Project Manager FAQs
What is so great about a career in Project Management? Project Management can be a very satisfying career. Every project will be slightly different with its own set of challenges. You will meet some awesome people. If you travel as a Project Manager, you will go places you may have never been. Project Managers get results and impact organizations, companies and governments. Project Managers are leaders. Besides all that, good Project Managers are highly sought after and command a respectable compensation package.
How do I become a Project Manager? You find a mentor or coach who works in the field, visit PMI.org and learn the criteria and start working the steps.
What is the easiest way to get my certification? Easy is not always the best way. However, if you have met the PMI certification criteria and have approval to sit for your test, there is a proven way to get prepared for the test and take the test in a fairly expedient manner. You need to coordinate your test date with an accelerated preparation class. For example, if you schedule to take your test on a Friday, take a four day accelerated class the Monday through Thursday of the same week. This way everything is fresh in your mind.
What is a project? A project is a well-defined sequence of events with a beginning and an end, directed toward achieving a clear goal, and conducted within such established parameters as time, cost, resources and quality. A project is different from what you do every day, because a project goal is a specific, non-routine event. Because it is non-routine, it requires planning. The more complex the project, the more you have to plan.
What is project management? Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to organize tasks and resources in a way that will meet or exceed client and stakeholder expectations from a project.
What is the triple constraint theory? A project manager must maintain balance by managing constraints throughout the entire project life cycle. If one of the sides of the triangle changes length, at least one of the other sides of the triangle must change to maintain a triangle. It is the project manager’s responsibility to plan a project that forms a triangle and then to manage the changes during the life of the project to maintain the triangle.
Why do projects fail? Common reasons projects fail:
Project Management Basics
Risk Management: The ongoing identification, assessment and tracking of project risks. Risks can become an issue. Issues do not become risks.
Issue Management: The identification, tracking and communication of current issues or concerns that can impact the triple constraint (time, cost, scope).
Communication Management: Planning, Identifying desired styles of stakeholder communication, creation and execution of communication vehicles such as status reports, stakeholder meetings and progress meetings and monitoring communication effectiveness.
Schedule Management: Creation of a project work breakdown structure and schedule including dependencies and required resources with key milestones. Typically created in a project management tool such as Primavera or MS Project.
Cost & Financial Management: Planning and identifying the financial components of the project. Depending the project type, i.e. internal IT project versus external customer facing project, the financial tracking requirements may vary. Internal IT projects may require only number of labor hours, and third party costs while a customer facing project may require a weekly burn rate of hours and associated travel and living expenses. In addition, regardless of project type, the project manager is required to reconcile the forecasted or planned finanicals against actuals.
Human Resource Mgmt: Managing project resources includes identifying domain expertise, on boarding, ensuring resources understand the project objectives, scope, processes and their role on the project. Resources may include those that work for your company and third party contractors. For those the work for your company, the project manager may be required to have input and oversight of resource development which enables a resource to increase their skill sets by working on new project workstreams and/or products.
Scope & Change Management: Project Managers are responsible to communicate a Change Management process to the project team and stakeholders. This process will be managed by the project manager with typically direct oversight by a Steering Committee. Project changes can be recognized in changes to new or existing requirements, timeline, new stakeholder requirements not previously understood, changes to technology, dependent customer resources, etc.
Procurement Management: Project Managers may work with their company's procurement group to secure third party contracts, and purchase orders for services to be performed on his or her project. Procurement may also be the Supplier liaison bringing on third party resources (people, hardware and software).
Quality Management: Quality Management (QM) is an often overlooked area that can lead to timeline slippage and cost overruns very quickly. There are two key areas of QM that need to be considered and implemented on most projects - Quality Assurance and Quality Control. The Quality Assurance Strategy focuses on the efforts that help to prevent the introduction of anomalies prior to their occurrence. These activities include: Internal and External Reviews and Sign-offs, Requirements Traceability, Quality Management Tools, and Code Promotion. The Quality Control Strategy focuses on the efforts that help to detect and remove anomalies after their occurrence. This includes the following: Test Strategies, Defect Management, Testing Metrics and Test Environment.
Links to Useful Project Management Resources
Humor and Fun Technology Stuff
Check out this great example of a Weekly Executive Status Report Dashboard. Thanks to Adam D. for his content contribution.