OnlinePMCourses
Please Share

Category Archives for PRINCE2

Why the Stage Gate Process will Make You a Better Project Manager

Stage Gate Process

The Stage Gate Process gets too little love from Project Managers. Yet it has the potential to transform your project management, deliver more successful projects, and make you a better project manager.

A Stage Gate is also known by many other names:

  • Phase Gate (PMBOK 6th Edition)
  • Gateway (PRINCE2)
  • Boundary Gate (most pleasing expression of the metaphor)
  • Gate, or Toll-gate
  • Go / No-go Review (literal name)
  • Kill Point (severely deprecated by OnlinePMCourses)

In a Stage Gate process, you break your project into stages, or phases. Each stage ends with a gate. And the metaphor is simple: you don’t complete the stage and cross to the next one, until you pass through the gate. So, at each stage gate, the project’s decision-makers review your project against a set of criteria.

Using the information you make available, they decide whether to:

  • Continue the project to its next stage
  • Repeat work (stay in the stage), for resubmission for Stage Gate Review
  • Stop the project
  • Require changes before it proceeds
  • Place the project on hold (very rarely)

In this article, we look at why a stage gate process will enhance your project management, and how to make it work.

PMI Talent Triangle - Technical Project Management

Continue reading…

What are the Best Project Management Books?

Yes, we've had a huge revolution in how we can learn and teach ourselves. And you may be ready for a project management course. But, for a new project manager, project management books are still a great way to learn. And for those of us with experience under our belts, the right project management books can offer new insights and ideas.

So, what project management books would I recommend to a new project manager?

That's the question I have set out to answer in this article. Any selection of the best project management books must be subjective and this is no different. But in this revised version of an old article, I have tried to make it as useful as possible, by dividing it into four sections:

  1. Easy to read introductory project management books
  2. Next step project management books for PMs with a little experience under your belt
  3. Next step books on specific project management disciplines
  4. More demanding reads, with a higher technical content

So with this explanation, but with no apology for the subjective selections, here are my recommendations. Please add your own to the comments section below.

PMI Talent Triangle - Technical Project Management

Part 1: Easy to Read Introductory Project Management Books

What are the Best Project Management BooksLet's say you are a real beginner. You've been tasked with a project and have no formal project management training. You may have no experience either. But perhaps more likely, you've delivered small personal projects before... and maybe even some small organizational projects.

What project management books will give you a straightforward, easy to follow, intro to doing your first structured project?

Here, I am looking for:

  • Easy to read - the author must be a confident and effective communicator
  • Simple but authoritative - the author's project process must be straightforward, but be rooted in strong best practice
  • Clearly structured - the book needs to follow a solid structure, making it easy for the reader to get repeatable results

The result is five project management books.

And this time, I am not going to be coy. I wrote my own introductory book to meet the three criteria above, so I shall start with that one.

How to Manage a Great Project: On budget. On target. On time.
Mike Clayton

How to Manage a Great Project by Mike Clayton

Of all my project management books, this is the fundamental one. I designed it to take a beginer to a good level of competence, in eight easy steps.

So instead of telling you what I think, here is what Anne-Marie O'Hara, Head of Projects at The National Trust for Scotland, said:

'Read this book, follow his advice and you will succeed.'

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

What You Need to Know about Project Management
Fergus O'Connell

What You Need to Know about Project Management

In my opinion, this is the next best of the lightweight mass market trade paperbacks about project management. It has all the basics written clearly in bite sized chunks.

Rather than follow a project lifecycle approach (like How to Manage a Great Project), this project management book focuses on the key skills you need to focus on, to deliver a successful project.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Project Management For Dummies
Stanley E Portney

Project Management for Dummies

I'll admit it... For years, I held out against Dummies books for, well, snobbish reasons. I'm not a Dummy. But this book, like its modern stable mates, does not treat you like a dummy.

Quite simply, it's very good.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Project Management for You: How to Turn Your Ideas Into Reality, Deliver On Your Promises, and Get Things Done
Cesar Abeid

Project Management for You

I don't usually like nor recommend self-published, Kindle-only books. But I will make an exception for this well-written ebook.

