JOSEPH MICELE: Thank you, everyone, who all logged in early and thank you for your patience as we let a few individuals get settled in. We are here tonight for the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s Collat School of Business, the Bachelor of Science and Information Systems and Master of Science and Management Information Systems Online Programs.
The topic for tonight’s webinar is What’s the Value of the PMP?
Before I turn it over to our panel, let me just go through a couple of quick logistics with you. You’re in a listen-only mode. We are broadcasting this webinar through your computer speakers so please make sure your speakers are turned up.
You are able to ask questions. You can just type those in the chat box to the right of the screen. There’s also a Q&A box to the right of the screen. You can type your questions there as well. We will have a Q&A session at the end of the presentation, but feel free to enter your questions at any time and we will make sure they are directed and answered during the Q&A portion.
You will be able to obtain copies of the slides for tonight. And you be able to obtain a link to the recording of this webinar. Both of those will be emailed out to you tomorrow afternoon.
I am now going to go ahead and turn over this evening’s presentation to our panel.
MOLLY WASKO: All right. We have control. So, welcome, everybody. We’re so pleased that you could be here with us tonight. My name is Dr. Molly Wasko. I am the Department Chair for the Management Information Systems and Quantitative Methods Department here at the Collat School of Business.
We’re the department that houses the MIS programs, and I’m so pleased to be able to have this panel of very knowledgeable, informed guests.
So, first, to my first is Beth Taylor. You want to tell us a little bit about yourself?
BETH TAYLOR: Sure. I’m a certified project management professional. I became interested in it in order to improve the delivery of the projects I as working on. I took a certificate class here at UAB that was offered about five years ago. Followed up by sitting for the PMP exam and I’ve been working in project management since.
MOLLY WASKO: Lynn.
LYNN WORRELL: I’m Lynn Worrell. I’m currently a project manager for Intermarket Interactive. I’ve had my PMP for about five years, but I’ve always been working as a project manager and in that type of role for close to 20 years.
MOLLY WASK: Okay. Judy.
JUDY ALLEN: My name is Judy Allen, and I’ve had kind of two phases of my career, but both in project manager. For ten years, I worked with a bank in their project management office. And all of that time working towards my PMP but hadn’t really pulled it together.
When my bank was acquired and I decided to make a shift into working in the non-profit sector, somewhere that did not have a project management office, I decided to go ahead and finish and take the plunge, take the PMP exam with thoughts that if I needed to change employers again, it was really helpful to have something that was a standard point of reference since I would not be coming from a project management office.
MOLLY WASKO: Okay.
PAUL CRIGLER: Hello. My name is Paul Crigler. I worked in manufacturing and distribution systems development years back, and we executed a number of projects. For the last ten or so years, I’ve been on the faculty here at UAB in the Collat School of Business, and I teach information systems and project management courses. And also I’m a promoter of project management.
MOLLY WASKO: Very good. All right. So, quickly, just to go over the agenda with you guys.
First, we’re going to talk about what is PMI and what is the PMP credentials. Then, we’re going to talk about what role a PMP plays in an organization, and then we’ll tell you a little bit about the value of holding the PMP credentials and, finally, I will wrap up and talk about how the UAB-IS degree programs are designed to help students achieve this credential and then pursue careers in project management.
So start off with, what is PMI and what is the PMP? So for that, I’m going to turn it over to Beth.
BETH TAYLOR: Well, the PMI stands for the Project Management Institute. It’s a non-profit professional volunteer organization for project program and portfolio and management. Its value is that it’s got globally recognized standards. It’s a certification that is well recognized around the world. It provides resources, research, all kinds of publications, networks, and volunteer opportunities for continuing education.
And the credential itself, it is a test. You must study for it. You must have certain number of hours of project management experience and education. It’s industry recognized so as some of the other panel has mentioned, you can take it from one type of an organization to another. It’s globally recognized and it demonstrates that you’re competent to lead a project. You’ve got the education and the experience to successfully lead projects.
Certified PMPs speak the same language. And that’s very important because you all need to be on the same page. And what I enjoy about it is that framework and that we can all work towards the same goals when we speak the same language.
It’s applicable to multiple industries. There’s banking, construction, manufacturing, finance, just about any type of organization that has projects, something with a defined beginning and a defined end, you can apply project management.
The credential itself also assures that you are receiving continuing education. So you must complete professional development units, a certain amount every several years in order to continue with your certification. So it validates that you know what you’re talking about.
Okay. Some other things that it offers, PMI.org is the website that holds a lot of information. It has an access to the (inaudible), the project management body of knowledge. This is the structure that all certified project managers follow. It has resources and standards. You can manage your professional development units on this website and it also links you to chapters so in your local community, you can attend chapter meetings, get your support, get networking opportunities as well as your continuing education.
