Everyone talks about MBA institutes and young college graduates aspire to complete their management degrees in anticipation of a good high paying job. However, among the MBA graduates how many are really good at managing important and often critical projects?

How many of the MBA institutes really bother to teach the important principles of managing projects?

Project management is a key skill that affects the success of a project. There are certain techniques and guidelines that can be learnt and applied effectively to ensure that a project is successful.

PMI or Project Management Institute is a non-profit organisation based in USA that provides standards, guidelines and methodologies for project management and related disciplines. They also provide certification in project management like PMP (Project Management Professional) and CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management). More about that later.

The project management discipline according to PMI describes a project management life cycle that consists of 5 process groups. These are

  1. Initiate
  2. Plan
  3. Execute
  4. Monitor and Control
  5. Close

These always occur sequentially and in the same sequence as described above.

A project is defined as a temporary endeavour that has a beginning and an end. An operation, on the other hand, goes on continuously and could be the end result of a successful project that results in an ongoing operation.

It is a well established fact that one of the most important process groups is the Planning process group because that decides pretty much how successful a project is.

Among the knowledge areas, communication management is the most important. Project managers spend about 90% of their time in communication.

What is communication? It consists of the following:

  • Listening
  • Questioning
  • Fact finding
  • Educating and training
  • Resolving conflict
  • Negotiating
  • Persuading
  • Summarizing

As you can see, communication is more than conveying information. It requires a lot more understanding of the process including the barriers to communication and how filtering takes place.

As an example, when managing a global project involving teams from multiple countries, you can be faced with several complex situations. Not only can there be an element of different time zones but there is also the issue of different cultures and business practices and sometimes languages to contend with.

Communication even with teams in one language and culture is difficult. Adding other variables like language, culture and time zones makes it even more complex. You therefore have to apply creative solutions to resolve issues.

In addition to emails, phone calls and videoconferences, face to face meetings are often critical to make sure there was no miscommunication and that everyone knew what was expected of them and had access to knowledge that they needed to have.

The importance of communication cannot be emphasized enough. One of the first processes that happens during project initiation is that of identifying stakeholders, which is part of the communication knowledge area.

Stakeholders are entities, people or organisations that are affected by a project either positively or negatively. The key to identifying stakeholders is to develop a strategy to manage their expectations. Without a well laid out strategy, the chances of a project being successful are bleak.

Among the most important stakeholders in a project are the beneficiaries or users of the product, service or result that the project delivers.

PMI in a recent study in June 2010 found out that there is a great gap between demand and supply of project managers and this is causing a business loss of almost US$4.5 trillion worldwide. In India, there is expected to be a surge in demand for certified project managers by 25% during 2011-12 just in the infrastructure sector.

PMP certification is an ideal way of enhancing one’s career and exploiting the huge potential that exists. All you need is at least 3 years experience in project management and attending one 35-hour training program conducted by a certified institute or PMP. Similarly, CAPM certification requires no experience but a 23-hour training program.

Tremendous opportunities exist both for project managers and for training professionals and institutions.

The training is conducted by an expert in project/program management with more than 18 years experience in project/program management in India, Singapore and the US who provides a practitioners approach to the training with live examples and case studies.