It is written in a personal, first person style that you may or may not like, but it is full of good pragmatic advice, clearly explained.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

20:20 Project Management: How to Deliver on Time, on Budget and on Spec
Tony Marks

20:20 Project Management

This is a project management book that was recommended by OnlinePMCourses reader, Angus Duncan in his comment to the previous version of this article. I have taken a look at this book, though not thoroughly. And I was impressed.

It takes a similar, lifecycle approach to How to Manage a Great Project. It is written for a slightly more experienced reader, but I think it still fits with this group, rather than the next.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Part 2: Next-step Project Management Books for PMs with a Little Experience under Your Belt

The first set of books is great for beginners. And they also offer plenty to learn for those readers who have done a few projects and want to refresh their learning and spot areas where you can brush up.

But what if you want to go further?

You have a few projects under your belt. So, now you want to stretch your thinking and improve your project management practice. What are the next-step project management books to speed you on your way to mastery of your craft?

My criteria for these books are:

  • The author is eminent and clearly writes from a standpoint of their own mastery
  • The book will make you think - it has ideas that take you beyond our Part 1 project management books
  • Yet the author still writes in a clear and compelling way, without hiding behind jargon and unnecessary complexity.

 

Performance-Based Project Management: Increasing the Probability of Project Success
Glen B Alleman

Performance-Based Project Management

Glen Alleman really knows his stuff, so this is rigorous, reliable, yet completely straightforward. This represents the distillation into simple ideas of a vast wealth of experience delivering high value, high criticality projects - often in software systems. As soon as I knew Glen was writing a book, I was confident it would rank highly among my best project management books.

Glen is also a frequent project management blogger and has contributed an excellent article on Capabilities Based Planning to OnlinePMCourses.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Alpha Project Managers
Andy Crowe

Alpha Project Managers

This book blew me away.

Andy Crowe has created a thorough survey and deftly extracted large amounts of gold from the data he's mined. I learnt so much from it that I wrote a comprehensive review of the book for an earlier article. Please do take a look at that.

Then buy and read this book.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Herding Chickens. Innovative Techniques for Project Management
Dan Bradbary and David Garrett

Herding Chickens

Glen Alleman's blog is called 'Herding Cats'. Here is a similar metaphor for the challenges of project management. The book's principal author, Dan Bradary, has clearly been around the block a few times (he's a PMP with 30 years' experience when he wrote the book).

So Herding Chickens tackles some of the thorny challenges project managers face day-to-day. And he offers a range of valuable insights drawing on a wide range of ideas and models. His is an approach very similar to mine: read widely, learn from anything, draw it into your practice to test it out, then pass it on if it works.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Making Sense of Project Realities
Charles Smith

Making Sense of Project Realities

Here's another book that will give you insights and ideas for dealing with the day-to-day practicalities of leading a project.

The books style is to create mini case studies and then discuss options and solutions. It's a thoughtful book that sometimes strays into a philosophical mode. The main challenge is that it is a hardback that's out of print, making it expensive to source in book form. But what is inexcusable is the outrageous price Gower charge for the Kindle edition. Order it from your local library, or find a second-hand copy at a good price. It is not worth the $100 or so you'd pay for the Kindle version.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Project Management Coaching Workbook: Six Steps to Unleashing Your Potential
Susanne Madsen

Project Management Coaching Workbook

If you want to self-coach, to become a better PM, and are prepared to put in the work of doing her exercises, Susanne offers a great book. It is one of those project management books you are likely to return to at different stages of your career. She comes from a business project background.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

 

Brilliant Project Leader: What the Best Project Leaders Know, DO, and Say to Get Results, Evert Time
Mike Clayton

Brilliant Project Leader by Mike Clayton

Declaration: this is another one of mine.

This books has three parts. The first looks at the four essentials of team leadership in a project context, and offers a wealth of tools and tips for each. Part 2 sets out the things you need to do to move from project manager to project leader, in each of the four primary project stages. And finally, the last part offers tips and tools for a project leader who needs to deal with tough times - which you will do one day.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Part 3: Next-step Books on Specific Project Management Disciplines

In this part, let's look at some of the specific topics you'll want to study, as you develop your project management career. Here, I'm looking for pretty much the same things as I was in Part 2.