And then projectmanagement.com is now the global knowledge portal for PMI.org and there’s additional communities of practice. There’s some, such as the risk, government, finance, all different types. There’s newsletters. There’s blogs. There’s a lot of information that you can glean from projectmanagement.com, including networking opportunities. You can meet up with people from all walks of life globally.
MOLLY WASKO: So what are the requirements to sit for the PMP?
BETH TAYLOR: Thirty-five hours of education.
MOLLY WASKO: So 35 contact hours. So the project management class, you would take as part of the curriculum would qualify for that or you could take a stand-alone class, but you have to have the education units. What else is required?
BETH TAYLOR: Aside from your educational background, whether you have a two-year degree, four-year degree or more, there’s a certain number of hours that you have to have validated that you’ve worked on projects, that you’ve managed projects.
MOLLY WASKO: So how do I prove that? Is it part of the application? Do they call my — what if I don’t remember who I — my employer is or I forgot?
BETH TAYLOR: It’s a good idea to document all that. There are audits. This is something that can be audited so it’s important that you have the documentation to back up the claims that you’re making on project management.
MOLLY WASKO: So even if they’re not there anymore, still try — do I try and track them down or at least give somebody at that organization the contact information from the old organization?
BETH TAYLOR: As best you can.
MOLLY WASKO: Okay.
BETH TAYLOR: As best you can.
MOLLY WASKO: How many hours of project work would I need if I had a Bachelor’s degree? Is it 4,000?
PAUL CRIGLER: 4,500.
MOLLY WASKO: So I can document 4,500 hours? Isn’t that the equivalent of two years of full-time work experience?
PAUL CRIGLER: Yes, generally.
MOLLY WASKO: So that’s a lot of documentation. What if I don’t have an undergraduate degree?
PAUL CRIGLER: If you do not have an undergraduate degree, but you have a 35 hours of classroom experience, then you have 7,500 hours are required.
MOLLY WASKO: So that’s three, almost four years?
PAUL CRIGLER: Four years, (inaudible) four years.
MOLLY WASKO: So what if I don’t have those hours, do I just give up?
BETH TAYLOR: Well, you can take the first step which is the CAPM, certified associated project management.
MOLLY WASKO: So there’s another credential I could earn on my way to the PMP?
BETH TAYLOR: PMI actually offers I think six or seven different credentials, but the CAPM, the CAPM, would be your first step before the PMP.
MOLLY WASKO: How awful is the exam?
PAUL CRIGLER: What is the question?
MOLLY WASKO: You guys don’t want to step up, do you?
PAUL CRIGLER: What’s the question?
JUDY ALLEN: How awful is the exam? I will say that it was substantial enough ten years ago when I took it that I do make sure I keep up with my PDU (ph), but it was not — it was not bad. It was just that it was, you know, it’s a lot of material using the opportunity to study with something where you can take the simulated exams was a great tool for me because it helped me build my confidence about was I ready or not because I didn’t want to take it until I knew that I was.
But it was more of the time preparing for it, you know, making sure that everything was ready.
BETH TAYLOR: And making sure you knew exactly their way and not the way you were doing it at work at that point in time which may not have been the right way.
MOLLY WASKO: So what do you mean? There are project managers who aren’t PMPs?
JUDY ALLEN: There are project managers who aren’t PMPs. PMP adds a lot of value and, like you said, it helps you speak the same language and so if you’re not always following the same rules and the same language, it can cause some confusion in taking the exam.
BETH TAYLOR: And the certification doesn’t demand that you do it the (inaudible) way. It’s a guideline and it truly helps you steer an organization. So it helps to have everybody speaking the same language.
JUDY ALLEN: And to be aware of some of the trade-off. If, for example, you’ve gone through the initiation and definition of the project and you’re going to make a change now, in the middle of implementation, sometimes, you need to because the technology you plan to use, you find out that company’s going out of business, or if there’s a regulatory change or something that drives that. But when you’ve gone through the discipline of studying and understanding what those different phases are, you know that, okay, this is riskier than it is if the change is at the beginning, and we need to back up and do some planning again because the plan we made under the old assumption is going to work as well if we don’t make updates that reflect the change we’re needing to make now.
And so it helps you even when you have to adapt to be aware of how the different parts of the project interact with each other and where the risks are likely to arise so that you can respond to those risks proactively rather than reactively.
MOLLY WASKO: The PMI organization, what do you guys like about being members?
LYNN WORRELL: I enjoyed a chapter and being able to get together with other local members and learn something about what’s going on in other organizations and being able to kind of bounce ideas off of them and just meeting other people that do the same thing. My company doesn’t have very many other project managers and so being able to talk to some others and asking questions is helpful.
