Monthly Archive for June, 2020

How to Get a Job in Project Management

If you have excellent communication skills and a gift for organisation, project management could be for you. It might be something that you have always thought about, but just how do you get started?

 

What is a Project Manager?

 

Project managers oversee processes from start to finish. They are essential to the smooth running of an organisation and can work in a variety of sectors, from business and construction to IT, marketing and retail. Project managers ensure projects are delivered on time and to budget, by planning and organising resources and people.

 

It is possible to become a project manager, even if you haven’t previously worked in a similar role. You may already have some of the skills required. Many of the attributes needed to be successful in project management, such as leadership and time management, may be things that you have acquired in previous work or education. Any experience leading and organising the activities of a team will be valuable.

 

This could include things such as the completion of a successful project at university, a new initiative you manged in a previous role, or leadership of a team or club outside of work could potentially show off your project management skills. Even planning an event such as a charity evenings or weddings, may be useful.

 

What skills do Project Managers Require?

 

The skill set you start with is important, but it is important to improve your knowledge of project management processes, techniques, frameworks and tools, and develop the right soft skills required.

 

– Time management – it’s important to be skilled in managing your own workload, as a project manager must prioritise and delegate tasks for others successfully.

 

– Organisation – A project manager organises the work of others, so cannot be unorganised themselves. You’ll be responsible for setting goals, managing meetings and tracking the progress of a project.

 

– Communication – Much of a Project manager’s time is spent liaising with others. You need to clearly state ideas, goals and project issues to a variety of people; in written form with reports and verbally in meetings and presentations. Good listening ability is also essential.

 

– Negotiation – As a Project manager you may need to work with teams with competing interests to negotiate resources and schedules.

 

– Risk management – Identifying and managing risk is extremely important. Being able to predict and create solutions to problems before they arise may be the key to delivering projects successfully.

 

– Leadership – You have to lead your team, as well as just manage their activities. You need to be able to inspire and motive your colleagues.

 

Project Manager Entry Level Positions

 

Even when you have worked on the skills that you require to become a Project manager and have some experience, it is still the case that many Project Management positions will still not be attainable.

 

It may be the case, however, that there are entry level positions that could require little of no experience to get started such as Junior Project Manager, Project Assistant, and even Product Assistant. These allow you to building your experience up while you work, gain more knowledge and perhaps complete a Project Management qualification.

 

Project Management Courses

 

It is not a requirement for being a project manager that you have Project management qualifications.  It is not even necessary that you have knowledge of the area that you are project managing to be able to successfully complete a project, although it definitely helps and , for more specific project management roles, such as those in engineering or IT, subject knowledge is more important.

 

Whatever route you take into Project management, it is the additional knowledge gained through professional qualifications and short courses that will help you to progress as a project manager. And you will not always have to complete these qualifications before finding employment, as the many employers will fund these as on-the-job training.

 

Courses are available in the various project management methodologies, such as:

 

PRINCE2 – A structured methodology, commonly used for end-to-end project management. Courses are available at foundation, practitioner and agile level. Foundation courses are suitable for new recruits with a basic knowledge of project management processes.

 

AGILE – Suited to environments such as IT, where there may be constant change, as the methodology uses short development cycles to focus on continuous improvement in the development of a product. Training is available at foundation and practitioner level.

 

Industry certification can also be gained through the Association of Project Managers (APM) and the Project Management Institute (PMI).

 

Common Project Management Interview Questions

 

To make sure you’re well prepared for a job interview read our previous blogs on preparing for a Job Interview here http://wp.me/piy8w-Cb and here http://wp.me/piy8w-Cr.

 

Also pre-prepare your responses to these specific, common project management interview questions:

 

  • What project management methodologies are you most familiar with?
  • What are the most important qualities of a project manager and why?
  • How do you plan a schedule for a project?
  • How do you allocate resources?
  • How do you ensure your team stays on track to meet project deadlines?
  • How do you motivate a team?
  • Two key stakeholders have opposing views. How do you manage this?
  • What did you find most challenging about your last project?
  • What is the most complicated project you have managed? How did you handle it?
  • What was your most successful project?

 

It is entirely possible that you can achieve your goal of a job in Project Manager. Infero Training delivers course in PRINCE2 and in Microsoft Project.

Microsoft Project

Project

 

It is possible that you have heard of Microsoft, but have never used it. In this article, we set out its capabilities.

