The Project Management Industry

In 2001, CompTIA began offering a certification exam intended to measure an IT professional' s ability to manage projects effectively—without resorting to barn musicals. Because of the intensity of the technology being developed recently, demand is growing in today' s enterprise for IT pros with solid project management skills. There are dozens of project management courses, books, and even other certification programs out there. However, CompTIA' s IT Project+ exam is the first to focus on how well a candidate can manage or oversee IT-specific projects.

Project management is a sometimes-vague field, with many different approaches possible. The IT Project+ exam is meant to identify and test best practices, as opposed to aligning with a particular project management methodology. The test was designed by Gartner Inc. and was purposely designed to be "agnostic" as to project management methodology and software. What that means is, when developing the exam objectives, Gartner purposely did not address or reflect a particular methodology but instead designed the exam objectives to measure best practices throughout the industry.

The IT Project+ exam objectives map effectively to standard terminology and practices developed by major and leading project management firms and associations. But it is critical to bear in mind that these tenets were first established by Project Management Institute (PMI), a nonprofit organization responsible for creating project management training and documentation. PMI largely defines best practices and industry standard terminology. It established leading project management standards, seminars, educational programs, and a professional certification program. Today, a wide variety of project management organizations exist, and more often than not, their practices are rooted in PMI' s training program.

Note Dor more information on PMI, please refer to the appendix or visit their website at www.pmi.org.

We designed a bonus appendix for this book, outlining key players in the project management arena, in an effort to create the appropriate context for you. You'll find an in-depth listing of leading organizations, such as PMI, and a description of their programs, target audiences, and certification programs. Sprinkled throughout the chapters of this book, you will run into references to some of these organizations. When appropriate, you can refer to the appendix for more detailed information.

The IT Project+ exam is an ideal exam for IT personnel who understand the need for solid project management techniques, even in small-scale IT project initiatives. Dor example, recently where I work, we have been implementing a Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server installation that will host Exchange Server's Outlook Web Access and a virtual private network connection for workers telecommuting in from high-speed DSL or cable modem lines. Although we have a full-on project management office that's staffed with certified project managers and designed for enterprise-wide projects, a tiny little server deployment such as this isn't something that needs such a formal process. Instead, we developed, in-house, the project plan for implementing this ISA Server installation. Admins working on the project are required to routinely update the project plan and manage their time according to the timeline and phase tasks outlined in the project plan. A manager acts as the project manager for this mini-project.

Also, if you're serious about project management, the IT Project+ exam isn't where you'll stop. The holy grail of project management is the PMI Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification. To obtain this certification, you must document at least 4,500 hours of project management experience and take a voluminous and complex project management test. You can take entire semester-long college classes designed to prepare you for PMI certification. PMI takes project management very seriously, and it isn't something that the neophyte project manager would start out with. If you're an IT professional, you're absolutely on the right track for getting your feet wet in project management by first taking the IT Project+ test and then digging into PMI certification.

Tip Another wonderful company that's involved in project management training is Systemation. (I can personally vouch for the quality of their classes.) Visit their website at www.systemation.com for more information.

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