What does it really take to become a project manager? Nothing! Which means anybody can be a project manager? But the truth be told, not everyone can be one. Yes, not everyone has the discipline to be a project manager. Project Management is practical not theoretical.
In my over a decade experience as a practicing project manager, I have come across several aspiring and practicing project management professionals and practitioners. They all have one thing in common, the desire to be the best in the practice but not very many are ready to make the sacrifices required to be real project managers.
I have come across several certified project managers #PMP, #Prince2 who cannot successfully write a Project Charter or PID. I have seen project managers without relevant project experience and yet are carrying around PM certifications. While it is a mystery how they acquire them but the reality is certification do not make one a project manager. Certification is meant to validate your knowledge, skills and most importantly the experience.
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), project management is “the application of Knowledge, Skills, Tools and Techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.” which means that for one to be called a Project Management Professional he must have acquired knowledge from training, skills from practice, tools and techniques by virtue of expertise and experience.
But, unfortunately when starting out as project managers many people put the cart before the horse by first attempting project management certification, falsify their project experiences, write and pass the exams, then start looking for project management experience. This is the reason why many projects fail, largely due to unskilled project management professionals and practitioners.
So here is my advice to those starting out their project management career:
1. Develop interest in project management.
2. Acquire knowledge of project management. Read books or attend an “elementary training” such as introduction to project management not a certification course.
3. Join a project management community and associations.
4. Get into a project environment by way of practice or volunteering.
5. Find a mentor with good knowledge and experience of project management. This is very key to your success.
6. Gain hands-on experience by getting involved in projects, either by way of supporting or actually managing one and several projects.
7. Write a professional examination, to validate your knowledge and experience as a practicing project managers.