 

Risk Happens! Managing Risk and Avoiding Failure in Business Projects
Mike Clayton

Risk Happens! by Mike Clayton

This is another of my own books, but I firmly believe it is the best introductory level project risk management book out there.

It's written for early-stage project managers who want to go beyond the hour or so of coverage the subject got in their project management training. And it is stuffed full of tables, tools, and diagrams to make a tricky subject easy to understand and practical to implement.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Effective Risk Management: Some Keys to Success
Edmund H Conrow

Effective Risk Management

Here's a book with one of the most self-effacing subtitles: 'some keys to success'. It hides the fact that this is the book you go to when you want an authoritative guide to project risk management... and you are prepared to put the work in.

This is not an easy book. But it is well written and, if you are a serious PM who needs to manage risk rigorously on major projects, it's the book for you.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Identifying and Managing Project Risk
Tom Kendrick

Identifying and Managing Project Risk

This is the intermediate volume between Risk Happens! and Effective Risk Management. It's a big read with more detail than the former. But it is far less rigorous and technical than the latter.

I love Kendrick's telling of the story of the Panama canal, as the end piece to each chapter.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

 

The Influence Agenda: A Systematic Approach to Aligning Stakeholders in Times of Change
Mike Clayton

The Influence Agenda by Mike Clayton

This is the fourth (and last) of my own project management books that I am listing. And I think it's the best.

It is a comprehensive guide to project stakeholder engagement. It avoids proprietary models and cover a huge range of ideas: from stakeholder analysis techniques to persuasive writing, to behavioral economics, to stakeholder campaign management. This is a topic with a paucity of decent books, so this one fills a big gap. It will also give you a three page history of the concept of a stakeholder!

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

The Project Manager's Guide to Mastering Agile: Principles and Practices for an Adaptive Approach
Charles (Chuck) Cobb

The Project Managers Guide to Mastering Agile- Chuck Cobb

Chuck Cobb is a good friend of OnlinePMCourses, and if you want to learn Agile Project Management, then we recommend his courses.

But we choose our friends carefully. Chuck knows his stuff and has a highly pragmatic approach to Agile, which allows you to adopt it at any level from the local to the enterprise, and in any degree of rigor, from pure Scrum through to an adaptive blend of methodologies.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Agile Project Management for Dummies
Mark C Layton and Steven J Ostermiller

Agile Project Management for Dummies

This is not the book if you want a rigorous text on applying Agile to your projects. But, if you want an easy-to-read introduction that will leave you feeling fully familiar with the principles and practices of Agile, it's a great book.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Managing successful projects with PRINCE2
Nigel Bennett

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2

There are lots of introductory and explanatory guides to PRINCE2 on the market, but if your serious...

This is the authoritative guide published by the current owners of the PRINCE2 methodology set. The methodology has evolved a lot since I bought my 1998 edition, so do spend the money and get a current copy, if you are going to be studying the PRINCE@ methodology.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Part 4: More Demanding Project Management Books, with a Higher Technical Content

Our last part is dedicated to serious students of Project Management. I've only listed three project management books here, and one of them os more a catalogue.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: PMBOK Guide 6th Edition
Project Management Institute

PMBOK Guide 6th Edition

This is the PMI's guide to its body of knowledge. It is a hugely valuable reference book but a poor place to start learning from. It contains a huge amount of information but does not set out to teach or to describe the underlying principles.

If you plan to get either the PMI's Project Management Professional or Certified Associate in Project Management qualification, this will be your primary reference work.

Darn it but every edition grows massively, and this 6th Edition (September 2017) dwarfs my first edition (1996)! This is quintessentially a reference book, but if you are serious about a project management career, this is one of the few essential project management books.

You can also get PMBOK packaged with PMI's Agile Practice Guide, co-authored with the gile Alliance. That's the link I'll give below. The price is only a little more.

