Industry Norms in Project Management and Certifications

Everyday Project Management by Jeff Davidson is an exceptional book that everyone walking on the project management path should read today. The author explains the industry norms and certification programs and how they do not comply with real-world needs. Agile and Scrum topics are also discussed.

In this chapter, you learn why it’s worthwhile to gain a rudimentary understanding of project management before enrolling in a tech-savvy program or course of study bolstered by software and prevailing project management terminology.

Quiz Question

Besides being regarded as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, what do these sites have in common: the Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt; the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, in what is now Iraq; the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Greece; the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Turkey; the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, in what is now Bodrum, Turkey; the Colossus of Rhodes in Greece; and the Lighthouse at Alexandria, Egypt? And what do the following sites have in common with the New Seven Wonders of the World: the Great Wall of China; Petra, an archaeological city in southern Jordan; the Colosseum in Rome, Italy; Chichen Itza in the Yucatán of Mexico; Machu Picchu in the Cuzco region of Peru; the Taj Mahal in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India; and the Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro, Brazil?

Further, what do these have in common: the Acropolis in Athens, Greece; the Suez Canal; the Panama Canal; the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey; Teotihuacan in the Basin of Mexico; the Empire State Building in New York City; the Eiffel Tower in Paris; the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, China; El Mirador in Guatemala; the Tower of London; and many other notable places around the world?

The answer, in a nutshell, is that they are major architectural, landscaping, engineering, or construction feats that were conceived, built, and perfected without the aid of a computer, software, or any of the technological tools that are commonly associated with project management.

The same can be said of the Great Canadian Railway, the Patagonia Highway in South America, the U.S. Interstate Highway System, the Trans-Siberian Highway, the Aswan Dam in Egypt, the Itaipu Dam bordering Brazil and Paraguay, the Hoover Dam in Arizona, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Great Siege Tunnels of Gibraltar, the first passenger ocean liners, all aircraft prior to World War II, early steel mills, and on and on.

To say it another way, long before project management software and spreadsheets—and, regarding the “14 Wonders” named above, long before anyone knew about electricity, let alone cyberspace—ambitious civilizations around the globe, spurred on by pioneering builders, devised and constructed some of the most enduring, iconic sites and destinations in the world.

These massive projects involved conception (that is, the genesis of the idea), designing, planning, and material and labor considerations, all of which are part of today’s computer-aided world that obviously none of the builders and designers of these projects had at their disposal. As such, not all projects proceeded with the efficiency that today’s projects can muster. There were costly delays, high accident and mortality rates, and sometimes gargantuan setbacks. Despite it all, the march of civilization and the proliferation of monumental feats continued unabated.

The modern-day discipline of project management

The modern-day discipline of project management, to various degrees, sprang from the U.S. military and then spread to industry. To this day, because of the nature of the military, many project management protocols are a bit more bureaucratic in nature than strictly necessary.

This added layer of bureaucracy is burdensome when undertaking a small project. In addition, the certification process of many certifying bodies in the field of project management sometimes overcomplicates issues. Basic knowledge and skills that a person needs to adroitly manage a project are diluted by complex, esoteric, largely unneeded terms and concepts that some project managers might not have to use at all. It’s almost as if a person were to buy a new car, loaded with benefits and features, amazing technology and gadgets, and doesn’t partake of most of them.

Features Unknown and Rarely Used—Consider the gal who buys the swankiest high-prestige car available. For the duration of her ownership, she drives around town partaking of only a fraction of the car’s capabilities. This is all fine, if she’s otherwise satisfied, which is usually the case. How much less could this woman pay to own a car only with the features and capabilities she’d regularly use?

The project management certifying bodies include complexity in their courses, guidebooks, and resources. Does this enhance the mystique of their brand and overall services? Those who control the terminology that the industry adopts as crucial create an exclusivity for themselves. Read more about Controlling in project management.

Agile is both a way of thinking and a general approach to management

Business literature of the last 100 years essentially repeats many of the same concepts, but continues to coin new terms and fresh phrases to describe such concepts. Why take timeless concepts in project management and put a new spin on them?

What’s What among the Gatekeepers—As you read about the terms and items that follow, stay focused on the underlying concepts that they encompass. For example, Agile is both a way of thinking and a general approach to management that emphasizes the value of human communication, especially in an environment that constantly changes. It’s important to stay flexible on the path to presenting workable, proven results.

Also, recognize that thought-leaders as well as organizations experience various stages of enchantment with terminology and tools. Viewed from a longer-term perspective, even if the Harvard Business Review and other top business publications are touting “agile this” and “agile that,” over time, the term will fall out of vogue. Everything does, eventually. Here are a few contemporary terms and items you’ll likely encounter in the world of project management:

The PMI professional certification

PMI professional certification: “Developed by practitioners for practitioners, our certifications are based on rigorous standards and ongoing research to meet the real-world needs of organizations. With a PMI certification behind your name, you can work in virtually any industry, anywhere in the world, and with any project management methodology. Wherever you are in your career, we have a certification for you.”

The Agile Practice Guide was created in partnership with Agile Alliance®

The Agile Practice Guide was created in partnership with Agile Alliance® and offers tools, guidelines, and a compilation of agile approaches to project management. It is designed to steer “traditional” project managers to a more-agile approach. As described in the product literature, the book includes the following sections:

  • An Introduction to Agile—describes the Agile Manifesto mindset, values, and principles and describes the concepts of definable and high-uncertainty work as well as the correlation between lean, the Kanban Method, and agile approaches.
  • Life Cycle Selection—introduces life cycle varieties discussed in the Guide, and explains tailoring guidelines, suitability filters, and combinations of approaches.
  •  Creating an Agile Environment—focuses on factors to contemplate, such as team composition and servant leadership, when establishing an agile environment.
  • Delivering in an Agile Environment—explains how to organize a team and then implement common practices for regularly delivering value. It explains empirical measurements that the team can apply as well as options for reporting project status.
  • Organizational Considerations for Project Agility—examines key organizational factors such as culture, business practices by stakeholders, readiness, and the role of a project management office in pursuit of adopting agile practices. Read more from the author: Project Management in a World of Overload. Project Management in the modern real world

Tinderbox, version 7, is described by the vendor as an expressive, “invaluable tool for capturing and visualizing your ideas.” Illustrative, flexible maps enable you to quickly clarify any tangled links you might have. “Natural language processing extracts names, places, and organizations” to help users accomplish more. Improved maps, charts, and flagged terms help users to visualize even intricate “qualitative coding projects.”

Scrum essentially is a widely used Agile method for managing a project, primarily software development. The Scrum Master is an essential role in this process. While Agile software development using scrum might be perceived as a methodology, it actually is a lightweight framework for process management. A “process framework” is a definitive set of practices that must be incorporated for a process to be consistent with the framework.

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