The Road to the PMP Exam
I think it is safe to say that there are no school children out there fantasizing about becoming a Project Manager when they grow up. Instead, visions of being James Bond (a secret agent or an actor) occupy their youthful dreams. This should not be surprising. Obviously, project management is not as glamourous as the world of James Bond – we do not get to sleep with a different super-model during each project – but it can often be a dangerous occupation, with the Project Manager caught in the crossfire between powerful stakeholders.
The significant point with project management is that it is a desirable skill, but it is not in itself enough to gain employment. There are no undergraduate degree courses in project management because, by itself, project management skills are not sufficient to get you on the payroll. Instead you need to develop application expertise and detailed knowledge of a particular industry. With that background, the addition of project management to your competencies can make the difference between a Dear John reply and a firm offer.
So when should you start developing your project management skills? Velopi recommends starting as soon as you begin work as a project team member. If your occupation involves team work extensively then the sooner you understand the dynamics of a project, the more effective a team member you will be. At its most basic, team members are expected to provide estimates for their assigned tasks to the Project Manager. Do you know how to estimate realistically? Similarly, Project Managers need assistance with Work Breakdown Structures. Do you know all the schedule activities involved in your part of the project? Are you aware of the dependencies you have on other pieces of work? How about risks? Do you know what could go wrong for you and how to deal with these events if they should arise?
Velopi offers a one-day Introduction to Project Management and a two-day Project Management Essentials course. These provide enough knowledge for all team members. However, for the ambitious among you, who see project management as the next step on the ladder, a formal qualification is an ideal start. So you might consider the Project Management Institute’s Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)©. This is ideal because there is no experience required – the exam is purely a test of knowledge. Again, Velopi can prepare you for this with our three-day CAPM© exam preparation course.
But project management is not really something you can learn from a book. Like all management roles, there are people-skills to be developed and the practical realities of your work environment to surmount. One very practical way you can get yourself a project management certificate is by undertaking Quality and Qualifications Ireland’s Component Certificate in Project Management (6N4090). Instead of an exam, like the CAPM© qualification, the QQI certificate is based on an assessment of an actual project. Velopi provides a three-day course to explain the tools and techniques involved and how to prepare your work for the QQI examiners.
Supplementing these project management courses, Velopi also offers one-day courses on topics of interest to project managers. For instance, we offer three levels of Microsoft© Project© 2010 training which is ideal for someone who has to wrestle with complicated schedules. We can take you from introductory materials, through intermediate, to advanced use of the tool.
In other words, there is plenty of support available for people who are new to project management. This is reassuring, because our flagship Project Management Professional (PMP)© four-day exam preparation course only makes sense for people who can demonstrate three years project management experience – five years if you do not have a primary degree!
Even with your shiny new PMP©, Velopi’s students will be catered for in developing themselves as Project Managers. We offer a series of one-day courses that can be used to earn Professional Development Units, needed to maintain your PMP© credential. We can introduce you to agile and lean project management and the concept of the Project Management Office. We can unravel the mysteries of strategy management and how to deal with stakeholders, including your own boss! Probably most usefully, we can show you how to rescue a troubled project.
Of course, there are those who eventually find project management passé and seek to manage multiple, related projects in a program. Well our Program Management Professional (PgMP)© exam preparation course is ideal for you. Even if you have no plans to take the PgMP© exam, this course will provide insights into managing programs that will be invaluable in your day-to-day role as Program Manager.
So, from day one, Velopi will help you steer a course to project management success - even providing a push when the occasion calls for it.
By Velopi Seamus Collins