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Why project management should be on your radar screen

One of the toughest skills to teach anyone is how to be organized, how to keep projects running smoothly — according to deadline and according to the ever-changing expectations of clients. When I talk to technology solution providers about the keys to their success, there are several different themes that repeat, including their focus on building project management discipline.

My guess, for example, is that this is one reason why Cisco moved this week to formalize how partners collaborate together on accounts with its new Global Partner Network program (due to kick in during its next fiscal year). There will be two distinct roles supported: that of Host and that of Agent. The Host solution provider in given accounts will have to orchestrate all the other subcontractors or agents, plus deal with transaction details and other adminis-trivia that comes up around billing and such. In order to be a success full host, you need to be a successful Project Manager.

Many top solution providers point to their investment in certifications from the Project Management Institute as instrumental. CompTIA is also in the game, and the organization has just updated its CompTIA Project+ exam. The certification covers everything from initiation of a project to change control to closure. There are 100 questions on the exam, focused on the things I just mentioned, covering both the business management and technical management aspects involved with any projects. Here’s some perspective from Terry Erdle, senior vice president of skills certification for CompTIA.

“Project management routinely appears on lists of the most ‘in-demand’ skills employers require today because organizations are under great pressure to show real return-on-investment (ROI) when implementing new projects. …The first step to achieving good ROI is professional project planning and implementation, led by a project manager equipped with the right combination of people skills, organizational leadership and technical savvy.”

CompTIA recommends at least 12 months experience in leading projects for exam candidates. The current exam will be retired on March 31, 2011.

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