I have recently moved in to a dedicated project management role having progressed from a development manager background.
Whilst I understand the technology side of the project I am running, I am comfortable managing teams and understand the mechanics of running a project I feel like I have a long path towards to being a solid project manager and would like to shorten the learning curve.
Working within an Agile environment I am currently looking at gaining my Agile PM and Scrum Master certifications.
I wondered whether anyone had any recommendations in terms of follow on course or qualifications and any good project management books aside from the basic introductory texts.
i 've been doing project management for years. Moved from project management to product management to program management. Managed lots of projects, software and non software stuff..
I worked on CMMI / Agile ( Scrum , XP ...etc) and also on PMI schemes.
Although you are working under Agile, I HIGHLY recommend you attend the PMP courses, for the PMP exam. Even if you are not interested in sitting for the PMP exam.
PMP gives you tons of knowledge on time management and cost management , which you don't have in this way in scrum master certification. PMP gives you the high level broad spectrum helicopter view of projects, also project valuation and business perspective..
Once you get familiar with these concepts, you can then apply with the Agile approach. Which, I believe is a tweak of the concepts to match an agility needing environment, mainly used on software projects. But the solid foundation you will have from PMP will give you more confidence when you apply Agile. Coz, in agile, the whole advantage is you don't need to apply the process by the book. You can still tweak it to tailor something specific for your team and project. So moving from a too-strict approach ( like CMMI or PMP) to Agile ( which is more flexible ) will be good for you. The strict approach in PMP will also give you the alarm you need to see when something go beyond control.
And remember.. Be a result oriented person. There is no point applying any process if it doesn't improve the performance, reduce cost and achieve the targeted result. So you will hear a lot about the illusion that Agile is the best which is not true. Agile is IDEAL for the projects that need Agile. Widening your project management schemes will help you always make the best decision for what to use to manage a project.
Let me know if you have more questions.
Any project is a combination of 4 things: People, resources (budget, staff, software, licenses, technologies, etc ...), timelines, and deliverable set.
As the PM, you are tasked with plotting the best timeline for achieving the most deliverables using available resources and making sure all the people involved know it. That's it. Simple! Right?
The methodology itself is a guide - regardless which one. After all, no methodology is perfect. When it's all said and done, you will have to tailor whatever methodology to fit the business, culture, and expectations. Agile makes sense in IT because of constant change and difficulty in pinning down full specs ahead of time - so you want flexibility to rework and readjust mid process.
But I don't think this is what makes a sophisticated project manager.
Sure the tools and methods are important.
But I think that the most sophisticated project manager is one who can communicate with people best. And as such, ensures that everybody is on-board the change train all the time.
An idea I love from "The Personal MBA" is that a manager is merely an assistant to the team that does the heavy lifting.
A successful project management is required to be a great communicator and plan according to the team, requirements and various milestones for the project.
Agile is a great methodology that provides some quick iterations, providing you with the opportunity to adjust the project on the fly, notice delays during the project and fine tuning the process so that it meets the end goal. From a "roadmap management" perspective you need to break the assignment into small chunks and delegate them to the right people, manage the time line in a reasonable and slightly pessimistic way, and figure out all of the possible bottlenecks that could go south (i.e. risk management).
From a "team management" perspective it's all about communication, understanding your team members, their skills, their pros and cons. You have to be able to delegate the right assignments to each team member based on their strong skills, expertise and work process. You have to deal with the team dynamics, make sure the burnout levels are extremely low, and implement a communication structure that ensures that everything is clear, the team is on track, the team is productive, there are no obstacles, missing dependencies, or internal issues that should be taken care of.
You have to be the principal conductor for your team - balancing the work load from both project and team perspective, solving internal challenges and keeping the team spirit high.
To be a polished project manager, I think you need to look beyond the methodologies, tools and templates and get to the core of what is really required to evaluate a project as 'successful'.
At the heart of every project is a change. Something is going to be different after the project than it was before the project. For a project to be completely successful it must be the right change to move the organization toward their goals and it must be supported by the people who will be the end users of these changes.
The best project managers that I have observed and the success that I have had in project management has been due to the soft skills to work with the project sponsors to ensure the business drivers are understood and articulated. It is understanding the steps that are required to properly prepare the end users for the changes. It is not only efficiently executing the steps to build the hard deliverables, but making sure they are the right deliverables in the first place and that environment is there to support them.
To become polished, I recommend that project managers get training in stakeholder management and organizational change management. They should spend time to get an understanding of the strategic goals of the organization so they can speak the language of the project sponsor and directly link the project direction to outcomes that will build a better business. With this well rounded approach you will not only 'get it done' but your project will be truly successful.