Thursday, April 26, 2012

Just do it - PM & KM

I've finally made up my mind.  For several years now, I've been tempted by the idea of becoming PMP certified.  It started at my previous jobs.  We were clearly involved in project work, yet not using any kind of rigorous methodology for implementing projects.  At NASA, project management is taken very seriously, and since I work directly with the office that is the equivalent of a PMO (Project Management Office), projet management terminology and methodology is everywhere.  It's taken me a while, but I'm finally getting it.  I first had to dwelve into PMBOK when I had to develop a basic taxonomy for a SharePoint site that serves as a centralized access point for lessons learned and insights from projects.  Interestingly, there was already a pretty good match between our existing categories of lessons learned and the "knowledge areas" used in PMBOK.  Once I mapped out the relationships and equivalencies between PMBOK and NASA's own policies for project management (NPR 7120.5), I was on a roll.

On top of that, my primary job involves getting projects to pay attention to "projet learning." PMBOK talks about lessons learned as a closing process.  The main point that needs to get across to project managers is that lessons learned isn't something you do only at the end of the project in the closing phase of the project, it's something you do as an iterative process at the end of each phase of the project. They understand the iterative nature of the project management process groups.  The next step is to make sure that they spell this out in their project plan so that they include project learning activities as an element of phase closing processes.

Now that I've opened my eyes to the potential for linkages between what I was working on (KM), how the PMO and Project Managers think and operate, I've finally made up my mind.  I'm studying for PMP certification. 

What did it for me?
  • The projects I manage are very small (on a NASA scale). PM methodologies can be tailored to even the smallest of projects.  Just thinking of what I do as distinct projects is helpful.  Reporting and communicating about my projects with project management tools, techniques and terminology in mind can't hurt.
  • Since I work primarily with PMP certified folks, it helps to understand their language and their mental framework (even if I am neither an engineer or scientist).
  • I just like to have specific learning goals.  Informal learning is great, but once in a while, I like to focus on something that fits within clear boundaries.  PMP certification is definitely a well scoped out learning goal, though I realize it's just a beginning in terms of project management learning. 
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