Essential PM skills

For most organisations, IT projects are complex and are critical to business success. In addition, organisations are faced with tight deadlines, rigid budgets, and high level objectives when looking at IT projects.

With time, money and quality control so critical for the majority of organisations, good project management (PM) is absolutely essential.

Poorly managed projects can take badly needed resources away from other priorities and cost organisations in terms of lost revenue.

Computer Weekly has estimated that 84 per cent of projects fail each year which is a shockingly high figure. PM skills are now a critical requirement for IT professionals in order to ensure the success of any project. 

PM skills include leadership, management, teamwork, change and risk management, communication, quality control and assurance, and budget control. IT staff with strong PM skills, are increasingly in demand. As well as helping to complete IT projects successfully, PM skills can help IT professionals climb the career ladder and change the perception of IT.

BCS recently carried out a piece of research with Management Today which revealed that nearly half of managers from a cross-section of industries believe that IT is simply a support service, which suggests a strong need for IT to become more strategic.

By seeing through a project successfully and communicating its success to the rest of the business, IT can help redefine its perception as a fundamental and strategic service rather simply being a support service.

There are now many certification routes available for IT professionals to ensure they are equipped with the latest PM skills. The BCS has its own project management qualification, which forms part of the ISEB portfolio of IT qualifications in a variety of disciplines.

This enables IT professionals specialising in project management, programme and project support or software testing to gain a well recognised qualification and valuable knowledge.

The ISEB PM qualifications, along with many of the other ISEB qualifications, can now be carried out using computer-based testing at any of Thomson Prometric's test centre locations in 130 countries across the world.

The decision to make the exams available via Thomson Prometric's computer-based testing was made in order to keep up with the growing demand for PM certification, and to provide greater flexibility and accessibility to candidates.

For example, candidates can sit exams throughout the year rather than at pre-set exam dates and exams can be booked with less than two days notice. In addition, results are immediately available. This means no more waiting days or weeks to discover results, and if a candidate has failed they can quickly book in another exam date.

The exams are based on rigorous multiple-choice tests that use scenarios and application-based questions where candidates are asked to apply their knowledge to specific situations.

Many areas of skills are covered such as communications management, cost management, quality management and risk management. All the capabilities needed to successfully take on an IT project.

For BCS, computer based testing ensures more consistent processes and enables data to be managed centrally, which helps to alleviate administrative workload and ensure a successful candidate experience. Computer based testing also eliminates the need for exam papers and answer sheets and so provides an extra level of security.

The ISEB project management qualifications have grown hugely in popularity due to the recognition from employers that PM skills are critical to a project's success.

With the increase in the number of IT professionals who are competent at project management, we should see a welcome increase in the success of IT projects in the future.

The ISEB PM qualification is available at three different levels as follows:

Foundation Level

  • Foundation Certificate in IS Project Management

Practitioner Level

  • Certificate in Estimating for Software Development
  • Certificate in Programme and Project Support Essentials
  • Advanced Certificate in Programme and Project Support

Higher Level

  • Certificate in IS Project Management

www.bcs.org/iseb

David Grinham is general manager, vice president, Thomson Prometric.

January 2007