Project management course for unofficial manager

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Project management course for unofficial manager

Postby Abby » Wed Oct 07, 2015 3:27 pm

I found a course offered by our local bioscience association "PROJECT MANAGEMENT ESSENTIALS FOR THE UNOFFICIAL PROJECT MANAGER" and was wondering what people think about the utility of this? I have been the unofficial project manager for my project for the last year, guiding our device toward regulatory clearance. My path at my company is likely to include more of these unofficial leadership opportunities with a promotion in 2016. This seems like the chance to add some formal training onto the workplace experience I've been getting. Price is manageable to me and I might be able to get my department head to pay for it too. Thoughts?
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Re: Project management course for unofficial manager

Postby PG » Thu Oct 08, 2015 4:04 am

Taking a training is often useful especially when the company is willing to pay for it. It shows your interest in developing your skills within a certain area. That the company starts investing in your development within that area which makes them think about you when that type of opportunities within the company are being discussed and of course it hopefully also provides new knowledge, new networking contacts and some inspiration for you to develop yourself.

This is a very different situation as compared to people coming directly from other studies discussing the value of taking another course to make them more attractive on the job market which is a much harder goal to achieve.
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Re: Project management course for unofficial manager

Postby Ana » Fri Oct 09, 2015 11:25 am

I agree with PG, it looks like a very interesting course to take from the career development perspective. Project management touches everything, way beyond the usual official “research projects”, and you don’t need to be the official project manager or project leader to bring some significant value into your work by having a well structured head which is what a lot of those trainings help for.

When I moved out of pharma I started working with groups where no one had any project management training, and the meetings would go like:
Person A: “I think we should do X”
Persons B and C: “yes, we should do that”
And without any knowledge or good hands on experience on project management those plans would end up dead because there is no structure or follow up.

Enter now Abby who has experience and training in project management:
Person A: “I think we should do X”
Persons B and C: “yes, we should do that”
Abby: “sound great, when do we need it and who in charge of that action?”
Completely different project outcome.

If your department manager were not to pay for it, something I’ve negotiated in the past is that I pay for it but the company would count that time as worked as opposed to time off because it directly benefits my work. You might to consider doing something similar if your company couldn’t for some reason get it in the budget.
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Re: Project management course for unofficial manager

Postby Dave Walker » Mon Oct 12, 2015 12:52 pm

Classes like these are great for your own development, and for your future if it aligns with what you'd like to do. I think it's a good idea to approach them more for your own edification than for changes to your job duties/title (this was probably not your intention anyway, but I say it for the general reader).

The only worry I have is that if your department pays for your class, they may expect more out of you as a result. If it directly relates to your job (for example, if you are a sales account manager and you go to a sales training meeting) then that benefits everyone all around. This is probably a little overblown on my part, but your know your colleagues best.

In personal experience, I have seen someone take computer programming classes and then get saddled with programming-related work outside of their that case, hiring a full time programmer was absolutely necessary.

Just my $0.02.
"The single factor that differentiates Nobel laureates from other scientists is training with another Nobel laureate." -- Sol Snyder
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Re: Project management course for unofficial manager

Postby Dustin Levy » Mon Oct 12, 2015 2:01 pm

If I could magically improve two skills across my company, they would be project management and time management. Regardless of role or title, everybody should be skilled in these areas. Courses never hurt, but you really learn by doing, trying new things, continuing what works, and parking what doesn’t work.

If your manager won’t pay for a training course, you can get where you need to be by reading some relevant books, webinars, etc. and exercising some best practices. Whether you read a book or take a seminar, it’s in the practice afterwards when you really learn and improve.

Then, when you get really good at it, you can leave the company, and remind them that they should have honored your request to pay for the course.
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Re: Project management course for unofficial manager

Postby D.X. » Thu Oct 15, 2015 9:10 am


I would just add, unless you really plan to be a Project Manager and grow in Project Management, I don't think you need a course.

As Dustin said, alot of Project management is experience-based and usually implimented per need and tailored accordingly.

The biggest risk you take in taking such course in the Absence of experience is that you may walk out and try to apply an over-engineered a Project Management Approach that does not serve the Need for the Project or program being managed - first rule of Project Management from a real-world perspective: Keep it simple. If you don't adapt and tailor, then the consequence can be lost crediblity, others will not follow you.

There are some fundamentals elements Ana spoke to, but in reality do what you Need to get the Project done - a bit of common sense goes a Long way. Key aspects include know what you're trying to achieve, get everyone aligned, define what success Looks like and then start in with your "what's", your "who", with what resources, by "when", and identify your risks, and have good documentation and tracking (keep it simple)'re on your way.

If your not a defined Project Manager or have a dedicated Project Manager to support you, - then you don't want to have Project Management be a second job when you need to deliver against objectives. Back to Keep it simple.

Some self-learning is OK and many resources are on the Internet. If you want to learn some free fundamentals, look up HERMES - it is a free, in English, Project Management program with supporting tutorials, excell templates, PPTs, provided by the Swiss government. It was developed for Setting up an IT infrastructure - I believe its 6 or 5 process steps, each with the granular steps. Just spend some time getting top-Level familar with it, and you'll get the essentials of PM Approach - its highly organized and engineered for a big Project but the elements can be extracted and applied to less orgnaized or
engineered needs.

Not to negate the need for good Project management skills but the success factors for good Project Management also aligned to good leadership skills - alot of Project management is working with people and aligning them and having them commit THIER resources (time, Budget, FTEs etc.) - if you want a company to invest in you, better have them pay for leadership development course work such as soft-skills, active-listening, conflict-resolution and presentation faciliation. All applicable to Project Management.

Good luck!

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Re: Project management course for unofficial manager

Postby Rich Lemert » Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:06 pm

The type of program you're looking at does have a couple of points in its favor.

- First, it's going to be tailored to your industry and/or position, so you're more likely to learn specific, practical lessons that you can use immediately. A certificate like the PMP (Project Management Professional) has to be designed for a general audience, so it's often up to you to figure out how to implement your learnings.

- Second, it will give you a structure within which to frame your current duties and be more efficient.

- Third, it will give you the language you need to talk to other project managers - and often, to talk to the different people you'll be interacting with in your current projects.

- Finally, it's probably a lot cheaper than going for something like the PMP.
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Re: Project management course for unofficial manager

Postby Abby » Wed Jul 13, 2016 1:29 pm

Just found my old post:
I found this one day class to be very helpful. Our company was already using some of the tools presented for the middle of projects, but the techniques presented for the beginning and end of project were very helpful. The concept of continuously reviewing your risk assessment was a new one to me too.

And my company did pay for the class. My department head asked me not to advertise that I was going since we don't have a lot of budget for these things, but he thought it was a good thing for me to do for my career growth. All you can do is ask and the worst they can say is no.
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