Exspans Systems Inc Logo home
 
Forum
Sign up Calendar Latest Topics
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment  
Grazillda

Avatar / Picture

Member
Registered:
Posts: 48
Reply with quote  #1 
I have a question for the group about project management qualifications. Our management committee announced that we may be going to do a fairly large project that will likely involve quite a few contractors and because it will involve both our mainframe environment and distributed systems, I was asked to review qualifications needed for a project manager. This project goes beyond the scope of technical and will involve physical site as well as systems and software. I don't feel really qualified to comment because my area is quite limited. When I look at the long list of qualification letters that some people have I was starting to think that some people must spend all their time on courses, not managing projects. Is there a business in selling qualification courses or so these letters mean anything. What for instance does CompTIA, PMI, CAPM, PMP certification add to a person's ability to manage a project? Does it matter if someone has an MBA degree, or is experience more important? Could someone have the experience without an MBA? If someone is qualified to manage an IT project, are they also qualified to manage a project involving physical plant? Have any of you had to comment to your management committee on selecting high level contractors like this?
0
MikeW

Junior Member
Registered:
Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #2 
A project management certification is not an indicator of how good a project manager one is. It does indicate that one has a fairly broad knowledge of the approach, methods, tools and techniques that can be used in managing projects. In the case of the PMP certification from PMI it also indicates one has a certain amount of actual experience as a project manager. It is not an indication of how good a project manager one actually is though. Whether one has a university degree or not is also not a particularly good indicator of how good a project manager actually is. It does give an indication of a person's intellectual capacity and subject matter knowledge in a particular field, which may or may not be relevant to the particular project under consideration. In particular, having an MBA is not particularly relevant to being a good project manager one way or the other. I would not hire an IT project manager to manage a construction project or a construction project manager to manage an IT project. One needs to have a reasonably comprehensive understanding of the field of endeavor that one is managing a project in to be a good project manager in that field. Actual experience is a better indicator and one that can be verified by interviews and/or reference checks.
0
automan

Avatar / Picture

Moderator
Registered:
Posts: 136
Reply with quote  #3 
I have never been in this position and cannot give any kind of reasonable response. I have reached out to more qualified people and hope that they can give you better guidance.
0
Zamin

Avatar / Picture

Member
Registered:
Posts: 67
Reply with quote  #4 
It seems to me that having a management committee that asks the group to vet potential project managers is not a good way to go about things, especially if you are going to find yourself at least temporarily reporting to them. MikeW raises a really good point. Physical plant and software are completely different disciplines and each part is a project in its own right. It sounds to me as if they are really looking for some kind of a director who several project managers will report to. Is this some kind of cost reduction scheme that is trying to hire a director level person while calling them a manager?
0
bbook

Junior Member
Registered:
Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #5 
Grazillda, You are in a difficult position, but I will try to help you understand what certifications may be important to your success. For starters, you want a project manager that is PMP certified. To become PMP certified the requirements include 35 hours of training in project management, a 4 year degree and 4500 hrs of verifiable project management experience leading and directing projects as well as passing one of the most difficult tests out there. PMP's also have to participate in continuing education to maintain the certification over time. Please keep in mind that PMP certification does not guarantee that your project will be successful, your organization is a key contributor to the success of the project. PMP certification is like the rules for baseball. If everyone understands the rules, you can field a team anywhere in the world and they can take the field and play any other team without having to understand the language of the other country's team, their culture or anything else. Everyone understands how the game is played, what the positions are, the timeline of the game, ect. If you fielded a team that does not understand the game, or has their own way of playing the game, the odds that they can play and win are very slim. PMP certification defines the game. So, there are many project managers (PM) that are good at what they do that are not certified, but if they have to manager teams and other contractors, their chance of success are greatly reduced because they don't understand the game, and will play the game differently than contracts that follow a PMI methodology. Also, you need to find a PM that is familiar with (and has past experience) in the type of work that you need to have done.

What for instance does CompTIA, PMI, CAPM, PMP certification add to a person's ability to manage a project? The certification defines the game as I explained above. Some clarifications, CompTIA is not beneficial for managing projects, PMI is the managing organization and awards the PMP credential, CAPM is an entry level PM certification and would not be what you would want your PM to have to manage a complicated project that involves multiple venders, PMP explained above.

Does it matter if someone has an MBA degree, or is experience more important? This is a business degree that would not be of benefit for the actual hands on management of the project.

If someone is qualified to manage an IT project, are they also qualified to manage a project involving physical plant? A PMP certified project manager could manage any project using PMI's methodology, but common sense would tell us that the most successful project manager will also be experienced in the industry that the project services. A PMP certified PM that is experienced in physical plants that had to manage a project in IT would rely on Subject Matter Experts (SME) to develop the project in the areas that he lacks experience. This would be an added expense that would needlessly add to the cost of your project. You essentially would be paying him to learn the industry. All project managers rely on SME's during the development and execution of projects, but less so in industries where they have experience.

I hope that I have answered your questions, I am happy to elaborate on any of this if you need more information.