But I can't complete this without my BIG GRIPE about this book. PMI cares about copyright theft. So this book is printed on special anti-counterfeit paper that has a sort of watermark that renders its pages a not-quite-uniform gray. This makes it hard to read. It's a slap in the face for everyone who pays a lot of money to buy a copy, including PMI's own members, whom I believe PMI should treat with more respect. </rant>

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Project Management: A Managerial Approach 9th Edition
Jack R. Meredith & Samuel J. Mantel Jr.

Project Management: A Managerial Approach

To be honest, my copy is the third edition and 20 years old. But this was my reference manual when I was learning, so I can heartily recommend the latest edition. It's a textbook, so you get a huge amount of content, lots of detail and, whilst easily readable, it ain't reading-for-pleasure.

But if you're a serious student of PM, or you want a good solid reference book on your shelves, to see you through years of 'let me just look that up', then you'll want this. Maybe save some money by picking up a second hand 7th or 8th edition. For me, this is one of my truly indispensible project management books.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

 

Project Management in Practice 6th Edition
Jack R. Meredith, Samuel J. Mantel Jr, Scott M. Shafer & Margaret M. Sutton

Project Management in Practice

A lighter-weight text book than its cousin (above). I haven't seen it, but this may suit you as a halfway house (though it's priced a little beyond half way).

Textbook pricing is shocking (and arguably unethical). And, for reasons I cannot fathom, the 6th Edition is currently not on sale as a print copy n the UK Amazon, so the button links to the previous, 5th, edition.

Buy from Amazon.com   Buy from Amazon.co.uk

Would you like a PDF version of this list?

Thank you very much for supporting us.

Just click this link to get your free PDF version of our Project Management book recommendations.

My Own Project Management Bookshelf

In case you think I am bluffing on all of this, here is a picture of my own project management bookshelf a couple of years ago...

It's grown since then!

Project Management Bookshelf - Mike Clayton's Project Management Books

What Project Management Books do You Recommend?

We'd love to hear about the books you liked, or your comments on our own recommendations. Add your thoughts to the comments below, and we'll respond to every contribution.


 

The links here are affiliate links. If you are interested in buying one of these books, please use these links, to support our blog. Many thanks... Mike

What is PRINCE2? | Video

What is PRINCE2?

If you are involved in Project Management in the UK, or work in the public sector, you’ll have heard of PRINCE2. And if you are a PM anywhere else, you perhaps should have.

So, What is PRINCE2?

Dr Mike Clayton is founder of OnlinePMCourses.com.

Here, he answers this question, in under 5 minutes.

Continue reading…

Project Management Qualification: Should I or Shouldn’t I?

Of all the questions I get asked in live project management training, one is the most frequent. 'Should I get a Project Management qualification?'

Unfortunately, this simple question to ask is far from easy to answer. Because there are many different scenarios - each with their own answer.

In this article, I want to break down the question into those scenarios, to help you decide whether you should get a Project Management Qualification?

What Project Management Qualification?

The first question we need to address is 'which Project Management qualification are we talking about?' There is a lot of choice.

So, we'll start by breaking your choice down into some major categories:

Should I get a Project Management Qualification?

Should I get a Project Management Qualification?

Professional Association Qualifications

The three primary examples are those on offer from:

First Degree qualifications

These are Bachelors level degrees in Project Management. They are usually 3 or 4 years and designed for post 18 year students after school. They balance an academic curriculum with practical experience, and most include Project Management in a wider curriculum: either business or a topic like construction or surveying.

Higher Degree qualifications

These are courses for graduates that look at project management in depth. The main options are:

  • Master's degree - usually one-year full-time or longer part-time. Most are largely taught with a thesis in the final semester or term.
  • Doctoral degree - usually three years minimum, full-time. Longer part-time. Based on a substantial piece of original research, with teaching at the start of the program, to support.

