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Project Management for Beginners

by Annique Bolliger

If you can multitask, lead a team and you love interacting with people, then managing projects may be your dream career. For anyone interested in the project management process, here’s a breakdown of what this career entails.  

In South Africa there is a growing need for Project Managers or employees who have project management skills. It is estimated that by 2020 there will be around 15,7 million job opportunities for project management alone. So if you’re wondering what the deal is, here’s what you need to know:

What is project management?

As a project manager you are expected to effectively apply skills, knowledge and techniques to manage projects. Furthermore, project managers are there to help organisations improve their performance and meet businesses’ strategic goals. Projects are focused on fulfilling certain objectives with a clear and goal-orientated start and carried through to a final result or solution. Effective teamwork is essential for managing projects.

The process of project management begins with analysing the initial concept or ideas to see if it meets the businesses’ strategies. Thereafter, an outline is written out to plan the project, figure out which resources are needed, calculate a budget and create a schedule. Once this is formulated, the project is implemented, team members are reminded of their responsibilities and the project is controlled until targets have been met. Project processes vary from company to company, but essentially the main goal is to offer a product and solve a problem to benefit the organisation.

Develop yourself

Generally as a project manager you will develop your skills and knowledge whilst on the job, but here are some skills that are beneficial for a project manager position.

Useful skills for any project manager:

  • Excellent people skills
  • Multitasking skills
  • Able to lead a team
  • Good communication skills
  • Organisational skills
  • Great attention to detail
  • Knowledge of budget planning
  • Logical thinking and creative problem-solving ability
  • Technological skills related to the project

Career Path

In an ideal world there is a definitive career path that needs to be followed.  Most will begin as a Project Administrator, moving up to a Senior Project Administrator, thereafter a Junior Project Manager and finally a Project Manager. To become a Project Manager generally one needs to spend “time in the saddle” and preferably start at the bottom, beginning as a Project Administrator. The beneficial factor about project management is that you can find a job in most industries. To name a few, you could work in Finance, Engineering, Health Care, Entertainment or Architecture. There are plenty of career opportunities across several industries and sectors, which allows you to find your suited career path as an individual. Project management therefore doesn’t steer you in one direction but delves into several multifaceted areas.

Different approaches you can explore:

  •  Work as a project manager in different industries
  • Be employed by a company directly for project management consultants
  •  Work in local and national press (publications and with recruitment agencies)
  •  Gain project management skills to compliment other careers

As a project manager you work to make a difference, which is extremely rewarding. The impact of your work can extend beyond several organisations. You choose your career path.

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