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What is 'Project Management'?

(30 Posts)
KatyMac Fri 29-Aug-08 16:57:54

What do you do?
What qualifications do you need?

Is it fun?
Is it well paid?

Is it connected to Systems Management or Systems Development?

SqueakyPop Fri 29-Aug-08 17:04:18

Project management means that you are in charge of a team of people who actually do the work.

You work out the timings for each step and the order they need to be done in, making sure that you keep to the critical path schedule.

You also need to be mindful of the budget.

It can be fun and well paid - depends on the industry. It is not entry level.

Systems management is usually to do with IT - not the same as project management at all. Tends to mean keeping the computer network up and running and keeping everyone who uses it happy. Systems development is an R&D job within the IT sector.

Anna8888 Fri 29-Aug-08 17:04:31

KatyMac - I suspect if you have to ask what it is that you are not qualified to do it smile

KatyMac Fri 29-Aug-08 17:06:59

Ah but there is a trainee position being advertised

I Like the idea of being in change of other people doing

Would that be using Critical Path analysis? - I did quite a lot of that in one job

I am currently looking at a systems course at OU - which doesn't seem to be IT based - hmm need to re-examine that then

SqueakyPop Fri 29-Aug-08 17:08:11

Which sector is it in, Katy?

KatyMac Fri 29-Aug-08 17:10:19

Agency so very vague

I know what Building-type PM's do

Flibbertyjibbet Fri 29-Aug-08 17:10:50

Project management is one of those things with a big title that isn't always really that big. It just means seeing something through from start to finish.
So when I was grants 'project manager' for a public body:
I got the applications and monitored all those. Then when the jobs (ie grants for web sites for new businesses) were being done I was like a liaison between website designer and new business person. Not in a technical way, just to make sure it all ran to time and that any communcations probs were ironed out and to make sure everyone knew what they were expected of them.
You don't actually supervise all the people contributing to the project, you just manage the timescale and budget.

At home you could say we all project manage the provision and preparation of the daily menu no?

Fil on the other hand was a high level project manager for Amec and used to oversee the start to finish of whole motorway bridges!!

I take it this is a temp job you have been offered?

No qualifications necessary, just organisation, good communications and being pro-active to sort any hitches.
Well paid or not depends on the level of project you are managing. I got about £23k (finished 3 years ago) but FIL got in excess of £50k!
If by systems stuff you mean computery things then I would say no. Unless they have a project management computer system in which case its a matter of knowing where to put the input, and how to get the reports out.
Whenever I go anywhere with a computer system I am not familiar with - I remind myself that they are all much of a muchness and tell the employer ' oh I hear its just like such and such a program that I have used before. Half an hour on it and I'll be fine'.

Flibbertyjibbet Fri 29-Aug-08 17:11:47

Hee hee xpost with Squeaky pop who obviously has experience of it at a higher level than megrin

KatyMac Fri 29-Aug-08 17:13:03

No it's a perm trainee position - I thought it would mesh with the (non-seeming IT) systems courses I am considering

It may be a non-starter tbh - but it looked a nice job

EffiePerine Fri 29-Aug-08 17:23:26

There is a 'standard' for project management - PRINCE2 - used in the public sector and elsewhere. If you go for the job, prob a good idea to read up on it

PM can be interesting but it can also be easy to get bogged down in charts and diagrams and documentation and lose sight of the work that is meant to be done...

KatyMac Fri 29-Aug-08 18:18:28

Thanks - I know a fair amount about PRINCE2 - I used to work for OGC & they publish the books (I had forgottenblush) in fact I think I have a copy of some material

rookiemater Fri 29-Aug-08 20:58:16

Project management is fun. Its basically making sure people get things done, without doing everything yourself, kind of like being a Mum ( in theory !)

It's a really good job if you like variety, are reasonably assertive, are deadline focused and can communicate well with other people.

If you like the look of the advert, then I'd say apply for it, I know very few people in PM who dislike it and that isn't true of many jobs.

KatyMac Fri 29-Aug-08 22:02:46

I guess trying to open the nursery was sort of PM, maybe - does it count if you fail?

featherboa Fri 29-Aug-08 22:19:13

Why not apply for the role then see if you get an interview and take it from there?

A really good tip (I am an ex-recruitment consultant) is to go on the internet and look up other roles with the same title, in the same industry. Some will be written up with a full job spec so you can get more of a picture of the job/skills/qualifications required in general.

This is also an excellent way of tailoring your CV to match a certain role. By no means include something you haven't done - a decent interviewer will sniff you out in no time - however, sometimes it's easy to be stuck for inspiration on the "phrasing" of key points on our CVs, or you could miss something essential out because it didn't occur to you to include it. It is "creative research" wink

PS - What was the nursery opening?

KatyMac Fri 29-Aug-08 22:20:52

I spent over 2yrs and an obscene amount of money trying to convert a barn into a nursery

I failedsad

featherboa Fri 29-Aug-08 22:44:21

Ah. Sorry to hear that.

