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Job Advice - 'Project Manager'

ddraverddraver Posts: 26,094
Afternoon all,

In the present climate, whilst I can't do the job I want to do, or the job I trained to do for 6 months or so, I was looking around at what else I could do were I to be back in the UK for any foreign policy-related reasons next summer. At the moment there appears to be number of roles with names like Project Manager.

Now, I've been called such things before but I was 'managing' myself or 2 or 3 other people and project management was usually something we left until 4.30 on Friday and then panicked about when we remembered we had to send out client update emails, having spent the rest of the week focusing on our highly technical analysis. I'm slightly struggling to see how this can be a job on it's own, but also thinking that my transferable skills - such as they are - are probably suited to it.

A google search reveals a bunch of things from a tempting short OU course to specific types of project management courses (PRINCE and Agile seem to be the main two) right up to an OU MSc.

My question is simple - would these be worth doing? I have a bit of extra time and money at the moment to do an online course, and these are currently discounted at the moment but am I going to gain much from them or is the reality that I just need to get a job and learn on it..?

Thanks all

(P.S. - There is also a variant of Project Management that involves engineering degrees, I'm NOT talking about that sort..)
We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
- @ddraver


  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 24,016
    Edit - Was going to write a big schpeel until I got your PS.
    I'd be careful. Real PM jobs need real qualifications and/or experience. Any that don't need this require careful consideration as to what they really are.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
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  • I'm a PM. What sort of jobs? ( I have 18 years of experience and 3 degrees, one in PM). Happy to help if I can.
  • Stevo_666Stevo_666 Posts: 56,265
    Big question is whether they will significant,y boost your chances of getting the job.

    The output from some of the people who are qualified in this area in my Group seems to be mainly timeline diagrams and complicated flow charts. There is also some general scepticism about the real value of these types of courses

    "I spent most of my money on birds, booze and fast cars: the rest of it I just squandered." [George Best]
  • wilberforcewilberforce Posts: 289
    I do not know which industry you would potentially be working in, current skills and experience, but of the project management training and certifications, PRINCE 2 is probably the most recognised. There are others like PMI but you tend to (or at least used to) need demonstrable experience etc for that one.
    Agile is more a software development methodology which dictates that instead of completing all software development before creating the combined software release, you do frequent software builds so that the whole release becomes iterative and less last minute risk.
    A project management role can vary significantly depending upon scope, size and duration of both the project itself and the budget. Some companies and organisations are very formal and focus upon all of the administration such as risk registers, Gantt charts, action lists, budgets etc, whilst others are less formal with a base plan and wing it.
    Main skills are being organised, good communicator, an understanding of what you are trying to deliver and having a bit of common sense.
    Hope that helps!.
  • thistle_thistle_ Posts: 6,937
    I'd look into what the job actually involves and see what qualifications other people have or what employers are looking for.
    Project Manager could be anything, and plenty of people invent themselves as a "project manager" because it sounds better than their current job title.

    Our project managers generally go for APM membership, but most of them said the training is pretty irrelevant for the work we do - it seemed more geared towards manufacturing.
  • ProssPross Posts: 38,812
    Project Manager seems to be one of those titles that gets chucked at all sorts of positions these days (I blame The Apprentice where someone gets given the role of 'Project Manager' to invent a new sweet and sell it to people in the local park). As others have said a lot will depend upon what sector you are working in. When I looked into doing the qualifications before most of it seemed to relate to methods that are just common sense to anyone already involved in the sector in the same way as buzzwords around PM work like 'lean method'. I suspect with your background you could do the role on common sense and experience but that doesn't make a shed load of money for people running accredited Prince 2 courses.

    Somewhere around the turn of the new millennium all the Quantity Surveyors I worked with got re-branded as Project Managers and Cost Consultants which seemed to mean they stopped measuring stuff and spent all day on the phone or email nagging everyone else in the team.

