It’s the first day of class and the professor is going around the room for introductions. When asked if we had any project management experience, the majority trend of the class was “No, I have not had any formal project management experience, BUT I have led…”. What this revealed was that everyone has led some project or team in their career that has exposed them to some level of project management experience. I myself was among those that didn’t think we could claim having project management experience due to the lack of certification or title.The holy grail of all project management certifications is the PMP (Project Management Professional) Certification. For those seeking a career in Project Management, this is definitely a certification you would want under your belt. But what about those individuals who are either interested or have led projects as a part of their job and simply want minimal exposure to managing projects without devoting the time and resource of a PMP certification? Aside from the list of certifications recognized by the Project Management Institute, (http://www.pmi.org/Certification.aspx) there are alternative certifications and methodologies that can provide you with the exposure needed to lead and manage projects.
Lean Six Sigma
Last year, I decided to pursue my Lean Six Sigma certification through an opportunity provided to me by my employer. Lean Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology that works to improve performance by eliminating waste. Certifications are structured in belts, similar to that of martial arts.
I started with my Green Belt which practices the methodologies of the process improvement application such as the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) process. In an improvement project, Green Belts help with the details, data analysis, and data collection for the team leader or Black Belt. Much like our current field project, green belts are similar to the team members that help organize the fundraiser/charity event. After my Green Belt certification, I went on to pursue my Black Belt certification. Comparable to a Project Manager, Black Belts lead the process improvement project. In my role as a certified black belt, I have led a few projects that improved the business processes of our agency. What’s great is that these projects do not limit team members to only those certified by Lean Six Sigma. My team involved all individuals whose work played a role in the process being improved, from front line staff to senior executives.
Although not officially being titled as a Project Manager, it was empowering to be given the exposure and opportunity to lead projects. Like many of my classmates, I initially thought that the role of a Project Manager was limited to a certification and specific prior work experience. Process improvement has been increasingly popular among businesses in the recent years and will continue to grow as resources become limited. There are so many types of certifications out there that will provide you with project management experience and I encourage everyone to research the opportunities out there.