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Starting up a project

Developing Project Management

Sound foundation

Achieving accreditation for best practice project management methods is essential to provide evidence that a trainee has achieved a sound level of skills.  It forms the basis from which the trainee can develop further.  Further ingredients for developing a trainee include:

  • Having access to a mentor / coach who is familiar with the organisation’s tailored methodology, use of software tools and people skills
  • Periodic exposure to project management training modules that form part of a growth plan
  • A supportive work environment where staff can experience and experiment the application of the theory
  • Training in the software tools of the environment

Four primary focus areas for development

  1. Mentorship / coaching

Trainees need direction, guidance, a sounding board and a manager with credibility, to develop.

  1. A diversified growth path

The following courses should be considered when preparing a project management (PM) development plan for a staff member:

  • Project Management Essentials:  this is a basic introductory course for people with no previous project management experience.  This course is optional.
  • Accreditation in a globally recognised project management methodology like PRINCE2® or AgilePM®. This should be able to be applied in the employer’s project environment.  Its scope covers the primary competencies required for project management.
  • If the primary accreditation is Prince2®, an AgilePM® course can be attended to introduce an alternative approach to project management that can be blended into Prince2®.   As a minimum an AgilePM® Essentials course should be attended to understand this alternative approach more thoroughly.
  • Programme Management Essentials is a two day appreciation course enabling the delegate to better understand the interface between projects and programmes.  If required the delegate can attend the formal MSP® (Managing Successful Programmes) course to achieve international accreditation.

These courses should be scheduled over a period of time and separated with opportunities to experience the theory in the workplace.

  1. Experiential learning while working in groups

Question:  What is the best path to follow, to develop top quality project managers?

When the concepts researched by David A Kolb in his book “Experiential Learning” are applied, an important learning journey emerges.  Learners learn best when provided with a supporting infrastructure in which to experience knowledge gained from attending courses.  The following diagram summarises relevant information extracted from David’s book.

Adults learn best when they are given the opportunity to:

  • Observe how the theory is applied in practice
  • Reflect on how the theory is applied in practice
  • Create their own generalisations
  • Formulate their own abstract thinking
  • Experiment by applying their own understanding in real live situations

Where there is insufficient organisation capacity to set up and sustain this structure, consideration should be given to acquiring external resources.

  1. Software tools

A PM learner can be further empowered by having access to supportive software tools.  Here are some primary options that should be considered:

  • Configuration Management:  To overcome the burden of managing many project documents, the learner should be enabled to have access to them from a central point (e.g. computer screen
  • A document management system like MS Sharepoint or Documentum provides simple version control facilities and is user friendly.
  • Project scheduling:  Microsoft’s MS Project is a popular tool but there are others available.
  • Time recording software
  • Resource management software
  • Apps for pad and handheld access to project information

Conclusion

Learning is a continuous process grounded in experience.  Relying only on a PRINCE2® course to set project managers free on an assignment, is a simplistic view that requires greater caring and a more realistic approach.