A project management course can be a game-changer in your career, whether you are in the project management industry or simply managing projects within your role. Here we look at some of the simple questions that arise when people are embarking on or considering a project management qualification.
What Project Management courses are there… and which one should I choose?
The answer to this question is wholly dependant on who you ask. Project management approaches broadly cover two types of approach and sometimes a combination of the two.
The waterfall project management approach
The traditional project management approach is usually called a waterfall approach. This is because the project is a linear progression from start through to finish – there isn’t any going back. There are a few project management methods which exemplify this approach, probably the most globally recognised being the PRINCE2® project certification.
PRINCE2® started out as a UK-government method to manage the various IT ‘projects’ undertaken under its command. This formalised the structure of the project, such that its progress could be monitored and controlled. Since then, it has become the standard which the government mandates to manage its projects and many multi-national organisations have adopted to manage their projects.
Each project takes place in distinct stages and each stage will need to be completed before the next one can begin. The stages allow the Project Executive to keep an eye on the project and ensure that it remains on-track and relevant to the business. This style of management provides a higher level of bureaucracy, documentation, oversight, and traceability than the agile approaches.
According to Arras People 2018, PRINCE2® Practitioners can earn approx. £52k per annum.
Agile project management
Agile project management has its roots in software development where it is essential to ‘be responsive’ to customer needs. Probably this is because it is only by ‘demonstrating’ a prototype, that the customer can get a feel of the result, and then suggest changes or adaptions. It achieves this responsiveness by frequent, continuous and cyclical delivery (in Scrum Agile these delivery cycles are known as ‘sprints’). The project and the final product can therefore change and adapt to the needs of the customer, but the project begins to deliver from very early on in the process. SCRUM breaks the development down into manageable ‘chunks’, with each ‘chunk’ given a finite timeframe in which to deliver. Kanban practices seeks to control the amount of ‘work-in-progress’, so that the development teams can deliver the outputs more flexibly. Both latter two approaches are ‘lightweight’ being light on documentation but strong on delivery.
There are many types of courses that cover an agile approach to project management and all of them incorporate the general values of the Agile Manifesto which are:
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Individuals and interaction over process and tools.
- Responding to change over following a structured plan.
- Prototyping/working solutions over comprehensive documentation.
This style of management allows the project team greater flexibility in their approach to the final solution. This in turn allows the development team to ‘brain-storm’ ideas in order to create the best results.
Some of the best project management courses in the UK for those wishing to embark on an agile project management career is APMG’s AgilePM, Certified Scrum Alliance and Kanban.
A mix of the two
Both agile and waterfall approaches have been recognised as having their pros and cons in recent years and choosing one approach over another is wholly dependant on the needs, culture and management practices of the organisation.
For example, some organisations have PRINCE2® embedded within their organisation, so it makes sense to follow the PRINCE2® Foundation and Practitioner accreditation route. Many organisations use a management method which has its roots in PRINCE2® but ‘tailored’ to their own business needs.
However, it has long been known that both approaches have their benefits, so some organisations are adopting a mixture of the two. PRINCE2 Agile® Project Management covers the best of both worlds and marries the flexibility and responsiveness of agile approaches such as Kanban and Scrum with the governance of PRINCE2®.
So, what’s the best project management course for a beginner?
Project Management courses can be taken in accordance with the learning preference of the individual; whether the project management course is online, in the traditional classroom setting or a mix of the two… the online virtual classroom.
One of the best project management courses for beginners is APM PFQ (Association of Project Management Project Fundamentals Qualification). The certification gives an awareness of project management terminology and a broad understanding of the profession and lifecycle of a project. APM is the chartered body for the project professional and was awarded its chartered status for its contribution to the industry in 2016.
Taking APM PFQ can also be a clear (but not mandatory) route to APM PMQ (Project Management Qualification). Currently, 46% of APM PMQ practitioners earn over £50k per annum (APM 2018).
Other highly recommended entry-level qualifications are PRINCE2® Foundation and AgilePM Foundation. Both levels will teach the candidate the general terminology and principles that underpin the relevant approaches.
How can a project management course benefit me?
Having a project management can mean the difference to bagging that all important interview and has been proven to have positive benefits for your salary. It demonstrates that you have the commitment and training to manage project challenges. It also provides you with prior knowledge and experience that will become invaluable, particularly within organisations that already practice these approaches. Having a shared understanding and terminology to use with your peers can enhance communication levels and lead to increased project success.
How much can a project course cost?
Courses can run as little as £99 for a standard eLearning introduction course (excluding exams) to +£1k for Foundation and Practitioner combined classroom courses with exams. Whilst a classroom-based course is usually completed in one week, e-learning allows the option to fit the training around your existing commitments, and so your study could take from one week to six months.
SPOCE Project Management are a globally recognised project and IT Service training provider that was the flagship training provider for some of the most prestigious approaches in project and programme management such as PRINCE2® and MSP®. This year SPOCE celebrates 25 years in the industry.
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