BETH TAYLOR: I love to see how you can apply it to so many different industries. Because it’s a framework but it’s flexible enough that you can customize it to your particular organization. And so you can use it in marketing. You can use it in finance. You can use it in construction, the same basic steps, but customizable to the industry.
JUDY ALLEN: And when you see your other fellow members of PMI and have conversations, you find many of the same issues even if one of you is in construction and I, for example, am managing a volunteer-based program and a non-profit that receive federal grants.
So — but both have lots of things from the PMI and the PMP preparation process that we use to try to help our projects run better. Both of us are really stress out if our stakeholders want to change things two days before implementation is supposed to be complete. That’s what’s planning’s for.
BETH TAYLOR: Yes.
MOLLY WASKO: All right. So next topic. What role does a PMP play in an organization? So what is the day in the life?
LYNN WORRELL: So, sometimes, you are a conductor in a great big orchestra and everybody is working towards the same goal and you’re just trying to get everybody there and ending at the same time.
MOLLY WASKO: And it sounds great and beautiful.
LYNN WORRELL: And it sounds great and everything just works and it’s beautiful. And sometimes it is. And sometimes, it’s more like being a ringmaster of a great big three-ring circus and the whole goal is just to coordinate everybody to get to the end without killing anybody and the lions attacking the, you know, the elephants. And sometimes you’re just trying to get to the end with everybody there, but at the same time, it is still the goal. It is the end.
And a lot of times, I mean, especially in software development or something, it just all comes together right at the end and you never know who all the different players are that you’ve worked together. They don’t know what it took to get all the pieces there. And I think that’s, you know, something that it takes a PMP to be able to do and it’s, you know, you finally get it all together.
And so how do we do that? It depends. I mean, it really depends on the organization. And, you know, the influences within an organization, you know, is it a departmental goal, what are you trying to do, or is outside client sales, you know, there’s a lot of different demands and everything. I’m trying to figure out how to get (inaudible) goal.
There’s also a lot of cultural norms that have come into play and not just the cultural backgrounds that you think of, but it’s all that invisible information. Who comes in early, who stays late, you know, what’s the culture of your organization, how willing are you to have in-person meetings versus everybody just saying in online email mode in your cube and getting out and talking. There’s a lot of cultural norms that come into play and how well projects come together and how well you work with those kind of people.
MOLLY WASKO: So give an example of a project you did for one organization and then a project for another organization and how the culture really made a different. Anybody.
BETH TAYLOR: I’ll jump in here. I really feel the executive support of a project is very important. It can be — a project is much more successful when you’ve got everybody supporting the end goal.
MOLLY WASKO: How do you get the attention of a top management team long enough to see a long project through?
BETH TAYLOR: Do your homework, be concise, give them the quick and easy answers, no surprises. But given at a high level what it is they need to know, not all the details because that’s your job as a project manager, but the high level, things that let them know it’s on track and where it’s going.
JUDY ALLEN: I think about the difference in my experience, first, working in banking in the project management office, and one of the phases of project management is initiation. Initiating a project, a lot of our projects were things that had already had a request from management somewhere in the organization and so initiation on most of those projects was not such a big deal except to jut make sure you have a good idea of what your charter include.
Shifting gears to working in non-profit with a program that’s funded by federal grants, the initiation is the hardest part because I have to master the guidance of the federal grant and prepare a 50-page proposal and my agency that funds us is the IRS so in IRS language, which, yeah, not an challenge in and of itself, that documents, you know, we have to know what we’re really going to do and make sure we really can do it and then we have to put it into the language they can understand. And there’s no interaction.
It’s just here’s the package and we shift it off and we don’t hear anything for four months where when it was inside a corporate environment, it was give and take and phone calls and, yes, we like this, but we have a concern about this. So it was a much more dynamic interactive process than much less — it was formal. But it was much less formal than sending something off to another city and a grand proposal and waiting to hear we like it or we don’t.
LYNN WORRELL: I know just talk about just different norms and how you do it, I mean, coming out of — I worked in financial services which is all very structure and talk about initiation was very much upfront, you know, everything was very spelled out with an exact goal that had to be (inaudible) me whatever the federal standard was that was changing at the time.
Now, I work for a creative agency and the most of the people that are asking for what they want, they don’t know what they want and so it’s coming up with how do you get them to come up with their scope, how do you come up with a budget, how do you come up with a timeline, and then convince them that that’s what you’re going to do. You said this was the end goal and how do you get there and on a much more — it is creative, but it’s how do you come up with the goal and how do you get to represent that and then, you know, convince them that that’s what they said that they wanted to start with.
MOLLY WASKO: So how to balance creativity with just being totally ad hoc which is the creative type.
LYNN WORRELL: The creative type versus, you know, financial services where it was it has to be this percent of this number and, you know, it didn’t matter how you got there.
