CompTIA IT Project+–Significant Additions Value

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CompTIA recently introduced the first major revision of the CompTIA IT Project+ project management certification. More than 50 percent of the content of the revised exam is new. At a time when employers are looking for IT projects to deliver improvements in productivity, sales and marketing, or relationships with customers and suppliers, this major update will be well received by IT professionals and management alike.

CompTIA IT Project+ is a unique and important project management certification for IT project managers. The certification demonstrates knowledge and expertise in project management as applied in IT-based business and technology-based situations and environments. The majority of the revisions make the exam more relevant to IT and business professionals who lead projects and more predictive of success.

CompTIA IT Project+ Background
CompTIA introduced IT Project+ in 2001 after purchasing the certification exam from the Gartner Group. IT Project+ certifies the equivalent knowledge and problem-solving skills of a person with 2,000 hours of practical IT and project management experience.

Novell requires IT Project+ for two of its certification tracks. In an IT apprenticeship program, McDonald’s Corp. is mapping project management competencies to IT Project+. IT Project+ is approved for reimbursement by the Veterans Administration.

Early in 2003, CompTIA and some 50 subject-matter experts finished the initial revisions on the job-task analysis of a project manager with IT experience. An online survey taken by 200 subject-matter experts from around the globe refined the job-task analysis.

A Significant Revision
“The subject-matter experts believe the revised exam will be a more accurate predictor of a person’s performance as a project management professional,” said John Aaron, who headed the job-task analysis effort. “Overall, it’s a more comprehensive test with a heavy emphasis on problem-solving.” Aaron holds both IT Project+ and Project Management Professional (PMP) certifications and runs a project management consultancy.

The revised exam tests traditional project management knowledge, as well as an understanding of the coordinative role of a project manager on IT projects. There is an ongoing debate among project managers whether IT projects do indeed require different approaches from traditional project management methodologies. CompTIA believes the best answer to this question is both yes and no. Every project has fundamental issues that go across the board—scope definition, risk assessment, resource management and the like. There are additional issues, however, that layer on top of these for IT projects.

The relationship of IT to business processes creates one major difference. IT supports components of the business such as data and knowledge management, supplier and customer relationship management, accounting, purchasing and more. The IT project manager has to relate his work to these systems and the individuals involved with these systems. Issues and relationship management form an important component of a successful IT project. Traditional engineering-based project management typically does not delve as deeply or thoroughly into these areas and business processes. It also does not usually deal with the issues of the rate of change and obsolescence of software and hardware.

Differences in the Second-Generation IT Project+ Exam
The second-generation IT Project+ exam emphasizes questions posed as the scenarios one would find in everyday project management of business and technology-based projects. The candidates must solve these scenarios to demonstrate their ability to deal with real-life problems.

The revised certification more closely follows the IT project life cycle. It now includes project initiation as well as scope definition in Domain 1. For project initiation, the exam will now certify that the candidate is able to identify stakeholder objectives for an IT project and that the candidate can also define the high-level business and technical requirements, outcomes and criteria for success. She must also be able to identify stakeholders’ low-level needs and expectations, including boundaries for project budget, duration and risk.

In Domain 2, IT project planning, the candidate must now be able to define project deliverables, products and associated requirements. He must be able to identify a project strategy and the life cycle of the project, as well as create a list of required resources, a communication management plan and a quality management plan.

The certified IT Project+ individual will be able to validate stakeholder expectations, establish change control over the project plan and develop procedures for updating or changing the plan. The rate of change in technology and the normal business dynamics that occur throughout the life of a project mandate this ability.

Under Domain 3, control and coordination have been added to project execution. The individual must demonstrate ability in performance reporting, interpreting project performance indicators, identifying variances from plan, taking corrective action, updating the plan, re-planning by project phase, risk tracking, risk removal/mitigation and coordination and communications among the project team members. In addition, individuals must understand issue management concepts and approaches.

Under Domain 4, the subjects of acceptance and support have been added to project closure. The certified individual will be able to plan and budget for support and maintenance of the system after the close of the project, including the impact on a help desk. The IT Project+ certified individual will be able to recognize the need for acceptance testing, formal customer sign-off on project deliverables, complete documentation and closeout of contracts and sign-off by vendors.

The exam explores project management tools, such as schedulers, spreadsheets and databases in greater detail. The exam also tackles the issue of getting people to make decisions in a timely manner. So many times on projects, the project manager is hindered by key people who do not make timely decisions. Now the IT Project+ certified professional will have to demonstrate a knowledge and awareness of keeping an issues log in order to monitor and close issues and help people reach decisions.

The Value of IT Project+ Certification
Organizations will want employees to earn the IT Project+ certification in order to predict performance and to reduce project risk. Employers want to be assured that a project manager is going to bring the project in on time and within budget without burning out the team. They will want to know that the anticipated productivity and related business-process benefits are going to be delivered.

The revised exam does a better job of demonstrating awareness and knowledge mastery of key project management issues. It also does a better job of indicating the individual’s ability to solve practical problems through the application of best practices.

Earning IT Project+ second-generation certification requires more than book knowledge. It signifies the person really knows what she is doing in IT- and business-oriented project environments.

Which Certification Is Right for You?
The IT Project+ certification is aimed at those with approximately 2,000 hours of IT and project management experience. The revision takes IT Project+ much closer to its original goal of being a project management certification with a significant IT component. The fundamental principles inherent within all projects are covered in the exam, as well as aspects of IT projects that require specialized knowledge and skills.

If managing projects augments your primary area of responsibility, CompTIA suggests investigating IT Project+ as a career- and productivity-enhancing certification

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