Brian Book, PMP, CSM
0
Michael

Junior Member
Registered:
Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #6 
Posted on behalf of my PM colleague Matt. We hope this help.


There tends to be a clear distinction between IT & construction PM. I have never seen someone cross the boundaries between the two.

In the UK, construction PM qualifications are varied. The chartered route tends to be via RICS giving the MRICS qual.

For general project management which covers PM principles there is the APM, where you can gain the APMP qual and become a full member or fellow (MAPM, FAPM).

More internationally recognised and again general to all PM is PRINCE2. You don't find many construction PMs who need/care about that qual.

Then there is the world of IT which I'm uninformed. I believe the UK IT PM qual is ITIL...

My opinion for what it's worth is you need to go with experience to manage a project. Yes you can learn about principles and systems. But let's not overlook the human factor. PM is actually people, stakeholders, decision making, leading, communication.

I hope this helps.

0
Russ

Junior Member
Registered:
Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #7 
Couple of additional points that may help you in your search and analysis:

1) As mentioned in responses above, one of the most recognized certifications in the PM field is the PMP from the PMI based in USA. Another one that hasn't been mentioned is the PRINCE2 (Projects IN Controlled Environments, Ver. 2 => PRINCE2) that originates from the UK Government.

One of the key differences between the two is that the PMP is based on PMI's "Guide to the PMBoK". As they readily state; theirs is a "framework" and a "body of knowledge" on project management. As they point out in the current version of the "PMBoK" - page 2: "...this standard is a guide rather than a specific methodology". They then go on to state: "One can use different methodologies....(e.g....PRINCE2) to implement the project management framework".

In short, both PMP and PRINCE2 certifications have value. The key difference is that a framework will give a general overview of the frame of a PM approach; a methodology gives a detailed, step by step process to follow. To use an analogy: it is good to have a broad knowledge about commerce and business from a university degree (B. Com, MBA), but if you want to be successful in business, your chances are best if you buy a "franchise". The franchise has a step by step procedures, templates for project documents, etc. Think of PRINCE2 as the "franchise" model for project management.

Many experienced project managers (myself included) find that it is useful to have both certifications. (There are over 1.5M exams taken for the PRINCE2, there are currently 651K PMPs). Both certifications are widely recognized.

2) It is not clear from your original question what the details / scope of "physical site" are. While (as others point out), there can be some significant differences, it is not always the case. For example, the role of a "systems integrator" is quite common in the project world. While I have overseen many software development and IT projects, there have also been cases where "physical site": examples included rollout of new infrastructure across Canada for a nationally recognized NGO involving new cabling / communications bandwidth as well as desktop / server hardware; development and setting up of new Internet Data Centers for a client in the USA involving construction as well as staffing requirements for running the operational systems; development and putting in place new digital voice communications systems for air traffic control in the tower (also being constructed at the same time) for Toronto airport.

What may help you is finding someone with the experience in the integration and deployment of systems, not just the development of software, mainframes and desktops. Systems integration (SI) experience can be found in people who have worked in organizations such as Systemhouse, EDS, IBM, HP, etc.

3) You mention the possibility of "involve quite a few contractors". And from the sounds of it, a variety of different "specialist skills" (e.g. some with plant experience, some with software, IT backgrounds). My experience has been that the clarity of the distinct roles and responsibilities between project manager and specialist (or "functional") managers / leaders can be a huge help here. This is clearly laid out in the PRINCE2 methodology (as well as in some SI methodologies -- which tend to be proprietary). Here again, SI organizations are usually working with a variety of internal and external teams on their large projects.

4) You also ask about "....certification add to a person's ability to manage a project"? A couple of things to consider in that question. First, being successful at management of projects is very different than doing "business as usual". Across industries, senior managers have learned that people can't just "figure it out" on the fly when they have been seconded from their day-to-day job to manage a project. There are distinct differences to running (and being successful) at a project.

Do you need a certification to be good at it? NO, not necessarily! But on the other hand, someone who has shown an interest, and taken the time to learn those skills and passed a certain level of demonstrated understanding, if probably someone who is more suited to the task, than someone who has been assigned as a PM and never felt the need to learn and master the different skills required.

There are a number of certifications out there, the two keys ones for "project management" are PMP and PRINCE2. People who have already demonstrated their interest in the field (through getting their certifications) and have a history of delivering successful projects are more likely to be successful on your challenge than those who may not have demonstrated the interest / drive to learn about the profession (e.g. don't have the certifications in addition to their experience).

Summarizing, if I were given the task that you have stated in your posting, I would be looking for someone with the experience in systems integration type projects in addition to the qualifications listed above.

Hope some of that helps. I agree with you that there is a very large bowl of "alphabet soup" out there. Also I agree that having the certifications, doesn't necessarily mean that they will be up to the task of applying it to a complex task. It's the combination that will make the difference between failure and success!

