Timing is Everything
As the pace of business keeps getting faster, there’s a need for project professionals who can keep projects under control. Only 51 percent of projects are completed within their initial schedules, according to PMI’s Pulse of the Profession® report. Accurate scheduling is critical to ensure project teams can effectively manage activities, resources and dependencies so projects finish on time.
But project managers need more than crunch-time estimating experience to become a scheduling savant. Three project professionals explain how earning a PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)® certification has helped elevate their voices in key decision-making situations and has ensured strong project outcomes.
Do Cong Nguyen, PMI-SP, PMP
Title: Civil engineer
Location: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Certification delivered immediate and long-term benefits for Mr. Nguyen. He earned the PMI-SP® while working on a complex project for Thu Duc, one of Vietnam’s largest water treatment plants. His project needed in-depth scheduling knowledge to develop and monitor the project’s master program.
“The PMI-SP completely changed the way I plan projects,” he says. “Before the PMI-SP, I did scheduling without any definitive procedure. Having the certification helped me to plan more systematically. I know what types of activities should be included and how to estimate them more accurately and in the right order.”
Learning to build a scheduling framework has helped advance Mr. Nguyen’s career — and his organization. Clients have praised his planning competency, including his estimating accuracy and his ability to properly order activities, which has helped earn new contracts for his company. Earning the PMI-SP also taught him to empower other team members by sharing his knowledge.
“Now, I make sure all of the team is involved in the planning phase,” he says. “I have the team take part in defining which tasks should be included in our plan, as well as the duration and dependency of these activities. The project team does the real work on site, so they know what figures are realistic. That’s made our planning much more reliable and achievable.”
Michelle Colodzin Gunsher, PMI-SP, PMP
Title: Senior project manager
Organization: Dignity Health
Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
Pursuing the certification helped Ms. Gunsher better appreciate how an effective scheduling process can boost efficiencies during all phases. After she earned the PMI-SP, Ms. Gunsher worked on a resource-management project for a client that wanted to better analyze how much additional work each employee could take on. So she helped the company develop schedules to ensure resources weren’t significantly over-allocated.
“I was able to put my PMI-SP certification knowledge to use immediately, which resulted in measurable improvements in project staffing and tracking,” she says.
It has also helped her better anticipate risks. Rather than scheduling just by the book, she now explores a variety of scheduling scenarios to determine the best corrective action to take to prevent or minimize potential problems.
“I recommend that anyone who wants to improve their project management skills in general — especially those focused on project scheduling — should pursue their PMI-SP,” she says. “I have been able to significantly improve my estimates over time, and the success was recognized by peers, managers, and senior leadership.”
Koga Akinsola, PMI-SP, PMP
Title: Project controls consultant
Organization: System One
Location: Washington, D.C., USA
Mr. Akinsola became his organization’s go-to authority on scheduling after earning his certification, which means there’s now no longer a need for the company to hire external scheduling specialists for the most complex projects.
“Earning the PMI-SP has given me the opportunity to play the subject matter expert on project controls and planning and scheduling,” he says. “Since I passed the PMI-SP certification, I am also brought in by other companies to help fix one issue or the other, and sometimes proffer advice and solution on a project scheduling issue.”
Much of the knowledge Mr. Akinsola says he gained through PMI-SP training can be used immediately, such as schedule quality, earned value management, narrative/reporting and, above all, more accurate estimates. Now that he’s got a better handle on those areas, he’s able to spend more time monitoring the changing landscape of an ongoing project, and delivering up-to-date estimates based on best practices and multiple methodologies.
“I am always a part of all project controls meetings, obviously, to add my share of knowledge to any project controls and scheduling deliberation,” he says. “All these opportunities and most especially the certification, has given me the clout to speak with authority and expertise in the scheduling arena.”