Have: PM job, no experience Need: Advice

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SWalker
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Background
First post here and, after trawling through a large number of threads for something similar to my situation, I have found none.

I have recently taken up a job offer of PM for a small telecommunications company. I am quite young and have no previous experience in this field. My degree is in design engineering and my relevant experience to-date is in R&D for a project I was tasked with individually.

I've done a fair amount of research into what it takes to be a project manager, and feel I do meet the soft-skills criteria as well as being happy to lead and present to others. I have no plans currently of undertaking training for specific PM methodologies (I have yet to see the company's current situation).

Question
What I would really like to know from experienced PMs is this: What would you do if you were me right now? Please explain in as much detail as you are willing to provide.
I start in just over a week and am very much looking forward to hearing from you all.

Huge thanks in advance,

Sandy.
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kwalford
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Hi Sandy,

Welcome aboard.

I work in Projects for a Telecoms and IT network provider. I would not class myself as a 'experienced PM' but I have been in the projects field for around 4 years now.

What type of telecoms provider are you going to work for? What products/services do they sell?

Telecoms and IT PM'ing is often going to utilize Prince2. I often see our clients, and also competitors (telecom providers), asking for Prince2 cert'd PM's. Prince2 is very prominent in the telecoms and IT vertical.

I would say go for Prince2 F&P certs. It is quite cheap and easy to attain in my opinion, plus beneficial to a telecoms PM. If you do look to undertake the Prince2 certs, give me a shout as I have a lot of study material which you are welcome to.
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dhaughey
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Hi Sandy,

Welcome to the forum, glad to have you on board.

It's good that you've recognised the soft skills needed to be a PM. I'd call out 'good communicator' and 'effective leader' as two of the most important. If you can communicate well with your stakeholders, no matter what level they are in the business and have the people management skills to lead a project team, you're well on your way to success.

I'd suggest you turn your attention to specific PM skills. Are you familiar with creating project plans? How about status reports, budgets, schedules, resource plans etc? It's worth polishing up these skills and thinking about the tools you need. Does your company provide everything, or will you have to source items such as specialist software like Microsoft Project.

Look at what in-house training courses the company runs, if any. Do they have preferred training providers and if so, what project management courses do they offer. Are there any favoured methodologies, such as PRINCE2 or Scrum? If no, could there be an opportunity for you to introduce one? Often a new person can have more impact with these types of suggestions.

Hope this helps and good luck.

Duncan
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Thank you for the quick replies, it's greatly appreciated.
kwalford wrote:What type of telecoms provider are you going to work for? What products/services do they sell?
The company I am soon to start work for sells business internet, phone, data and cloud services mostly. The intent of which, I believe, is to deliver all of these things without hassle and provide a close and trustworthy relationship with the customer. Hardware and continual 'on-call' services are included within this. I have very minimal knowledge of their field but have been advised I'll be attending training to learn the product range.

Regarding training, I have also been told I will receive a 'somewhat' structured training program (internal). As they are a small and relatively new business, they're not yet looking to send staff on expensive training courses (at least this is how it was phrased to me).

Luckily I have came across Prince2 as my dad has fairly recently completed his course and certification in it *Aside* - (he has recently become a Project Manager through happenstance and my position is in no way related, this wasn't even the job I originally applied for!). As he still has the course materials and books, I have been reading through them. Unfortunately for me, the company's founder (my only contact to-date) is away and not able to answer my questions on the current project management methodology. If indeed Prince2 is utilized then I will give serious consideration to achieving the certification.
dhaughey wrote:It's good that you've recognised the soft skills needed to be a PM. I'd call out 'good communicator' and 'effective leader' as two of the most important.
I am glad to hear this and believe, from what I have read, that your view is shared by many.
dhaughey wrote:Are you familiar with creating project plans? How about status reports, budgets, schedules, resource plans etc?
No, not familiar. I have completed mocks of these at university several years ago but not to a large degree, nor in a structured or methodological approach. I do have experience in planning a project and providing updates but this was on a singular project over the course of a year.
dhaughey wrote:Does your company provide everything, or will you have to source items such as specialist software like Microsoft Project.

Look at what in-house training courses the company runs, if any. Do they have preferred training providers and if so, what project management courses do they offer. Are there any favored methodologies, such as PRINCE2 or Scrum?
I am yet to find the answers to these question, as I begin in a week and my contact cannot be reached. I have asked this already and will again on my first day, if I still do not have an answer.

I am looking into project management as a whole, reading from many sources about the job and person. I have started reading Prince2 books and have been recommended "Project Management Planning and control techniques by Rory Burke" to read by a previous lecturer of mine. The question still remains, what would you do in my circumstance, knowing what you know now?

Sandy
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kwalford
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Hi Sandy,

To answer your question then, wait until you have started the company before committing to any costly training (i.e Prince2). I would still pre-study Prince2 as it is used pretty much exclusively in the field you are entering. Prince is the de facto PM framework for Telecoms.

The products your new employer offers are the same that mine offers; this is why I know that Prince2 will be of a benefit to you. If your employer does not use Prince2, but sells those products, then they are definitely going against the grain! I know countless other Telco's which offer those products and only use Prince2 as a framework.

Also, that book is good; I have read the start of it but not yet finished it.

Many thanks,

Kit
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Thanks for the advice, Kit.

What you're saying definitely sounds like the right path, I think all of the reading I have been doing has benefited me. Even the stuff that I don't agree with has an indirect benefit.

I'll keep at it and thanks once again.

Sandy
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