PM Skills Self-Assessment Tool

 
 

Developing Project Management Skills: An IT&T Perspective

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Developing effective project management skills can be a challenge at the best of times. The range of topics and disciplines on the project management field is broad, and it can be difficult to know where to best focus our energies and efforts. In the fields of information technology and telecommunications (IT&T), the project management challenge grows ever greater. Effective project management means that our skills sets need to integrate proficiencies from the disciplines of project management, general management and the underlying technical disciplines our projects are rooted in. In the IT&T space, this means a broad range of skills, functions and capabilities.

To help project managers to contemplate what it takes to effectively lead IT&T projects, the IT&T Specific Interest Group (SIG) of the Project Management Institute (PMI) has developed this self-assessment tool Whether you are new to project management or well experienced in managing IT&T projects, this tool has been designed to support you in thinking about where your skills and capabilities exist today, and where you want to focus your attentions.

We have compiled an overview of all of the dimensions of skill development that we see as being broadly relevant to today’s IT&T project manager. This doesn’t just include technical project management skills, but also an understanding of leadership abilities, organizational awareness and the technical processes associated with conducting IT and telecom-based projects.

Not all criteria are going to be equally important to the projects that you manage. The dimensions that we have identified are designed to prompt your thinking as you assess your current skills, and the importance of these skills to your career and personal development. Think about the importance of each of the dimensions that have been defined as they relate to your career and personal goals. As well, for each skill area, there may be a number of specific criteria or techniques that you feel are important. Think about the criteria that you most care about or need to address, in order to make the self-assessment results as relevant to you as possible.

As well, recognize that the dimensions that we have identified are generic. While you may use Microsoft Project as your scheduling tool and Microsoft Office as your office automation suite, you could just as easily use Primavera SureTrak and OpenOffice. We didn’t want to presume, nor did we want to create a broad list of all possible tools, techniques and methodologies. Instead, we have identified the classes of tools and techniques that uniquely influence the project management role. Based upon these classes, you can specify the unique toolsets or approaches that are most relevant for you.

While ranking is important, it is our actual assessment of our skills and identification of action items that is most significant. When assessing your skills and abilities, think about the criteria as you have refined them and endeavour to be as objective as possible. We have created a ranking based upon a 5-point scale, and would offer the following definitions for each of the points:

  • 5 – Expert. I have an expert understanding of the capability. People come to me to seek advice and guidance.
  • 4 – Strong Capability. I have sufficient mastery of the capability to be able to adapt my approach to the capability based upon the circumstances.
  • 3 – Proficiency. I have proficiency in at least one approach to the capability, and am confident in that approach.
  • 2- Familiarity. I have an ability to perform the capability, although I need advice or to consult reference materials and documentation to provide guidance.
  • 1 – Novice. I am aware of the capability and have introductory abilities, but require regular guidance or support from reference materials and documentation.
  • 0 – No ability. I have no skills in the capability. I would not know how to proceed.

When assessing your skills, it is crucial to be objective. Think carefully about the dimension you are assessing, and your familiarity and expertise in that dimension. How often do you draw on those skills? Do you know multiple approaches within a dimension, or just one? Are you able to appropriately judge what approach might be most appropriate in a given situation, or do you look to others to provide you with guidance? Can you perform a skill based upon your own knowledge, or do you need to get advice or consult documentation?

The final dimension of assessment that we have included within the tool is an understanding of where you need to focus your future skills development. Just as you have the ability to rank your current capabilities, you also have the ability within the tool to prioritize those areas where skill development is most required. Based upon the skill assessment results and your understanding of your current environment, where do you most need to focus? What are the capabilities or skills that you will be most challenged on in the foreseeable future as you work on projects? Are there specific areas that you need to emphasize to further your career goals?

While this tool is not meant to be exhaustive guide to all aspects of managing IT&T projects, it is intended to provide an introduction to the key themes that most influence our ability to deliver projects successfully. Use it as a means to think through your skills, your development goals and the areas that you most need to focus on to meet those goals. Think about the resources that are available within the IT&T SIG – and PMI in general – that might help you realize those goals. Most importantly, once you have identified your development priorities, commit to a plan to address those priorities. Think about the actions and steps that you need to take to reach your goals, and commit to a course of action. Treat your development plan just as you would any other project – plan it, manage it, and realize the results.

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