 

Project is the world’s most popular project management software. It was Microsoft’s third application, with its initial release in 1984. It is part of the Microsoft Office family but has never been included in any of the Office suites. There are two editions of Project available, the standard and professional versions. There are also web apps and an online version that can be used.

 

Project managers can use it to develop plans, assign resources to tasks, track progress, manage budgets and analyse workloads. Perhaps its most useful feature it the ability to see a project in a number of different views.  A View in Microsoft Project is a representation of data in the form of table and graph.

 

Essentially, the project can be viewed from different perspectives and representations, all from one platform. These views can also be customized providing particular solutions for specific projects. In the latest versions there is even a Board view, that looks like a traditional Kanban board.

 

The default view is the Gantt Chart view. This has two sections; a Table on left hand side and Graph on right hand side. Traditionally a Gantt Chart contains Tasks names, tasks duration, start and finish dates and a bar chart drawn to show the tasks duration over time.

 

There is also a Network Diagram view, a Team Planner view, a resource usage chart view, a calendar view, and many, many more.

 

Microsoft Project helps planning and scheduling, by allowing the definition of project tasks and setting the prioritisation of these. A Timeline view can be added to identify important tasks and Milestones in the project.

 

Project has extensive reporting facilities, allowing complex and detailed reports to be generated very easily. As well as built in reports, it provides the facility to create custom reports that meet your own organisation’s requirements. Reports include burn down reports; an overview of the entire project on one page; the conditions of available resources and their utilization; a cost overview; a list of pending tasks; and a list of targets achieved and upcoming goals.

 

There are a number of tools in project that allow effective resource management, allowing the tracking and monitoring of available resources. Project also allows the assignment of costs to individual resources, and check if certain resources are being overused or underused. Tasks can be correctly assigned to match resource availability. A Resource Pool can even be created that can be accessed by multiple projects.

 

Smaller projects, being looked after by different teams can be merged together into a Master Project, but still exist as separate entities, allowing a lot of flexibility on how the projects are managed, whilst still showing how smaller projects fit into a larger overall Project.

 

Project is a very flexible tool that is extremely useful for project management. It is also quite simple to master. Infero Training offers courses in Project at all levels. Click here to find out more:

 

https://www.inferotraining.com/course/project-courses_c_58_64.html

 

Part 2 – Delivering in the Virtual Classroom

InkedVirtual Training-Infero-Training

 

When delivering Virtual Classroom Training, it is important to remember that just because something works in normal classroom training, it does not mean that it will also work in online training. Not only does material need to be adapted for the online setting, but trainers too need to adapt their delivery, their training methods and the whole approach that they take.

 

Engaging a remote audience is entirely different from engaging one face to face and many of the visual clues that trainers normally make use of will not be available. In some Training sessions, there may be long periods when you cannot see or hear your audience.

 

A virtual Classroom Trainer should be able to type quickly and communicate clearly and concisely.
They should also be patient, as virtual classrooms produce lags in communication. This means allowing pause time for people to connect, or type answers.

 

Virtual Training is a skill that can be learned, like any other, but these are some of the things that you should consider.

 

Final Preparation

 

  • Be prepared for anything that can happen with the technology and equipment and have plans in place. Practice with the learning platform and record yourself to review how you are doing. Be confident and sure of yourself.
  • On the day check everything again. Enter the virtual classroom early and check the connection and audio. Invite trainees to join the training 10 minutes early to “live check” audio and visuals.
  • Make ‘eye contact’ by looking straight into the camera, not down at any notes. Have an interesting but not distracting background. Practise, practise, practise!

 

Keep Trainees Engaged

 

