So, are a project manager?
So then, that means that you are responsible for managing client projects as well as internal organizational projects.
No, not every project goes perfectly according to plan, but you consider yourself a well versed, experienced, knowledgeable, and professional project manager.
You’ve been in this role for some time, but you never received any real formal training.
After your most recent performance review, you reflect on your strengths and weaknesses.
You consider furthering your education in project management. You have heard of the PMP exam and earning the PMP certification, but it is incredibly time-consuming, challenging, and expensive.
Is it even worth it?
What A Project Management Career Looks Like
A project manager is a professional who manages company as well as client projects, coordinating every phase in the project life cycle. These phases include:
- Monitoring and Controlling
- Change Control
Budgeting, problem-solving, team management, monitoring schedules and deadlines, and continuous improvement are involved in every phase of the project lifecycle—from beginning to end.
Like any career, being a successful project manager requires a combination of skills, which include the following:
- Written and verbal communication
- Critical thinking
- Time management
O and super ninja batman turtle strength and good looks of course...
Forget that last one.
There isn't really a prerequisite required for becoming a project manager. You can typically get into project management with a degree in any subject or area. In fact, the majority of project managers end up falling into their roles, without formal training or education.
Although project management doesn't involve getting an MBA or another specialized degree, there are module programs available specifically for project management.
Project managers work in various industries, including architectural design, engineering, construction, IT, marketing, healthcare and even the military. Today, project managers are in high demand. As a result, it is also one of the most promising and fulfilling career paths. One of the best ways to accelerate your career as a project manager is to prepare for and take the PMP exam for your official PMP certification.
Although the Project Management Institute (PMI) is the only institution that offers the official PMP certification program, there are other resources and programs available that help you prepare for and pass the PMP exam.
How Does Earning the PMP Certification Make You a Better Project Manager?
Not only is earning your PMP certification a highly impressive credential, but you will also learn about the key knowledge areas of project management in process. Learning and understanding these knowledge areas can prepare you for a well-rounded career in project management in any industry.
In this article, we are going to provide some reasons why the PMP certification is just what you need to accelerate your project management career. We will also provide a preview of some areas of project management that you will learn on the journey to earning your PMP certification.
Resource Management and Optimization
Resource management and optimization are the biggest challenges for organizations today—even for certified PMPs!
In fact, more than 40 percent of certified project management professionals (PMPs) claim that resource management and resource optimization are their top project management challenges.
Project managers assess available resources every day, asking themselves whether or not they have the capacity for new projects, or if they have the knowledge or proper skill set to apply to new projects.
When preparing for the PMP exam, you will learn about how to recruit resources and talent for projects, form a human resource plan (which we will get into more below), allocate resources properly, and choose the right technology and tool for the project.
The PMBOK Guide vs. The Agile Methodology
While studying and preparing for the PMP exam, you will learn about the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) guide. The PMBOK guide is full of guidelines, principles, and techniques used by project managers to effectively manage projects, programs, and portfolios. In fact, a great deal of the PMP exam is based on information and rules found in the PMBOK guide.
With that being said, you likely have heard of the agile methodology. Perhaps you already use it in your current role. Many organizations follow the agile project management methodology today. The agile method is a flexible and adaptive approach to managing projects. Organizations love the agile method because it involves a great deal of team collaboration, specifically in the area of problem-solving.
However, the PMBOK guide is not waterfall or agile based; rather, the project management practices, techniques, and guidelines are centered around traditional project management practices and fundamentals. This isn’t to say that the agile methodology is wrong by any means, but it doesn’t mean that it is the end-all-be-all methodology.
Each and every project management methodology has its advantages and disadvantages; there isn’t one methodology that is better than the other. The “right” project management methodology depends on organizational culture, the type of project, client base, and the project team.
All in all, understanding project requirements will help you determine which methodology is best for your project and your team.
Leadership and Human Resource Management
Some project team members dislike working with a project manager. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Good leadership can mitigate this issue. A project manager has the ability to choose one kind of leader he or she wants to be for the project team.
The best and most successful project managers practice open communication, encourage team members to perform their best, inspire and lend a helping hand when necessary.
Many project managers and organizations claim that technology and a wide range of technical skills are important for streamlining and automating project management. However, these aren't the most important pieces of the project management pie. The most important resource is people or talent. Project management is more SOCIAL than anything else.
As a result, today’s project management is really about project leadership. This means that soft skills, or "people" are among the most important skills. If you have great communication and listening skills, interpersonal skills, and a high level of emotional intelligence, then these skills will go a lot further than technical skills.
Project managers recognize that people are by far their most valuable asset; therefore, building a Resource Management Plan can help properly allocate available resources with the appropriate projects.
Avoiding Project Failure
Project managers assume enormous responsibilities and pressure when managing a project. And if/when a project fails, he or she is often the first to be blamed.
Believe it or not, the primary reasons for project failure extend far beyond the authority and influence of a project manager. Project failure is commonly due to organizational culture and the organization's buy-in to adopting new software and processes, and also responding to change.
Gathering Information and Clarifying Project Requirements
Project managers often serve as the main point of contact for a project. Project managers also serve as a liaison between clients, stakeholders, and project teams. As a result, project managers are expected to become an "information hub". We all know that this isn’t always possible—even for the best project managers or those with a successful project track record.
In fact, information doesn’t just land in a project manager's lap. Rather, project managers must collect and seek out information from various sources, such as subject matter experts (SMEs) and field engineers and specialists. This often forces project managers to play “detective” in order to get the information they are looking for.
Once a project manager has the necessary project information and key requirements, he or she can then begin planning the project.
Project Management vs. Program Management
Both project and program management require a professional project manager to run point. And, yes, there is a difference between the two...
A PROJECT is something unique that has never been created before. This could be designing a new building, a website, an airplane or developing a new product.
A PROGRAM is typically made up with smaller repetitive or ongoing projects. These projects are often interrelated.
Programs typically follow one process. Because a program involves smaller, repetitive, ongoing and interrelated projects, it is safe for project managers to follow one process. This is because the types of projects that fit within a program are often similar.
The PMI also has different certification programs specifically for program managers and portfolio managers that specialize in these different areas under the massive “project management” umbrella.
Project Management Principles Can Be Applied Across Different Project Types
By preparing for and earning your PMP certification, you will learn that the fundamental project management principles can be applied across various types of projects and industries.
Although some project management experience in a particular industry may be preferred by some companies and employers, it isn't required. And if you have your PMP certification, this will likely go further in an employer's eyes than a candidate who doesn't. This is because the PMP certification tells employers and companies that you are well versed in key project management areas, you can solve complex problems, and you are knowledgeable of the various methodologies.
What to Do and Where to Find Help with the PMP Exam
The PMP credential can significantly impact a professional’s project management career as well as maintain a competitive edge in today’s job market.
So, if you decided that you are going to go for the PMP exam, be prepared to study for the exam for at least three to six months. Consider enrolling in a PMP exam preparation course to help you.
Project Vanguards offers a number of resources, training programs, and PMP exam prep courses to help professionals and even aspiring project managers earn their PMP certification on the first try.