Project management is a massive skill and encompasses many jobs in the corporate, freelance, and startup worlds. Because so much is being automated, so much is being expanded, and because the world changes every day, projects are a large part of any business. The project manager is expected to ensure these projects run on-time and on-budget, the right expertise is injected, and it accomplishes the goals that justified the project in the first place.
The majority of corporate projects are tech-related these days so a lot focus on implementation of new technology, upgrades, or customizations. However, it’s so much more. It might be the introduction of a new product or business line. Maybe expansion to a new market. Maybe introduction of a more efficient process. Maybe a merger, acquisition, or integration. Maybe adherence to regulation. The list is endless.
In our learning path, you’ll learn the skills and perspective to be successful in such business projects and we’ll provide a pathway if you choose project management as your career.
Project management can be a pretty dry and uninspiring subject to learn. Most guides put you to sleep about 5 minutes into the material. However, project management can be a really dynamic subject where you’re managing millions of dollars, people across every area of an organization, and a really important initiative. It should be taught better.
So we’re going to start with our favorite source and one that covers the totality of the Project Management topic. Most sources are quite expensive so not only is this one taught in a fun way but it’s also reasonably priced compared to most guides. It is helpful for beginners and also fulfills the requirements to get certified via the PMP. And since it’s still a bit pricey, the rest of this learning path will be free or quite inexpensive.
You can find this at Brian Sensai’s Project Management Course
And for those that don’t want such depth, you can learn more casually at Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management
There are tons of certifications you can get for project management and they do help in certain corporate situations that value formal education. We at Reverse Tide feel that certification is a bit silly though. Project management is about managing people, outcomes, and other complex situations. Trying to turn that into a textbook/exam combo misses the real value that a project manager provides. It’s not a science but the art of dealing with people, organizing a lot of moving parts, and reacting to the unexpected that every project delivers. So while having an organized methodology can be helpful to fundamentally manage, in our opinion passing a written test doesn’t distinguish good vs bad managers.
However, many still go get certified. And many corporations see certification as a positive qualification. So it’s really your choice. If you want to get certified, the PMP is the gold standard but you can also go the CAPM route or get certified in a particular methodology like Agile. For details on these, refer to the Project Management Institute.
Where to learn for each?
For the PMP, we like PMP Exam Prep: Earn Your Certification
For the CAPM, we like Certified Associate in Project Management: CAPM Exam Prep
For Agile, we like PMI-ACP Exam Prep – PMI Rep 21 PDUs
We will start our journey of practical project management guidance with the most practical document there is. That’s the business case. Before the project descends into chaos and complexity, you craft a very rational document about why you’re doing the project and try to get it approved.
We will talk about what the business case contains and mentor you a bit on what you’ll need to confront in being successful.
This series of Reverse Tide written articles deals with the real world of project management, while the comprehensive courses from Part 1 of the learning path dealt more with the theoretical and procedural. Both are important but approach it from different perspectives. This is the first of six major project phases and a very interesting one so here we go.
The next portion of the project management series deals with scope. This is a portion that often gets neglected at the beginning of projects and then causes problems later on. With our guidance, you won’t be one of those project managers making such silly mistakes…
Now we’re in the meat of the project. Requirements are usually the phase that will make or break the project. If you nail it, the build will take care of itself and testing will likely be a breeze. Mess it up and you’re looking at a long and difficult project.
Since it’s so important, we’ll deviate from the normal routine a bit. We’ll stick with our article on requirements but supplement with a course dedicated to writing good requirements. Consider it optional but it has excellent coverage of a very important topic…
And as a bonus to get this crucial phase right, we love The Definitive Guide to Web Project Requirements Gathering
In this section, we’ll take a step back to assess your role as project manager and how you can make the greatest impact on the project. There are many attributes of a project manager and few exhibit all of them. By having this awareness, you can hone your skills toward success.
We’ll also cover one other topic and that’s Microsoft Project. This is the most widely used project plan software and something every project manager should have expert level knowledge of. To learn this, we like Microsoft Project 2016: From Beginner to Expert 10 Full Projects
The Testing phase is another that often gets squeezed by over-zealous project sponsors and senior leaders. However, we’re training you to be a strong leader yourself and expect you to push back and run a great testing program so implementation goes smoothly. We’ll discuss how in this section…
At long last, you’ve reached the stage where the project sees the light of day! All you and your project team’s hard work will have come to fruition and you want that launch to go perfectly. We’re going to cover two topics in this final part of the Project Management Mentorship series:
First, how can you make sure the project achieves its goals for the company?
