Why you need project management skills? - ENGINEERING MANAGEMENT

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What Is Project Management? An official definition of project management, courtesy of the Project Management Institute, defines the te...

Why you need project management skills?

Why you need project management skills

What Is Project Management?

An official definition of project management, courtesy of the Project Management Institute, defines the term as: “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements.”

A more tangible (but less interesting) description is that project management is everything you need to make a project happen on time and within budget to deliver the needed scope and quality.

My personal definition of project management is that it’s the easiest way to look like a superhero without the involvement of radioactive spiders or having questionable parentage.

In order to really get our heads around these definitions, we need to discuss some of the terms. A project is distinguished from regular work in that it’s a one-time effort to change things in some way. So the creation of a new website would be a project; ongoing maintenance and minor updates would not.

Time and budget are familiar terms—perhaps the project is intended to take six weeks and have a budget of $20,000. Scope refers to the list of deliverables or features that have been agreed—this is where the scale of the required solution is identified. For instance, creating a new website for the company may really be possible in six weeks, but rewriting all the accounting software isn’t. 

Quality is exactly what it says on the tin, but in project-speak, quality may include not only the quality of the finished product but also the approach. Some industries require that particular quality management approaches be used—for instance, factories producing automotive parts have to meet particular international standards.

These four aspects (time, budget, scope, and quality) make up what’s known as the balance quadrant, which is pictured in Figure 1.1. The balance quadrant demonstrates the interrelationship between the four aspects and how a change to one aspect will unbalance the quadrant. For instance, an increase in the project’s scope will have an impact on the time, the cost, and the quality of the project.2 In practice, any project decision you or your clients make will have an impact on these four aspects—will it make the project more expensive, take longer, be of lower or higher quality, or affect its scope?

Essentially, project management is a set of skills and tools that will help you get the project right in every way.

Why you need project management skills?

Projects are an increasing feature of modern work. Once, workers performed the same set of tasks, day after day, focusing on getting more of the same done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Today, one of the few constants is that the work you do today will be different from what you do tomorrow. For many, our jobs consist of an ongoing stream of new projects, new technologies, and new challenges. 

This is particularly true in our modern world, where technology is an intrinsic part of almost any business. These days, it’s hard to imagine a company that could survive without telephones, email, computers, and handhelds. It’s even harder to imagine technology staying the same for more than a few years—at the most! 

We also face changing expectations among our clients and business partners. Today, there’s much more of an expectation that you will deliver not just an isolated product, but a solution to a business problem. Delivering that full solution requires a broader skill set that was traditionally expected.

What’s In It for Me?

So, how will project management help you? What will it give you that you don’t already have? 

First and foremost, developing your project management skills will empower you to deliver the real solution that your customers and clients want. You’ll be able to manage everything, from start to finish—including their involvement—in a much more effective manner. 

Secondly, investing some time in project management will make everything else run more smoothly. In fact, you’ll hopefully find that instead of detracting from the real work, your new-found project management skills will allow you more time to focus on the work that you really enjoy, by making managing the process aspects of your job much less stressful. You never know—project management might even become the work that you love best!

Thirdly, project management is one of those valuable transferable skills that careers advisors are always so keen on. Wherever you see your career going, there aren’t a lot of places in which project management wouldn’t be a bonus. If you find that you like it enough to want to make it the focus of your career, you might consider investing in professional qualifications.

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