Project Management Training

Yesterday I completed the project management training that work sent me to.  The class was pretty small – only 8 people total.  And 5 of those 8 were library employees.

I’d been wanting some kind of project management training for awhile.  It’s a subject/skill set that I felt a bit weak in but it was also a skill that potential future employers would like to see.  You can imagine how excited I was to get the email telling me that our Executive Committee wanted me to attend this training.  My supervisor wasn’t too thrilled though.  I can understand where she was coming from.  After all, I had 2 new clerks starting on Monday and I’m already going to be away from work for 4 days next week to attend the California Library Association conference.  Attending this training meant that I would not be at work for 8 days out of the month.  But, what the Executive Committee wants, they get, so I went.

The class itself was a project management class which used Microsoft Project to apply some of the fundamentals.  We tend to perform many of the steps covered in this class when we plan a program or project at work.  If you look at it from the perspective of “I’m already doing this, why are they making me attend this class?” you won’t get as much out of it as you could.  The class showed us how to formally come up with the specific pieces of the project plan.  We were forced to think realistically and objectively when we looked at how to “sell” our project idea, and then do it again later when we came up with the amount of money needed for contingencies during the risk management phase.  We learned a common language that we can use with other (non-library) project personnel.  We also learned quite a bit about Microsoft Project while we were doing this.

I learned a little bit about myself as well.  I noticed that I tended to hang back a little bit during our breakaway group’s discussion of the project initially.  Later on, when we needed to name the activities needed to complete our project and the time they would need to complete, I spoke up a lot more.  During the risk management phase I also spoke up quite a bit.  I found myself becoming frustrated with my group when they wouldn’t listen to my input, even though I’ve recently dealt directly with the kinds of activities, vendors, and risks that we identified.

And, when one group member spoke in a condescending tone towards me, I just bit my tongue and said “That’s outside of the scope of our project.”  I also realized how easy it can be to expand the scope of your project without meaning to.  If even one team leader can’t see the boundaries of the project, it becomes so much easier for them to push the scope out far enough to make the project do more, take longer and cost more than it was ever intended.

The class was definitely a valuable learning experience.  Even though I don’t see myself undertaking a major project immediately, I know I will be within the next little while.  Having this foundation in project management will be helpful when  it becomes time to plan and oversee a future project.

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