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Advice for Young Project Managers – Improve Time Management and Project Planning Skills

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After intense two days of making the International Final of the Project Management Championship 2017 a reality, assessing all the teams, calculating the results and announcing the winners (by the way – it is Team Serbia this year), I finally had the time to have a quick talk with Piotr Bogobowicz, the Member of the Board of OMEC.

OMEC was the simulation provider of choice by the organizers of the International Final of the Project Management Championships this year. Their product – the KINSHASA simulation game – involves planning and executing a project in West Africa. Lots of challenges and changing environments are included by default, therefore making the project execution much more intense task as originally planned.

Piotr was kind to give his insights of the Championship, IPMA Young Crew community and  – of course – the Teams and their performance during the competition.

Assessors from OMEC. From the left – Lukasz Wittenberg, Jolanta Labedzka-Benisz and Piotr Bogobowicz

If we talk about KINSHASA simulation itself – what can be the most challenging part of it? What makes it an excellent tool to assess the best of the best?

First I would like to emphasize the fact, that normally we do this game within two full days. This championship was an extreme exception, may I say like that. The whole game had to be done in just six hours. Needless to admit, that the atmosphere was intense and the stress levels were at an ever increasing rate. I can assure that all the teams had exactly the same conditions, challenges, events and difficulties designed in the game. But the actual way of doing the planned project can vary according to the teams` decisions and actions. Therefore the end result can clearly show, which team apparently are the best young project managers.

The main goal of the project management is to actually do the project and it was the case in this simulation as well. Extra points could be earned for good quality planning, monitoring, and reporting of the project.

What are the most challenging areas for the young project managers this year? What can be improved?

I got the impression that there is still a lot to improve in the project planning skills. The participants seemed to have failures at prioritizing different parts of the project, sorting and prioritizing the information given and making the right decisions on time. And this leads to another observation – time management is an issue. Time is a valuable resource that simply cannot be wasted, so my advice to young project managers – improve your time management skills. Some teams even seemed too relaxed at the beginning of the game.

One extra – there was a noticeable shift focusing more on separate details but failing a bit to see the overall project. For some participants dealing with details seemed as a more important task than managing the whole project.

Was there something surprising or unexpected in a positive way?

I was indeed surprised to see how they implemented different new ideas in the reporting and monitoring process. Even though all the papers must have been submitted in written form, they still had graphics, charts and a considerable amount of visual aids attached to help the project sponsor better understand the progress of the project. It was unexpected by the simulation assessors. It seems the next generation of project managers do understand the importance of providing high-quality information and they know what is suitable for the project sponsor at the highest level.

Additionally – the overall attitude was very positive.

It is no doubt that different simulations become more and more popular, also in the project management area. Can you explain, why is that? What is the appeal of the simulation games?

Simulations are absolutely on the rise. But I would doubt that simulation as a separate unit is the only and the most efficient way of learning PM skills.

I believe that the winning combination is traditional PM training to learn the knowledge balanced with a well-integrated simulation to apply the approach in a project environment.

The appeal for simulations is that they are a perfect sandbox to test your skills, ideas, and knowledge to gain real-life experience without the real-life consequences. This can be useful for three groups of project managers: for newbies who have yet to understand project management in general, for traditional project managers to test new tools and methods (for example, agile), and finally – using them after theoretical training to get the practical experience in project management.

Any other words to the participants of PMCs this year?

Just keep going!

 

The Project Management Championship is organized by International Project Management Association (IPMA) Young Crew. The PMC is kindly supported by STS – the project management training company. Main sponsor – OMEC. Supporting Sponsor – Opera Opus.

The International Final of PMCs took place in Brijuni, Croatia, on June 10, 2017. In total 7 countries participated in the competition.

- Author of this post

Gundars Strazdins is freelance project manager specialized in events management with more than 5 years experience. He is involved in IPMA Young Crew initiatives and projects both locally (Latvia) and internationally. Board member of Latvian National Project Management Association (LNPVA) since March 2016. Apart from managing projects, Gundars is also an experienced graphic designer and expert on visual communication.

 

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