PRINCE2 and Other Specific Methodologies

PRINCE2 is the UK Government's preferred methodology for Project Management, and is supported by its own qualifications. It is designed for - an mainly used in - the public sector. There is also a suite of other methodologies with their own certification programs. These are all currently owned by Axelos and administered by licensed training providers. These include:

  • PRINCE2 Agile. One level of qualification
  • MSP: Managing Successful Programmes. Three levels of qualification
  • M_o_R: Management of Risk. Two levels of qualification
  • P3O: Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices. Two levels of qualification
  • MoP: Portfolio Management. Two levels of qualification
  • MoV: Value Management. Two levels of qualification
  • ITIL: IT Service Management. Five levels of qualification

Agile

Agile is an approach to Project Management. There are free-standing qualifications for some of the specific Agile and Agile-related methodologies, like Scrum and Lean. There are also Agile certification courses on offer from:

  • PMI: their Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
  • Axelos: they offer PRINCE2 Agile that combines the flexibility of Agile with the rigor of PRINCE2
  • IAPM: their Cert. Agile Project Manager (IAPM) and Cert. Senior Agile Project Manager (IAPM)

As you can see, there are a lot of specific cases to consider, even before we get to the details of your own circumstances.

Before we start: A note on Links and References

Rather than fill the text with distracting links, I will put a list of website links at the bottom of this article.

Let's start of with some principles...

Primary Considerations for Getting a Project Management Qualification

How should you make a decision about whether to get a Project Management qualification? And if so, which one?

The answer is simple. We have a suitable methodology as a part of our PM toolkit...

The Project Management way: Build a Business Case

It's all about pros and cons. Securing a Project Management qualification will take you time and cost you money. So, what are the benefits you will get in return?

Why do you want it?

The first question to ask yourself is: 'why do I want a qualification?'

Considering a #PM qualification. First question: 'why do I want it?' Click To Tweet

I want the letters on my business card

There are some people who like qualifications for the sake of having them. They want letters after their name, for the perceived status and prestige. There's nothing wrong with this, but I have to wonder: 'so what?'

Once you have those letters, what would you do with them?

If this is you, you are probably after the most qualifications for the least effort. So, I'd recommend foundation level qualifications, like:

  • PMI's Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • APM's Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ)
  • PRINCE2 Foundation
  • IAPM's Cert. Junior Project manager (IAPM)

These are all widely recognised entry-level Project Management qualifications. Each is a good qualification. But, because they are entry-level, the time, cost and study requirements are lower than for their 'senior' partner qualifications.

I love the learning

At the other end of the spectrum, some people value the learning the'll gain. It's the joy of knowledge and understanding that motivates them pure and simple.

If this is you, then your choice may be tough, but the strategy is easy to articulate. Look at what each course covers and find the one that offers you the most interesting syllabus. Choose one that will take your thinking to a new level, or in a new direction. If you are a 'traditional' Project Manager, look at Agile for something new, or maybe M_o_R (Management of Risk) for a new depth.

Also, if this is you, you are more likely to be attracted to an academic route of a higher degree. Nothing will feed your love of learning more than that.

I want to be a better project manager

Ah, now here's a reason. More pragmatic than pure love of learning, but not as 'mercenary' as wanting to help your career (which we'll look at next). For you, the question to ask is: 'What aspect of Project Management do you want to be better at?'

If it is across-the-board capabilities you are after, you are likely to want one of the high level professional association qualifications, like PMI's PMP, or APM's PMQ. In their respective communities, these are seen as a solid syllabus leading to a worthwhile professional accreditation.

If you already have one of these, or you are experienced and well-respected, then you still have plenty of choices. You are most likely to be attracted to a specific methodology that will take your practice further. Above, I've listed the Project Management qualifications Axelos offer, in a suite of project related best practices. Both PMI and APM have their own additional qualifications.

The PMI offers:

  • Scheduling: PMI-SP® - PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)®
  • Risk: PMI-RMP® - PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)®
  • Agile: PMI-ACP® - PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®
  • Business Analysis: PMI-PBA® - PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®
  • Program Management: PgMP® - Program Management Professional (PgMP)®
  • Portfolio Management: PfMP® - Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)®

The APM offers:

  • APM Project Risk Management Single Subject Certificate
  • Earned Value Management Certification
  • Project Planning & Control

IPMA
APM also offers International Project Management Association Level A and B qualifications:

  • IPMA Level A: Certified Projects Director
  • IPMA Level B: Certified Senior Project Manager

These are IPMA's highest internationally recognised qualifications in project, programme and portfolio management.

