Teaching project management across disciplines
Having spent 18 years in a full-time faculty role, I’ve learned the inner workings of colleges and the simple fact that academic departments, for a variety of reasons, are separately siloed. Unfortunately, this separation can negatively impact adding courses like Project Management. Reasons include competition among disciplines in their efforts to meet enrollment numbers, and a lack of structure that allocates class enrollments numbers across multiple departments.
With Information Technology (IT) and cybersecurity as my discipline focus, evidenced by an available foundational certification developed by CompTIA known as Project+(1), there is a clear need for college programs in this discipline to offer a project management course. Having repeatedly taken the CompTIA certification exam every time a new version is issued, I can attest as to the value of the experience, particularly as to information learned through my study efforts.(2)
The general consensus is the Project+ certification serves as a stepping stone towards the attainment of the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, the recognized gold standard for project management certification.(3)
A principal reason for this stepped process is that in order to qualify for the PMP certification, the applicant must meet specific educational requirements as well as documented experience of at least “three years (36 months) unique non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 4,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project.”(4)
A major benefit of a project management career is that it cuts across a variety of industries. A project management professional enjoys the flexibility to work in almost any company they prefer. Elements of project management are standardized in such a way that switching from one industry to the other almost seamless. Top industries hiring project management professionals include:
● Information Technology
As colleges focus on teaching workforce skills, consideration needs to given to evaluate the idea of adding a project management fundamentals course that serves as an elective class for a number of programs. It probably makes sense to utilize project management techniques that include utilizing stakeholders from key groups to help identify a plan of action. Those stakeholder groups could include:
● Faculty stakeholders from different identified disciplines.
● Business and industry representatives from local employers.
● Representatives from local chapters of professional organizations (including PMI, ISSA, IMA, AGC, etc.).
Success in this effort is largely dependent upon a collaborative approach, bringing forward the ideas and suggestions from each of these stakeholder groups. What will bind them together is a willingness to identify key employable skills that students need in order to achieve success as they enter their chosen field.
2. See Project+ exam objectives available at https://www.comptia.jp/pdf/comptia-project-(pk0-004)-objectives.pdf
4. https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/certifications/project-management-professional-handbook.pdf at page 6. For applicants not having a bachelor’s degree, the requirement is raised to 5 years of experience and 7,500 hours spent leading and directing the project.
6. Project Management Institute – https://www.pmi.org/
7. Information Systems Security Association – https://www.issa.org
8. Institute of Management Accountants – https://www.imanet.org/
9. Associated General Contractors – https://www.agc.org/