Project Management Stack: A Free Intro Course

Build your talent stack in project management.

Welcome to the Project Management Stack. This free online course was designed to help students build a robust talent stack with an intro to the project management world. This online course will direct students to multiple online resources related to project management, and each section will encompass two to three hours of material centrally focused on project management.

Stack Navigation

In this Project Management Stack, there are five main sections. The World of Project Management and Foundations of Project Management will give a general overview of the realm of project management. Changes in Project Management and Opportunities in Project Management will give insight into what is happening and what is ahead in the sector. And finally, the last section will help give ideas on how to beef up your Project Management Stack. This is a free online course directing students multiple free resources, but the end of each section gives students an opportunity to invest in their project management development.

Look at this course as just the beginning of your opportunity. This can be a launching point into certifications or even an advanced degree, like an MBA.  

As we start this course, we want you to think about your strengths and weaknesses. Once we have focused on them, we can look at action plans and invest in your future. Moving towards your dreams and passions is a scary thing, and we want you to know that we are here with you every step of the way!

The World of Project Management

What is a project manager? Simply, they are managers that oversee and manage specific projects from inception to completion. At a glance, principles that successful project managers should follow include,

  • Create clear and concise project goals.
  • Manage risks.
  • Establish a performance baseline.
  • Establish and maintain healthy communication.
  • Clearly define team responsibilities.

Here is an excellent video by Denzi Sasal explaining the ins and outs of Project Management. Listening to the scope of a project manager, what inspires or excites you about this type of position? Where do you see your strengths and weaknesses showing up? Where do you see yourself within the scheme of things in the Project Management sector?

The Beginnings

Every major event and every task at work has a project manager of sorts. From the creation of the great pyramids to the Sistine Chapel, someone was managing these great projects. While many wonders of the world were being built with project managers, the concept and formed idea came about in the early 1900s.

In 1917, Henry Gantt, notably known as one of the forefathers of project management, developed the Gantt Chart. A Gantt chart is a specific type of bar chart that shows a project schedule. Here we start to see the early stages in the development of the spreadsheet. The Gantt Chart was actually used on the Hoover Dam Project in 1931, and we still see many project managers use the chart today. 

In 1956, the American Association of Cost Engineers (now AACE International) was formed. The AACE is one of the earliest groups that practiced project management with specialties in planning and scheduling, cost estimating, and schedule control. They continue to lead the way in cost estimation, cost engineering, scheduling, project management, and project control specialists. In 2006, AACE released the first integrated process for portfolio, program, and project management with their Total Cost Management Framework. 

Education Today

Since its inception, project management has grown leaps and bounds. The industry is still on the rise, from inventing systems to making managing a task easy to the possibility of receiving higher education degrees centralized in this particular area. Many candidates with excellent leadership skills seeking an Online MBA find themselves emphasizing project management.

Pursuing an Online MBA in Project Management allows the candidate to work in various industries, including construction, engineering, healthcare, marketing, and information technology (IT). Also, an MBA can enable a project manager to move into a Chief Operating Officer position or another C-suite executive. This is a great degree to pursue if you have your sights on being an executive within a company. Now is the time to level up and make that resume look great!

Do you know what the PMP Exam/ Certification is? The PMP (Project Management Professionals) is the Gold Standard in the field of Project Management. It is one of the most sought out certifications by mid-level professionals. Here is a great instructional video on the PMP exam as well as practice test questions. The video is lengthy, but don’t let that stop you. Break the course up into smaller sections if need be or just watch a few sections. The job market is competitive, and the more you know, the more you will grow. Sharpen your skills and add them to your talent stack.

Business 

From overseeing the construction of the pyramids to expansion projects in corporate America, a project manager is a common denominator. Project managers are in high demand, and the market is wide open for growth within this field.

As mentioned on Monday.com, Project Managers launch products and initiatives and take responsibility for updating internal processes. While this profession is growing, the systems in place seem to fall behind. Four out of five project managers report that they can’t get by without project portfolio management.

What is PPM (project and portfolio management)? It is a formal approach that an organization can use to orchestrate, prioritize and benefit from projects. This approach examines the risk-reward of each project, the available funds, the likelihood of a project’s duration, and the expected outcomes.

Only 35% of project managers surveyed in 2020 were “somewhat or very satisfied” with the systems in place. Despite the importance of PPM, only 61% apply a defined project management methodology to each project.

Investment Opportunity 

In this section, we have given you a wealth of free resources and introduced you to some project management jargon. Now here is where you take the baton of success and run. Check out this book titled “An Introduction to Project Management,” Sixth Edition by Kathy Schwalbe. New research and real-world examples are included throughout this project management book. It incorporates updated information and screenshots from several software tools.