    Sorry, not much help as I'm slightly cynical about the role in most contexts as you might be able to tell!
  • sungodsungod Posts: 15,901
    qualification really depends which sector(s) you are considering working in

    over time i've worked with many people called 'pm', some bad ones were qualified, some great ones weren't

    the common thread was that the good ones had decent end to end experience of the field they worked in, as well as the generic pm skills and personal attributes needed

    so for me, your comment about transferrable skills is key as it gives you something to build on - if you want to try pm, identify which formal certification fits your target sector, and do the initial training while looking for an engagement with clients who aren't hung up on you having a badge

    you gain experience - and find out if you really want to pursue qualification

    fwiw if i'm asked to help screen people for a pm role, we'll spend the time discussing their experience, so i can see how they exhibited the attributes i expect, nothing magic...

    good communicator at all levels
    building and maintaining relationships
    motivating people
    structured approach
    ability to dig into the details
    managing the n types of bad stuff
    delivering bad news, moving on to succeed
    managing change
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  • The above folk are on the right track. A PM is a leader in a technical area, for the most part. Invariably drawn from technical backgrounds. For some reason, HR cant sees that a good PM can run a project in any discipline.

    Course wise - depends.

    APM is more popular than PMP here. MAPM is a good route to qualification and can lead to Chartered Status. This is the route I would go.

    Agile is a management theory. Scrum is the interpretation of agile methodologies for software. Scrum evangelists like to talk about the product over the project. Scrum is the CrossFit of project management. That said, you can become an SM or PO for $150 after studying free resources online.

    Agile PM, Prince2 etc. I don't know. I would honestly go the APM route.

    When all is said and done, however, you are going to have to impress any employer you are willing to pick up the technical side and get involved on the coal-face. The PM does all the heavy lifting these days. They are the backbone of many companies, and it becomes a catch-all discipline.

    Banking PMs who lead business change/software implementation can earn up to £1k a day. They have almost all worked for banks full-time to gain experience. This concept is fair for all PMs.

    So, doing a couple of short courses isn't going to get you huge day-rates or a career tomorrow, but it can show willing. You may be better learning the technical aspect and working up to PM.

  • cruffcruff Posts: 1,518
    I'm a technical programme/project manager in IT Security

    Most infrastructure projects are run under Prince or a variation of Prince, with development projects tending to be more agile

    There are a lot of skills needed by a full time PM, ones that you don't develop when you're only 'managing' projects as part of your role. A lot of the 'softer' skills (communications, stakeholder engagement/management etc) are far more valuable than a piece of paper that tells someone you know where a business case or a PID fits into the project lifecycle, or a qualification that tells them you can draw a gantt chart up in MS project.

    If course, most of that is irrelevant unless you're applying direct as if you go through a recruiter they'll just sift CVs based on qualifications anyway.

    There will be a LOT of project work jn the next 18 months - 2 years based around covid (DR, BCP, furlough processes etc) so might be worth doing an online course jn Prince, even if you don't want to do the exam, because you'll get questioned on the frameworks you've worked under at interview.
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  • ddraverddraver Posts: 26,094
    Thanks all, I am reading the replies, but I'm waiting for a good survey before I chime in...
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • me-109me-109 Posts: 1,871
    If you're in IT/techie land then PRINCE seems to be the go-to qualification. As stated it looks at projects in a 'waterfall' approach, stepping through each stage in turn with review gates typically used to check that everything is in place before moving on. That doesn't translate well to reality and parts of a project at different steps concurrently, so although it can be applied iteratively or (with a squint) at work packages within a project, Devs don't like it, hence Agile methodologies (of which scrum is one).

    To be fair, if you've got a bit of time and commitment you could probably read the manual and just sign up for the exam, which is a good bit cheaper.

    Doing the PM role properly rather than how you described is not quite so easy. You may have taken the lead on what might be described as a work package rather than a project. Understanding the technical stuff helps with the risks and issues part, as well as resourcing, estimating and not getting fobbed off by resource for non-completion of tasks.

    Get familiar with MS Project. If doing agile there are plenty of virtual Kenyan boards out there (Trello etc.) that work in a similar fashion and can be used like 'user stories' in Scrum.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 69,720 Lives Here
    If you have a particular industry in mind you can always speak to a recruiter in said industry and get their view on whether your cv with said qualies would land well or not.

    Gives you a perspective (though certainly not the only one...).

    Else you can always reach out to some people who are close to the job you would look to do and just ask for some advice.

    Could cough up for linkedin premium for a month and drop a few guys who seem right a friendly email asking for advice - wouldn’t underestimate how often people want to help out when they feel like their advice is being sought.
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