Vicki James, PMP, CBAP, PMI-PBA, CSM

formerly of Professional Project Services, LCC

Tag Archives: project manager

Transitioning to a Career in Project Management


Happy International Project Management Day.  I am going to celebrate the day by providing the answer to a question I received the other day from my friend Debbie.

Hi Vicki, so I am seriously evaluating my career. Based on my skills and what I excel at, I am very interested in getting into Project management. Can you offer any advice on how to start? My resume is mainly in sales so I am lost as to even get started. Let me know your thoughts. 

It dawns on me that Debbie is likely just one of many wanting to transition into formal project management. Here is my quick start guide to beginning your career in project management.

  1. Go through your experience and resume highlighting the things that you have done that fall under the umbrella of project management. The best resource to know what this looks like is the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK© 5th Edition). This linked mapping of tasks to Knowledge Areas and Process Groups from PMBOK © 4th Edition provides an easy reference of what those “things” are. Most people have done activities that fall in this area, but articulating what these activities are and the projects supported will be a big help to taking the next step.
  2. Begin exploring entry-level project positions that may be a good fit. Some common titles you may find are Project Coordinator, Project Expeditor, Project Assistant, or Project Scheduler. is a great resource for exploring the types of jobs that are available in your area.
  3. Join the Project Management Institute® (PMI). Your membership and involvement shows commitment to the profession. Further, the network and education you can get through membership is extremely valuable in heading down this road.

With these steps, you will understand how your own experience fits into the project management field, know more about what jobs are out there, and begin building your knowledgebase and network for a smooth transition.

Project managers, what advice do you have to those wanting to explore a move to project management? Please share.

So You Want to be a Business Analyst…Or Perhaps You Already Are (Part 2 of 3)

BA_part2Last week I posted Part 1 with discussion on what a business analyst is.  You may be more confused than before on what it is you are. I will quickly clarify a few points by addressing a couple of common questions.

Question 1: I am a project manager that is responsible for business analysis on my project. Is this wrong?

Answer:  It depends on the project and the situation. If it is a small project with a small team and you are familiar with the business then it may make sense. The test is if you are effectively and efficiently juggling managing the project (planning, tracking, risks, stakeholder management, etc.) with the business analysis tasks (eliciting requirements, creating models and documentation, working with stakeholder to prioritize, translating for the technical team, etc.). However, if you are not able to manage both roles effectively within a normal workweek it means you are working two full-times jobs, rather than two half-time jobs. Getting a BA on your project will allow you to focus on one job and lead the project, project team, and influence stakeholders much more easily.

Question 2: I have worn many hats on my projects.  How do I know if I am a business analyst?

Answer: The answer lies in where you natural aptitude and desire are. Answer the three following three questions to help you find the answer. (Disclaimer: this is not a scientific aptitude/skills test)

1)   When it comes to solving a problem, I tend to want…

  1. To lead a team discussion to find potential solutions
  2. Research what other companies have done and see if any of those solutions would work in our situation
  3. Put a likely solution into action

2)   When I waiting for service in a long, slow line I tend to…

  1. Think, “Where is the manager?” These people need to be motivated to work faster.
  2. Watch the processes to see if I can identify a change in process or a tool that would speed up the service.
  3. Look for the manager so that I can tell him to bring more people on to serve

3)   When told to do something that I do not quite understand I respond by…

  1. Clarify what is needed and begin a plan of action
  2. Question who, what, why, where until I understand the value or negotiate for a task that does make sense to me
  3. Do what I am told. I can make anything work and it’s not my job to question the reason

Here are the results to this three-question assessment. If you scored mostly

  1. You have an aptitude for project management. You prefer to lead others through proactive planning and motivation to allow a team to accomplish great things.
  2. You have an aptitude as a business analyst. You like to solve puzzles by taking the time to get a thorough understanding the core of the puzzle and analyze many solutions to know your recommendation is indeed the best.
  3. You are a doer. “Get ‘er done” is your motto.  Time spent planning and analyzing is time that you could have been actively doing something to make the situation better. You recognize there may be a different or even better way, but getting something is place is the contribution that makes you feel valuable. You would be a great technical lead.

You may truly have a mix of aptitude and preference of these roles. That is okay. However, you need to define your role for each project and stick to it. This allows you to focus on your responsibility and give the autonomy to others on the team that they have earned and deserve.

Continue to Part 3 for steps on making the shift from someone who does business analysis tasks to a business analysis professional.

Image courtesy of chanpipat /

6 Easy Ways to Earn PDUs for your PMP

Are you up to date on your PDUs? Is your renewal deadline fast approaching? Here are some ideas, in ease to earn order, to help you get your PDUs in time for your certification renewal. Full detail for categories is available in the PMP Handbook. Refer to your copy for additional information to plan for and record your PDUs.

Category F* – Working as a Professional In Project Management

You can earn up to 5 PDUs per year, 15 per certification cycle, for working full time as a project manager. Your 25% on your way to re-certification!