MOLLY WASKO: You want to talk about structure a little bit?
BETH TAYLOR: Sure. So organizational structure is one of the big things, and I want to talk about that again on another slide and just really talking about, you know, project managers in general and how you have to work within different types of structures.
So, for example, I mentioned the financial services. Most organizations are going to be much more a functional organization. They have a very structured, you know, here’s your HR department, here’s your IT department, here is, you know, all of the different groups and this is what they do.
And a lot of times within there, they claim somebody is their project manager for whatever is going on. They may or may not be a true project manager. That may just be the title for the project at the time. Very rarely is a PMP represented within a functional structure that you would have that kind of knowledge within an HR or IT or, you know, an accounting department kind of thing.
And so there is a lot of resource negotiation within functional groups who would be on the team, how do you get this done, escalation is very difficult. You almost rarely have actual authority over the project that you’re trying to get done whether it’s implementing a new software package for an HR department or whatever, you really don’t have the authority that comes in with that. You’ve just been tasked with that role.
You know, the project can take a little longer because of all of that, but you do usually have the subject matter experts there to help you answer and get it done well. It just isn’t always normally within process that a PMP is used to.
MOLLY WASKO: Okay.
BETH TAYLOR: So the opposite of that would be a very project type organization. And this is where the resources are almost entirely organized around a project. So everybody on the team, the project, the staff, everybody on it is here and is devoted to getting this project done. Again, it could be implementing the same software package, but if you’re structured a little bit differently, they have control of the resources. They know who’s doing what. They’ve got the escalation path when things aren’t necessarily going wrong or going right, you know, and can really kind of control it, they have the authority over the budget, you know, they are really the one and can follow the processes the way they are meant to be.
Most of these organizations can be on budget on time on scope, but you don’t always have the subject matter expertise to necessarily do it right. So there’s still — there’s some give-and-take to all of that.
Then, in the middle of that, and this is where most organizations fall, is in kind of matrix and there’s different varying degrees of matrix organizations, you know, this hybrid approach can be anything from really being in the unit but being given more authority all the way up to a very strong matrix, you know, where you have a project management office that is kind of giving you the tools that you need to lead a well projectized thing, but it’s — your whole organization isn’t around that. It’s just for certain projects as they come up.
MOLLY WASKO: So have you worked in a truly projectized organization? Is there an example? Paul, you’ve got your —
PAUL CRIGLER: Yes. There are several examples. One is like in the construction business. The construction business generally is going to be organized by projects. In other words, you have a construction company that is building a — they may be building a hospital. They may be building a bank building and at the same time it may be a school building.
Well, each one of those buildings is going to be — or the project to build that building is going to be managed by a project manager that is dedicated generally to that project. So you have a projectized situation.
But another example would be where if you were in a consulting company and you’re doing external, you’re working for external clients and you’re executing projects for them, then, generally, those will also be organized in a projectized mode with each project, with each client’s project being managed by a project manager with their team working specifically on their project. And it can be a number of projects being executed for a number of different clients within that organization at the same time.
MOLLY WASKO: Very good. Okay. All right. So next topic, what’s the value benefit of getting the PMP? Paul, we’re going to turn it over for you.
PAUL CRIGLER: So what’s the benefit of an individual being a project manager and, of course, becoming a professional — having a professional designation of the project management professional certification?
One thing is that many times, people working, say, starting out in a new career, they will be working either in operations possibly or they could be working in projects. Sometimes, you’re working in both. One way to get into the management to break into management is to become a project manager, manage little projects, get experience, get a good reputation and then move up into the organization either staying managing projects, bigger projects or moving into operations areas once you develop your management skills, leadership skills dealing with people.
So what’s the benefit? Generally, it’s more prestige within an organization, advancing in your career, making more money. That generally gets people’s attention. Now, to get hired as a project manager and not only do you have to have the experience, not only do you have to have training in project management, but to get people’s attention, in other words, to get the attention of hiring managers, you really need to be certified as a project manager.
Many job opportunities, many job listings including in the specifications for that job that you must be certified as a PMP or project management professional. Many organizations now, such as the federal government, Department of Defense, et cetera will not hire a project manager or will not let a consulting firm execute a project for them unless the manager of the project, the project manager of record is a certified project manager.
By having a certified project manager, they know that the person knows their stuff because they passed the exam. They’ve got a lot of experience. Generally, just by having a project manager that is not certified compared to one that is certified working the same general business environment, same community, the certified person is going to make approximately $10,000 on average a year more than the non-certified person.
In 2013, the PMI salary survey listed these following salaries as average yearly salaries in the United States. So Project Manager 1 had a medium salary of 86,000. Project Manager 3 which means they’ve got considerably more experience had a medium salary of 105,000. And a portfolio manager who manages — let me back up.
