The “Project Management Foundations” course is one of many Project Management focused courses provided by Lynda.com. Lynda.com is an online learning platform which focuses mainly on software, creative, and business skills. LinkedIn offers a free 1 year Premium Subscription to veterans through their LinkedIn For Good program. This course is the first in a series of courses focused on Project Management.
I used this course as I was preparing to transition out of the U.S. Marine Corps and into a job in private industry. The majority of my job as an officer was to plan, execute, and assess operations. While the process was the same, I didn’t fully understand the lexicon of civilian project management nor some of the nuanced differences between running a military operation and a business project. This course helped me identify and understand the process and individuals involved so that I could better articulate my military experiences on my resume and in interviews while applying for project management related opportunities.
I thought this course was efficient in providing a high level overview of the key steps involved in project management. This course can also be used to prepare for the Project Management Professional certification which covers similar material. The process is broken down into the following steps, which I’ve summarized below.
1) Initiating a Project
This step focuses on identifying the key stakeholders (individuals or organizations who have a vested interest in the success or failure of the project), identifying the problem to solve, and specifying the broad level goals and objectives of the project. The goals and objectives are further broken down into requirements, deliverables, and success criteria. Risks and assumptions are identified as well as their potential impact. This step concludes with the development of a project charter and scope statement.
2) Planning a project
Once the team agrees on the purpose and scope of the project, a Work Breakdown Structure is developed. This document details the specific tasks that need to be accomplished as well as their estimated cost in people, time, and resources. They recommend breaking the tasks down into units that can be accomplished between status update meetings to ensure appropriate supervision of progress. The frequency of those status meetings is determined in the communications plan. Along with the communications plan, a budget, risk management, and quality management plan are developed. This is based off of a development plan which provides a timeline, identifies key dependencies between tasks, and outlines milestones. Lastly, since all plans will be modified as they are executed, a change management plan is created. This step ends when the project is approved.
3) Project Execution
This section mostly focuses on understanding team dynamics. The first step is to hold a kick-off meeting so that everyone understands the purpose and objective of the project. This section also covers some principles for effective communication and meeting management. Lastly, the course provides best practices unique to managing remote or technical teams.
4) Monitoring a Project
There is more to managing a project than managing the teams. There is also the need to manage the other resources such as time and money. This section talks about how to manage a schedule and what to monitor to make sure the project stays on track. It also covers best practices for managing risk, the budget, and updating the plan with changes. When the project does need to get back on track, the course provides some example courses of action. These can be done internal to the team such as fast-tracking but it also may be necessary to talk to superiors or external stakeholders to remediate a problem.
5) Closing a Project
Once the project is complete, according to the success criteria, the project can be closed down. First, you must reach out to the customer or sponsor and ensure that their criteria are met and they accept the results of the project. A closeout meeting is held with the team to document lessons learned and to produce a closeout report. All of these items are documented and resources are released to be used on other projects.
To capture more detail, I organized my notes into a mindmap. A high level overview is provided in the image below and the complete version is available online.