A recent Fortune magazine article indicated that project management would be the career path for the next decade. Even if you don't adopt the title "project manager", it could be argued that everything you do is a project and has to be managed - making these skills in high demand.
There is also evidence of a shortage of project managers. The late 2000 Com Tech Education Services (CTES) survey of training managers from blue-chip companies found that 32 per cent of these companies had unfulfilled positions for project managers.
According to Michael Banham, director of Telepartners, who has worked as a project manager on projects for organisations such as SOCOG and Optus, the reason behind the demand for project management skills is shrinking product life cycles. "As the product life cycles get shorter, so delivery times for projects are shorter, too," he said.
There are plenty of project management courses around covering all the requisite skills of good project management, but all the courses in the world are not going to overcome the human element. People, people and people are the reasons given by Com Tech for why projects fail. "Project management is one of the critical training needs for the IT industry because only 16 per cent of IT projects come in on time, on budget and meet the customer's requirement," said Steve Ross, general manager, CTES.
CTES runs a five-day workshop on Project Management, which leads to the Gartner Certified Associate - a generic, globally-recognised information technology project management certification. In addition, more practical skills can be gained in a two-day workshop covering how to use Microsoft's Project software.
The Gartner Certified Associate for IT certification addresses 80 per cent of the skills of the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the US and the even more rigorous Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM).
Meeting the standards
The AIPM endorses training programs that demonstrate practical support for the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and or the National Competency Standards for Project Managers (NCSPM). It's a good idea to check with them first before signing up, to ensure the course you choose and its presenters meet the standards (www.aipm.com.au or telephone (02) 9261 4166).
ExecuTrain's Integrated Project Management (IPM) workshop for IT managers and professionals is taken as part of a series that combines computer-based training with soft skills and business processes in a three-day workshop. The workshop is interactive to allow students to build their own project.
Topics covered include: considering the business environment; defining, assigning and leveraging resources; listing and justifying outcomes and stating the scope; securing project success, setting up the work environment; designing a communications network and running team meetings; creating a work breakdown structure and establishing task requirements; tracking a project; determining task logic; and assessing performance.
Engineering company Sinclair Knight Merz is a project management-driven company, whether it is managing projects for its global clients or managing design projects in-house. Over half of its 2500 employees are project managers who manage projects valued from $5000 to $30 million-plus. Whatever the value of the project, the principles are the same.
"People must be empowered to work within constraints," said Dr Ken Phillis, employee development coordinator, responsible for the delivery of project management training for the company.
Phillis has developed a manual called "Planning and Managing our Projects", to which Sinclair Knight Merz employees work. The manual forms the basis of an eight-hour face-to-face classroom course which is supplemented by real-life case studies so that managers can analyse what went well in a project and what didn't.
The company is exploring ways of implementing e-learning of its basic courseware over the global intranet, giving its managers the ability to use interactive examples. However, project managers will still come together to do case studies so they can learn from each other.
Introduction to Project Management
IT Project Management
Com Tech Education Services
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