Becoming A Project Manager - A Basic Guide
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Project management is certainly an amazing career with great prospects, plenty of opportunity for working your way up the ladder and trying out different industries. If you're seriously considering project management as a career option, you're likely to have come across much of the specific terminology, which can seem daunting at first and make you think it is an unobtainable goal. However, many people do just 'fall into' project management. They are simply already working in a job where the PM role becomes necessary and they fall into it, probably having done the job in some shape or form for a while, just without the realisation or the formal job title.
Project management is something you can learn over time "on-the-job" and via project management training courses. A combination of real-world experience and formal learning make for the most successful project managers.
So if you are considering a career in project management this easy Q&A guide should help you decide if it's for your. Below we aim to answer some basic project management questions and help you get an easy, beginner's insight into the industry.
What Is Project Management?
The first question many of us ask when we hear about this industry - what is it? It sounds relatively simple - a person who manages project. But then you see all the terminology and read some of the many articles and blog posts you realise there is a lot more to it. So what does it actually involve?
The Oxford Dictionary definition of a project manager is:
"The person in overall charge of the planning and execution of a particular project."
Which sounds really simple, and as a beginner, that is how you should look at it. You apply processes, skills, experience and training in order to help a project reach its goal.
A project is something usually defined by its benefits where you then plan tasks in order to reach the objectives which will provide the benefits of the project. Basically a project is a way to get from A to B. So a company wants a software application made that provides a certain functionality and the project is a means to make that application in a set time, for a set amount of money. Obviously this is an over-simplification, but the details are something you can learn as you go along.
What Are The Key Parts Of Project Management
Project management involves numerous skills and processes, and it can be difficult to pin down exactly what the core parts of project management are. Just some of the key parts of project management are:
● Securing the funding for a project
● Clearly finding out the reason a project is beneficial, then defining that reason
● Accurately planning and estimating the resources needed for a project
● Accurately planning and estimating the timescales needed to complete the project
● Creating a detailed business plan that justifies any investment into the project
● Creating a clear plan for the project, and implementing that plan
● Leading the project team to success
● Performing risk management
● Accurately monitoring the project and everything related to it
When Is Project Management Used?
Project management can be used in so many different areas of life - business and personal. Some people do project management training and don't end up becoming project managers, but they still use the skills in their jobs and to organise and manage themselves and others. You can apply project management concepts to so many parts of life, so the benefit of PM training is universal.
Within business, projects are used to achieve very specific objectives which require a concentrated amount of teamwork. The way a PM manages that work depends on the project, the methodologies used and various other factors. The size of the project, the location, the challenges - all will differ depending on the circumstances. So to make it simple - everyday business needs do not require project management, but a specific target or need does require a project.
Why Would A Person Or Organisation Use Project Management?
Project management has so many benefits, there are many reasons it is used. The key reasons are:
● Ensuring that everything involved with the project - the manpower, money, time etc - is managed and controlled correctly
● Ensuring that the objective of the project is reached, or increasing the likelihood that it is reached
● Ensuring the people involved are kept aware of developments, kept on track and all focusing on the common goal
What Does It Take To Be A Project Manager?
Everyone is different in how they approach project management. One person might have a very careful and considered approach to being a PM, another might be loud and impulsive with their methods - both could work equally well in terms of achieving the project objectives. That said, there are universal skills that a lot of PM's share.
In terms of personality, the type of person right for the job does depend on the type of project. But usually you would expect a person to be enthusiastic, passionate and extrovert. However, introverted project managers can do really well, but their approach might struggle with more complex projects.
Of the most part, project managers tend to be, or would benefit from being:
● Technically knowledgeable on the project subject
● Detail oriented
● Consistently trying to self improve
● A natural problem solver
● Emotionally intelligent
What Is A Project Manager In Charge Of?
This again depends on the project and the exact PM role a person might have. They may not just be a general PM, they could also be a program manager, project coordinator - there are many types of PM roles. Of the most part, a PM is in charge of leading the team to success, needs to use the correct methodology or processes to make the project a success, and is responsible for the entire project. The details of the PM role will differ depending on the project, organisation and circumstances.
How Much Can A Project Manager Earn?
An experienced and well-qualified project manager's salary is usually upwards of £45,000 with some earning much more if they are lucky enough to land a job at one of the major worldwide organisations. The industry is becoming bigger very quickly as companies recognise the value in the job role.
Do I Need PM Training?
Getting project management certification is a great thing to do. When project management training is completed by a set of individuals, they have a common language and are able to work within a common framework. A level of excellence is established and shared. Getting PM certification also enables a person to prove their expertise, to mentor others, to be an authority on their chosen area of expertise, to broaden job prospects, to earn more - the list of benefits it endless.
How Do You Get Into Project Management?
If you are interested in getting into project management you should talk to any PM's you already know about how they landed their job role. A lot of project managers accidentally fall into the position, but that can happen with a bit of manoeuvring from you as well. If you think that your company could benefit from having a project manager - pitch the job position to your manager and see if this could be your way in. Alternatively, as a complete beginner the best thing you can do is learn, learn, learn. A well rounded body of skills includes experience and education - you will certainly need both. Make sure you:
● Find out where the projects are within your company so you can approach that department
● Network with lots of people within the company you already work for
● Speak to management and HR about potential job prospects and about where you're trying to get to with your job role
● Do additional work paid or unpaid, that gives you valuable experience in the job role
● Consider some project management training
● Try to speak to people outside of your workplace who might be able to give you an insight. Look on forums and message boards and speak to people who are in the position you want to be in.
If you're completely at the beginning of your PM road and need guidance, why not speak to a careers advisor? They could speak to you about the skills you do have and the skills you need to get ahead in project management. The best thing about the job is the fact there is a demand for people who can do the job well. These positions are open remotely and across the globe so you could easily pick up amazing opportunities if you truly push yourself in this career path - and if you are a true project manager, you will have no problem networking, training and pushing yourself to get where you want to be. Good luck!
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