Foundations of Project Management

History & Gantt’s Contributions 

Project management is dated back to circa 2370 BC. We don’t find many individuals captured in ancient history regarding project management. Still, we know that ancient Africans were instrumental in creating processes that we have taken and made our own. In the 20th Century, we began to establish an industry centered on scientific management (Taylor), later transitioning into project management (Gantt). 

As mentioned in the introduction, we consider Henry Gantt as the forefather of the Project Manager. Gantt was born into a wealthy family in Maryland in 1861. Gantt believed that only the application of scientific analysis to every aspect of work could induce industrial efficiency. He proposed that management improvements came from eliminating chance and accidents. 

Gantt made four individual and notable contributions:

1. The task and bonus system – With Gantt’s system, employees receive a bonus in addition to the worker’s regular day rate if they accomplished their proposed daily task. They would still received the day rate for an incomplete task. In contrast, the standard was Taylor’s piece-rate system. It penalized employees for substandard performance. 

2. The Perspective Worker – Gantt realized that his system offered a little incentive. He expanded a bonus system, and he began looking into a system focused on pride of work and habits. In work, wages, and profits, Gantt wrote, “Whatever we do must be in accord with human nature. We cannot drive people; we must direct their development. The general policy of the past has been to drive, but the era of force must give way to that of knowledge. The policy of the future will be to teach and lead, to the advantage of all concerned.”

3. The Chart – Gantt Charts have been applied to projects to illustrate how scheduling may be achieved, detailed specifically on the basis of time. To illustrate a Gantt Chart, we take the project of renovating a house. The steps would include:

a) Establishing standards of quality of materials, cost, and time allotted.
b) Informing any contractors or personnel involved.
c) Arranging alternative accommodation if the house is currently lived-in.
d) Prepping the house for the renovation.
e) Renovation.

The chart would track all the tasks, based on time, through to completion. This enabled the team to see exactly where tasks lied and how the project was moving.

4. The social responsibility of business – When Gantt’s mentor died, he moved away from scientific management theory. He took the businesses’ approach to serve the company’s bottom line and their obligation to the people and the community. 

Here’s a great lecture on good project management by Southern California University’s Greta Blash. This video is from 2015, so take note of a few things: What foundational aspects of project management are still true today? What changes and improvements have happened in the world of project management since this filming? What types of changes do you see happening in the future based on the changes, if any, from the past decade?

Project Management Today

Understanding your past puts the future into perspective. Daily we run into tasks and projects that need direction, so imagine what is required for a fortune 500 company or even a new small business. Owning a small business is not the most straightforward task. Frequently the owner is left wearing many hats, from creative direction, sales, marketing, PR, and even janitor.

Now there are so many technological advances at your fingertips; remember, there’s an app for everything. From free apps to pay as you go, there’s something that will fit your budget when looking for project management technology. Here’s a list of the some of the leading project management apps that small businesses and corporate entities are using:

  1. Monday.com
  2. SmartSheet
  3. HubSpot
  4. Wrike
  5. ClickUp 
  6. RingCentral 
  7. FreshBooks 
  8. Oracle 

Pick a few out of this list and explore. Are there any that you can start learning or incorporating into your work? Learning about available technology is key to understanding the industry today and putting the future in perspective.

Having an edge in this competitive industry is essential. Do you know what it takes to secure a great project management job? Here is an excellent episode from The PM Podcast. The PM Podcast is a great place to learn about the industry from industry professionals.

Investment Opportunity

Coursera offers a course titled Project Management Principles and Practices Specialization in conjunction with UCI. In this course, you will learn to: 

  • Define a project’s scope and write a project plan
  • Build a work breakdown schedule
  • Create a project budget
  • Identify and manage risks

Changes in Project Management

Are project managers obsolete? 

Companies are continually looking for ways to downsize and increase their bottom line if their employment pool is top-heavy. Through the years, many jobs that many would consider necessary have become integrated into one position. Because of the worldwide pandemic, teams of people have been terminated. So we ask the question: will there be a need for project managers in the future? 

The answer is yes! The market has become global, and many businesses are making international connections and forging relationships and partnerships abroad. For global projects to be successful, there must be a project manager at the helm. “As the business environment gets more and more global, digitalized, uncertain and fast, companies need to adapt and bring services and products to market quickly. Project managers are the people who can make that happen.”

Keeping up with trends in your specific industry is a must! The American University in Cairo has a great webinar on the future of project management. Be sure and write down some SMART goals from this webinar. What things can you be doing to help you intersect the future of project management? Be specific and put it on a timetable.

Are you Agile? 

The word agile is frequently paired with project management. Agile project management is an iterative approach to delivering a project throughout its life cycle by using a software called Agile. To learn more about Agile Project Management, watch this video. What are the strengths and weakness of this process?

Please be mindful that Agile is an industry standard, but as businesses and their teams grow, this program could become a hindrance. According to IPMA research, only 47% of organizations are using agile approaches for delivery.