A program manager who manages all of the project managers and organizes them within a large organization, their average salary was 120,000 a year and that’s generally a person that’s had a lot of project management experience. They’ve managed the project management office for an organization. There are certifications for the PMO certification. They provide a home for the project managers when they are not working on a project and they maintain responsible for continuously improving the process of executing projects and educating their people, their project managers on better ways, new and better ways to manage projects.
So a person is going to be managing projects would be very wise to get their certifications. It validates that — the certification validates that, one, you have the education and you have the experience, you know what you’re talking about. It opens up many job — new job opportunities as we mentioned across the profession. It doesn’t matter what industry in which you work, if you’re working in projects, being certified is going to be a great importance to you.
PMI, you can do this today, you can go to pmi.org, look at their job board and, as of today, there were 119 project management related jobs posted on that website primarily for people in the United States. You can read about what all the opportunities are from all types of industry.
Here, in the Birmingham, Alabama area, one of my — being I work here at the Collat School of Business, one of my responsibilities is to assist students to gain experience and many of the employers that contact me are seeking people that have training and experience in project management. Notice, I said training. Many students do not have any experience other than what they gain in taking a project management class.
So the demand is great for project managers. Entry level, experienced people and many more companies are becoming more aware of the value of having certified project managers execute their projects. There have been thousands and thousands and thousands of projects fail. There have been billions of dollars lost because of poor execution of projects over the last years, and this has been documented.
Also, we talked about Project Management Institute local chapters. Not only will you learn about new and better ways to execute projects and hear about some very interesting things, but it’s an opportunity — participating in those chapters is an opportunity to expand your professional network. Your mama may have told you it’s what you know, but it’s also important as to who you know. You want to know where the job opportunities are within your profession, particularly as a project manager.
So being a member and active in the Project Management Institute is a great value. And as a student at UAB, you can become a member of PMI for about a third of the cost of what a regular membership is. So take advantage of that.
MOLLY WASKO: So all of you guys have degrees in something besides project management. So you could actually be managers in the functional area so for tax and accounting or for other areas. Why would you want to be project managers?
PAUL CRIGLER: One thing is you never get bored. There are no two projects alike and you’re dealing with many different types of people, different characters, different personalities, different emotional makeups. You deal with you name it, you’re going to be dealing with it.
Some of these people, you might not want to ever let talk to the customer or the client, you know, but you utilize those and some people are very good talking to the customer or the client. It just depends.
BETH TAYLOR: And all projects have a start and end so if this one is great, that’s awesome. If the next one stinks, you know, it too will end and you’ll get on to the next good one.
PAUL CRIGLER: And you have a life after that.
BETH TAYLOR: Yeah.
LYNN WORRELL: And you learn from it.
BETH TAYLOR: Right. You do learn.
PAUL CRIGLER: Absolutely.
BETH TAYLOR: It’s always something different coming up.
LYNN WORRELL: That’s why I got involved, how do I improve the outcome. Our issues were (inaudible) and the project management foundation helps improve that communication. We all know where we’re supposed to be at which time.
JUDY ALLEN: And I think that, you know, as industry and our world, it has change coming at an accelerating rate, there are a lot of things people are experiencing in their workplaces as well as their lives that are projects that haven’t been called projects. And when you understand the underlying concept, logic and background and framework, you learn when you’re studying for your PMP, it gives you a way to tackle that even in things that don’t really get called a project. It’s still in your mind a way to organize and understand the dynamics of what is going on.
And then, you know, in professional settings where you actually have the opportunity to manage it, as everyone else is saying, a way to have credibility when you may be flung into something that from the business line expertise, you may not be the subject matter expect, so there’s kind of why are you at the table? Well, you have process expertise from this and you’ll be learning every project you do things about those individual lines of business.
But without this discipline, you may have good intuitive ideas about what needs to be done but you don’t have that external frame of reference to say, well, this is called this and where we are right now is initiation, we need to get these decisions made while we’re here before we start expending resources and find we need to shift direction. So it gives you an external frame of reference for things that make good business sense.
PAUL CRIGLER: And this external frame of reference is based around a well-defined set of processes. When you have — when a person has a well-defined set of processes that they understand, in this case, project management processes, and other people understand those processes, it gives you a lot more confidence as far as what needs to be done and when to do it and let’s get it done without wandering around lost which before I could spell project management, we wandered around lost a lot.
No two projects were executed properly. No two projects were executed using the same set of business processes and being you did not have a well-defined set of business processes, you did not know what the end results was going to be. With a well-defined set of processes, such as PMI provides and it continues to improve, if you follow those processes, you’re going to pretty much stay out of the ditch and you’re going to be successful.
