Project Management – Frequently Asked Questions

In my 30+ years of being in the project management space, I have hired, mentored, fired (laid off), and been involved heavily in the careers of project managers. It has been an amazing experience and one of the interesting parts of being part of this world is the same questions come up repeatedly. So, I thought I would help everyone out and put answer them here.

Project Management FAQ’s

Project Manager FAQ

Are project management courses worth it?

Yes, some courses out there are amazing and some are not so much. That is what you will find in any industry, right? Many people put out courses to make a quick buck, others put it out with 30+ years of experience and actually know their subject area well. My advice is that you take courses from known resources and experts in the field. I actually have all my courses listed here on my Bill Dow PMP training site. I am pretty well known!

Are project management skills transferable?

Yes, 100% they are transferable from industry to industry and from job to job. That is the amazing thing about this profession, if you are an IT Project manager in one company, you can go be an IT project manager in another. I have a caveat, though; consider in this process. I don’t believe an IT project manager can go manage a construction project. In IT, we don’t have to worry about how long concrete takes to dry. We don’t hire and work with electricians or plumbers. Those are two different projects and my opinion and mine only is those two roles are not transferrable.

Are project manager jobs remote?

They sure are, have you not seen all the project managers working at coffee shops around the world? Just kidding, but yes, project management is one of those roles that remote work is very much possible and sometimes needed.

Can project management be automated?

Yes and no, that is a loaded question. When I think about automating project management, I think about the various tools that are available to project managers today. For example, if a project manager no longer has to create a budget spreadsheet by hand and can use Microsoft Excel® is that automation? I think so, or if a project manager can know create a project schedule using MS Project and not pen and paper to me, that’s automation.

How does project management work?

That’s a brilliant question because how a project works in most cases is following a standard methodology. Both a project methodology, such as what PMI® or Prince® offers and alongside of that using methodologies for the specific fields. Let’s look at some examples of industries that have specific development methodologies

  • IT
  • Construction
  • Research
  • Manufacturing

I did much more explaining of this process in great detail in my PMO book “The PMO Lifecycle: Building, Running and Shutting Down” which is sold on Amazon today. Grab a copy today for much more details on this topic.

How does project management help?

I love this question because, as noted above, project management provides a structure methodology or approach to how you tackle projects. Projects that are run with a structured methodology and ones that rarely end up with very different outcomes. Projects need structure, they need processes to be successful, so I recommended you to follow on every project you tackle.

How does a project manager interact with risk management?

Risk management is the ability to track and monitor risks on your projects and therefore is ingrained in the project management process. Project Manager(s) are required to track and report risks continually on their projects for the best chance of success. Without that structured and formal way of managing project risks, projects often suffer and don’t go as expected.

What project management tools are used on projects?

Again, that is a loaded question because there are just so many tools that it is impossible to list them all. I can give you a list of some of the top ones out there, but my favorites may not be your favorites, so let me list off and you can keep exploring this topic yourself with our friend, Google. My top tools include:

  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Microsoft Planner
  • Microsoft Project
  • Smartsheet
  • WBS Schedule Pro
  • RiskyProject
  • Asana
  • Trello
  • Basecamp
  • Wrike
  • Jira

Again, this list could go on for years. Let’s just leave it at these for now. Sorry, if I missed your favorite tool.

What project management courses should I take?

As noted above on if courses are worth it, your focus if you are just getting into this project management space focus first on project management courses. That means, I know PMI® dropped the Lifecycle Processes and Knowledge areas, but that does not mean they are not important and where you should not focus your training. So, get project management training in these areas to start:

  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Execution and Control
  • Closing
  • Project Integration Management
  • Project Scope Management
  • Project Schedule Management
  • Project Cost Management
  • Project Quality Management
  • Project Resource Management
  • Project Communications Management
  • Project Risk Management
  • Project Procurement Management
  • Project Stakeholder Management

We can all pretend that these are not components of a project, but after doing this for 30 years, and still doing this today, these areas are critical. Trust me, get your training here to start. From there, get training in your specific industry. So if you are in manufacturing, get training in project management in that industry. Research, IT, Construction…etc. The list goes on and on, but get the basics down first. Again, I have training on my site to get you going on your PM journey located here: Bill Dow PMP training site.

What do project managers do?

I love that question because it is going to differ from project manager on a day-to-day basis, but fundamentally, if you stay in the same industry; the role is the same. However, the caveat to that is if you are in IT and running an Agile project and at a different company and in IT running a waterfall project, your days will be different. I would go deeper, but again, think that you getting that core PM training is important to understand daily what does a Project manager does every day.

What happens when a project goes wrong?

Trust me, that happens all the time. Even the best project managers have problems or things go wrong with their projects. It happens, you should quickly react and adapt to what is wrong, and then put processes in place to correct the issue. What I have done in the past is have “Red” project conditions already defined and if the project has something on it go wrong, then what I do is activate those conditions. Projects go wrong all the time. It is the good and prepared project manager that works around it and limits any impacts to the project.

When was project management started?

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY

Well, that’s a funny question because when you search Google it says they formed PMI in 1969, but you see the pyramids right? Or the great Wall of China? So, project management has been around for many-many years and PMI was one of the first to formalize it and bring it to where it is today. But they didn’t create project management. The amazing men and women who built these pyramids back hundreds of years ago would be credited for creating it. We just don’t know exactly which principals of project management they actually used, but I know for a fact I would love to know!

How do I create a project management plan?

First, let’s cover what is a project management plan and then we can cover how to build it. A project management is a series of documents that help you control how you will manage the principal components of the project. So, an example of a project management document would be a scope management document. In that document, you outline how you will control the project’s scope. If you keep this going and follow the same process for the major components of a project, such as budget, schedule, risks/issues…etc. you end up creating these plans that document your controlling of each component. I have found that project management plans to be extremely valuable and a tool I documented in my book “Project Management Communications Tools” that you can check out and get much more information.

Where do I get a project management certification?

Well, in North America, there is really one standard for project managers and that is the PMP. You can find all the information you need at www.pmi.org. I have had my PMP for over 20 years and am really a big supporter of PMI and have been for years.

Where do I get project management experience?

That is a great question and something I am working on in the background with new project managers, more information soon, but for now I would recommend that you ask at your company, look for local nonprofit companies and local groups and volunteer wherever possible to get that hands-on experience.

How will project management evolved?

This is a tricky question because I see it strengthening with tools and advancements of AI with project management data. I see the more tools and the way we can get access to data insights and see things that are happening on projects before they occur will move this industry forward. But, I am a firm believer in project managers knowing and understanding their data and so much so I created a course on PowerBI and Dashboards that you can take today that will help you learn how to understand better your project data. Grab a copy today. You won’t regret it and you will create dashboards in no time!

Again, these questions and answers could go on for days because the questions never stop, but what we covered here is a significant starting point. I promise to keep adding, but wanted to get something out to you because I don’t see a lot of this information and I am thrilled to share it with you.

What do you think?

If you like this article, you are going to love this one…. how to become a project manager.

Bill Dow, PMP

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