(photo by Mark Zwolanek)
I am always pleased when former students connect with me to provide an update on their career progress. One of the more interesting responses is when they include the elements from my project management course that they use the most in their current job. Some find work as a junior project manager and others find work in an operations role for a functional group.
Here is feedback on the four most valuable and most frequently used project management concepts used in their workplace.
1) The triple constraint theory. This theory provides an understanding of the tradeoffs between scope, time and budget and how they interact. In many situations, the employer asks for an increase in scope with no corresponding change in budget or schedule. The results are rarely achieved under these circumstances and my former students clearly understand why this happens.
2) Business value. Should a new employee ask for an explanation of why something is being done or why a change is being implemented? Every organization wants to increase business value but a lot of organizations do not take the time to make sure that the changes they are proposing actually do that. 'Why are we doing this?', asks a former student. Often the answer does not include a value statement. On the other hand, when a former student proposes a new activity and follows that with a clear illustration of the benefit to the organization, it is well received.
3) Understanding dependencies. It is rare that one activity can be performed in complete isolation of any other activity. When a new activity is proposed, it is always prudent to think about what might need to be completed beforehand or what impact this activity might have on another area of the organization. This is what I refer to as 'thinking like a project manager' and it is not always common in a workplace where employees are often encouraged to simply get the job done. Understanding dependencies makes it possible to save time and money, reduce risk and perhaps avoid a disaster.
4) Managing procurements. Perhaps this should not have surprised me because the business environment is very interconnected with numerous suppliers working closely with many organizations. The ability to define a requirement and select the best supplier is a valuable skill and is likely to become more important in the future.
Thanks for the great workplace feedback!