Being a Project Expert Pmbok Section

You can take a project management class and not be an expert in project management. You can even be a PMP or a CAPM and not be a good project manager. Sorry, but it's true. To be an expert in project management, you need to rely on more than just the tools and techniques and other mechanics of project management. You'll need five things:

• The Project Management Body of Knowledge

• Expertise in your application area and an understanding of the relevant standards and regulations

• An understanding of the environment in which your project takes place in

• General management knowledge and skills

• The ability to deal with people (your interpersonal skills)

These five attributes and how they interact with one another are depicted in Figure 1-6. The goal of this book is to help you pass your certification exam, but I'm certain the goal of passing the exam is to help you advance your career and become a better, more valuable project manager. With that thought process, it's easy to see how these skills are interdependent. Let's take a quick look at each of these project management attributes.

Figure 1-6 The project management areas of expertise overlap one another.

Using the Project Management Body of Knowledge

Yep, back to the PMBOK. Technically, the Project Management Body of Knowledge is the wealth of information that is available to the project management community. As far as your exam is concerned, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge is what's important.

Working with Your Application Area

An application area is your area of expertise, whether it be construction, manufacturing, sales, technology, or something else. And an application can get even more specific if we break down an organization into more detail: functional departments, technical domains, management arenas, and even industry groups, like automotive, health care, and so on. An application area is simply the area of expertise with which the project interacts.

Within most application areas, if not all of them, there are specific standards and regulations that the project management team must consider as they plan their work and implement their project plan. A standard is a generally accepted guideline for your industry, whereas a regulation is a rule that must be followed for your industry or there will be fines and penalties. I like to say that standards are optional and regulations are not. No one ever went to jail because they didn't follow a standard. Plenty of people have visited the big house for not following regulations.

EXAM TIP You probably won't see questions on specific application areas, because the PMP and CAPM certification focus on project management, not the arenas in which projects take place. Just know that application areas are industries and technologies that can host projects.

Understanding Your Project Environment

Every project takes place in an environment—a location and culture where the project will operate. Specifically, the project will affect and be affected by the social, economic, and environmental variables of the project environment. It's paramount for the project manager and the project team to understand the project environment. Every project manager and the project team should consider the following.

Cultural and Social Environment

You and the project team must understand how your project affects people and how those people may affect you and your project. This means it'll behoove the project if you understand the economic, educational, ethical, religious, demographic, and even the ethic composition of the people your project affects. We'll discuss this more in Chapters 9 and 13.

Your project may not have a wide impact on people outside of your organization, so you should still understand and consider the organizational culture of your project. Consider the cultural achievability of your project, the stakeholders within your organization and their political power, and the project manager's autonomy over the project.

International and Political Environment

If your project spans the globe, you and the project will need to consider the international and local laws of where your project will operate and how the conditions of the project may vary based on where the work is being completed. You'll also need to consider fun things like languages, time zone differences, holidays, travel issues, non-collocated teams, and the headaches with video and teleconferences.

Physical Environment

If your project will change the landscape or physical structure of a building, you'll need to consider the ecology; geography; and environmental concerns, laws, and risks that are associated with these changes. Consider a project to build a bridge over a wetland area—there will definitely be ecological, geographical, and environmental concerns to deal with (I'd worry about alligators, too).

Relying on General Management Skills

In order to be a project manager, you have to be a manager. This means you're focused on one important thing: key results. And how do you get results? You'll rely on:

• Accounting skills

• Procurement

• Sales and marketing

• Contracting abilities

• Manufacturing and distribution principles

• Organization and logistics

• Strategic, tactical, and operational planning

• Leverage of the organizational structure and the organizational behavior

• Administration of your project team, reasonable compensation, rewards and recognition, and career paths

• Health and safety standards and regulations

• Using IT to your advantage

If you come from a business background, you'll have an edge on your project management exam. Much of project management is based on management skills, and you can rely, to some extent, on your experience to help answer exam questions. A word of caution, however: The exam is based first upon the PMBOK and then on your skills. Answer your questions according to the PMBOK first.

Dealing with People

As a project manager, you have to interact with people—lots of people. You need interpersonal skills to work with, motivate, lead, and manage other people. Specifically, you'll need the following interpersonal skills:

• The ability to effectively communicate Communications is the core of project management and will likely take up most of your time.

• A knack for influencing the organization This is simply the ability to get things done. (Wink, wink—I, and the PMBOK, are hinting at politics, power, negotiations, and tradeoffs.)

• A penchant for leading Project managers are leaders, not followers. You need to be able to lead the project team, stakeholders, and even vendors towards the vision of the project.

• Motivating people Can you energize and excite people about your project? You need to.

• Negotiating and managing conflicts A good project manager has the ability to negotiate, lead negotiations, and resolve conflicts in the best interest of the project.

• Solving problems Projects are often full of problems that you'll need to figure out. Want to know a secret? Your project management certification exam is just one example of where you can apply problem-solving. The questions are tricky, and you'll have to use some brain power to deduce the right choice.

Negotiating Essentials

Negotiating Essentials

Always wanted to get a better deal but didn't have the needed negotiation skills? Here are some of the best negotiation theories. The ability to negotiate is a skill which everyone should have. With the ability to negotiate you can take charge of your life, your finances and your destiny. If you feel that others are simply born with the skill to negotiate, you should know that everyone can learn this wonderful skill.

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