My top tips for those considering learning more about Project Management.
As the New Year approaches, many people will be reviewing their situation and thinking about making some changes. This might be from the relatively small, such as reading more next year, to the relatively large, such as a complete career change.
For those of you out there where project management forms some part of that thinking, here are some tips and considerations to help guide you down the right track. Certainly, when I am considering branching out into something new, I find it useful to seek the opinions of people who have experience in that field. So here, for you, are my top tips for learning more about project management.
For each point, I’ll explain why it’s helpful and try and point you to a few, carefully selected sources to help you explore further, along with our own offerings to get you on your way.
Sign up to a newsletter
A regular email to your inbox that gets you thinking about different angles on a subject and inspire you? Sounds great, right? But a lot of companies fall foul of the desire to use this just as a marketing channel, without offering up anything actually useful. Now, let’s not be naïve – of course a newsletter is a marketing channel, so there will occasionally be a plug. But I like to think the following newsletters offer up a little something extra in return for your email address!
Chris Croft’s Tip of the Month email is enjoyable and riffs on several subjects beyond project management. I always enjoy his P.S. section too.
Bob Glazer’s Friday Forward email is more of a weekly management blog, but looks at a different aspect of leadership or management each week and has loads of content that is relevant to project management. It’s often a thought provoking read and frequently leads me on a click spree as I dig into something he’s brought up, or a previous post.
Finally, an honourable mention must go to Dave Harland’s newsletter, The Word, which has nothing to do with Project Management (in theory it’s about copywriting) but entertains me every Friday. Well worth a look!
Get started with: The Everyday Project Manager Newsletter. Needless to say, I want the Everyday Project Manager Newsletter to be all the things I enjoy about other newsletters. In other words, entertaining, thought-provoking, but – above all – useful! So our newsletter contains tips on dealing with certain situations, explainer videos, templates you can actually use at work and articles we have found helpful or interesting. It’s a fortnightly newsletter that hits all the right notes for those wanting to learn more about project management, or get a fresh perspective.
Read an introductory text
It’s stating the obvious to say that the choice of project management books out there is greater than ever before. But it can be overwhelming. Self-publishing is great because it means anyone can publish a book these days, but unfortunately that also means that anyone can publish a book these days! It’s therefore difficult to know which books are authoritative and which are just some bloke’s opinion. So, I’d recommend choosing a book from a recognised publisher as you know it’s been through some sort of quality control. And don’t dive into the text books – they will only serve to confuse. Find something that has more of a flow (like a project itself!) but allows you to dip in and out.
I quite enjoyed The Lazy Project Manager by Peter Taylor (Inifinite Ideas, 2015 – Amazon, Waterstones) when I read it a few years ago but, as the title suggests, found it a bit lazy and superficial in places. It seemed more interested in the idea of doing project management as quickly as possible (i.e. lazily) than in doing it properly. It’s a diverting read on the subject though which uses humour in a way that keeps the subject engaging.
When I started out in project management I bought Brilliant Project Management by Stephen Barker (Pearson Business, 2014 – Amazon, Waterstones). Since then, I have recommended it several times over the years to others beginning their project management journey. It’s a great starter text.
Get started with: The Everyday Project Manager – A Primer for Learning the Principles of Successful Project Management (Routledge Press, 2020). This book is aimed at anyone new to project management and explores the basic principles of project management in terms that everyone can understand. The book is intended to help anyone with an interest in projects, whether it’s a small personal project, like decorating a room, to large professional projects like building a power station, this book will help you understand what’s what in the world of project management. Also available at Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, Foyles and others.
Almost anyone will tell you to look at videos on YouTube. But that’s not really very helpful, is it? With millions of videos uploaded every second of the day, there’s absolutely loads of stuff on YouTube and no real way of knowing which are the good ones. You need a curated guide, so you know you are looking at relevant videos. Very well: here you are. These YouTube videos will give you a feel for some of the main topics and challenges in project management so you get a good feel for what it’s like, without having to trawl for hours.
I like Adriana Girdler’s videos on project management. They don’t go too much in depth (which is both a good thing and a bad thing), but I really like her presentational style – she keeps it interesting and has great energy.
There is a software company called Project Manager who make videos about, well, their software. But they’ve also done some nice explainer videos that give you a feel for some PM topics. You can find them here.
Get started with: The Everyday Project Manager YouTube Channel. A constantly growing resource of tips, guides and explainers. I mainly try and keep the videos short and sweet, so that you can learn something new about project management in five to ten minutes. That’s a kettle boil/bus journey/supermarket queue well spent!
Don’t jump straight to an expensive qualification.
And what not to do… Don’t jump straight to getting qualified. Certified qualifications are expensive and will teach you a great deal of theory and methodology without teaching you much of practical use. Short online courses are a much better way to get started before making that sort of financial commitment.
Better still, short courses will usually teach you elements of project management that you can apply straight away, regardless of your current job. Certification is great, once you have decided to become a full time, professional project manager. But it won’t teach you how to do the job.
Online learning is obviously a good option. LinkedIn Learning does a great selection of courses and usually offers a free trial to draw you in. They look very professional to the extent that they often fall over into impersonal – it’s so glossy it loses the human touch.
However, our recommendation is Udemy which has courses to suit every budget (soon to include Everyday Project Manager courses!)
Get started with: An Everyday Project Manager Training Course. The best option though would be to go on one of our in-person courses. We don’t currently offer courses for individuals, but we offer small groups the perfect introduction to project management that everyone can start using straight away, regardless of their current role. Packed with practical tips and real life examples, our courses also get rave reviews (100% five star reviews – Trustpilot). Instead of asking your company to pay for expensive certification for one person, why not get up to twelve of you trained for a similar cost? It’s better value for the company and so more likely to get signed off, and we believe it will actually be more useful to you than one of the certificated courses (we teach you how to do project management, not pass an exam!) Brilliant.
So those are my tips for getting into project management. Have I missed out a great newsletter, YouTuber or introductory book? What would you add? Let me know in the comments.