Stepping into the world of project management can be a daunting prospect for new Project Managers, as there is usually not much time to familiarise yourself with your surroundings before work starts in earnest. With over 350,000 Project Managers currently working in the UK alone, as a new Project Manager, it is easy to feel like a small fish in a big pond. But there are ways to ensure that you make your mark towards becoming a great Project Manager.
Best Available Certifications for Your Career
The best place to start is usually an obvious one, as is the case with becoming a new Project Manager. You will need to become knowledgeable about all things project management and the best way to do that is by acquiring a reputable certification.
PRINCE2 is the foremost and most widely recognised methodology in project management. It follows a set of principles, themes and processes while dividing the project into smaller, more manageable stages. This makes it possible to follow the project’s progress more closely and to identify any issues that may arise early, enabling the Project Manager to take timeous corrective action.
There are two levels of PRINCE2 certification available, the first, suited to the new Project Manager, being PRINCE2 Foundation, which teaches an understanding of the PRINCE2 methodology, the common language of PRINCE2 and the 7 Themes, 7 Processes and 7 Principles that are used in its implementation.
The second level is called PRINCE2 Practitioner, which delves deeper into the method while teaching you how to properly tailor a project to its specific needs and preparing you to apply the method to a real-world project.
The Agile foundation certification teaches the fundamentals of the Agile project management methodology, which treats a projects in smaller increments making it possible to foresee change or risk in an ongoing project with a strong focus on timeous delivery of the end product. This means that corrections can be made as the project progresses, giving it every possible chance of succeeding.
Advice for the new Project Manager
Soft skills are not natural to everybody and, even if you do have a good set of soft skills, they can become rusty over time and it is always a good idea, especially for a new Project Manager, to revisit them once in a while. These are attributes such as concise, clear communication, empathy towards your co-workers, leadership skills, optimism and basic social skills.
This does not mean, however, that you should be seen as everyone’s friend. Letting others walk over you will surely cause a loss of authority and even respect from your fellow workers.
A project (or multiple projects) is much easier to manage when everything is where it should be, when it should be there. Keeping information such as documentation and your schedule properly organised clears the way for organised and clear thinking.
Keep track of the project’s progress so that there can be no nasty surprises and keep communication open with everyone involved in the project, know who should be doing what, or it may be a desperate struggle to regain lost ground when it is already too late.
Be a team player
Get to know the people that you are working with on a daily basis as this will give you an insight into their areas of expertise and their weaker points, making them easier to manage, particularly as a new Project Manager. If you realise that you need help with a certain issue, ask for it. It will be far more appreciated if you admit to needing help, rather than struggling forth on your own and eventually floundering, creating a greater obstacle.
Trust your certification
You did not gain your certification by sheer luck or happenstance. You studied hard to be where you are and the knowledge that you have gained from your studies is correct and ready to be implemented. If need be, do revision in areas that you consider yourself to be weaker in and get those skills up to par, making for a more balanced skill set.
Project Manager Career Overview
The need for new Project Managers is always rising as organisations undertake bigger and more complex projects on a daily basis. But don’t expect to enter a company as a new Project Manager and immediately be given a title such as Senior Project Manager.
Even the most experienced Project Managers usually started out a little lower in the ranks and have become more recognised as they have gained experience. Some of the positions that you may consider as a starting point are:
As the project progresses, a Project Scheduler will ensure that all data such as progress reports is entered into a database, usually by means of a software program. This consolidates the project information so that it is easy to access when needed.
Perfect for a new Project Manager, this is an administrative position where you will ensure that reports needed by anyone involved in the project are generated and readily available, keep paperwork organised as well as schedule meetings and assisting project management staff when it is required.
Assistant Project Manager
The Assistant Project Manager is most often given smaller tasks and will take responsibility for their management and completion. They will also report to the Project Manger on a regular basis in order to update them on the progress of the project and any issues that may have arisen.
The role of a Project Analyst is to review and document a project’s requirements from its conception through to its conclusion. They will also liaise with the entire project team, providing them with analysis of the project or project stage.
Project Controllers are members of the project team who work closely with the Project Manager. They will help outline the project’s goals, uphold the project schedule and budget and suggest ways to improve project progress.
With the right training, a mindset toward success and good, old fashioned hard work, the project management world can become a very lucrative and rewarding career for a new Project Manager. Think in detail, ask the right questions, see the big picture and soon you will become a great leader.