All experience counts in some way, it's how you present it that matters. Can I ask why the barn didn't work out? Was it the fault of the planners/builders, or was it the business model/location that was the problem (not the actual building per se)? This would help to establish which areas of experience gained could be beneficial to highlight, and which you would rather wasn't highlighted!

Interviews are about showing your very best side at ALL times from the moment the interview building is in sight (you never know who may be watching you out of the window) to the moment it is out of sight again (you never know who you are cutting up at the nearby traffic lights). Even if you got sacked it can be turned into a positive (difficult but possible) so bringing up a failed business (or "a business experience from which you gained many skills in project management, planning and negotiation", wink can be worked to your advantage.

NB Never ever mention the word FAILED. Simply describe it as a previous business venture which (if pushed further) you decided to fold, given constraints of time and money.

KatyMac Fri 29-Aug-08 22:50:51

I managed to borrow £220 which should have been plenty to convert the barn

But I got very few companies to tender - & the cheapest was £420k

featherboa Fri 29-Aug-08 23:02:55

Well, I would apply for the job if you like the look of it - what's to lose. If you get an interview you can do all your research and reading up beforehand. The nursery experience is valid, be prepared with a clear and concise understanding of what went right, what went wrong and what you would do differently second time round.

More relevant than why the business didn't take off, will be why your background/interest is obviously in childcare and owning your own business - but you are now seeking an employed role within project management. Given that there is little obvious connection between the two, you need to concentrate more on have being completely convincing as to why you want to work in their industry sector, in that particular company, in that particular role, and demonstrate your commitment.

HTH in some small way. Good luck!

KatyMac Fri 29-Aug-08 23:04:33


Systems are what interest me

And perhaps Change Management

I am currently deciding on my units for an OU degree based on systems

squix Sun 31-Aug-08 22:31:45

Hi there, I work in Business Systems Development and Change Management and do some recruitment and candidate assesment in this area.

Most business systems development (either IT or non IT) will be delivered using a project based approach, as will the majority of 'Change Management' initiatives, and so would need PM skills and techniques. PM can be applied in many different industries and in lots of different scenarios, and as someone mentioned Prince2 tends to be the standard and there are qualifications that you can take in Prince2. As someone also mentioned, it tends not to be an entry level role and most employers are looking for some project experience in other roles for even an entry position - although as with every job it does depend.

If you are interested in Change Management there are lots of other roles that could be of interest - Business Systems Analysis, Modeling Business Processes, Testing Changes, Project Control Office work, Business Implementation, Organisational Design as well as more technical roles in computer programing and systems architecture.

KatyMac Mon 01-Sep-08 15:57:19

Hi Squix - sorry I didn't see this until today - can I pick your brains?

Do you think these OU course would be any good?

understanding systems
& Managing complexity

They look like something I could really 'get into' but I worry about their usefulness

I am also struggling with what to do in level 1

squix Mon 01-Sep-08 20:30:46

Brain happy to be picked.

Having a quick look at the two courses, the 'Managing Complexity' seems to be more practical and seems to focus on skills that would be useful. I think the 'understanding systems' one looks really interesting tho' and parts of it I could see having some practical application, but I guess some of it would be just really interesting.

What choices do you have for level 1 - which of the OU qualifications is it that you are looking at?

KatyMac Mon 01-Sep-08 20:42:03

I'm after an open degree - so I can do what I like - just add up the points

So I'm getting most of the first year from previous study being tranferred

You can't do Managing Complexity without doing Understanding systems

I need to pick a 2nd level 2 and another level 3 to get my degree (I haven't picked them yet)

Undestanding systems doesn't start until Feb so I need something short to being going on with

I'll put some links up


KatyMac Mon 01-Sep-08 21:02:37

this seems a bit specialised
as does this
a bit dry?
this would go with this but there isn't an obvious level 2

this is possible
as is this

I think I am just confused tbh

squix Mon 01-Sep-08 21:49:32

An open degree sounds like a great idea. And I guess it comes down to either choosing courses that have a direct relevance to your chosen career or a course that you will enjoy and gives you some transferable skills as well or a mixture of both.

I think the Understanding Systems and Managing Complexity combination would be OK as I can see relevance in both.

In terms of the other courses;

Understanding Social Change - I agree that it looks specialised, but what I guess you would get out of it is how people react to change - which would be applicable whether looking at introducing changes in a bank or in a school or in a hospital or anywhere really.

Networked living - Very IT focused, but so many Change situations will involve an element of IT that it could be useful background info, if you don't have this already.

Ethics - I guess we all have our own ethical position anyway. This looks very theoretical.

Engineering - there is some specialised stuff in there (fundamental laws of physics - eek!)but the majority of it seems like a good grounding in design and engineering concepts.

Innovation - looks like a good bet too - any change will require an element of design and understanding the design process is a good place to start.

Working in the environment - very interesting, think this may have limited direct application in the world of Change Management (I might be wrong and will depend) but looks like one of those that will give general skills and be interesting.

Managing in the workplace - looks like a good one, lots of transferable knowldge.

I never knew that the OU did such interesting courses! I don't think you'd go far wrong with any of them - which probably doesn't help you choose, but hope that gives a wee bit of insight.

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