MOLLY WASKO: So what do you think is more important for project managers, the quantitative skills, how to define scope and cost and times, or do you think it’s the more touchy-feely qualitative skills, how to work with people, how to communicate well with people?
BETH TAYLOR: You need both.
LYNN WORRELL: Yes.
JUDY ALLEN: Absolutely.
LYNN WORRELL: Absolutely, it’s both.
JUDY ALLEN: Yeah. And I would also say what’s the rest of the team you’re working with good at? Because if they’re not skilled with communication, then, you’re going to need to be really skilled with communication. Because you may be interpreting from this department to that department, but don’t really understand each other. So sometimes you are kind of supplementing the existing skillset. If you have a nice balance skillset, it may not matter so much whether your previous background is a little more weighted to the quantitative side or a little more weighted to the management and soft skill side.
But, you know, and the industry you’re in and things like that, what is the product of the project that you’re managing, but they’re all important. They just may have different pieces of the pie in terms of their percentage and emphasis and what’s at stake and what may be missing in the rest of your team’s skillset for each project.
MOLLY WASKO: So you think I’d be a good project manager even though I’m not a finance guru?
LYNN WORRELL: Oh, absolutely.
BETH TAYLOR: Absolute.
MOLLY WASKO: So —
BETH TAYLOR: I mean, no project is managed in a vacuum so you’ve got stakeholders, and there’s all these different pieces and moving parts that are involved in a project. So knowing your strengths, whether it be finance, government, construction or whatever, but also being able to manage those soft skills helps bring all those stakeholders together so you’re all going towards the same goal.
LYNN WORRELL: And being organized and detail oriented, being able to track a schedule, being able to track a budget and being able to report on those things, being more on the quantitative side, but everybody’s always asking you what percent done, how much longer, when are you going to be to this point, what’s going on so being able to track all of that and then communicate it to whoever it is, whether it’s, you know, the top stakeholder of the organization, very political, needs a quick one answer or the very detailed, you know, the functional manager that needs everything about where you are.
JUDY LYNN: And I think that’s one of the things that’s very attractive about a seasoned project manager because the type of work that you do again and again exercises all those skills. You’re not in a functional area where you’re primarily worrying about numbers. So even if you may come into the field with more previous background in one than the other, you’re going to get a workout in all of those areas.
And you’re also going to have the opportunity to, you know, on great teams to surround yourself by people who have expertise that you can learn from that helps to round out what you may bring to the equation and then helps you in your subsequent projects.
MOLLY WASKO: Good. My mouse has gone to sleep. All right. So we’re going to wrap it up with how do UAB MIS programs help you guys get on a career path as a project manager. So, you know, looking ag credentials that’ll help you long term in your careers, the PMP is definitely one, but also combining that with some type of degree and particularly an IS degree.
So the types of skills you need to do well in information systems also are skills that you’re going to need to do well as a project manager. So these are skills like critical thinking, abilities to problem solve, solve difficult problems, strong communication skills, self-motivation so not having someone stand over your shoulder and tell you what needs to get done all the time. And then also the ability to lead teams, especially virtual teams, and have a level of comfort with face-to-face communication but also electronic communication.
And so the skills that you need in IS also ducktail really nicely with the skills you need as a project manager. And most technologies and organizations today get there because of their projects. So there’s no way for an organization to innovate to implement a new technology, to launch a new system unless they actually have a project around it.
So a lot of times, you will have IS in project management pretty closely tailored together. So even though the IS degree, it’s a technical program where we teach you about how computer systems work and, you know, what are the top issues with technologies and organizations today, we also really emphasize the soft skills that you need as a business manager, as a project manager.
So some of the advantages of MIS. MIS actually stands for management information systems, but it means information systems for management. So MIS professionals worry about how do we get the technology and organizations to help create some type of value. So it’s not about how to manage information, but it’s about how to make sure our managers have the right information at the right time in the format they need to make better business decisions.
So we’re not computer programmers. We don’t sit in the closet all day and hack out code. We have just as much footing in the business world as we do in the technology world so we can help bring these two places together and find some way — people who love technology but people who love people do really well in MIS.
So you have to be good communicators, strong collaborators. You have to be able to look at a really difficult problem and want to solve it. Very similar to project management. Top salaries because it is, you know, not necessarily difficult work but there’s not as many people going into these areas so you have a lead-up in a clear path. It’s very dynamic work. You never do the same thing day after day.
And, you know, one of the things you guys mentioned was a project and typically with IT, there’s a start and there’s at the end. So what a lot of people really get joy out of is seeing the end product, seeing an innovation in an organization actually take place, seeing how happy people are when you’re able to make a change, it just makes your organization so much better.
That’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun to see. So it’s a great career and like project management, any organization anywhere any industry, any size, needs technology and they need project managers because they need to be able to innovate.
