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Project Management: It is Not Just for IT Anymore

Although often equated with the information technology (IT) industry, project management methodologies are applicable across business settings.

Pyramids, cathedrals, railroads and missile projects have at least one thing in common—project management. History is replete with examples of the human drive to plan, organize, coordinate and create.

Today, whether you are a consumer or provider of project management services, the outlook is good. According to a status report by the Project Management Institute (PMI), global economic instability, “has increased pressure on an organization’s bottom line mean[ing] an increased need for project practitioners who can think strategically when executing projects.”

Our firm provides experienced, outside project managers on a local, national and international basis. In and outside of the United States, project managers are used in fields including:

  • Aerospace technology
  • Construction
  • Consumer products
  • Engineering
  • Healthcare
  • Human Resources
  • Information technology
  • Industrial products
  • Life Sciences
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Telecommunications

Domestic business concerns often operate with partners outside of the United States. As true national boundaries soften, global overlap requires nimble project management at home and abroad.

For business owners and start-ups, a skilled project manager helps you in ways that include:

  • Creates, defines and illustrates scope, process and deliverables
  • Works with your team to manage and deliver on time
  • Offers a structured model to team members for future project management endeavors
  • Delivers on-time project management where and when you need it, saving you money

Though often equated with the IT industry, project management is needed whenever humans need to create the best process to get the job done right.

When you have questions about project management, or need a skilled manager for your project, call us at PMCI for a free consultation

Should you Outsource Your Project Management?

You have a brisk timeline and a high-priority business project. Team members from different departments work pretty well together, but you do not employ a full-time project manager. Is it time to outsource?

American and global business processes changed in response to the Great Recession. Businesses of all sizes cut costs and staff. Freelance workers, some of whom displaced permanent employees, now form an adjusted workforce offering skilled, scalable business services—on a contract basis.

Experienced, external project managers offer superb value across the business landscape. Consider these advantages:

  • Expertise: Outsourcing your project management allows you to choose the right manager for the right project. Time and budget is not needed to develop talent from within, or retain it after the project is concluded.
  • Scalability: You can quickly bring in a project manager to initiate, administer and implement your project. Scale-up time is minimal. For businesses with large projects on tight timelines, involving outsourced project managers is an effective solution.
  • Cost: While delivering organizational efficiencies, external project management saves you money on long-term overhead costs.

No option is without a potential downside. Issues around hiring a contract project manager could include:

  • Hiring the wrong manager for the project: Fit is important. Be sure candidates have the education and experience you need. Check references and ensure you are hiring the financial, technical and analytical skills you need.
  • Weak links: Bridging the distance between people and processes is an important skill and personal quality of an accomplished project manager. Onboard a project manager who is capable and comfortable with your project and personnel.
  • Understanding corporate culture: A contract project manager has no knowledge of political fault lines in your organization. A project manager without adequate leadership skills may fail to exploit that objectivity. Be sure you hire an experienced, knowledgeable project manager.

When assembling your project team, an outsourced project manager delivers expertise without the expense of a full-time hire. If you have questions about outsourcing a qualified project manager for your project, speak with PMCI.

Work Breakdown Structures: Thinking Inside the Box

A work breakdown structure (WBS) is a commonly used tool for managing projects of all sizes. Offering a graphical image of your process and deliverables, a WBS has many advantages.

Whether you are a business or project owner, understanding the function of a WBS optimizes the benefits of the tool for you. Project managers often rely on a WBS to store knowledge and create a path toward an objective—the deliverable. Principle points about a WBS include:

  • Form: A work breakdown structure usually takes the form of a hierarchical tree composed of lines and boxes. As a map of the project, a WBS illustrates the scope of the project and breaks down tasks into manageable pieces. Thoughtful work spent creating the WBS helps clients, team members, and stakeholders envision and understand the project. A well-prepared WBS depicts 100% of the defined project.
  • Resource estimates: AWBS allows you to make resource, time, and budget projections. Extra time spent preparing the WBS pays off down the line. As the project rolls out, the WBS gives the project manager and others a strong tracking and management tool. Because work activity and tasks are modeled to the lowest level, the WBS provides progress markers and creates accountability.
  • WBS as deliverable: The effort spent creating the WBS is, by itself, a product. Creative discussion to refine the WBS engages the vision and energy of each participant. In addition to capturing the architecture of the project, the WBS becomes an organizational focal point for moving forward.