*Subject to maximum of 45 credits combined in categories D, E, and F.

Category C – Self Directed Learning

Anything you read, watch, or discuss related to project management may count towards your PDUs. Keep records of the time you participate in these activities along with any notes and record your PDUs. One PDU per hour of activity up to 30 PDUs in your certification cycle is allowed.

  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Articles
  • Books

There are hundreds of self-directed learning opportunities on the web. Check out these links to find out more. Sign up for their email lists to get notice of opportunities directly in your inbox.

  • – PDU of the Day provides PDU opportunities from all categories. Many are self-directed activities. Opportunities listed provide information includes category information, recording requirements, and anything else you need to know to make the most of the opportunity provided.
  • – This is a portal to many PDU opportunities of various categories. Find an event calendar of opportunities or browse for on-demand activities that are available. Also includes a link to information on the, an opportunity to earn PDUs through recorded podcasts.

Category E* – Volunteer Service

Have you volunteered with the PMI, maybe within your local chapter, or reviewing an upcoming standard on This also provides PDU credit. Find out more on volunteering at the PMI Volunteer page.

Volunteering is not just a great way to get PDU credit, it also is a great way to expand your network and your skills while benefiting PMI and project managers everywhere. You earn 1 PDU per hour up to the 45 PDU limit in your certification cycle.

*Subject to 45 credit limit for activities in categories D, E, and F.

Category B – Continuing Education

Did you know that you get credit for all project management training, not just training provided by PMI Registered Education Providers? That’s right! That is what category B is all about. Participate in any formal training session and get credit for that time of the curriculum that is project management specific. So go ahead and sign up for the project management workshop you want. It does count!

Category D* – Create New Project Management Knowledge

Do you write or train on project management? Well give yourself credit. PMI grants PDUs for sharing knowledge through writing, presenting, and training. You get PDU credit for preparation and presentation time hour for hour.

*Subject to 45 credit limit for activities in categories D, E, and F.

Conferences, Congresses, and Seminar Events

This is perhaps the most fun and efficient way to earn PDUs. Not only do you get a large selections of topics to see presentations on, but you get to meet project managers from around the world and see what is happening in the world of vendors and tools. You might not even have to record your PDUs  for sponsored events as they will often do this for you from your registration and attended sessions.

A Final Note

Make managing your PDUs easier by recording as you as you earn them. This will make the overall task easier and provide an easy to follow view of where you are in your certification cycle. Record your PDUs online on the Continuing Education Requirements System. Got too many? No problem…you can roll over up to 20 PDUs for your next cycle.

* Categories D, E, and F are grouped as “Giving Back to the Profession.” PMI has placed a limit on the number of PDUs allowed in these categories to 45 per certification cycle.
Image credit: nikolaev / 123RF Stock Photo

Number One Benefit of Achieving the PMP

I taught my first week long PMP Exam prep class last week. I recall when I first learned of these boot-camp style classes and my original thought. “Great, you learn how to pass a test. Did you learn anything about project management?” I often comment on my study experience that I learned more in studying for the PMP then I did in a 9-month university certification course and prior experience. The challenge for this course became to incorporate true learning into the crash course – to motivate the students to see how the processes, inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs would make their projects more successful.

I scheduled one-on-one briefings on the last day of class. One student, Marcus, talked of his father who had recently passed the PMP while in a long career in project management. We also had a few “seasoned” project managers in the class. Marcus questioned the value of the PMP for these folks with the reasoning that they had been successful project managers in their careers without the PMP. “Have they been successful with a reported project failure and challenged rate of 65%?” The bottom line is that even a successful project manager can learn new ways of doing things based on industry best practice and increase the chance of project success. There is no room for complacency in managing projects with millions of dollars at stake and an unstable economic market. Learning is the number one benefit of achieving the PMP.

Marcus went on to asked about case studies to support the benefit of PMP. I suggested that PMI would have plenty of information published through and offered up the two following books for further exploration.

Remember this next time a non-certified project managers claims that a PMP is not beneficial –

Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience. Denis Waitley

Disclaimer: I do not profess that someone who has a PMP is superior to someone who does not. Only that one will have learned and demonstrated more knowledge than before attaining the PMP. See The  Chef or the Cook: Choosing the Right Candidate

Additional Resources

Related articles by me

Poll Results: Who is responsible for ensuring project value?

I recently cross-posted a poll in a couple of different locations. The majority of responses came from this LinkedIn poll. The biggest value of the poll is in the comments. They are worth a good read. I will be writing an article based on the information collected and my thoughts. Here are the raw results in the meantime.

A few notes:

  • Many commented that they did not like having to select a single role, that it is the team’s responsibility to ensure project value.
  • The wording of the poll was questioned. I agree! A better question would have been “Who is responsible for ensuring the project delivers business value?”
  • In a different context, the use of “business owner” was questioned. In the article I will be referring to this role as the Customer/SME.

Here is a preview of what is to come in the article.

Thank you for your participation and comments. Keep them coming!

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