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The practice of project management

The Project Management Institute refers to a project as a temporary group activity geared towards producing a unique service, product or result. It is temporary in the sense that is has a set beginning and end, in contrast with routinised business activities that recur over time, and unique in that it involves a specific set of operations that aim to achieve a singular goal. Project Management refers to the combination of processes and activities needed to ensure that these projects are completed within pre-defined constraints (or objectives), which usually cover quality, time and cost. Together, these three elements are sometimes referred to as the overall project scope, and are the parameters against which the success of a project is ultimately assessed, though they are often adjusted throughout the lifecycle of a project. As a result, successful project managers need to have a solid set of skills in planning, organising, monitoring and managing resources to achieve specific goals.

Project Management - five basic phases

Project Management courses are usually built around five key stages of a project which are labelled as the following.

1. Concept & initiation - the initial stage of project management where a project idea is identified or proposed and its benefits and probability of achievement for an organisation are considered.

2. Planning & definition - the project has now been determined as worthwhile and achievable and a plan is now put into writing, identifying what needs to be done. Budgets, schedules and resource lists are also drawn up.

3. Execution - the plans are in place and now, during this stage, resources and tasks are distributed to team members and the plan is put into action.

4. Monitoring & controlling - the work is happening and during this phase, the project manager oversees the work and makes sure that everything is going to plan, resolving any unforeseen issues or changes to schedule.

5. Closing - the project has been delivered as per the plan and now, during this stage, the team evaluates the process, identifies successes and any hiccups. These will usually be put into some form of report to be referred to during future projects.

Project Management Courses

There are a multitude of project management courses being offered across the UK which are delivered in a range of different formats including public, in-house and online training. Project Management courses vary in style and length, with certain programmes providing basic overviews over a one or two day programme, while others deliver a more intensive training experience that often also leads to certification. There are project management courses to meet everyone's needs.

Points to consider regarding your project management courses are:

  • Where will the project management course be held? Classroom the course providers’ locations, or online?
  • How will the course be delivered?
  • Can the project management course accommodate your specific needs?
  • Will the expected finishing level of the course match your requirements?
  • What qualifications does your project management course trainer have?
  • What experience does your trainer have in your professional area?

Careers in project management

Many individuals naturally have the skills needed to work in project management, but they will most likely need to be further developed and supported with industry experience and/or project management courses. International experience is also increasingly valuable to project management professionals with many choosing to study project management courses in international locations.

Aspiring project managers will benefit from a background in areas including:

  • Business
  • Management
  • Engineering
  • Accountancy
  • Information Communication Technology (IT)

The National Careers Service estimates an average project manager's salary to be somewhere in the range of £25,000 to £50,000 per year.

There are project management courses for those starting out in the field as well as for the seasoned professional looking to hone their skills or to acquire new ones.

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