The Accidental Project Manager: How to Learn Project Management Now

The Accidental Project Manager: How to Learn Project Management Now

So, you have found yourself to be a project manager. This may not have been the road you started out on. It might have happened suddenly, to fill a need in your company. Perhaps you have not even received formal project management training. But, training or not, you are now a project manager. Nowadays this is a common scenario   so much so that many online project management services provide training to help their customers achieve better project success. The common industry term for this type of project manager is the "accidental project manager."

While you most likely know your industry and are familiar with what your team members are capable of, you might not be familiar with project management terms or methodologies. If you think of cascading water when you hear the word "waterfall" or associate "agile" with athletes, you may want to study up on basic PM terms and methodologies. Even experienced project managers can benefit from monitoring industry trends and emergent technologies. You will also benefit from joining a few professional groups. Interacting with other project managers will help you better understand the industry, and will give you the opportunity to discuss project management challenges and trends with others.

Here are three sources for learning more about project management:

The Project Management Institute
Accidental project managers have numerous resources available to help them better manage their projects and more adeptly utilize project management technologies. One place to start learning about basic project management topics and industry trends is the Project Management Institute website. This site offers webinars, professional development training, project templates, a project management magazine and academic programs. These educational opportunities are available for a reasonable yearly fee.

Project manager forums and groups
After you learn the basic concepts, it is helpful to join a professional forum or group. One popular group is the Project Management Network on LinkedIn. This group often discusses common project management topics, and it gives you the opportunity to interact with over 700,000 members. There may also be Meetup.com groups that connect in your area. Project management groups have over 78,000 members across the globe. If you are looking for a more traditional forum environment, you may want to visit Planning Planet. This website boasts that it acquires a new member every 120 minutes. These sites all also offer industry-specific groups and topic coverage.

Your online project management software provider
Since accidental project managers are becoming increasingly more common, most services also offer basic project management training to their customers. When you first sign up with new project management services, a support team will help you analyze your processes and create your first projects. They will also assist you with mapping your team's hierarchy and chains of command so you can set up proper approvals and access profiles. Most offer ongoing education for project managers as part of the service. One-on-one training is often fee-based and available as needed.

Many people also report that their other skills benefit them in managing their projects. These additional skills include good communication and collaboration, management, and familiarity with technology. You may increase your odds for project success by improving skills in these areas as well. Another major consideration when planning projects is the ability to not be too optimistic about how long the project will take to complete. We asked a project manager what her one piece of advice would be for planning a project and she said, "Calculate your target date and then add a week!" That way, you don't create false expectations for clients or stakeholders   and if you finish up before the end date, it just makes you look good.

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