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Project Management is the art of keeping projects on track in the face of changing requirements, deadlines and budgets.

Making headway: Certificate in Project Management

Project Management is the art of keeping projects on track in the face of changing requirements, deadlines and budgets. It is an ‘art’ because it bears many similarities to conducting an orchestra: the brass section has to come in on cue and the strings have to play in time. Even the guy on triangle has to go ‘ding!’ at precisely the right moment to make the whole production work. A more realistic definition might be that Project Management is like conducting an orchestra on board a ship in rough seas. Everything is in constant motion, some people might get sick and you can’t be sure what the weather will do next. Yet the orchestra must finish the concert in an orderly fashion and deliver what the audience wants to a high standard.

There are various methodologies for approaching Project Management, with names like Agile, PRINCE2, Waterfall, and others. Some are best suited to certain industries. For example, Scrum, a variant of Agile, is popular in software development because of its focus on user stories and doing work in small chunks that produce deliverable functionality. Others are better suited to Civil Engineering or Aeronautics. But all forms of Project Management have some basics in common. Those seeking to master these before moving on to full professional qualifications will need a foundation certificate.

This initial training can be taken on the job or at college, but there are online-only options as well. A common route for aspiring Project Management professionals is to take one of these certificates in preparation for the Project Management Professional (PMP®) exam. Such certificates cover fundamental areas such as Project Scope Management, Time Management, Cost Management, Quality Management, HR Management, Communications Management and Risk Management.

In the University of San Diego’s online-only Project Management Certificate (PMBOK Guide 4th Edition), students have a year to complete 28 web-based courses which are aligned with the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), a set of standard terminology and guidelines which is evolving all the time and has a 6th edition scheduled for release in Q1 2017.

The University of San Diego course offers an online PMP exam prep course free upon completion of the Certificate. This gets students ready for the next phase of their professional training in a smooth and seamless manner.

To continue the maritime metaphor of Project Management, after completing such a course a student won’t quite be a ship’s Captain yet, but will be a capable First Mate able to at least assist in steering the ship/project away from the rocks and safely into port.