Project Management

Dear Management Doctor:

Are cities requiring planners to have project management classes? If so, where do they get those classes? Do some states require certification?

I saw this from Pasadena; I just completed a brief fact-finding report on project management. It seems that many states are developing their own certification program or are sending their staff to a university to gain project management certificates. I was wondering if anyone has sent their staff to a university system to get such a certificate?

We have our own internal city certification, which is an acknowledgment that one knows project management, but I am talking about something that is given by the Project Management Institute. Just wondering.

An Inquiring Planner

Dear Inquiring Planner,

This is a good topic to see what we can get from our readers. Iím getting almost a total blank on this topic. I see two types of projects in my consulting work and the answer to your question would vary depending on each type. The first one is staffís handling of a development project. Staff assigned is often referred to as project managers or case managers. I have lots of thoughts on this category, but I assume you are interested in the second category.

The second category is how to handle a project like a General Plan, new Ordinance, neighborhood plan, etc. I see little or no training in government for how to handle these projects. Iím not aware of any government certificate programs for project management, but there are numerous courses available in the private training market as well as continuing education courses from many universities.

APA just released a new book on Project Management, but frankly, I found it a bit disappointing. The book seemed to make this more difficult than it needs to be. Project management training is clearly needed in government. When I look back on my 25 years in government and compare the project management work we did to that which we now do in the private sector, Iím embarrassed. At a minimum I would guess we are 100% more efficient, both as related to time and money.

Iíd start with a few simple guidelines.

  1. Get a clear written description of the project and its goals and have it reviewed and signed off by relevant parties.
  2. Set clear timelines, target dates along the way and resource allocations and constraints. Update this information as you go.
  3. Keep your client in mind. The problem or your client may not need or want the level of detail or sophistication you have in mind.
  4. Write early and often. Writing causes us to organize our thoughts and tells us what we donít know.

Looking forward to responses from our readers.

Good luck!

The Management Doctor

Reader Response

The Project Management Institute (click here to view their website) is a leading organization on the professionalization of project management. This is a national organization; has local chapters in many cities; publishes references and guides including The PMBOK, The Project Management Body of Knowledge; and conducts professional certification for Project Managers.

Tony Luebbermann

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