What is a Project?
Recently, my husband and I spent a few hours over a weekend with caulk and a ladder resealing all of the expansion joints on our house. Over time, sun, wind, and rain had done their damage and the material had become cracked and warped in places. It was particularly difficult to work on these areas where the garden bushes needed trimming to prepare space for the ladder and to reach the expansion joints with a full bead of caulk.
There are other chores that we perform on a regular basis. For example, I clean the floors in the house, do laundry, and wash the dishes. My husband takes out the trash twice a week and puts out the recycle for pickup every other week.
In the first instance, we worked on a project. Projects have a particular set of activities to conduct with a start and end time. Caulking the expansion joints was a temporary task in nature and accomplished a specific outcome. This is the definition of a project.
My weekly chores, however, are routine work. The activities are on-going and do not necessarily accomplish a unique result. After all, it seems that the dishes need washing every time they get used! Similarly, routine work can be contrasted with a project because chores are not temporary – except that that the floor, too, will need sweeping as soon as it gets dirty again.
One approach to managing a project is very different than the approach to managing day-to-day work. Projects require planning, scheduling, and acquisition of special materials and talents. We needed to buy the caulk and set up the ladder. On the other hand, dishwashing soap is always at hand and the mop and bucket are stored for frequent use.
Project management is the set of skills used by a leader to accomplish the work of a project including initiation, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing of the project. The project will produce a unique product, service, or result.
Project Management Skills
Project managers need to master a number of important skills together with the activities involved in successful implementation of a project (planning, scheduling, and budgeting) and in leading the people in a project (team members, stakeholders, sponsors, and customers). Many of these skills are learned on the job and with experience, while others are quite specific and require transfer of knowledge based upon observed best practices.
For instance, planning for a project requires a set of skills that can be transferred from one project or project manager. Planning for a project should consider:
- Stakeholder requirements,
- Scope of work,
- Human resource requirements,
- Quality, and
These plans must be in place regardless of the type of project that is undertaken – from major construction or new service development, and even for a simple home maintenance project. Without successful integration of project plan elements, the outcome can be delayed, cost more than expected, or fail altogether.
Learning Project Management Skills
Learning project management skills is just like learning any new skills. It requires observation, training, and practice.
Watching and questioning those that are skilled in a behavior helps us to learn. Observing how a weight lifter positions his body for a dead lift demonstrates proper form. We can then mimic his actions as we try to perform the same maneuver and learn a new behavior. We can ask him how he positions his feet and hands to gain deeper insight into the task as well.
Observing an experienced, respected project manager is a great way to learn new project management skills. Watch how s/he interacts with team members. Inquire how s/he develops the schedule and budget for a specific type of project. Study the documentation and artifacts produced by the project in the planning stage and in a lessons learned review. You can use these as templates to plan another project in the future.
Education and training formalize best practices and yield supporting theory to our observations. Project Management Professionals (PMP®) require 35 hours of formal training and education in order to become certified. This training covers best practices from a variety of industries and validates your observations of what makes a successful project manager.
Training for project management is fulfilling in that PMP candidates learn to apply theory and practice in several knowledge areas, including:
- Project Integration Management,
- Project Scope Management,
- Project Schedule Management,
- Project Cost Management,
- Project Quality Management,
- Project Risk Management,
- Human Resources Management,
- Project Communications Management,
- Project Procurement Management, and
- Stakeholder Management.
PMP training is offered in a variety of formats to fit your needs: self-study, facilitated on-line, face-to-face, and customized for your firm and industry. Check out the schedule for upcoming PMP training opportunities.
Observation and training provide the backbone or foundation of skills development. The only way to really learn is to try it. Most organizations will assign small projects of limited risk to new project managers. This allows the candidate to determine if s/he likes project management and provides a mentor to observe and give feedback. Growing beyond small and medium-sized projects often takes time for a project manager to establish a reputation as a skilled practitioner. PMP certification is often required to be appointed as a project manager of large, complex, or higher risk projects.
Project Management Skills
Project managers are adept at balancing a number of different tasks, priorities, and people issues at the same time. They must understand the technical challenges of the project as well as be able to manage the scope, schedule, and budget. Project managers are skilled leaders and communicators, and are flexible in environments defined by uncertainty and complexity. In short, project management is a fun
To learn more about PMP certification, please review eligibility requirements here, or phone us a 281-280-8717. You can check out our PMP training schedule here to study, learn, and earn. It’s simple! Good luck in your projects
Study. Learn. Earn. Simple.
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