A Short Introduction to Project Management
- University of Birmingham
- Date first submitted:
- 16 Nov 2009
- Date last modified:
- 21 Oct 2010
- Relationship to RDF:
- Domain A: Knowledge and intellectual abilities
- Domain B: Personal effectiveness
- Domain C: Research governance and organisation
- Research management
- Domain D: Engagement, influence and impact
- Researcher-led activities
- Research project skills
- Academic practice
- Researcher development strategy/management
- Career development
- Postgraduate researchers
- Doctoral researchers
- Research masters
Impact Level 2: Learning
Improved project managment knowledge
Rationale, aims and outcomes
What is the rationale for doing this?
How does it fit with institutional strategy?
What are the main features of the provision?
What are the aims and expected outcomes?
Good project management skills are invaluable as they enable postgraduate researchers to produce theses and research projects to deadlines, as well as gain skills in managing risks and stakeholder relationships that can be applied in a range of situations both in and outside academia. A short course was proposed to address the oversubscription of the Graduate School’s day long Project Management workshops. Postgraduate researchers are notoriously time poor so the course was also made shorter to enable as many people as possible to attend the sessions.
The session covers:
1. The definition of a Project
2. The benefits of using Project Management techniques
3. Key terms
4. The role stakeholders play in project management
5. Risks and how to manage them
6. The project lifecycle and how to close the project
7. An introduction to project management tools
8. Where to go to find out more
The training takes the form of a two and a half hour session which is highly interactive. It includes a lot of group work to get attendees used to the practice of working together as a project team, and analysing their own projects. The focus is on applying project management techniques to research projects and producing the thesis. The course ran in the 2009-2010 academic year, in conjunction with courses on using project management software.
The session aims to introduce participants to the principles of good project management and how they can be applied to research projects in particular. The outcomes include participants being better able to organise and plan their research and learning techniques to monitor and control risks.
Are there any pre-requisites for engagement, e.g. levels of skill, years of experience, essential pre-activities?
How many participate in each 'activity'?
There are no prerequisites for this activity other than being a postgraduate researcher. It is intended as an entry-level course.
Evaluation: benefits, challenges and next steps
How do you monitor effectiveness?
Who do you seek feedback from?
Do you have benchmarks?
The course serves as an introduction to project management and can be built on in following years. By attending the course at the beginning of their research degree, postgraduate researchers are developing skills that can benefit them throughout their degree, specifically skills in planning and monitoring their own work, which can help to combat procrastination and frustration. It also allows postgraduate researchers from different Schools and Colleges to meet and network, as well as developing a range of transferable skills that can be drawn on in a range of careers, thus increasing postgraduate employability.
The main challenge has been course take-up. Despite the recognition by supervisors of the crucial role of project management training, it was the Graduate School's least attended course in 2009-10 and also had a high drop out rate. We have therefore set up a project management working group to look at the ways project management training is delivered.
The future of project management training depends upon the findings of the working group which meets in the autumn of 2010. Once the group has met, project management provision will be re-assessed and changes made, with a view to project management training being extended again later in the year.