Cheers,
Russ
0
KenA

Junior Member
Registered:
Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #8 
The answer to Grazillda's question on project management qualifications would benefit from a perspective beyond PM certification assessments. I do see value in PM certifications but would not make that the key indicator of a PM's qualifications. And yes, there is a healthy business in PM certifications. After years as a professional PM, I did take the approved course to get a certification designation and was disappointed - the stated course objective was to give the students information they need to pass the certification exam - not to teach them project management. I've experienced very good PMs with no certification and highly certified PMs that were just plain bad.

I would recommend qualification assessment primarily based on experience, with PM certification(s) assessed at a secondary level. Grazillda's requirement is multifaceted and may be too high-risk for success with just one PM. It is not uncommon in construction, for there to be a general contractor, managing the sub-trades, each with their own lead to synchronize assembly completion. It is not uncommon in multi-disciplinary technology projects for there to be a Program Manager managing Project Managers to get to an integrated solution. It is not uncommon for projects to fail because the PM resource was spread too thin or did not have enough experience in a project’s component domains to notice the warning signs of potential failure. The breadth and depth of the PM’s experience equates to a greater confidence in the PM’s ability to make good decisions regarding approach, timelines, estimates and project risks.

Grazillda's question on project management qualifications can be addressed with (1) a good understanding of the required solution domains – mainframe, distributed systems, construction (with facilities knowledge for tech environments), making sure that all the work aspects of the end result can be assessed. The PM’s experience & knowledge in these domains, or lack thereof, must be balanced with the PM’s team leads to ensure sufficient expertise in each domain. For example, if the PM does not have provable experience in managing construction & facilities, then a construction team lead is needed that can sufficiently function as a general contractor.

The evidence of (2) an active PM certification is definitely a “good to have” when supported by substantive relevant experience. There are many tools that a PM uses to do the job and the teachings associated with certification can augment the PM’s knowledge base. Another important skill to consider is the PM’s communication skills, written & oral, at the various organizational levels that the PM will need to manage or report to.

Also (3) actually check the references. I have had situations where 3 different PM applicants took credit for the same project. One trick is to ask the reference at least three probing questions regarding the applicant’s stated experience/relationship with the reference. This should go a long way in ensuring the PM’s stated qualifications are real.
0
Grazillda

Avatar / Picture

Member
Registered:
Posts: 48
Reply with quote  #9 
Thank you all for your thoughtful replies. The consensus is that work expeience in the actual field is important and that IT and construction need to be handled separately. All of your points are well taken:

MikeW

A project management certification is not an indicator of how good a project manager one is. It does indicate that one has a fairly broad knowledge of the approach, methods, tools and techniques that can be used in managing projects.



I would not hire an IT project manager to manage a construction project or a construction project manager to manage an IT project. One needs to have a reasonably comprehensive understanding of the field of endeavor that one is managing a project in to be a good project manager in that field. Actual experience is a better indicator and one that can be verified by interviews and/or reference checks.


bbook

Thank you for your full explanation of the qualifications.

If someone is qualified to manage an IT project, are they also qualified to manage a project involving physical plant? A PMP certified project manager could manage any project using PMI's methodology, but common sense would tell us that the most successful project manager will also be experienced in the industry that the project services. A PMP certified PM that is experienced in physical plants that had to manage a project in IT would rely on Subject Matter Experts (SME) to

Michael

There tends to be a clear distinction between IT & construction PM. I have never seen someone cross the boundaries between the two.

Russ

It is not clear from your original question what the details / scope of "physical site" are. While (as others point out), there can be some significant differences, it is not always the case. For example, the role of a "systems integrator" is quite common in the project world. While I have overseen many software development and IT projects, there have also been cases where "physical site": examples included rollout of new infrastructure across Canada for a nationally recognized NGO ..... Internet Data Centers ....


We have to do a better job of providing fallover services and emergency restroration of services. We have to plan for new physical facilities as well as the machine service themselves. This project will involve our existing facilities and a couple new ones.

3) You mention the possibility of "involve quite a few contractors". And from the sounds of it, a variety of different "specialist skills" (e.g. some with plant experience, some with software, IT backgrounds).

Yes. New offices will be required to be bult and infrastsructure put in place. The machines have to be moved in, software set up. This covers a wider variety of services than I have experience to comment on.

KenA

I would recommend qualification assessment primarily based on experience, with PM certification(s) assessed at a secondary level. Grazillda's requirement is multifaceted and may be too high-risk for success with just one PM. It is not uncommon in construction, for there to be a general contractor, managing the sub-trades, each with their own lead to synchronize assembly completion. It is not uncommon in multi-disciplinary technology projects for there to be a Program Manager managing Project Managers to get to an integrated solution. It is not uncommon for projects to fail because the PM resource was spread too thin or did not have enough experience in a project’s component domains to notice the warning signs of potential failure. The breadth and depth of the PM’s experience equates to a greater confidence in the PM’s ability to make good decisions regarding approach, timelines, estimates and project risks.



Your comment about risk is particularly valuable and I will draw attention to this in my summary.
0
Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Quick Navigation:


Create your own forum with Website Toolbox!