Project Managers struggle on multiple fronts in leading projects forward from initiation to closure. They must employ both soft skills and hard skills to unify disparate teams and systems to work together towards achieving one goal against a clock that moves stubbornly forward regardless of the issues and challenges that crop up in the course of a project’s lifetime.
Whilst this can prove to be the most rewarding aspect of a project manager’s career, without a sound strategy and a solid framework on which to tackle these challenges, this can prove to be a defeating endeavor rather than the fulfilling experience that it can be. To this end, Project Managers would do well to undergo Project Management Professional training and certification to not only manage projects more effectively but to also boost their careers forward to success.
Whilst there are many ways to manage a project, the underlying structure on how to effectively manage it is universal. This is due to the fact that projects flow through the same phases regardless of industry, location, and size. Moreover, the same areas of interest are common throughout all projects to be the scope, costs, communications, etc.
To this end, the Project Management Institute (PMI) has identified a framework that has since become an international standard employed the world over in projects of all sizes. Its foundational yet comprehensive nature has become the gold standard of project management, giving certified project managers an executable framework that greatly aids the chances of success. The framework is identified in PMI’s PMBoK, the Project Management Body of Knowledge, on which the PMP training and certification is based.
To this end, the PMP coursework focuses on 4 main areas as follows
- Project Framework
- Project Lifecycle
- Project Knowledge Areas
- Ethics and Conduct
Each of these areas provides an indispensable structure on which to build a career in project management whilst offering a strong yet flexible framework on which projects can be built and managed successfully. Each area tackles a different aspect of project management whilst together they provide a tried and tested methodology that can increase projects’ success rates exponentially.
The Project Framework section outlines the best practices in the general administration of projects. Highlighting the differences between programs, portfolios, and projects, it goes on to provide a strong foundational understanding of the operations aspect of project management. This includes alignment of mission, vision, goals, and strategy, objectives and tactics, and organizational strategy and how it links with the projects being undertaken.
Furthermore, it explains how project managers can enumerate the business benefits any given project will realize and how these can be of value to the business. Working with constraints and organizational systems is another important aspect of project management which is covered in the course along with the role PMs play within the entire ecosystem.
The project lifecycle is a consistent structure that is true for any project. A project is defined as a that has a beginning and an end, thus providing us with the first and last steps of the project lifecycle – initiation and closure. Within that time span, each project goes through the same stages. Once the project is initiated, that is to say, the requirements have been gathered, goals set and objects agreed upon, projects move on to the next logical phase, that of planning. In the planning phase, project managers, plan every aspect of the project from scope and timelines, to communication plans, the project charter, and costs involved. Once the planning phase has been fully completed, the project will move to execution where the carefully laid-out-plans are executed. Once the project execution gets underway, control and monitoring kick in which includes reporting to all stakeholders, and management of the actual project as it is being executed according to the plan. Once these phases are fully completed, the project will move to its closure phase where the objectives are met and signed-off and the project is declared a success.
Project Knowledge Areas
The project knowledge areas identify those areas that project managers need to concern themselves with. Traditionally, 3 areas are identified; cost, resources, and time, however, PMP digs deeper to provide a more holistic and realistic view of the several requirements projects have across the globe. By successfully managing the ten knowledge areas laid out in the PMP training, project managers increase their chances of success many folds over, thus ensuring the entire lifecycle moves forward with fewer disruptions and an equally less chance of failure.
The knowledge areas are identified as follows;
These 10 areas, when considered together, provide a far stronger picture of project management and project managers would do well to spend extra time and attention in making sure that they familiarise themselves fully with all ten areas.
Ethics and Conduct
Project Managers need to conduct themselves responsibly and professionally at all times. As the ones bearing responsibility for the project, bringing together teams and people who might not always have the same goals can prove to be a challenge. With this responsibility in mind, bringing everyone together towards one vision and one goal might not always be the easiest of endeavors and as such ethical conduct if of the utmost importance. This not only helps people work together but ensures that the project manager responsible for the project is held in high esteem and regard, thus being able to provide better leadership to those on whom she or he depends.
Managing projects can be a highly rewarding career. From meeting different people to working with different business functions, being a project manager is an experience that helps the individual grow exponentially whilst teaching valuable leadership and life skills which can cross over to many other functions thus increasing the amount and breadth of future opportunities.
This can only happen if project management is done right and through acquiring a PMP certification, practitioners can ensure that they are putting both of their feet onto the path of success.