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When it comes to getting any kind of serious IT work done in businesses and organizations, nearly all such efforts fall under some kind of project heading. I’m not talking about routine maintenance, provisioning upgrades, and other ongoing day-to-day efforts. I’m talking about implementing or deploying new software and hardware systems, upgrading or replacing network infrastructures, adding new services or applications, and other efforts that change the IT landscape in some form or fashion, sometimes barely and sometimes in quite revolutionary ways.
If you’re going to work in IT, you will find yourself involved in all kinds of projects throughout your working life. This is what spurs my recommendation that IT professionals consider acquiring and developing a project management skillset. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to run a project, but it does mean that you’ll understand much better what’s involved in planning, budgeting, scheduling, reporting, and of course, working on or otherwise contributing to project activities and completion.
There are lots of options for IT professionals to develop project management skills. I’m going to stress one particular approach here in this blog–namely, pursuit and acquisition of the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (www.pmi.org). The PMP is a pretty highly-regarded credential, and rightly so, because it has been built and maintained based on input and guidance from academia, government, and industry.
There are also lots of great avenues through which to pursue PMP certification with PMP courses available from community colleges, undergraduate colleges and universities, and even in graduate institutions of all kinds. Commercial training companies also offer PMP courses, sometimes in compressed “boot camp” formats, sometimes on lengthier schedules. You can spend as little as $250 to $555 for the examination, and as little as $150 for self-study materials and practice tests to earn the PMP, or as much as $2,000-3,000 for a intensive commercial course designed to prepare practicing professionals to take and pass the PMP exam.
Ultimately, I believe the soft skill known as project management has great value for IT professionals in and of itself. But those IT professionals who take the time, expend the effort, and spend the money necessary to acquire PMP certification may also find that it opens doors to more promotion and new job opportunities than they’ve enjoyed before. Be aware that the PMP qualification process also includes documenting 30 hours of classroom contact training time for project management related activities, and 4,500 hours of project management related work experience. This involves some substantial effort in pulling all this information together and in completing the necessary application forms and such.
But for those inclined to add project management to their arsenal of documented, proven soft skills, the PMP is a great career enhancer.