Contributing and applying professional knowledge goes beyond project management experience. You likely have specific industry or technical experience as well. Part of applying your professional knowledge includes gaining knowledge of your particular industry and keeping others informed of advances in these areas.
Information technology has grown exponentially over the past several years. It used to be that if you specialized in network operations, for example, it was possible to learn and become proficient in all things related to networks. Today that is no longer the case. Each specialized area within information technology has grown to become a knowledge area in and of itself. Many other fields have either always had individual specialties or just recently experienced this phenomenon, including the medical field, bioengineering, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals, to name a few. You need to stay up-to-date regarding your industry so that you can apply that knowledge effectively. Today's fast-paced advances can leave you behind fairly quickly if you don't stay on top of things.
I mentioned in the beginning of the book that as a project manager you are not required to be a technical expert, and that still holds true. But it doesn't hurt to stay abreast of industry trends and knowledge in your field and have a general understanding of the specifics of your business. Again, you can join industry associations and take educational classes to stay on top of breaking trends and technology in your industry.
Real World Scenario
Project case study: New Kitchen Heaven Retail store
Dirk strolls into your office maintaining his formal and dignified manners as always and then sits down in the chair beside your desk.
"I just want to congratulate you on a job well done," he says. "The grand opening was a success, and the store had a better-than-expected week the first week. I'm impressed you were able to pull this off and get the store opened prior to the Garden and Home Show. That was the key to the great opening week."
"Thank you, Dirk. Lots of people put in a lot of hard work and extra hours to get this job done. I'm glad you're happy with the results."
"I thought the banner with our logo, 'Great Gadgets for People Interested in Great Food,' was a wonderful touch."
"That was Jill's idea. She had some great ideas that made the festivities successful. As you know, though," you continue, "we did have some problems on this project. Fortunately, they weren't insurmountable, but I think we learned a thing or two during this project that we can carry forward to other projects."
"Like what?" Dirk asks.
"We should have contracted with Gomez Construction sooner so that we didn't have to pay overtime. We had a very generous budget, so the overtime expense didn't impact this project, but it might impact the next one.
"And we came fairly close to having a hardware disaster on our hands. Next time, we should order the equipment sooner, test it here at headquarters first, and then ship it out to the site after we know everything is working correctly."
"Good ideas. But that's old news. Now that this project is over, I'd like to get you started on the next project. We're going to introduce cooking classes in all of our retail stores. The focus is the home chef, and we might just call the classes the Home Chef Pro series. We'll offer basic classes all the way to professional series classes if the project is a hit. We'll bring in guest chefs from the local areas to give demos and teach some of the classes as well."
"I'm very interested in taking on this project and can't wait to get started. I'm thrilled that you want me to head this up. But I do have a few things here to wrap up before I start work on the new project," you reply.
Dirk says, "The project is over. The grand opening was a success. It's time to move on. Let Jill take over now; the retail stores are her responsibility."
"Jill has taken over the day-to-day operations. However, I've got to finish collecting the project information, close out the contract with Gomez, and make the final payment. Jake verified that all the work was completed correctly and to his satisfaction. Then I need to publish the formal acceptance notice to all of the stakeholders via email. I will also create a document that outlines those things I told you earlier that we should remember and reference during the next project; that document is called lessons learned. Then after all those things are completed, all of the project records need to be indexed and archived. I can have all that done by the end of the week and will be free starting Monday to work on requirements gathering and the charter document for the new project."
"This is just like the planning process discussion we got into with the tree, the breakdown structure thing, and all the planning, I suspect. I do have to admit all the planning paid off. I'll give you until the end of the week to close out this project. Come see me Monday to get started on Home Chef Pro."
Jill Overstreet thought you did such a great job of managing this project that she has offered to buy you lunch at one of those upscale, white tablecloth-type French restaurants. The iced teas have just been delivered, and you and Jill are chatting about business.
"I'm impressed with your project management skills. This store opening was the best on record. And you really kept Dirk in line — I admire that. He can be headstrong, but you had a way of convincing him what needed doing and then sticking to it."
"Thanks," you reply. "I've got several years of project management experience, so many of those lessons learned on previous projects helped me out with this project. I enjoy project management and read books and articles on the subject whenever I get the chance. It's nice when you can learn from others' mistakes and avoid making them yourself."
Jill takes a long drink of tea. She glances at you over the top of her glass and pauses before setting it down. "You know," Jill starts, "we almost didn't hire anyone for your position. Dirk wanted to do away with the project management role altogether. He had a real distaste for project management after our last project."
"Why is that?"
"The last project manager got involved in a conflict of interest situation. She was working on a project that involved updating and remodeling all the existing stores. Things like new fixtures, signs, shelving, display cases, and such were up for bid. And it was a very sizable bid. Not only did she accept an all-expenses-paid weekend visit to a resort town from one of the vendors bidding on the contract, she also revealed company secrets to them, some of which leaked to our competitors."
Your mouth drops open. "I can't believe she would accept gifts like that from a vendor. And revealing company secrets is even worse. Conflict of interest situations and not protecting intellectual property violate the code of professional conduct that we agree to adhere as certified PMPs. I can understand why Dirk didn't want to hire another project manager. Behavior like that makes all project managers look bad."
"I'm glad you kept things above board and won Dirk back over. The project management role is important to Kitchen Heaven, and I know your skills in this discipline are what made this project such a success."
"Jill, not only would I never compromise my own integrity through a conflict of interest situation, I would report the situation and the vendor to the project sponsor and to the PMI as an ethics violation. It's better to be honest and let the project sponsor or key stakeholders know what's happening than to hide the situation or, even worse, compromise your own integrity by getting involved in it in the first place. You have my word that I'll keep business interests above my own personal interests. I'll report anything that even looks like it would call my actions into question just to keep things honest and out in the open."
"That's good to hear," Jill replies. "Congratulations on your new assignment. Dirk and I were discussing the new Home Chef Pro project yesterday. We're venturing into new territory with this project, and I'm confident you'll do an excellent job heading it up. Dirk made a good choice."
Project Case Study Checklist
■ Close Project or Phase
■ Product verification (work was correct and satisfactory)
■ Collecting project documents
■ Disseminating final acceptance notice
■ Documenting lessons learned
■ Archiving project records
■ Close Procurements
■ Product verification (work was correct and satisfactory)
■ Formal acceptance and closure
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.