So Paul’s passing notes. You know, Paul, you can talk.
PAUL CRIGLER: You’re on a roll. Today, just so happens that Google made an announcement here in the state of Alabama where they’re opening a new facility up in — out from Huntsville, and they’re going to hire 100 new people. It was a rather large investment. So that’s just here in Alabama. Job opportunities in IS seem to be unlimited.
BETH TAYLOR: They’re not going anywhere.
MOLLY WASKO: You know, in talking to our local employers, taking to interactive or intermark recently, they’ve had to open offices in other cities because we can’t produce enough IS professionals fast enough to keep the Birmingham economy and tech businesses growing. And so it’s become, you know, a real opportunity for people who want to go into this area of technology and project management of this is a great place to do that.
PAUL CRIGLER: And another thing with the new technologies for having virtual meetings, project managers can live just about anywhere and work just about for anybody.
That happens often.
MOLLY WASKO: So this ties into our last slide, some of the advantages here at UAB. So just a little bit about the Collat School of Business, we have top-ranked programs, top-ranked graduate programs and especially top-ranked online programs. So we were one of the first schools to actually get there offering full online degrees. Some of the things that differentiate us is we have — we are fully accredited by the top accrediting agencies, AACSB and SAKS (ph).
So if you’re thinking about going back and getting a degree, make sure that if it’s a business school, they are accredited by AACSB. There is only about 1,500 schools in the world. I think there’s about 800 in the US that have this credential. So make sure if you’re going for a degree, that it has this credential.
Another thing that distinguishes our program, the exact same faculty that teach in our face-to-face program are the same ones we have in the online program. So, for instance, Professor Crigler, right now, actually you’re teaching fully online, but in the spring, you had an online and a face-to-face running concurrently at the same time. So it’s the exact same faculty that you’ll get either way.
And what we pride ourselves on is the ability to do high tech and high touch, that we feel it doesn’t have to be one or the other. And, you know, an example of this is doing things like this webinar where we feel like, you know, getting to come together and have a conversation with you even though you see us through the technology, it’s a way to use the technology to give you kind of a high touch experience.
So with that, I’m going to turn it back over to Joe and see if you guys have any questions for us.
JOSEPH MICELE: Thank you very much, everyone. We will now go ahead and turn it over to our Q&A portion. I just wanted to let everyone listening know, I am also joined by a member of our enrollment team, Pat Parker. So if you have an admissions or enrollment-related question that you’d like to ask now, you can ask that also, or you may go ahead and ask questions of the panel and we’d be happy to answer those.
Okay. We have a question here. The question is besides the project management class at UAB, what other types of classes can we target to fill the 35 hours guideline?
MOLLY WASKO: So the 35 hours, it is specifically in project management so it would be one of the courses in the degree curriculum. So in both the undergraduate and the graduate programs, we have a project management class that are four classes that you will have to take, but what we strongly encourage all of you guys, as soon as you take that, to go ahead and register and take the project management professional.
As part of your class, you’re going to be learning the body of knowledge. We’re going to be quizzing you and giving you assignments. You’re going to have exams. You’re going to be ready to sit for the PMP. What we want you to do is go ahead and take that extra step and do it so you get, you know, not only your degree with us but the PMP is part of the same experience.
PAUL CRIGLER: And if you do not have the 4,500 hours required to sit for the PMP, there is the CAPM certification exam which you can take prior to gaining the experience, and the CAPM certification, having that designation, having that professional designation will indicate to employers or potential employers that you are serious about being a professional certified project manager.
MOLLY WASKO: You know, and for people who take the IS degrees, especially for those of you considering the graduate program, chances are pretty good that you have come up through some type of IS function in the organization but have never been trained in the formal project management body of knowledge. So it is a great compliment to your skills to actually understand what a good project should be like so you can understand when you become, you know, upper level management and you’re a sponsor what should people be delivering to you. So very, very useful.
PAUL CRIGLER: In other words, the value of understanding the proper processes to use to manage projects is great for not only people executing projects and working in projects, but it is very valuable for operations managers to understand how projects that they have sponsored or that they will fund are to be executed and managed.
JOSEPH MICELE: Great. Thank you. We have another question here.
Is the project management course offered either online or on campus for this company fall semester?
PAUL CRIGLER: It will be offered online in a 14-week format for undergraduates.
MOLLY WASKO: It is not offered in the graduate program this fall. It is part of the core curriculum and the graduate program in the summer. We also offer another section of it in the spring. So graduates online spring and summer and then undergraduate face-to-face fall, spring, online fall, spring, summer.
JOSEPH MICELE: Great. Thank you. Another question here for the panel.
Can you please provide examples of how to track the 4,500 hours of experience?
