Most Engineers or chemists, whether in government, industry, academia or other settings, have been involved with one research project or the other across their career span. But, who started the project, who assumes responsibility for the outcome and who leads the project? In the past, project management lacked a well-designed framework and the specific project management course has now evolved to fill the void.
Comprehensive knowledge in multiple disciplines
Although we do have advisors for project management in the academic or even a distinct discipline in the industries to manage projects, project managers often came to that position by default, rather than by intent. The modern day project management courses seek to impart comprehensive knowledge in multiple disciplines of a project. Thus, irrespective of whether an individual has core competencies in information technology, engineering, medicine, or other streams of learning, completing a project management course will make him/her a well-rounded person capable of adequately addressing the diverse and complex needs of a project from start to finish.
A core advantage of project management courses is that you gain transferable skills when you get your feet deep into project management. Thus, if you start off as a project manager with a background in chemistry, for instance, in the later years of your career, you can transition into rolls like Medicinal chemist or Principal Scientist in the lucrative drug industry.
Transferability of skills is essential because, as businesses evolve, there will be changes happening to product mix, marketing approaches, the introduction of new lines of business and more. In the process of such evolutions, it is customary that some divisions and departments are closed to make room for new divisions/departments to match the needs of the hour and further business interests.
Let us now briefly understand the general definition of a project
A project is defined as ‘temporary endeavour’ to fulfil a unique service or create a distinct product or perhaps a result. Notice that ‘temporary’ is the keyword for most projects. Projects have an end or handoff of some sort. Projects are different from operations while they represent the ongoing efforts of organisations for sustaining the core business. Projects can evolve within companies, with clear objectives, particular time frame, and expectations.
You will notice that this definition is indeed broad. Therefore, a project can relate to a business function or even within your home. For instance, painting your house is a project. To apply project management techniques or not, is essentially up to the individual or the organisation. The advantage of project management tools is that it gives you a framework to plan and analyse the lifecycle of a project. Project management logically divides multiple components of a project into smaller bits that can be managed easily and these pieces refer as processes. In other words, project management lays out the menu, and it is for the project manager to determine what to pick from the list to accomplish the overall objective.
Main project with arteries
A project can have some related projects from the main project. For instance, a massive construction project will have multiple project streams to address human capital, finance, and compliance with regulatory affairs, customer interaction, procurement, inventory control, service providers, quality control and so forth. Each stream will be headed by a person competent to handle that part of the job but reports to the project manager or project chief who holds the ship together and is responsible for the final deliverables from the project.
The growth trajectory in project management
At the start of your career, you may not be a project manager. But, once you have acquired the theoretical knowledge of project management, it helps you appreciate the complexities involved in managing a project and therefore contribute more constructively to the task. With consistent performance in multiple tasks, you can expect to get noticed soon and move up the ladder.
Role of effective communication
Effective communication has a great role in project management, and in fact, if you ask any senior project manager, he/she would admit without hesitation that the lion’s share of the time is spent in communication. Communication should be not only effective but also consistent so that the project wheel keeps turning without glitches. Even one weak link in the transmission chain can jeopardise the entire project.
Technology has made project management simple
If we compare project management some two decades ago, with what is available today, our elders would agree that technology has made much of the task simple and straightforward. Thanks to the digital world, today, the entire project flow can be accessed by any authorised person from any part of the world. This was not so, two decades ago. By deploying or creating the right type of software, the project manager can determine accessibility of the whole project or parts of it to select individuals or groups. Simultaneously project owners or CEOs can view the entire project flow, insert comments or initiate discussions without being physically present anywhere near the project.
Importance of human capital
Today, we are in a world where human capital has moved to the centre state of business. Irrespective of whether you pursue a career in information technology, drug research, engineering or finance, you are expected to possess comprehensive business knowledge. A project management course will help you gain this excellent business experience to catapult your career path.
It is important however that you identify the right type of project management courses and the institution that is offering the classes. After the initial research, try to establish connections with the alumni. This way, you can hope to gain more in-depth knowledge about the institution, courses and people behind them. Later when you finally decide to pursue a project management course, this network with the alumni will be significantly helpful to you in spring boarding your career.