Proud to be APMP UK? I’d really like to be.

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I firmly believe that the UK bid and proposal profession needs a professional body that is 100% focussed on the UK market. There has been a seismic shift in the UK bid and proposal profession over the last 20 years, yet there has been very little direct investment to advance best practice, fund research or champion causes important to those working in the UK. The UK has benefited to some extent from predominately US-focussed APMP projects and its Certification Programme has certainly provided measurable standards, helping those outside of our profession respect and better understand it. I do however question if many of the initiatives over the past 20 years have genuinely raised standards and furthered best practice or simply confirmed what we already know?

Previous attempts to create a fully independent UK professional body were derailed when APMP rightly pointed out that Certifications would become invalidated if individuals didn’t retain membership. At the time, it drove sufficient fear in to the APMP UK Board to press ahead with the US-led model. Some ten years on from those break-away conversations, I still see an APMP UK Chapter that has been fundamentally starved of funds from its inception.

Thankfully, looking ahead to 2019, the UK Chapter is set to benefit from some significant funding changes. These changes, whilst very positive, will bring with them a number of challenges to the current operating model and financial governance.

For those at this year’s APMP UK Conference, you may have heard Rick Harris announce a new Community Interest Company (CIC). This new company will ensure all APMP membership revenue generated in the UK gets invested in the UK (approximately 20% of all the money previously generated from membership stayed in the UK).

The CIC is headed up by Rick Harris and a small Board he has directly appointed. In the immediate future, they will be determining exactly what UK projects secure investment. With over 1,800 UK members, this should generate over £200,000 in the first year alone. With approximately £400,000 already in the UK account, you can start to get excited about what APMP UK could finally start to achieve. By the end of 2019 it could have nearly £1 million to invest. Fundamentally, this should be a springboard for change in the UK. The stranglehold over finances that has held back the UK profession for so many years finally appears to be at an end.

Such large sums of money demand accountability, a need for solid governance and absolute transparency. Surprisingly, the UK membership wasn’t polled on who should lead the CIC. Whilst Rick Harris has made progress in making APMP’s election processes more democratic, transparent and fair, I really hope he advertises such key roles in the future.

With these new funds, APMP UK can truly progress all the projects that have been delayed or mothballed due to UK Board members having day jobs as well as serving on the UK Board. Such projects as championing issues around the gender pay gap, launching a credible apprenticeship scheme, working with higher education and universities to drive meaningful industry specific research and conducting wellbeing and behavioural studies. Even the basics such as publishing timely Annual Reports with full financial information should now be easily achievable.

In 2019, the APMP UK Board has a unique opportunity. Members must be able to hold it accountable for delivering progress. Our profession is now too large and too important to be governed by a set of volunteers, no matter how genuine their intentions. We need a much more professional governing body. As a minimum it needs an annual general meeting, a clear mandate from those in positions of authority – especially the CIC and Executive APMP UK Directors – and a mechanism for members to vote on key investments and appointments.

I see the ‘proudtobeAPMP’ hashtag being used a lot on social media – I’d really like to be in 2019.

Whilst there is certainly scope for an alternative professional body to APMP in the UK, I have faith that real progress will be made in 2019 and beyond. The UK profession has the opportunity to be the leading global authority on bid and proposal best practice and we must not let anything hold us back.

This article was written by Martin Smith.

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