Project Management Institute: Helping Project Managers Develop

Project Management Institute (PMI) is an international organization that helps millions of specialists all over the world boost their professional growth in the field of project management. As of now, there are only two PMI chapters operating in Russia, one of them in St. Petersburg. In a recent open lecture at ITMO, PMI representatives spoke about the main objectives of the global organization and its St. Petersburg chapter. They also discussed the specifics of working as an IT project manager.

Ekaterina Nedelina, Vice President for marketing at the St. Petersburg chapter of the Project Management Institute, on the organization and its local chapter’s activities

Project Management Institute (PMI) is a global non-governmental organization advocating for the development of professionals in the field of project management. Founded in 1969, it operates on the principle of individual membership, with chapters in 85 countries all over the world. Through global marketing, cooperation, education and research, PMI offers its services to over 2.9 million specialists, helping them develop and move up the career ladder. Its other priority is to improve the project management profession, which is done with the help of its own internationally recognized standards, certificates, resources, instruments, research, publications, career enhancement courses and networking opportunities.

The organization offers several certifications. The most important and popular the world over is PMP, or Project Management Professional. Unlike its other certificate counterparts, which are aimed at a specific geographic location, PMP is global in every sense of the word, as it enables you to work with projects just about in any sphere and with any methodology. A PMP certificate implies that its owner speaks and understands the global language of project management, linking them to the community of like-minded experts and organizations at large. Having a PMP certificate up your sleeve can also help you increase the income you get as a professional. A PMI survey on project managers’ salaries suggests that PMP certificate holders receive a 20%-higher pay than their non-certified peers.

Project Management Institute. Credit: tenstep.com.ua
Project Management Institute. Credit: tenstep.com.ua

Another eminent certification in the PMI’s arsenal is PfMP, which stands for Portfolio Management Professional. It ensures that a specialist demonstrates a highly-skilled and competent approach to portfolio management of their organization, thereby contributing to the elimination of the oft-experienced discrepancy between the latter’s strategy and its implementation. Pulse of Profession, a research project carried out by PMI in 2012, posits that 62% of products launched by organizations with successful portfolio management mechanisms meet or even exceed the expected ROI (return on investment) target.

No less significant is the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) certification, which is also one with the fastest growth. It provides a solid guarantee of a specialist’s expertise in knowing and applying Agile methods in project management. The program encompasses a wide range of Agile development approaches such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean, extreme programming (XP) and test-driven development (TDD), which is an added plus.

PMI’s St. Petersburg Chapter

In Russia, PMI is currently represented by two chapters, one in Moscow and the other one in St. Petersburg. Their main goal is to develop methods and practices of project management, advance the level of subject-specific knowledge, and foster a networking-friendly business environment. This is often done with the use of original methods such as edutainment, a concept widely used by the representatives of the St. Petersburg chapter. It implies that participants are offered to work on hypothetical situations aimed at reconstruction and accumulation of social experience in all of its kinds, from knowledge, skills, and competencies to emotional-value attitudes.

The St. Petersburg chapter regularly hosts in-face workshops with eminent representatives of the project management community. In this, the project coordinators often use the PMI Talent Triangle technique. Despite the fact that technical skills hold their ground as key skills in project and program management, PMI’s research suggests that they are not enough for a specialist to navigate the modern, increasingly more and more complex and competitive global market. That’s why companies look for additional competencies in the spheres of leadership and business analytics, which prove integral for the achievement of long-term strategic goals. According to the Talent Triangle, the ideal set of skills that make a professional fit for today’s realities consists of technical, leadership and strategic business management experience.

Talent Triangle. Credit: slideplayer.com
Talent Triangle. Credit: slideplayer.com

The chapter’s coordinators approach development activities by dividing participants into two tracks: IT and construction, providing them with the necessary skills ranging from profession-specific to general ones, such as leadership and communication. All participants obtain the valuable experience of solving real-world cases in the field of their work. After a couple of introductory meetings, participants attend seminars and workshops that address specific issues. Here’s how you can become part of the organization’s St. Petersburg chapter.

Alexey Nikitin, coordinator of the local IT group of PMI’s St. Petersburg chapter and Head of Planning and Development Department at the Delovye Linii company, on IT project management methods

Conventional and unconventional project management methods

IT projects are usually broken down to those that can be managed using conventional approaches such as planning, and those which require special approaches. For example, projects for data processing centers are close to that in construction and can be managed via the Waterfall model, which describes software development process as a sequential flow of phases such as requirement analysis, design, implementation, testing, integration and support. IT projects in the sphere of telecommunications are also run by traditional methods; the only difference is that in their case, a project manager needs to personally check the results of the work that has been conducted.

Projects in the field of infrastructure software (OS, virtualization and the like) may also be dealt with by using the Waterfall technique, but here you have to factor in that working with software can be unpredictable. In their turn, the Enterprise Resource Planning projects are special in that they introduce a change in an organization’s business processes, and project managers need to understand that.

Project management. Credit: businessfirstfamily.com
Project management. Credit: businessfirstfamily.com

But despite all of this, conventional methods such as the aforementioned Waterfall don’t really suit IT projects in the field of software development of commercial or client products, so companies tend to hire specialist project managers for those. IT projects in the field of Big Data and AI are managed by way of unconventional methods, not least because customers usually can’t envisage how the finished system will look like, and sometimes even don’t have a clue about what it is that they need in the first place. Unconventional management methods also play a crucial role in integrated IT projects which consist of several projects managed by different project managers.

Key features of IT projects

The main feature of all IT projects lies in the ambiguity that surrounds them. All sides involved have to retain the fact that such projects based on intellectual property as their primary end product. It’s also vital to take into consideration the requirements of both the consumer and supplier.

IT projects are typically bound on Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK), which is a framework created by the US chapter of Project Management Institute, or any other project management approach. At the same time, technical methodology still remains central in their operations. What is also important are national industrial standards. Project managers have to combine all of these aspects in their work.

Lastly, it’s also worth noting that IT project management includes several focus areas, such as management of integration, operating scope, quality, costs, schedules, risks, as well as procurement and communication processes.

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