  • In all training, learners should be involved. This is especially true in a virtual Classroom; don’t talk at attendees, talk with them, engaging them in the conversation. Do this right at the beginning of the training, so that delegates feel comfortable from the start.
  • Use Ice-Breakers: If it fits and especially in a long session, start with an interesting ice-breaker.
  • If possible, and taking into account bandwidth and screen space, ask people to switch on their camera. Do this at least at the start of the training. This will help both you and your delegates to settle and massively help interactions.
  • Get to know the students as much as possible and note names at the beginning of the session, so that you can call on them individually during the training.
  • Use Interactive learning activities that involve the participation of everyone. Exercises. Discussions. Games.
    Within the limitations of the Platform that you are using, try to make slides as interesting as possible. Avoid bland, over-wordy slides.
  • Make it relevant by asking how the subject matter relates to trainees, either personally or professionally. Ask Interesting and Thought-Provoking Questions.
  • Limit Chat Moderation: It is good to limit cross-talk during a presentation, but allow people to talk to you and each other whenever it is possible during the training.
  • Hold Think-Pair-Shares with Breakout Groups: If your platform support break-out rooms and if it fits, place delegates into pairs and groups to discuss, complete exercises and report back to the group.
  • Try to change thing and get interactions from delegates every five to ten minutes. Don’t go any longer than this, as delegates will drift off. If you are inventive enough, get trainees to use their smart phone to respond to exercises. Play games together. Connect people, share stories and tips on what works for them.

Structuring a Virtual Classroom

 

  • At the start of each session, after a break, do a formal check-in, ensuring everyone is back and happy so far. End with a check out and ask individually if they have any questions.
  • Keep concepts clear: Be extremely clear what are the key messages, concept and learning areas are. Do not be afraid to repeat the same message many times.
  • Try different things: Use polls, breakout sessions, whiteboards, ask people to draw on screen, unmute people, annotate etc. Things will go wrong, but don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself as you use all of these tools. Tell delegates to expect glitches and make a joke out of them.

 

It is possible to create a successful, engaging and even fun Virtual classroom. Remember to keep things interactive and start (and end) with your delegates. After all, they are the people who the training is all about!

Part 1 – Preparing For Virtual Training

 

InkedVirtual Training-Infero-Training

 

From a Trainer’s point of view, preparing to deliver Virtual training is quite different from normal face-to-face classroom learning. It requires acquiring new skills and perhaps adapting the normal method of delivery of a subject. In a series of Posts, we here at Infero are going to take you through planning, preparing and delivering a successful Virtual training session.

 

Platform and Equipment

 

The first and most important step is to invest In Stable, Reliable Virtual Technology. It is a mistake to not take time and effort to find the best platform for the training that is being delivered. There are lots of online meeting platforms, the most well-known being GoTo Webinar, WebEx and Zoom. Before deciding on which is the best for you, think about the following:

 

  • Is the training for small groups, large audiences, or both?
  • Can the training be accessed on multiple platforms and devices, such as phones and tablets?
  • Do you need a platform specifically designed to support learning delivery?
  • Does the platform allow the upload of shareable files and content to a secure location?
  • What are the platform’s messaging capabilities and how can they be used effectively?
  • Will the Training need Whiteboards, break-out rooms, annotation tools, the ability to look at attendee’s screens and other such tools?

 

Before deciding on a particular product, it may be useful to sign up for the free time-limited trials that many platforms have. They can be tried out to see if they are a match for your Trainers and for your material.
It is also really worth Investing in a Hands-free Headset, with a good quality microphone. Make sure it fits well and is comfortable, as you may be wearing it all day.

 

Preparing for Technical Difficulties
When delivering virtual training, technical problems will happen. There can be issues with sound/video, attendees being unable to connect to or access the meeting, the trainer’s machine crash and more. Prepare by:

 

  • Trying to anticipate all possible problems and have a plan in place to address each one. As a trainer rehearse and practice with the software as much as possible. Practice, Practice, Practice.
  • Having backup equipment and solutions ready if something fails.
  • When picking the platform that you are going to use, ensure it has good technical support.
  • Preparing attendees: they should know how to set up their systems and have the appropriate software installed beforehand.
  • Keeping the Technology as simple as possible, but make sure it is reliable and you have tested it properly.

We all know Murphy’s Law, but don’t forget O’Toole’s Law: Murphy was an optimist.

 

Prepare the Physical Space

 

The space and environment also need preparation. not just the technology.

 

  • Consider the background – a clear wall is best.
  • Check the light source – generally it is best if the light source comes from behind the screen.
  • Think about seating and standing positions when training and how to transition, if you plan to do both.

 

Training Material

 

It may be useful to look at and the training material you plan to use. Ask if the content can be divided into smaller sections, delivered in shorter sessions. Remove any excess material. Use visual aids but keep words and images to a minimum. Get rid of anything you don’t need.

 

Preparing is just the start, however. Come back again for our next post on delivering successful Virtual Online Training,