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“How to get your “foot in the door” and make it to

the top as a Project Manager”


By
Dr. Jim Oloidi, Project Management Career Coach, Computer Career Centre.

Career Overview
Simply put, project management is all about setting and achieving reasonable and attainable goals.
It is the process of planning, organising, and overseeing how and when these goals are met. Unlike
business managers who oversee a specific functional business area, project managers orchestrate all
aspects of time-limited, discrete projects. For instance, a project manager who’s overseeing the
development of a new product or service may manage personnel from departments as disparate as
marketing, IT, and human resources.

Everyone practices project management to some degree: Homeowners plan their housework, the
host of a dinner party tries to serve the meal on time, a parent assigns and oversees his children’s
chores. Farmers plan what, when, and how they're going to plant; how they’re going to take care of
their crops as they grow; and how and when they’re going to harvest those crops In business,
project management is an art, a skill, and a demanding full-time job. Project managers are key
employees in such industries as construction, engineering, architecture, manufacturing, IT, Local
Government, Central Government, NHS, Education and real estate development, but many
opportunities for PMs exist outside these areas. In computer hardware and software for example,
project managers are responsible for launching new products, developing new technologies, and
managing alliance programs with strategic partners.

Large corporations such as insurance companies, building society and banks may also hire PMs to
manage the implementation of new standards or practices in their many branch offices. Internet
companies often look for project managers to oversee site launches or the development of new
applications.

Whether a project involves constructing a building, releasing a product, or launching a rocket,


project managers make sure everything comes together in a timely, cost-effective manner—and take
the heat if it doesn't. Their high-profile, high-risk work demands multitasking ability, analytical
thinking, and excellent communication skills.

What You'll Do
Project managers live and breathe by their schedules. In most cases, a project is planned down to
the daily or even hourly level, and a formal schedule is developed using Product Based Planning
(PRINCE2) or the Critical Path Method (CPM), a precedence-based technique that determines the
sequence in which things must happen. Milestones punctuate most project schedules, indicating the
required completion of various steps.

All project support staff will be taught least one CPM scheduling software application, such as
Microsoft Project, Primavera, Scitor Project Scheduler, AEC FastTrack, CA-SuperProject, or
Kidasa Milestones. These skills can be picked up in a day or two. Many scheduling applications are
tailored to specific industries or project types, but all use CPM precedence methodology.

Most scheduling programs also help allocate resources, another big part of a project manager's job.
If you are running a software development project, for example, you have to know how many
software engineers will be available and how many hours they'll need to work. Likewise, if you're
running a construction project involving cranes and excavators that must be leased on an hourly

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basis, you'll need to know when to have those machines on site to get the most work done for the
least money. Balancing limited labour, materials, and other resources is a difficult task that earns a
good project manager top salaries and bonuses.

Who Does Well


Many project managers cite stress as the main downside to their jobs. PMs are responsible for their
projects' successes or failures, which determine both their income and their status within a company
and industry. In construction, if a project isn't brought in on time, the builder has to pay damages for
each day's delay, and the project manager will lose a bonus—and possibly even his or her job.

For some, the black-and-white scenario is a refreshing challenge. Delivering a project "on time and
under budget" can provide great emotional rewards. The job offers the opportunity to lead, and new
projects keep the work fresh. If you have an analytical mind, good people skills, and the willingness
to rise or fall on the demonstrated success of your work, project management may be for you.

Requirements
Educational requirements for project managers vary greatly according to the type of projects they
manage. For construction projects, a civil engineering degree or HND is usually required. High-tech
PMs may need a degree or professional certification. In all cases, the most successful project
managers have some type of formal business training. Project management has a direct effect on a
company's bottom line, so a PM must be able to evaluate a project's financial repercussions from a
corporate point of view.

Project managers also need strong leadership skills, the ability to set and stick to a schedule,
multitasking ability, analytical thinking, strong communication skills, and an orientation toward
getting things done.

Certification
Professional certification in project management is available through PRINCE2, APM, IT Project
Plus(USA)-Comptia or Project Management Institute (USA), which bestows the profession's most
globally recognised and respected credential—certification as a Project Management Professional.
To obtain the PRINCE2 credential, applicants must satisfy requirements involving PRINCE2
training, agree to a code of ethics, and pass the PRINCE2 certification examination. Many
corporations require PRINCE2 certification for employment or advancement.

Job Outlook
As might be expected, project management opportunities depend on the number of projects taking
place. When the economy is booming, demand for PMs is usually high. When the economy is slow,
demand for PMs is even higher, as organisations will be launching more project to get them out of
the recession. A wide range of industries use PMs to handle everything from launching new
products to leading restructuring efforts to converting Management Information Systems(MIS).

The Department of Works and Pensions predicts job growth for project managers in all industries to
increase about as fast as average for all occupations through to 2012 due to the London Olympics.
Increasing complexity of projects could, however, drive demand slightly above average. With the
new changes in the financial regulations, public sector regulations, European legislations. There
will always be a huge demand for Project managers and project support/co-ordination staff across
all sectors.

Career Tracks
Very few people start out as project managers. Most are offered an assistant position on a project
management team and are assigned responsibility for one aspect of the work. As you gain
2 © Computer Career Centre 2009. All Rights Reserved
experience, you may be assigned more and more tasks to manage, until you're ready to lead others
in completing an entire project. Other newcomers start out with primarily on project support,
creating, tracking, and updating the schedule using a software program; reviewing documents, and
writing reports.

Project Support/Coordinator/Administrator
Project coordinator is an entry-level position that offers exposure to the work done by project
managers. It's usually an administrative position involving a great deal of paperwork. You generate
and distribute the reports that keep the project management team, owners, company staff, and others
informed of a project's progress. You also schedule meetings and assist the management team in
any way possible.

Project Planner
For larger projects, a project scheduler runs the software, inputting all of the various information
supplied by the management team and updating files as needed. As a technical position, it involves
a great deal of computer work and little actual management. You will also support the
Configuration Librarian and maintain the project templates in PRINCE2. Also a good working
knowledge of project management software tools

Assistant Project Manager


Assistant PMs do not necessarily assist the project manager directly. Rather, they're usually
assigned specific tasks to manage. They meet regularly with the PM to report progress and
problems. They can be delegated the project assurance roles, help in the writing of the checkpoint
and highlight reports. They also help the project manager to identify record and review the risk log.

Project Manager
In this position, you may run a project yourself or lead a management team, delegating task
management to assistants. PMs report to the "owner" of a project—whether that's a real estate
developer, government agency, or your company's senior management. You're not paying the
money, but you take responsibility for the project's proper completion.

Senior Project Manager or Programme Manager


Many large organisations that tackle multiple projects at once employ a senior project manager. The
senior project manager or programme manager supervises a company's various project managers,
coordinating the allocation of company resources, approving costs, and deciding which projects
should take priority.

Compensation
Compensation for project managers is always based at least partly on performance. You are
encouraged to "buy in" to the success of your project, and there are almost always incentives to
keep costs down. Project managers who can complete an assignment ahead of schedule or under
budget usually get a nice bonus. In hard-bid construction, for example, PM bonuses are based on a
company's profit from a project; a good PM on a multimillion-pound construction job can make
tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of pounds as a bonus.

• Project Support/Coordinator/Administrator: £15,000 to £20,000


• Project scheduler: £20,000 to £30,000
• Assistant Project Manager: £20,000 to £35,000
• Project Manager: £40,000 to £60,000, plus bonus
• Senior Project Manager: £70,000 to £100,000, plus bonus
• Programme Manager: £70,000 to £100,000, plus bonus

3 © Computer Career Centre 2009. All Rights Reserved