Hybrid integration is seen to be the way of the future. What is hybrid management, and how will it change the future of project management? Spend a few minutes watching this video and this video on hybrid integration. How do you feel about the different approaches? What approach is more applicable to you today?

Investment Opportunity

Coursera offers an introductory level class on Agile; here is what you will learn:

  • Adopt the five practices of Agile. 
  • Write good user stories and track reports using a kanban board. Incorporate Scrum artifacts, events, and benefits.
  • Create a product backlog using the sprint planning process.
  • Create burndown charts. Use metrics to amplify productivity and client satisfaction.

Opportunities in Project Management

The PMI (Project Management Institute) says that by 2027 employers will need nearly 88 million people in project-related positions. The global demand for knowledgeable and effective project managers is increasing. 

In cities such as NYC, the construction market is ever-changing and looking for qualified project managers. Here is an excellent panel on careers in project management from Columbia SPS. What stood out to you? Spend some time to identify any gaps from where you are and where you want to be?

Project management roles are becoming essential to the progression of commerce. Managers are moving from a to-do list on the Gantt Chart to working closely with executives and transitioning into executive positions such as Chief Operations Officers (COO). The average base salary for a project manager in the US is $73,796, with a $13,500 cash bonus. So if you thought this wasn’t a lucrative career, you are sadly mistaken. But one must not forget that this is the tip of the iceberg, and with persistence, passion, and perseverance, there is room for advancement with the possibility of making it well into the 100,000 range. On indeed.com, you can find senior-level project manager positions that can make up to $200,000 per year. Sift through the list of project management openings in your area. Read through the qualifications to help you add details to your gap list you started.

Trends

There are trends to watch out for as 2021 turns into 2022. Every industry has started to see a paradigm shift. For upward mobility and expansion, changes in systems and processes are sure to happen. Northeastern University released a list of trends for project management over this past year.

1. Greater Dependency on Virtual and Remote Teams
2. A Closer Connection Between Strategy and Projects
3. Project Management and Change Management
4. The Appearance of Hybrid Project Management
5. An Emphasis on Soft Skills
6. The Impact of AI and Data Analytics

They end with highlighting advanced degrees in project management. What would be the advantages for you in pursing an advanced degree? You could also pursue a certification. What does it mean to be PMI (Project Management Institute) Certified?

Investment Opportunity

Are you confident with your soft skills? Are you a great motivator and team leader? Here’s a great book titled, The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: Embrace Them and Empower Your Team by John C. Maxwell. This is your go-to guide for building and maintaining champion-level teams and then leading your team to the peak level of success.

Project Management Talent Stack

As we have learned thus far, many nuts and bolts go into your toolbox as a project manager. You must be business savvy but have the soft skills needed to lead a team. Do you have an understanding of scope, budgeting, and deliverables? Can you multi-task and delegate? Now that we are nearing the end of this course, you need to take a hard look at your talent stack and be prepared to make adjustments. 

Change Management 

Project Managers need to feel very comfortable with change management. The goal of change management is to execute new processes, products, and business strategies while minimizing adverse outcomes. When working on a big project, do we approve the process with challenging ideas and others on the team. How do we adapt when things go wrong? What do we do when we go over budget? How are we keeping a record of these changes and implementing an action plan? What are you doing to keep the morale up amongst your team when this goes unexpectedly? Here is a webinar on change management by Invensis Learning. Be particularly mindful when they list challenges in change management. The more you understand in advance, the easier you can help navigate others through.

Management/ Leadership 

How do you manage? The CFI website states that According to American social and organizational psychologist Robert Katz, the three types of management skills include:

1. Technical Skills – These give managers the knowledge and ability to use various skills and techniques to reach their goals. These skills include operating mechanical instruments or software, producing of things, and the skills needed to design products and services and increase sales.

2. Conceptual Skills – These include the ability for abstract thinking and contriving ideas. Can the manager see a whole concept and problem solve? This helps managers to effectively predict problems that they may face.

3. Interpersonal Skills – These include the managers’ ability to interact well with others. Interpersonal skills enable leaders to engage and motivate human potential for optimal results.

Visit the Corporate Financial Institute (CFI) website and look around their courses and their knowledge library. They have some great free resources applicable to future project managers.

Investment Opportunity

Coursera offers a six-course specialization called Strategic Leadership and Management. In Strategic Leadership and Management, you will dive into the fundamentals of leading people, teams, and organizations and developing tools to analyze business situations. In addition to building a conceptual framework for leadership, learners will develop and practice strategies for immediate impact.

This concludes the free online course for the Project Management Stack. We hope that we have given you some good information to investigate further where you fit in this evolving career. Building a foundation is imperative, and we were expecting you could use this information to stand on as you continue to stack up your knowledge and skills within Project Management.