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Wondering how you can become a project manager? Well, to begin, what is a project manager and what do project managers do?
Project managers are responsible for being the lead on a project from launch to completion. This includes planning the project, executing it and managing the resources, people and scope of it. A project manager must be very disciplined in order to create and maintain clear objectives. They must strive to successfully complete these objectives at all times.
The Roles of a Project Manager
As you research how to become a project manager, it’s important to know the role one plays. Although rarely involved in the day-to-day activities which produce end results, he/she is responsible to the project overall management. This job position involves overseeing project techniques and tools and any services and products associated with the project itself. They’re also responsible for recruiting team members, building project teams and making risks projections for the project.
One of the major roles of project managers is team management. This means managing personalities and relationships within the project team. These teams must be able to communicate, work and plan well together. So, it’s crucial that these managers know how to maintain and collaborate successful relationships among team members.
Conflict and friction will inevitably arise as the creative process develops. However, the team manager ensures that they don’t destroy the project at hand. So, becoming a project manager also involves applying effective human management efforts.
The Art of Project Management
Wondering how to become a project manager and turn it into a successful career? Then, you need to know how to apply the techniques, skills, tools and knowledge to the project’s various activities. This helps you meet the requirements needed to make the project successful.
The failure or success of the project falls in the hands of its manager. Some of the typical responsibilities of a project manager include:
- Planning, Implementing, Execution and Closing – Define the project. Create an effective work plan. Put the plan in place. Manage the project to completion.
- Team Management – Recruit, train and manage team members. Remove obstacles. Track productivity. Keep team members motivated.
- Expectation Management – Create obtainable project goals. Align those goals with business goals. Manage project stakeholders. Communicate project difficulties, milestones and status updates as needed.
Steps to Become a Project Manager
Here are some of the ways you can start building gaining experience and building your credentials in the project management industry:
- Blogs – Do an online search on Google Blogs using the term “project management resources.” Read through some of the blog posts to gather some tips on how to become a project manager.
- Build Industry Relationships – Start following Twitter users in the project management industry. And, actually interact with them, reading tweets and retweeting valuable ones. Join and participate in LinkedIn groups run by industry leaders. Engage with group members to get as much industry knowledge as you can.
- Watch Industry Leaders’ Webinars – Webinars are a very effective way to learn tips and tricks on how to be a project manager. There are many webinars related to project management training. Some are even free.
- Become a Certified Project Manager – Find an accredited school that offers a training program for certifying project management programs. You can always get free or low-cost project management training from various sources. However, it’s best to get certified by a Project Management Institute (PMI) that’s both registered and accredited as an education provider. This shows potential employers that you have received a quality education on how to become a project manager.
I’m sure you have all seen these types of lists on various websites or in your twitter feed (or maybe you haven’t because you subscribe to more interesting types of content than I do), because there are many of them out there. In fact, they write books and publish reports about this sort of thing. Why? Because projects keep failing and we keep trying to figure out what we can do to ensure that OUR projects don’t fail. (Editorial note – I realize that even the term ‘failure’ can be quite subjective and they write books about that sort of thing too).
So, why DO projects fail? Good question, right? Here are a few reasons, from my experience.
1) Unrealistic schedule and/or budget
Ok, this was an easy one so I won’t spend too much time on it. It is worth noting, of course, since it often…
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Check out the hypothetical agile burndown and EVM (Earned Value Management) charts below. Like in the “real” world, the example project (or sprint, if you prefer) ended up being underestimated. The shortfall is indicated by the dotted line on the right.
When we literally flip the agile burndown chart in the vertical dimension, we get this:
The moral of the story is: “Don’t be fooled by the agilista herd; an agile burndown chart is nothing but an inverted version of the despised EVM chart.”
This is a strange statement to make, no? However, be that as it may, the truth of the statement is inescapable – deliverables are NOT objectives as so many project managers (PM) and Business Analysts (BA) seem to think. Deliverables are the result of careful planning, properly campaigned objectives towards the goal of producing ‘fit-for-use’ (FFU) deliverables. Thinking of your deliverables as objectives is like thinking that your vacation is the objective instead of the goal of your time off. You can spend your time off in many different ways achieving different results, accomplishing various activities, but the deliverable of your time off, this time or thinking of it as your project, is the production of an enjoyable vacation to the Bahamas. Your objectives would be the series of major tasks or activities grouped into manageable…
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Setting up and managing a project is an important part of getting things done at any company. It’s an unfortunate truth that more than a few projects have been undone because they have been mismanaged, run inefficiently, or fallen apart. The modern era offers new and powerful ways to manage projects through the use of telecommunications, but it’s crucial to not be overwhelmed by what is out there and to maintain an on-time and on-budget pursuit of projects. Finding the best project management software can be a chore, so here are some of the top choices to help you stop worrying about that and get into the project itself as quickly as possible.
Keeping Track of Ideas
In the first stages of a project you’re going to need software that helps you and your colleagues or employees keep track of ideas as and when they come up. Convenience is key to ensure distractions and imperfect memories don’t let an idea disappear. Similarly, powerful brainstorming tools can help keep track of everything. Keeping all the notes and being able to share them electronically helps to ensure the focus is on the ideas, not on remembering where you put that post-it note with a great idea on in.
For note-taking consider using a program like Evernote. Evernote is a very handy note-taking app that can be used on handheld devices, meaning as long as you can use your phone, you can take notes. What’s more the app doesn’t just provide ordinary text notes, it can also record you, store photographs as notes, and, if the hardware supports it, can perform handwriting recognition. As saves can be to the cloud, it’s simple to take notes where needed and retrieve them elsewhere as well as sharing them with colleagues.
When it comes to brainstorming and mind mapping, XMind is one of the best choices. It is a program which lets you create mind maps in a number of styles and to share them as needed without fuss. XMind will help in the early stages of a project by providing a clean visual interface that allows information and ideas to be kept track of, whether it’s the work of an individual or a group.
If your ideas are set and your project is ready to get underway, you want to find the best project management software available. If a project’s elements can be laid out clearly and assigned easily, and you can keep track of who is doing what at all times, you’ll be in a much better place to get things done properly and to handle any problems as they arise, before they have time to escalate. Fortunately there are quite a few good options out there in this regard, such as these;
- Trello is an app that lets you create tasks, assign them, and get feedback, and lets everyone involved to add comments.
- Wunderlist lets you create projects as to-do lists, and you can add sub-tasks to those items. You can share with others, add recurring to-dos, add reminders, and sync across all your devices.
- Another great choice is Asana which performs similarly, but with a special emphasis on teamwork and making it easy to share ideas and monitor progress.
The above are just some of the options to help manage your projects efficiently, but they are among the best project management software choices out there. Finding the ones right for your objectives and your company can simplify projects enormously as you can devote less time to management and more to working on the project.