Career Inspiration: The Prince and the Agile Project Manager What is project management
The title here may be a tad misleading – we’re not about to launch into a fairytale about princes, princesses, evil witches and castles. PRINCE is actually a form of project management and so is Agile. Confused? So were we! Project management can be a tricky subject to get your head round but with the help of project management expert, Carl Griffiths, we’ve attempted to explain it…
What is project management? Project management is all about overseeing and leading a task. It’s about ensuring a team works towards objectives to achieve change and the end goal. Project managers have a huge responsibility which is why many choose to take training in the subject (the likes of which you’ll find here on Hotcourses!) in order to ensure they are at the top of their game.
Carl works for CUPE Projects, a project management training and consulting company, where he discusses and blogs all things project management. He suggests there are certain qualities that it is important for project managers to possess, 'A good PM (project manager) is somebody who can deliver consistent project success. In short, a project that meets the business case within a defined quality, time and budget. They should have leadership skills that fit well with interpersonal traits. They should be logical and centre themselves on building positive relationships. A good PM is able to select and apply the most suitable skill or tool to a project from their tool box.'
Project managers must be highly responsible people, as their role involves planning, managing resources, controlling progress and ensuring the delivery of the project. Carl is well rehearsed in managing projects himself, having successfully delivered the new CUPE website Project and the ISO 9001:2008 Project.
He says the best bit of the job is the variety of the work you might find yourself doing, 'A day is never dull in the world of project management. You are always interacting with different people and managing relationships between users and suppliers.' But what about the worst bit? 'They say a good project manager never sleeps…maybe stress?'
One way to reduce the stress of the job is to ensure you are fully trained before you take on the role of project manager. Carl agrees that training can prepare you for the work expected of you, 'Studying project management gives you a good idea of the way projects are run. For example, taking a course in an approach like PRINCE2 (Foundation) will help you to plan and organise PRINCE2 Projects; use the PRINCE2 method to ensure quality is delivered; and follow the processes to complete a successful PRINCE2 Project.'
Project management courses are usually classroom based, in small groups and with an exam at the end. There is a lot of work to be done on these courses, often including reading beforehand. Carl stresses the importance of doing this, 'Complete your pre-course; you will gain more from the trainer if you do all the work given.'
Unsurprisingly he reports that people achieve higher results when they are on top of the additional work outside of the classroom. Of course, this means you have to plan your time wisely, so you might wish to take additional leave from work just to get this done.
By the end of a typical project management course, you will have probably completed an exam and will be able to work confidently managing a project on your own. Carl points out that students with CUPE often leave with a little more… 'Usually our delegates come away heavier than they came in! The refreshments on offer at our venues are brilliant; bacon rolls, cakes, a wide choice of lunches, afternoon scones! On a more serious note though, all our students leave knowing they have learned something useful for their continuing professional development.'
Though we can’t speak for the lunches, the second is true of all the project management courses here on Hotcourses. Whether you come out of studying and go straight into a relevant role or not, you will still come away with skills that will really complement your CV and ensure you are an attractive prospective to many employers.
If you’re interested in project management there are loads of courses here on the site. Have a look at our career guide too, where you will find profiles for the types of career open to you once you’ve trained in project management. On the other hand, if you’ve decided after reading this that actually project management is not for you, why not check out some similar subjects, such as organisation design and development or management ethics.
Carl breaks down some key project management terms
APM – A body of knowledge required for project management, which is then used by the project manager when running a project. It provides the information to run a project but not the framework.
PRINCE2 – A method to run projects. It provides a clear framework of what needs to be done, by whom, and when, during the project. It is the method required by public sector organisations and those who work with them.
Agile – A method to run projects that have a definite delivery time. It considers how to embrace change and deliver the highest priority items to meet objectives within the time available, whilst still keeping the stakeholders involved.