Here you’ll find the questions we are most often asked in our list of project management FAQs. But if there is a question not covered here that you would like us to answer, then feel free to ask in the comments section at the end
In order to demystify the five stages of project management; we can summarise them as the following:-
– Project initiation
– Project planning
– Project execution
– Project monitoring
– Project closing
The above stages can then be further divided into their own components (e.g. scope and budget, communication plan, deliverables) which cover the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques necessary to meet the requirements of the life cycle of each particular project.
A project manager’s role is both challenging and rewarding in equal measure and this is precisely due to the all-encompassing nature of the work. Ultimately, a project manager is responsible for the successful delivery of each and every project they undertake; within budget and on time whilst fulfilling the expectations of clients and stakeholders alike.
Parallel project training teach and train people to be the ultimate “multi-taskers” and although we appreciate that the day to day specifics will depend on the industry worked in and project type; the common thread of every project management role will involve:-
– Meeting with stakeholders and other interested parties
– Continually keeping an eye on man hours, expenses and budget-
– Managing conflicts and keeping motivation high
– Team leading and ensuring communication is free flowing
– Continually checking progress and making revisions where necessary
Project management can be described as the way a person (project manager) organises and manages the resources (tools, skills, other people and processes etc) that are necessary to complete a project.
You can still enter at ground level and receive on the job training within a company – after all – there is nothing like experience and getting paid for it. However, if you wish to begin your career higher up the ladder and/or further your career at some point; formal qualifications will usually be necessary as many organisations now require their project managers to be certified in addition to having the requisite experience and skills for the role. This is where a professional training company comes in.
We appreciate most people have heard the job title, but many have no real idea of what the role entails.
A project is a temporary venture that is undertaken in order to achieve a defined and desired outcome. Project management is the application of resources, tools and processes required to achieve this outcome.
Project management is different to the ongoing, 9-5 business as usual activity of a company. Instead project management is used to achieve specific end goals.
Hopefully with flying colours! The usual run of the mill interview tips will always apply but here some top tips:
– Greet people when you enter the room and be cheerful.
– Do not use sales pitch. Think personal.
– Remain focused on the skill requirements of the role.
– Try not to give generic answers. Use real life examples.
– Be proud to state the obstacles you have overcome and mistakes you have learnt from.
– Highlight best practices you have used
If you’ve got the job and are about to start a new project, what might you need to know about? Due to our years of experience, we know that these are the top ten points any project manager needs to ask before beginning their first project:
What is the project actually delivering?
There will obviously be an overarching deliverable, but each phase of the project will require certain items or stages to be delivered in order. A succinct timeline of these will act as an effective road map towards a successful destination (and completion).
What are we NOT delivering!
To avoid any confusion and scope creep – it is important to get specific on what EXACTLY the project is responsible for delivering at each stage.
What is the deadline?
It can happen that a project does not have a deadline in place and although this may initially sound less stressful – spiralling costs and a lack lustre approach can prove to be anything but! Both a budget and time limit will actually help your team to stay focused and keep everything on track.
Who is the real client?
A common occurrence is that you will begin a project and perhaps dealing with one or two individuals and suddenly this expands to a whole host of people trying to offer feedback and make decisions. This can be very disconcerting and so it is important to clarify exactly whose opinion matters and whether, at different stages of the project, additional stakeholders may be brought in to offer feedback – to be forewarned is to be forearmed!
Following on from this – you need to know who the point of contact will be, and this will be especially important in the case of an emergency or need an answer right now scenario! Just as important is there preferred method of contact. The last thing you will want is to send an urgent email to someone who will never read it!
Who will be doing the work?
Regarding your internal team – you need to be sure you have the right people on the job for each stage of the project so you will need to do a little homework and ensure your inter personal skills are up to scratch (training can help with this too). Ensuring people have the right skills and/or training and any contractors or freelancers have been researched can take up a large chunk of the initial planning but it’s important to get this right.
Don’t forget the consumer audience
It is important not to forget the “silent audience” during a project because ultimately they will be the ones viewing, interacting with and/or purchasing your work. It may be that surveys or research can be carried out – either way – it is important to keep the end user in mind as well as the needs of the immediate stakeholders.
Be a copy cat
The best things have always been done before in one form or another so there is no need to be afraid of modelling a project on what has worked for other organisations etc. Asking both your clients and internal team for examples of projects or products that inspire them can also be an ice breaker and provide rocket fuel for success.
The road to success is paved with:-
OBSTACLES! It may seem counter intuitive to talk about what may go wrong but even the most successful projects encounter bumps in the road. Discussing the potential pitfalls is not only an exercise in humility but also prepares everyone for the likelihood that it will happen especially when dealing with variables such as staffing, budget, timeframes etc and offers the opportunity to huddle and brainstorm the best solutions.
