website, and administrative support. In addition, the Global Steering Committee decided that the initial focus should be on the development of performance based competency standards for project managers. It was agreed that the initiative would be progressed through Working Sessions attended by representatives of subscribing organisations.

For a more detailed history and analysis of the GAPPS see the following publications:

Stretton, A. M. & Crawford, L.H (2014). Bodies of Knowledge and Competency Standards in Project Management. In P.C.Dinsmore & J. Cabanis-Brewin (Eds.), The AMA handbook of project management 4th ed., New York, NY: AMACOM.

Crawford, L.H (2013). Competition, Comparison, Collaboration: Mapping a Pathway through Project Management Standards. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 74, 1-9.

Crawford, L.H and Pollack, J. (2008) Developing a Basis for Global Reciprocity: Negotiating Between the Many Standards for Project Management. International Journal of IT Standards & Standardization Research 6 (1):70-84.

Crawford, L.H. (2004) Professional Associations and Global Initiatives. In: Morris, P W G and Pinto, J K (Eds.) The Management of Projects Resource Book, New York: Wiley and Sons

Crawford, L.H. (2004) Global Body of Project Management and Knowledge. In: Morris, P W G and Pinto, J K (Eds.) The Management of Projects Resource Book, New York: Wiley and Sons