MOLLY WASKO: Good question.
BETH TAYLOR: Personally, I use a spreadsheet. I just documented what the project was, who is sponsoring the project, their contact information, and how many hours the beginning date and the end date that I spent. So, you know, and each one on a different tab.
MOLLY WASKO: But what really is a project? So, you know, is remodeling my home a project?
BETH TAYLOR: For you personally, yes.
MOLLY WASKO: Is that something that would qualify?
BETH TAYLOR: I can’t answer that.
PAUL CRIGLER: Well, if I was going to spend my money and I was a project manager and had that knowledge, I would definitely call it a project and I’d manage it as a project and it would be a project because I had a vested interest in it, no because I was spending money. I would hopefully have a definite begin date, a definite end date and have the contractor sign a contract and have definite understanding as to what they were to do and how long it was to take and how much it was going to cost.
MOLLY WASKO: So I do a lot of stuff here on campus like putting in a new degree program, which has a beginning and an end date and it leads to an innovation, but we’ve never done a project charter, and we’ve never formally designated a project manager —
BETH TAYLOR: Are those projects?
PAUL CRIGLER: Well, you as — you being you understand what a project is, you do all these things, but you don’t do them formally.
BETH TAYLOR: Right.
PAUL CRIGLER: So it is a project whether or not you manage it formally as a project with other people involved, calling it a project, or whether you just choose the processes. It’s still a project.
LYNN WORRELL: And there’s a lot of things even outside of corporate world that what you do for your volunteer organizations and putting together things, I mean, working for, you know, outside organizations, a lot of times, you’re putting on an event or doing some, you know, some big task, it is a project and that, you know —
PAUL CRIGLER: Planning a wedding’s a project.
LYNN WORRELL: Planning a wedding is a project.
PAUL CRIGER: Funding such is a project, major expenditure.
JUDY ALLEN: And that’s a great point as well is the work, if you’ve been doing professionally has limited project work that you’re doing, you can still make sure you’re documenting it even if your organization didn’t call it a project. You see how it goes. You can also actively look for volunteer opportunities in your community organizations you already work with or, you know, seek through local — a lot communities have programs that kind of match volunteers with organizations that need and seek things that you see how the characteristics of a project and you’re out and document your hours you spend with that to supplement what you may be during your paid employment.
LYNN WORRELL: You don’t have to have a formal project management office to have a project.
MOLLY WASKO: Okay. Joe, more questions?
JOSEPH MICELE: Great. Thank you. Yes.
New question here, what are the chances of being audited regarding your experience?
This individual says they have ten years of experience and want to be sure they’ve documented accurately.
PAUL CRIGLER: Well, one thing about the experience, I believe it’s within the last seven years —
JUDY ALLEN: Five — I believe it’s five.
PAUL CRIGLER: — five or seven years, so you don’t have to worry about going back ten years. And if you worked in projects pretty much for the last five years, you can definitely — you can definitely come up with 4,500 hours. Start date, end date, the name of the project, a little bit about what the project entailed and the contact person within the organization that if you are audited, PMI is responsible for contacting those people.
MOLLY WASKO: What is the likelihood? I’m not sure. I’ve never seen a percentage of audits. Paul and I have taught together probably 500 students in the past five years. We’ve never heard of anyone getting audited.
PAUL CRIGLER: I don’t know of — I have heard of people getting audited, but it is rare.
BETH TAYLOR: It is rare.
JOSEPH MICELE: Excellent. Thank you. We are actually at the end of the hour here so I appreciate everyone for their questions and, for the panel, I just want to go ahead and pass along a little information before we close tonight’s event out.
I just wanted to make sure that everyone is aware, we are currently recruiting for the start of the fall term. We have an application deadline of July 15th with a completed file deadline of July 27th.
Just to be clear, so you understand the difference between those two dates, application deadline is completing and submitting the application for both that undergraduate as well as the graduate programs and completed file would mean providing all the necessary documentation that goes along with that application, items such as a transcript, test scores, for example, GMAT for the Master’s program or NSAT or ACT score for the undergraduate program as well as resume and other types of documents.
Your enrollment advisor can work with you to make sure you have all the necessary files to go along with your application so that you do provide a complete profile.
You can always reach your enrollment advisor by email or phone. If for some reason, we did not get to a question you had tonight or you could not think of a question you wanted to ask tonight, please go ahead and reach out to your enrollment advisor and they will certainly try to get an answer for you as best they can.
I’d like to go ahead and thank our panel again for their participation this evening and for their presentation and discussion. Thank you to those of you who attended tonight. We hope you enjoyed this evening’s webinar and that you’ll join us for our next event.
Thank you and good night.
MOLLY WASKO: Good night.
PAUL CRIGLER: Good night, everyone. Thank you for participating.