Pondering a transition to Project Management

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stonesfan
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Good Evening

Some really informative reading here! Have been in IT Support since 1999 but have reached about as high a level that I can achieve in this field. Am a Senior support analyst but during the past 2-3 years have developed an interest in project management. Have managed to deliver some small projects from start to finish using basic common sense, communication and organisational ability than anything I have learned on a course. Have also delivered some small building related projects from start to finish at my semi pro football club on a voluntary basis. Must admit these gave me an extremely high sense of achievement. More so than actually doing the hands on work.

I'm at that age (39) where its probably time to think about what I want to do for the next 20 odd years. Have done some research and it would appear the PRINCE2 course would probably be the best for me. There will clearly be some areas where common sense etc is not enough, so am willing to have to study hard and learn some new skills and knowledge of which I currently do not have.

Ultimately, my goal is to be a project manager for a company like Network Rail, as have a strong interest in transport infrastructure.

Just a couple of questions really:
  1. I do not have a degree or HND. Does this impede my chances of progression in a career such as project management?
  2. Is the PRINCE2 course split into clear modules? I believe there is a 'foundation' course of which gives you a taste of PM and what skills it will entail. This type of course is always a vital part of anyone's development in my opinion, as it may actually be a deciding factor in whether you feel you have the correct aptitude for the role.
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kwalford
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Hi there,
  1. No - experience is prized a lot more than certs in Project Management. I think your experience will be sufficient alone. In my industry (Cisco networking), if you are technical and also a PM, then this pays dividend.
  2. Yes - Foundation and Practitioner for Prince2. Go here for a review I did: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1307
What type of IT industry are you in (i.e. Software, hardware, networking)?
stonesfan
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Hi Kwalford

Thanks for your input.

Currently my IT role is fairly comprehensive. Hardware, software, networking, server admin, virtual desktop admin, backup admin. Dare I say jack of all trades (master of nothing!). I, along with 3 other colleagues support 1200 users at a large private school. Edu-IT is actually a very dynamic, demanding and project intensive field to work in. Goalposts change more than the corporate World in my opinion. One thing I would point out though, is that schools in general lack project management personnel and are often taken advantage of by third party solution providers. I do not know many schools who employ anyone in a pure project management capacity though.

Am certainly going to take the PRINCE2 foundation to get a flavour of PM in a more controlled environment.

Regards
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kwalford
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Hi,

I would suggest to do both F & P parts of Prince2 together. F part of Prince2 on its own is quite meaningless and will not be valued by employers, nor will you learn much. Do the classroom course from QA for both F & P parts of Prince2 together.

My company supply IT infrastructure services (lease lines, mpls, it support etc) to a lot of private schools, so that is a vertical I know well. As an IT provider, we supply project management as part of our order when we sell schools any of our services. So the schools do not have in-house PM resource but instead we provider the temporary PM until the project is completed.

Schools tend to do a lot of work during the holidays, if it means disruption to their service, and I don’t think that schools will often have the need for a full time IT PM. Unless it is a university, then I would there is a lot of IT PM work needed for just one school alone, a group of schools might have the requirement for a IT PM.
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begeland
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I agree that experience (and common sense, that you've already shown you have) is the best foundation for good project management. But from my experiences, education in the form of an actual degree is often essential - at least here in the US - and certification of some type is usually preferred...though experience usually trumps certification. The degree is usually the hard one to get past.

But you've already succeeded from start to finish on several projects - be sure to exploit those in your resume and of course include quantitative results and measurements that sound impressive and show that you go thing done...

Brad Egeland
stonesfan
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begeland wrote:I agree that experience (and common sense, that you've already shown you have) is the best foundation for good project management. But from my experiences, education in the form of an actual degree is often essential - at least here in the US - and certification of some type is usually preferred...though experience usually trumps certification. The degree is usually the hard one to get past.

But you've already succeeded from start to finish on several projects - be sure to exploit those in your resume and of course include quantitative results and measurements that sound impressive and show that you go thing done...

Brad Egeland
Hi Brad.

I believe a number of jobs in the USA require a degree where their equivalents in the UK do not. I was planning on working in the USA about 10 years and was surprised by the amount standard 2nd to 3rd line IT support positions that required a college degree AND Microsoft certification as a bare minimum. This just to ensure your application made it past the HR team! These types of job in the UK generally require 'experience' and Microsoft/technical certifications as a desirable.

I have noticed that some UK Project Manager positions, especially Senior and in engineering based disciplines, require a degree to obtain an interview. However, it would seem that the majority of PM positions do not.

Thanks for the further advice Kwalford. I will most certainly be undertaking the PRINCE2 courses. Do you recommend the classroom based versions over online based training? Have received IT training from QA before and was impressed with their facilities and level of training provided.

Regards
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kwalford
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stonesfan wrote:
begeland wrote:I agree that experience (and common sense, that you've already shown you have) is the best foundation for good project management. But from my experiences, education in the form of an actual degree is often essential - at least here in the US - and certification of some type is usually preferred...though experience usually trumps certification. The degree is usually the hard one to get past.

But you've already succeeded from start to finish on several projects - be sure to exploit those in your resume and of course include quantitative results and measurements that sound impressive and show that you go thing done...

Brad Egeland
Hi Brad.

I believe a number of jobs in the USA require a degree where their equivalents in the UK do not. I was planning on working in the USA about 10 years and was surprised by the amount standard 2nd to 3rd line IT support positions that required a college degree AND Microsoft certification as a bare minimum. This just to ensure your application made it past the HR team! These types of job in the UK generally require 'experience' and Microsoft/technical certifications as a desirable.

I have noticed that some UK Project Manager positions, especially Senior and in engineering based disciplines, require a degree to obtain an interview. However, it would seem that the majority of PM positions do not.

Thanks for the further advice Kwalford. I will most certainly be undertaking the PRINCE2 courses. Do you recommend the classroom based versions over online based training? Have received IT training from QA before and was impressed with their facilities and level of training provided.

Regards

Hi,

No worries at all.

Yes, I would suggest classroom based course, espicially for the Practionier exam. The reason I say this is because the Practionier course is a lot harder than the foundation. Within a class room based course, you can 'bounce' ideas around and you learn more than you would on your own. So, if you are doing the Practionier in a classroom, then you will be best to do the whole course in a classroom too.

I would suggest prior study before doing the classroom course. I would recommend Dave Littens Prince2 Primer videos. They are only about £70 and will give you a massive head start when going into the course.

Good luck,
Kit.
stonesfan
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Thanks Kit

Current plan is Foundation as a "home study" course. Then Practitioner classroom based. Logistically this is my best plan of attack as I am busy over the next month or so at work, but will be able to take time to attend a classroom based course after this.

Sadly the chances of my current employer paying for this are zero as they are aware of my intent to move on to (hopefully) bigger and better things. There will be very little chance to take ownership of more projects as there is an established ICT Services Manager who isn't going anywhere fast. The positive of working at a large School is that your job is safer than most. The negative is that there is usually very little scope for career development given the fact there are usually a large number of 'lifers' there.

Thanks for the info re the videos too.

Regards
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