The APM is the UK member of the International Project Management Association (IPMA). This is the global professional body for project, program and portfolio management. All of the APM's Project Management qualifications conform to their four-tier certification system.

Do you work outside the UK and where PMI is not the dominant professional body? If so, look for a local professional body that offers IPMA standard in PM qualifications. These will then meet globally consistent standards.

The IAPM offers:

  • Traditional Certifications:
    • Cert. Project Manager (IAPM)
    • Cert. Senior Project Manager (IAPM)
  • Agile Certifications:
    • Cert. Agile Project Manager (IAPM)
    • Cert. Agile Senior Project Manager (IAPM)
  • International Certification:
    • Cert. International Project Manager (IAPM)

I want it to help my career

Here's where you need to do a wider spread of research. Because you are looking for a return on your investment, you need to understand more than what you get from the course, and what it costs. You need to understand your target job market. This will depend on questions like:

Where you plan to work
For example, in the UK, APM qualifications may be more useful than PMI, and PRNCE2 may be of more value than elsewhere. In the US, PRINCE2 is rarely known at all, while it is well-used in Commonwealth countries like Australia, and in Gulf states.

What sort of organizations? 
For example, international or US-based organizations will see the PMI's qualifications as the gold-dstandard, and public sector organizations are more likely to value PRINCE2 than the private sector.

What industry sector?
Once again, public sector suggests PRINCE2 will be of value. The IT sector will be more keen on Agile Project Management qualifications, but they will be of little value in construction, where traditional PMI, APM, or IAPM qualifications will be better.

Most important is to learn from recruiters. Look at company web pages and speak with recruitment consultants about their local market. Speak with people at your target employers if you can. The more market intelligence you can gain, he more robust your decision will be.

The other question to ask is this...

'In what way do you want to help your career?'

A Jump Start
If you want to get a jump-start, you may consider an undergraduate degree that has a Project Management element to it. Post-degree, work to one of the foundation level basic qualifications:

  • PMI's Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • APM's Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ)
  • IAPM's Cert. Junior Project Manager (IAPM)

Getting a Job
In a crowded job market, a Project Management qualification can get your CV to the top of a pile (or prevent it being 'filed' too soon. That said, there are likely to be more Project Management jobs globally than capable Project Managers soon. And to get the best roles, experience and track record are likely to be the biggest differentiators.

I'd suggest that, if you are aiming for a generic Project Management job, with a company's recruitment team doing the main work on the search, then a qualification will help. But, if you are going for a particular post to deliver a specific project... Then they are more likely to be interested in relevant experience.

In a crowded job market, a #PM qualification can get your CV to the top of a pile Click To Tweet

Getting a Promotion
Some employers do link promotions and particular salary bands or grades to qualifications. If that's the case for you, the choice is easy. But few do. Most will promote on capability. And a good Project management qualification is only one indicator. Your track record will be far more important.

Better Pay
The professional associations claim their qualification will earn you more money. The PMPs suggest a 20 per cent increaseHere is another example of an article that suggests PMP can give you a 10-20 per cent salary bump. Once again, examine the market where you are (or hope to be).

When Should I Consider each Type of Project Management Qualification?

In this section, we'll go through the five types of qualification and see who each one can best serve.

Professional Association Qualifications

These Project Management qualifications are best if you want a long-term career as a professional Project Manager. They give you:

  • A qualification. Letters, a label and a status that are widely recognised
  • A solid grounding in a robust syllabus, set by experts
  • Membership of a professional body
  • Access to fellowship, knowledge networks, and research
  • Bodies offer ascending series of qualifications, depending on your experience
  • Higher level qualifications have real value in the job market

But they do require:

  • A set amount of real-world experience - which for PMI's PM is extensive
  • Considerable learning commitment
  • A cost
  • An examination - which is hard
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to maintain them

The PMI's PMP qualification is probably the strongest all-round Project Management qualification. It is demanding and robust. And it is recognised globally.

First Degree Project Management Qualifications

This is ideal if you are a school-leaver or looking to retrain and have not yet had a university education. If you already know that Project management is what you want to do, then you can look for a course that includes it.

