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Your First Project as a PMP​ (Project Management Professional)

Your First Project as a PMP​ (Project Management Professional).

Hurray! It’s done! You are now a certified PMP! WOO HOO! And ​as a newly certified PMP, there will be a day where you are appointed as project coordinator or the main PM to your first project​ (if you haven’t been appointed for a project yet)​. And because this is ​your​ first time, you will probably have some “butterflies” ​and first-time jitters​.

​While you will receive your project to execute, you may not receive any formal training or support from the management. ​This is where you get to figure it all out on your own and put your knowledge to work…especially if you are not receiving guidance from your superiors.​You may get nervous and ask yourself; “How do I do this? What do I need to succeed?”​ ​And these are great questions to be asking yourself.​ After all, whatever questions you ask internally, your brain goes to work to find the answers. So let’s get down to business.

Let’s assume that your first project is a small or medium project and not too complex. After all, if it is a large project you will most likely be working under another more experienced PMP or would have been doing this for years and years​. For the small and medium projects, consider the following steps to ensure successful results:

Gain clarity about the expected outcome of your project. You have to find the decision makers or the end users of your product or project outcome ​and​ ask what they really want. Though this sounds simple, many PMs sometimes forget this step and assume they know the desired outcome​ which can lead to a myriad of problems​.​ Assume nothing! Clarify what is wanted from the stakeholders and end-users, and get it in writing where everyone agrees.​ Here, clarity leads to power. And if you are the head PM, it is safe to assume that you have the full authority to ask these people – called stakeholders – precisely what it is they have in mind.​ And, as the head PM, it is your job to understand what is expected and needed.​

From experience, it is best to put these requirements and expectations in writing and get a confirmation from the relevant stakeholders, including the budget for the project you have allocated based on the expected outcome. You summarize all the collected information into a project charter document and from here you can continue onto the next step.​

As soon the first topic is clear, you can start planning when you will kick-off and finish the project. Perhaps you will be given a completion date. With that, it will be then a challenge to work out some activities in parallel to get everything done on time. It may require additional team members to help you or to outsource some of the work. For this step, you can create a simple excel list of activities and add the colour beams over the timeline of your project on the horizontal line or you can use a more sophisticated tool offered for Windows or MAC.

Once item one and two are settled, there may be a final adjustment to the expected outcome; the cost o​f​ the timeline needs a final review with the stakeholders to ensure all is understood, agreed and good to go. It is also good to specify if you feel the project will take longer than the end-date provided by the stakeholders. Being clear upfront is important to the success of your project. Now you can start the necessary work as per the timeline you prepared earlier. Discipline is the key. Follow the plan and finish the works as scheduled. Any change to the earlier requirements or any delay to the individual activity can have a tremendous impact to the entire project and its completion. Your daily job is to manage and monitor these activities accordingly. If there are delays, changes to the work scope or your costing or resources, do the necessary actions to stay on course.

​Keep in mind, that after the above-mentioned three steps are done, there will most likely be changes and unforeseen additions to the project that will affect the completion date and the budget. When this happens, communication is key, especially with the stakeholders and end users. Ensuring that everyone understands what is needed to get this project off the ground and running is crucial to a successful project, and it is your job to be the competent communicator!

The above guidelines are the basic steps to get small or medium projects done. The bigger or more complex a project becomes, more details need to be considered and planned to ensure a successful project outcome. It is a continuous journey as a project manager to learn and practice projects

​ and to be willing to take on bigger and better projects in order to learn and grow!

Wishing you a safe and happy first project!

Cheers,
Peter Wyss