Project management benefits & Issues

Abstract:

         This report presents the benefits and issues of providing short courses on project management with an introduction to different project management courses in the market through a secondary and primary research. Also, it includes a focus study on a proposed short course on project management to Information Systems, Computing and Mathematics (ISC) Department at Brunel University. Finally, it concludes with appropriate recommendations to ISC department of providing the proposed course with relevant supporting rationale.

Introduction

         Over the past two decades, there have been changes in organisational structures that have seen businesses change from division-based to project-based management (Whitley, 2006). As a result, this change has increased work opportunities for those holding qualifications in the fields of project management, which are in many instances provided by university business schools or other institutional providers whose number has risen over the years in an attempt to take advantage of the rising market for project management training (Berggren and Söderlund, 2008). Notwithstanding the fact that the size of MBA and advanced business degree market in the UK and world over have experienced tremendous growth, and that project management forms an important component in the curriculum of all Association of masters of Business Administration courses offered in Britain (Paucar-Caceres and Thorpe, 2005), the costs of undertaking an MBA degree, in terms of financial and student-executive time commitments are still high. Organisations' need for managers and executives with advanced project management skills is on the rise in the UK. Due to this rising need, the market of short courses related to project management has grown to take care of managers, who for one reason or another cannot undertake an MBA course. However, these short courses have come under criticism for being "both narrow and shallow" (Crawford et al, 2006, p. 624). In addition, this being a short format course, it is regarded as inferior in comparison to that offered under a degree program. (Crawford et al, 2006, p. 724) is thus quoted as saying "Even in academic programs, education in project management is often pitched at the same level as the certificate and commercial training in project management" (Crawford et al,2006, p. 724; emphasis added).

         There are numerous training programs offered by various private companies and public institutions (such as universities), but the emphasis of these programs has to in the ability to deliver specialised accredited training for the growing market for project management.

         Currently, the ISC department has one course that leads to SAP accreditation. The purpose of this report is to give a summary of a feasibility study that was conducted to evaluate the proposal of establishing a project management course in the college.

Prior research stage:

         To achieve the aim of this study, the research methodology has been designed with a view to provide the key information on which the university should base its strategy in this area, in an easily understandable format. In particular, the following areas have been examined:

  • The employment market which exists for the courses offered
  • The prerequisites appropriate for the course
  • Acceptable fee
  • Course durations and workloads acceptable to students and their employers
  • Resources the ISC will need to provide in terms of trainers, their competences, and other infrastructure required

         To obtain the information required to answer these questions and to produce a reliable picture of the market for the qualifications awarded, a substantial amount of research was required, including the processes of locating and reviewing past research to establish the context of this study besides the extensive primary research to derive accurate details of the real-world conditions of this market. The findings which are presented in this report are based on the synthesis of data acquired from a wide range of sources, including:

  • Questionnaires completed by current MSc students in ISC department
  • Interviews conducted with a focus groups made up of current MSc students in ISC department
  • Interviews conducted with three project managers based in the UK, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

         Gathering and processing the data required considerable investment of time on the part of each of the project team members: at least 70 hours of work per person was necessary to complete the project. Given this fact, a formal process was followed in which the project goals and objectives, based on the existing literature and evidence for the business context of the report, were identified, and milestones decided upon. An appropriate work schedule was then decided on [following the recommendations of Lewis (2007)], and responsibilities assigned to team members. A risk analysis exercise was also undertaken in order to develop appropriate strategies to negate potential risks.

Secondary research result:

         As a result for the comprehensive secondary research on various project management courses offered by universities in the UK and project management training institutions, the team studied the following six courses:

  1. Intermediate Project Management (IPM)

Course description:

          This course includes a range of important project management procedures, intended to provide the candidates with necessary knowledge and skills to act as a project manager of small projects, or as a Team Leader on larger projects. It covers several topics like Risk Management, Project Organisation, Project Planning Techniques, Chage Control, Project Initiation, Quality, Configuration Management, Project Controls and Estimation.

  • Pre requisite: No formal requirement
  • Course duration: One week
  • Fee: UK MOD students tuition fees are already paid via the Academic Provider Contract. Others will be charged £ 1500.
  • Qualification: IPM certificate (Cranfield University website,2010)
  1. Association for Project Management Practitioner (APMP) Certificate

Course description:

                   This course will enable the participants to create a structured project development strategy, implement appropriate procedures, use a variety of approaches to analyse project content and much more.

Pre requisite: No formal requirement

  • Course duration: one week
  • Fee: £ 2100
  • Qualification: Association for Project Management Practitioner (APMP) Certificate (Wwp Training Limited)
  1. PRINCE 2

Course description:

          PRINCE stands for Projects In Controlled Environments. This is an exam-based qualification comprising two levels: Foundation and Practitioner. It provides a planned approach towards project management. This methodology manages projects inside a clearly defined structure.

  • Pre requisite: No formal entry requirements
  • Course duration: one week
  • Fee: £ 1405
  • Qualification: PRINCE2 certificate. (Coventry University website,2010)
  1. Project Management Professional Certificate (PMI)

Course description:

          This course is suitable for project managers in any industry for improving their skills in initiating, managing and maintaining large-scale projects. It covers all the core areas covered within the PMP exam

  • Pre requisite: 35 hours project management education by a Registered Education Provider
  • Course duration: One week
  • Fee: £ 1695
  • Qualification: Professional Certificate in Project Management (Harbrook Training & Consultancy).
  1. Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) Combined Foundation, Practitioner & Adv Practitioner

Course description:

         The course will be suitable for programme managers, experienced project managers and programme support team members. This is an intensive workshop providing realistic and practical skills consolidation.

  • Pre-requisite: Inexperienced Programme Managers or other managers requiring an understanding of the MSP approach which is explained in the foundation level.
  • Course duration: 7 days.
  • Fee: £ 1795
  • Qualification: MSP Combined Foundation, Practitioner & Adv Practitioner Certificate. (focusprojects.co.uk,2010) 6- Management of Risk Foundation & Practitioner (M o R)

Course description:

This will cover a wide range of topics, including business continuity management, security, project/programme risk management and operational service management.

  • Pre requisite: No formal requirement
  • Course duration: One week
  • Fee: £ 1550
  • Qualification: M o R qualification ( ilx group website,2010)

          As a result, the team members become fully aware of various project management courses in the market through their secondary search. However, it was also important to understand the actual scenario. In order to find out whether there is an actual demand of such courses or not in the market, the team decided to undertake a primary research on the topic (Hoffer et al 2002). With secondary data, the team was able to establish the hypothesis that project management courses are quite common in the market. However, there was no detailed analysis on the efficacy of such courses and there was a lack of data on how people use these courses to further their career. This part was essential for this feasibility study, because without knowing the efficacy of the courses for the students, the team would not have been able to create a strong case (Schultheis and Summer 1999).

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