There are relatively few first degrees with Project Management as the major focus (and in their tittle). But there are plenty that include it in a broader curriculum. This latter is, to my mind, an advantage. At a younger age, keeping your options open with a wider range of learning is a good thing. Research the university courses in your country, and maybe speak with a representative of your local Project Management professional association.

The advantages are:

  • A solid academic grounding
  • You should be 'good to go' when you hit the job market
  • Many include a placement and real work experience
  • An internationally recognized qualification

But, be aware:

  • Some academics have book knowledge but little or no project delivery experience
  • These courses rarely offer a short-cut to the professional association qualifications

Higher Degree Project Management Qualifications

These take a lot of commitment, and rarely repay their investment in salary bumps. For that, try an MBA. That said, there are some MBAs that do have a strong Project Management component. They are worth investigating.

The primary reason for taking a higher degree is the love of learning. However, a well-chosen Master's degree can be a trigger for a promotion or an access key to a next-tier job role.

Reasons to:

  • Fabulous chance to learn
  • Opportunity to take on research that is relevant to your career aspirations
  • Chance to form a diverse network of smart people
  • Great kudos - MBA and MSc are prestigious, and a PhD, DPhil, DSc or DBA makes you a Doctor!

And reasons not to:

  • This is a BIG commitment
  • And it may not repay the time and cost in salary and opportunity

PRINCE2 and related methodologies

These are all good quality Project management qualifications. But many of them are written with a strong focus on the needs of the UK public sector. Yes, they do apply elsewhere (sector-wise and geographically). But they are less well-known and therefore likely to have a smaller impact on your career.

If you want a career that includes managing substantial UK public sector projects, you need PRINCE2. And likewise MSP (Managing Successful Programmes) and MoP (Management of Portfolios) if you want to advance to those levels.

If you are outside of the UK public sector, these are still good courses if you want to develop your skills, but don't expect them to necessarily have an impact on your salary.

You should if you:

  • have a lot of Project experience and Project Management knowledge. PRINCE2 builds on this and makes you think about governance
  • plan to work in the UK public sector
  • plan to work in companies that work with the UK public sector
  • work in a non-UK country where PRINCE2 is widely used and plan to work in appropriate sectors
  • can do a course and then the exam over 5 days (Practitioner level) or 3 days (Foundation level)

You should not if you:

  • don't have a lot of Project Management Knowledge. PRINCE2 will not teach you Project Management
  • can't stand the idea of a highly structured project governance infrastructure
  • plan to never go near the public sector as a professional Project Manager

Agile Project Management Qualifications

The PMI has just started t wrap Agile into its core PMP qualification. Axelos has released PRINCE2 Agile. It's hard to see that APM will not follow soon. And PMI also has its own PMI-ACP Agile Certified Practitioner qualification.

There are other qualifications too, like the APMG-International AgilePM® certification. This is aimed at Project Managers who want to combine the flexibility of an Agile approach with more familiar project delivery approaches. It also integrates well, into a PRINCE2 project environment.

The most widely used Agile methodology is Scrum. And the most popular qualification is Certified Scrum Master (CSM). It just needs a two-day course and a 35-question multiple choice exam.

The mood is moving. Therefore, it's important for many project managers outside of the IT sector to learn about Agile principles and methods. Business projects increasingly make explicit use of Agile ideas.  If you are in the IT sector, it is a must.

Why you should consider an Agile qualification:

  • There are a lot of jobs in Agile Project Management
  • It will show you are moving with the times
  • There is a lot in Agile that can improve your Project Management practice
  • There are Agile methodology-specific courses that you may need, for certain jobs

Why you need not consider an Agile qualification:

  • You work in a sector that would never use Agile methods
  • Your experience means you'll get the jobs without it

What are Your Experiences or Opinions?

We'd love to hear from you. Do you have one a Project Management qualification? Or have you chosen not to? What are your questions?

Please contribute below, and we'll respond to every comment.

Credits

My thanks are due to Linda Ottmann of the International Association of Project Managers. Linda sought me out and offered to help ensure that I have properly represented the IAPM's offerings, for which I am very grateful.

If representatives of other professional associations would like to do the same, I'll be very open to your help.

>
Malcare WordPress Security