What is the measuring stick of success?
The goal of a project may sound straightforward but is there a deeper meaning. Here at project parallel we are aware that many clients have driving forces that remain partially hidden or obscured so it is best to bring them to the table so that your project has the best chance of success for you and your client.
To give an example:
Your client wants you to build them a new website. You presume it is to get more sales BUT it could be that they wish to build more brand awareness or launch a new product. This shows how important it is to encourage openness and also check in regularly to check that the “vision” hasn’t changed.
You will want to ensure that you are training with a company with a track record of delivering qualifications that are instantly recognisable within today’s project management industry whether this is face to face or virtual, home based training. The benchmark of a good training company is one that can deliver flexible training solutions to their clients. We can.
APM is the only chartered body for this field and so training with an APM registered provider like us will give you the best chance of starting (or continuing) down the road of project management success. The APM PMQ qualification, for example, is an internationally recognised qualification that is “transferable” from one industry to another.
If you chose to train with us you could achieve an APM Project Fundamentals Qualification in as little as 3-5 days via online learning and a 60 question multiple-choice exam. This is an ideal way to kick start your interest in project management and provides a basic grounding in the processes, tools and language of the role and best practices used.
There are generally three more levels of certification for project management and the level required will depend on your interests and any professional requirements but you could become a certified project manager in as little as 6 weeks with our APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ).
This qualification is a globally recognised qualification that will enable you to change jobs and industries without the need for new certification. Most training companies offer online learning or onsite delivery if you are part of a larger group.
None or several! The answer will be different depending exactly where you are on the project management career ladder and the kind of company you are working for/wish to work for.
You do not require a degree in project management to begin your career, but it will certainly help if you have existing qualifications in the industry area you wish to work for, such as being a project manager in IT or engineering for example.
On the job training
Many companies will offer on the job training, but you will likely begin employment in a junior or assistant manager role. Although some advancement will probably be available; without certification you may be limited in terms of how far you can progress. You could also find it difficult to change employment and stay at the same level without certification to enhance your experience.
Industry certification is a sure-fire way to advance your career and open up more opportunities in PM including increases in pay grades. Several different levels of certification can be gained through the Association of Project Managers (APM) and we are one of their training providers.
Prince2 is a process-based method that is used for effective project management and consists of seven principles. Each PRINCE2 project needs to include ALL of the principles otherwise it cannot be considered to be a PRINCE2 Project.
The seven core principles are as follows and together they make up the framework of good project practice for all those involved in a project.
1. Continued Business Justification
2. Defined Roles and Responsibilities
3. Focus on Products
4. Learn from Experience
5. Manage by Exception
6. Manage by Stages
7. Tailor to Suit the Project Environment
PRINCE2 stands for projects in controlled environments and is both a methodology AND a certification that can be used to give you the fundamental skills that you need in order to become a project manager. It can also be used for projects using agile software development methods.
PRINCE2 is established as the world’s most practiced method for project management and is required by some companies as a pre-requisite to work for them as a project manager.
There are 2 levels to this certification: Foundation (beginner) and Practitioner (standard) and the route is clear – you pass two exams and that’s it, however, there is a lot that you need to learn and even if you have project management role experience – this will not necessarily translate to “exam ready” experience.
We respect the fact that this certification can be worthwhile, but it is important to weigh up the pros and cons to decide whether it is the most cost effective and professional option for you.
Scrum is an Agile project management methodology that is followed to help clear away all the obstacles faced by the project management team during their work. This work is carried out in short cycles called sprints and daily meetings are held in order to discuss the obstacles that are being faced during that sprint.
A Scrum Master is exactly who he or she sounds! This is the person who clears away the obstacles to leave the playing field clear for the workers to meet their goals and targets.
Different and the same! Scrum and Kanban are the two frameworks of the Agile methodology. Agile is a project management methodology for software development and consists of a set of methods and practices based on the Agile guiding values and principles. Scrum is a framework or a method of implementation.
Agile is a time boxed, iterative approach to software delivery that builds software incrementally from the start of the project; using continuous releases and customer feedback to constantly refine, instead of trying to deliver one product in one go at the end of the project.
Customer satisfaction is always the highest priority. This satisfaction is achieved through a cycle of continuous releases and customer feedback.
Changing environments are embraced at any stage of the PM process. This fast adapting approach offers the customer a competitive advantage.
Products and services are delivered at higher frequency intervals
Stakeholders and developers collaborate daily
Face to face meetings are the choice of meeting for project success
Everyone remains motivated and supported in order to achieve optimal project success
The final working project is the benchmark of success
The focus is kept on sustainable development with a constant, on-going pace
Technical excellence and design are paramount
Simplicity is not underrated
Teams are trusted to self-organise in order to develop the best designs and meet requirements
Regular intervals are used to fine-tune behaviours and improve project efficiency