What Project Management Course to Take?

12 January, 2015

A Project Manager is a front-line management position. In other words, it is unlikely that someone will come straight from school into this role. Usually, people show promise in their technical roles and are given project management responsibility. This can be a problem.

Technical roles tend to be focused. There are many details that need to be addressed and scientists and engineers tend to get wrapped up in their work, to the exclusion of everything else. A Project Manager, in contrast, needs to operate in a different mode. This is a more holistic role, where you are actively scanning the horizon for threats and opportunities. This is where your goal is to distribute progress information rather than to generate it. In other words, a highly competent project team member can easily flounder as a Project Manager.

Another issue for nascent Project Managers is the worrying feeling that they have no idea what they are doing. To get their technical roles, development staff often have to spend many years in college, learning their trades. However, a senior manager can wave a magic wand and suddenly you are transformed, Cinderella-like, into a Project Manager. If you are lucky, you will have been groomed for this role and given the opportunity to work with your existing Project Manager before taking over the job. Unfortunately, most of us get thrown into the deep end and the hope is we will be able to cope.

An obvious way to help get to grips with project management is to attend a training course. Velopi’s one-day Introduction to Project Management and our two-day Project Management Essentials courses are ideal for someone who is put in charge of small projects and needs to understand the basics.

However, for the technical guru, there is often the feeling that they are wearing the emperor’s new clothes. They have their degrees over their desks showing that they are legitimate technical gurus. But what can they point to that suggests they have any right to call themselves Project Managers? Obtaining a recognized credential often brings peace of mind.

But what credential should we go for? The Project Management Institute offers a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® accreditation that demonstrates knowledge of the contents of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and, those with over three years’ experience can attempt the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam (provided they have primary degrees).

This is all very good, but today’s Project Managers tend to be hard-working individuals. They often put in long hours and, if they have family commitments, struggle to find the time to study for these exams. So is there a qualification out there that does not require studying for an exam? Qualifications and Quality Ireland (QQI) has come up with precisely such an accreditation. It offers a Level 6 component certificate in project management that is based on preparing a portfolio of work demonstrating actual project management. In other words, you are assessed on the work you are doing as a Project Manager.

But what about people who want to assure themselves that they are up to speed on all aspects of project management, but are not interested in exams or qualifications? Velopi, for instance, offers two courses that are very much geared towards exam preparation. You can take our PMP® exam preparation course, which takes four or five days. In this, all the project management knowledge areas are covered in a practical, engaging manner. Although there are parts of the course (the 20-question exams at the end of each module for instance) that relate to the PMP® certification, there is no reason why someone could not do the course without aiming for the PMP® afterwards.

We have been thinking along these lines since we launched our Program Management Professional (PgMP)® exam preparation course. This is aimed at senior Project Managers and those at Program Manager level. Although there are only just over 1,100 PgMPs® worldwide, we feel that this course would be immensely useful for anyone in a project management role because it explains how corporate strategy is formulated and shows how senior managers are concerned about benefits rather than mere schedules and budgets.

In short, while the Project Management Institute is adamant that certain experience thresholds are established before you are allowed take their exams, Velopi’s project and program management courses place no such restrictions. If you are interested in the course, but have no ambitions (or time) to do the exams, this is not a problem.

Velopi’s project management courses are geared to making you a better Project Manager. Many of them also offer the side-benefit of guiding you to a recognized project management qualification.  For more details of these courses, please visit our training page, or contact us directly.

By Velopi Seamus Collins

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