NZIM Diploma in Project Management
There is an ever-increasing awareness that best use of an organisation’s limited resources is achieved through effective project management under the stewardship of competent project managers.
Developing these competent project managers is our job at the New Zealand Institute of Management where some 200 students have now graduated with a Diploma in Project Management to become successful practitioners in this rapidly growing profession.
The value of this NZQA-approved level-5 qualification is becoming much better recognised and valued as our business world moves from a predominance of ‘accidental’ project managers towards ‘aspirational’ project managers – those who have deliberately chosen project management as their career option and expect to be professionally qualified.
An important reason for this training programme’s popularity and credibility is its immediate linkage to students’ work-based projects. After each classroom session, students are required to apply their learning to an actual project and produce all necessary documentation (eg, project charter, plan, records, and reports) for tutor assessment. NZIM much prefers such practical assignment work to multi-question examinations that characterise the PMI and PRINCE2 qualifications.
The Diploma training programme takes students through the project lifecycle, practising them in a wide variety of tools and techniques that they may employ as project managers if the size and complexity of their projects justify their use. The simple and scalable framework adopted for the Diploma course recognises the best practices of modern methodologies and is the basis for the course structure. However, in practice, these project phases are not necessarily sequential and might be overlapped and/or concertinaed to meet ambitious deadlines. There are also continuous activities, such as stakeholder management and dealing with risks, issues and variations that occur across all phases.
Project Lifecycle Phases
While risk management was once a ‘tack-on activity’ it is now an integral part of the entire project lifecycle, and a project’s riskiness, together with selection criteria such as strategic fit (contribution to business goals and consistency with core values), will often determine whether an idea, opportunity or need proceeds further.
Risk and Reward
While the risk/reward diagram suggests that government is risk averse, this is not always true. For example, we would not have our delightful sandy beach at Oriental Bay if Wellington City Council were not prepared to take a chance.
Diploma training emphasises the importance of both hard and soft skills, the latter including project management leadership and its effective application in the typically challenging project environment characterised by uncertainty, limited resources, tight timeframes and demanding stakeholders. While the conventional triple constraints remain pertinent, we also recognise the significant importance of other factors including risk and benefits. Without risk a methodology would not be needed, and without benefits nor would the project.
Project benefits or outcomes are not always tangible, quick and assured. Yet sometimes it is these benefits, which seem to defy quantification, that warrant proceeding with the project. Tinkering with any of these constraints or parameters is likely to cause a reaction or trade-off elsewhere, which is largely what contemporary project management is all about – finding that equilibrium that satisfies key stakeholders. Happy stakeholders is project success.
While strict adherence to project management principles does not guarantee success, we ignore the following 10 essentials at our peril, Jim Young suggests:
• Establish a solid business case that fully justifies the investment.
• Ensure sound governance that provides clear direction and effective support.
• Clearly define the project deliverable and negotiate realistic parameters.
• Involve stakeholders early and often.
• Apply a disciplined approach from conception to finish.
• Pre-empt problems and address issues promptly.
• Break projects into manageable chunks.
• Delegate what we do not need to do personally, remove obstacles to team members’ success, and recognise good performance.
• Check progress regularly and take timely corrective action.
• Learn from each project.
Project and Product Lifecycles
Another key feature of the Diploma programme is visits to current project sites. Which for Wellington students recently included the under construction wind farm at Makara and our new Supreme Court building, where the project managers acquaint our students with the realities of the profession.
The course invariably receives good comments from participants and their employers. Typical would be following endorsements:
“A fantastic interactive programme that is readily applicable to my day-to-day work, which broadened and deepened my understanding of project management.”
Michael Howard, Senior Project Manager, Primary Health Care Implementation, Sector Capability and Innovation Directorate, Ministry of Health.
“Prior to undertaking the NZIM Diploma in Project Management course, I had no knowledge of PM principles. The course content was outstanding, particularly the group work, which provided the opportunity for team building and to integrate theory into practice.”
Alison Millman, Community Worker, Wesley Care Community Service.
“This course delivered excellent value for me personally and for my employer. The well-judged balance between high-level concepts and detailed techniques, and between theory and practical implementation, enabled immediate application to the workplace.”
Rose Prendeville, Project Manager, Port Marlborough New Zealand.
Please check www.nzim.co.nz for further details.
Also, I recently gave a short presentation for NZIM Southern members about this programme. See attached.