Second, how can you make sure you’re positioning yourself for future success from this project (since you’ll have to move on to a new project at its conclusion)?
We’ll cover both in our no-nonsense style in this final article…
Experience is the most important aspect for those who want to learn project management. If you don’t have any, don’t despair, as we have many ways to remedy that. And if you do have experience but want to fulfill any resume holes, we also have you covered.
We wrote an article helping you with many ways to build more experience. Check it out:
We commend you for your choice to learn project management skills. This will help you take the next step up in your career. But how can you turn skills into real job outcomes?
The following guides will help you apply your new skills and see significant career benefit…
It’s pretty tough to differentiate yourself in the job market. But now that you’ve learned a valuable new skill, we think you can do it with your resume.
For more information and to sign up, visit our Building a Top Resume Guide Page
Cover letters are the first thing employers will see when you’re applying to them. So you certainly want it to look good and make a strong case for you to get the job!
For more information and to sign up, check out our page Writing Amazing Cover Letters Guide
Now that you have better qualifications, it’s time to PROVE it to employers. This is what they love even more than resumes! Portfolios are your edge compared to other applicants.
The Portfolio Guide will help with…
For more information or to sign up, visit our page – Creating a Professional Portfolio Guide
The interview is the equivalent of closing the sale. This is when you’re getting more personalized and thus requires substantial preparation.
Here’s what this guide covers…
For more information or to sign up, visit our page Owning the Interview Guide
Everyone should know how to do a business proposal but few do! Yet it’s so important to advance in your career (job applications, bidding on work, proposing ideas, etc).
For more information or to sign up, visit our page The Business Proposal Guide
Sales can be a freelancer’s biggest challenge. But it doesn’t have to be so bad. We’re here to help! This guide will help you improve with:
For more information or to sign up, visit our page – Increasing Freelance Sales Guide
Rather than go from gig to gig, you can do better. Your freelancing can be built into a full business and earn much better, more consistent revenue.
This guide helps the freelancer:
For more information or to sign up for this guide, visit our page at Freelance Gigs to Lucrative Business Guide
Now that you’ve improved your project management skills, it’s time to focus on how to write them specifically. What do employers look for when hiring project managers?
This guide is one of a kind… we don’t know of anyone else providing such specific advice! And best of all, it’s super cheap! For more information or to sign up, check out our page:
We want to work with YOU directly. What can we focus on?
For more information or to sign up for a time slot today, visit our page Reverse Tide Personalized Career Services
The final section of the Project Management Learning Path will focus on making sure you’re always getting the latest news, learnings, and perspectives in this field. Like any other skill, you don’t learn it once – you continually craft that skill and improve over time.
Our advice with these sources is to subscribe to their feeds. Whether through following their blog, signing up to their email list, adding them on social media, or bookmarking their site… this will help you on a continuing basis. Don’t forget their archives either, as they have some incredibly useful content throughout their site.
The sources we link here are our favorites websites and blogs in the world of Projects. We’d encourage you to subscribe to them or follow their free content, as there’s a wealth of knowledge being poured from these sites…
Podcasts are a great way to learn, as you listen to them while multi-tasking on something else. Perhaps on your commute to work/school. Maybe on public transportation. At the gym or while walking around. In the shower.
Here’s our favorite podcasts featuring Project Management topics…
One thing to ensure you haven’t underestimated is the power of your peers. Whatever you’re learning, it’s always convenient to have a place to collaborate with similar minded people. When it comes to Projects, you may have questions or may simply want to participate in a discussion on various project based topics.
We like Project Management Discussion for this purpose.
Sometimes it’s good to take a step back from the specifics of project management and work on the skills that make you a great professional. We have identified three that stand above the rest in the PM space: persuasion, adaptability, and leadership. With each of these subjects, we choose our favorite book that can give you new perspective and allow you to apply it to your project management work…
For persuasion – Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
For adaptability – The First 90 Days
For leadership – Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t
Like every other profession, project management has been vastly enhanced by technology. It allows us to get a lot more work done and to improve in just about every area.
Because tech changes quickly and because different companies/projects opt to use different tech for their own reasons, you need to stay updated with the latest PM tech.
We already mentioned that most projects use Microsoft Project for their planning and think it’s important enough to take a full course on it (see ‘Running the Actual Project’ tab for more). This is definitely the program to become proficient in, however, there are others that have merits as well. Liquid Planner and Wrike are a few names to investigate as alternatives.
This is far from an extensive list. While the options above are great, you may need more features in document storage and version control, risk management, IT collaboration, and more. So stay current with the best tools, as it can make your job much easier.