A WBS can be created on a conference room white board with cards or through the use of WBS software templates. Concerns that arise when using or creating a WBS include:

  • Too little time spent creating the WBS
  • Confusing the WBS as a task checklist, instead of a structured path toward deliverables
  • Tasks that are too finely-grained
  • Failing to recognize the WBS as an iterative tool

Defining scope and project elements, a WBS is a useful management tool for any size project, in any industry. If you have questions about using a WBS, or about project management services, talk to us at PMCI.

Employer or Employee: What About Certification?

Certification is a hot topic for project management professionals. Is certification necessary to successfully manage a complex project?

The answer depends on who you ask. Certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP) is widely recognized and carries a blend of requirements including:

  • High school, associates or bachelors degree
  • Between 4500 and 7500 work hours managing projects, depending on education
  • Project management education and successful completion of certification exam

While PMP certification is an industry standard for some, there are certification programs offered by other organizations. Among those are the following:

  • Master Project Manager (MPM): Offered by the American Academy of Project Management (AAPM), MPM certification requires experience, specialized education and successful completion of a certification exam.
  • CompTIA Project+: Organized to provide training standards for the information technology (IT) industry, CompTIA offers Project+, a project management certificate that requires less experience and specialized education than the MPM or PMP.
  • Certified Project Manager (CPM): With a focus on international and Pacific Rim concerns, the CPM requires a combination of experience, specialized education, and successful completion of a certification exam.

These are only three of the many certification programs available for candidates interested in project management credentials. In an economy increasingly project- and partner- driven, project management is a popular career choice. But the question still remains—is certification necessary?

As in all specialties, knowledge of standards and accepted practices is an important, some would say, essential, aspect of the skill set of a project manager. Beyond that, certification does not guarantee excellence. Relevant experience plus natural aptitude for project management is a potent combination for achievement.

Best practices for selecting the right project manager include checking for successful experience with similarly scoped projects, good references, education, training and a good fit with your management and work team.

Each manager at Project Management Consultants International (PMCI) possesses the experience, education and qualifications to manage your project successfully. When you need the right project manager, talk to PMCI.

Getting the Job Done: Do You Need a Project Manager?

How do you know when you need a project manager?

In business, goals are routinely set, technology is adopted or adapted, and projects are developed to grow and maintain the enterprise. You may already employ project managers or workers with strong project management skills. Effective project managers are essential in an economy moving toward lean management and better profitability.

Either reactively or responsively, all projects are managed. Consider some advantages of using trained project or program managers:

  • Managing scope: An experienced project manager helps you identify and maintain scope. Scope describes the project and the resources, time and budget needed to successfully meet objectives. Scope creep is a common condition, especially in design environments, where organic change can derail the project plan and path. Your project manager defines, contains and promotes the defined scope of a project.
  • Leadership: As the hub of a project, the project manager is the point of contact for all stakeholders and directs the endeavor with seasoned, knowledgeable leadership. Project management is the science of effective process management coupled with the dynamic art of bridging and promoting human relations and productivity.
  • Resource management: In addition to promoting a sense of ownership among team members and stakeholders, project managers directly manage budget, timeline and resources. This includes recognition and exploitation of project uncertainty to meet and support the scope of the project.

Many firms and enterprises build projects on the fly or rely on one or two people to overextend themselves to bring a project to fruition. Neither of these options is cost efficient, creates predictability, or makes the best use of resources.

All projects require management. If you do not already employ experienced project managers, an external project manager can reduce overhead and speed completion and implementation of your project. If you want to get the job done right—rely on project management professionals.

When you have questions about the project management process or the benefits of outsourced managers in local, national or international settings, talk to us. The consultation is always free.