Project Management for Safety Professionals Part 2

The Project Management Institute treats all projects the same. The process used is very in-depth and requires substantial effort to complete. While I agree with the process and the body of knowledge sometimes a project is too small to put all the effort into managing it by the Project Management Institute guidance. I recommend scaling the requirements for the level of the project.

It is important for companies to classify projects by time and cost. “A scalable process was developed to classify projects so that the level of effort equated to the cost of the project. Three levels were used that began with basic, Level 1, and ended with complex, Level 3” (Adapting, 2016).

Level 1 projects have a budget under $100,000, a project team with less than two full-time members, completion time under six months, examples available of very similar projects, and low risk and exposure (Office, 2006).

Level 2 projects have a budget between $100,000 and $300,000, a project team with two or three full-time members, completion time between six and twelve months, department-wide scope and impact, and moderate risk and exposure (Adapting, 2016).

Level 3 projects have a budget over $300,000, a project team with more than three full-time members, completion time exceeding one year, wide scope and impact, and high risk and exposure (Office, 2006).

Most occupational safety and health projects are Level 1. There will be occasions that a Level 2 or 3 projects is managed, but not very often. With the right information, safety professionals can manage Level 1 projects successfully. With additional training and experience, they can reach the performance level to manage a 2 or 3. After determining the specific levels of projects, attention should turn to determining how best to ensure each project is led by a trained project manager.

Project managers are must be properly trained, but not excessively trained to save money. This meant training for project managers had to be scalable too. The result was that project managers were trained to oversee specific levels of projects. As mentioned earlier, projects are best classified at three levels. Project managers were also trained to those same levels from novice, Level 1, to most capable, Level 3. This ensured the project manager was working on a project they were qualified for. Through trial and error, it was determined that:

Level 1 project managers must complete basic training (see next section).

Level 2 project managers must complete basic training (see next section), complete a basic university-level certificate program, and have acquired 12+ months experience as a project manager for Level 1 projects.

Level 3 project managers must complete the basic training (see next section), complete a university advanced level certificate, and have acquired 48+ months experience as a project manager for Level 2 projects (Office, 2006).

Specific training required to be completed by each project manager was identified based on the level of the project to be managed. Instructor-led training or computer based training was found to equally cover the topics necessary to do the job properly. Several topic areas were included in a single course. All the courses were part of the project manager curriculum within a learning path (PMBoK®, 2005). Extensive use was made of the online learning center that delivered PMBoK aligned courses. The intent was for all knowledge to build upon the level 1 project manager requirements. The core courses identified for each level were:

Level 1 project managers should be trained in the following area:

  • Planning a Project
  • Controlling and Closing a Project
  • Integrating a Project
  • Project Scope
  • Project Time Management
  • Project Cost Management
  • Project Quality Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Project Communication Management
  • Project Risk Management
  • Project Procurement Management

I was trained in all the topic areas for level 1 in a single forty-hour course.

Level 2 project managers had to complete training in all the areas for a Level 1 project manager plus training in the following areas:

  • Building Productive Stakeholder Relationships
  • Managing Accelerated Projects
  • Project Management Maturity
  • Overcoming Obstacles

Level 3 project managers had to complete training in all the areas for Level 1 and 2 project managers plus training in the following areas:

  • Organization
  • Strategy
  • Business Needs

I recommend companies collaborate with a local university or training developer to provide classroom training leading to certificates in project management or graduate certificates in project management.

The certificate is the best route if there are time and money. The goal should be for anyone completing the graduate certificate in Project Management to sit for the Project Management Professional (PMP) examination. I only recommend this certification for those safety professionals that work on projects for more than 60% of their time. Otherwise, it won’t be worth the cost and effort.

There is another certification offered by the Project Management Institute, the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). This certificate is more appropriate for safety professionals involved with projects less than 50% of their time.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Adapting PMBoK Guidance to Public Sector Projects – SRCE, http://hrcak.srce.hr/file/199599 (accessed October 24, 2016).

Office of Human Resources Management, US Department of Commerce, Project Management Guidelines, 2006.

About Fred Fanning Author

Fred Fanning spent over 20 years in the safety profession. His final safety position was as the Director of Occupational Safety and Health for the U.S. Department of Commerce. He began writing in 1994, published his first book in 1998, and began writing professionally in 2015. He has authored and coauthored articles, written books, and chapters for technical books and stories for anthologies.
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