“Career is a verb” - Tim Clark
Up to this point, the Trajectories series has discussed
differences in project management careers in terms of
industries, business sectors, and labor classifications. The
good news is that most PMINJ members are already working in
sectors that are expected to grow. Also, while there are
natural barriers to crossing industry sectors, a CAPM or PMP
is helpful; both credentials increase career flexibility.
I’ve posited that as a chapter, we may have to accommodate a
growing difference between IT and non-IT career paths.
However, are more distinctions to be made between “types” of
project managers besides industry experience and Agile vs
Waterfall methodologies. Project management software tools,
project size and certification types all show up in job
descriptions. Of these three, the most important is
proficiency with specific tools.
1. PM TOOLS
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor
Statistics (BLS) has collected a list of 68 tools for Information Technology Project Managers
Albeit the list includes with Operations and Product Life
Cycle Management tools. Excel wasn’t on the list, presumably
because IT projects have moved onto more sophisticated
tools. For Wind Energy Project Managers, software tools are
listed under Technology Skills.
BLS highlights tool and technology requirements frequently
included in employer job postings using a flame icon (
) designating a “hot technology.” The
(flame) identified tools are:
Enterprise Project Portfolio Management
I would add flames to
Changepoint Daptiv, because I’ve
seen these tools called out in job descriptions for NJ jobs.
Some companies have in-house systems. Port Authority of NY
& NJ and JD Edwards are among them. In these cases, job
descriptions specify the ability to learn software quickly.
is a project and issue tracking tool built
especially for Agile teams by the Australian company
Atlassian. JIRA is enterprise software, meaning that it has
interfaces to other software, is web-based and was never
intended for a single user.
began as a stand-a-lone product and is now
offered in an enterprise version as well.
began life as a document management and
storage system, but has since gone on to be used as a
web-based collaborative tool.
is similar. It is a
highly configurable software-as-a-service (SaaS) application
that is used to manage multiple projects across a set of
portfolios, often using MS Project data as an input. Daptiv
is designed for companies that carry out mission-critical,
complex and costly projects. In NJ, I know only of Daptiv
being used to coordinate the manufacture of gas turbine and
aircraft engine parts.
project management software debuted in
1983, one year before MS Project. They are both based on
waterfall methodology, which has come under criticism as
Agile and DevOps have ascended to prominence. Classically, a
waterfall approach requires each step to be completed before
the next one begins. Yet, project managers and these two
software tools are much more flexible in their planning
capabilities. Don’t expect either tool to become obsolete
Over the last 30 years, Primavera and Project have diverged.
The most significant from my viewpoint, is that Oracle
focused on large projects and large companies that also used
its databases while Microsoft remained more accessible and
affordable for smaller businesses and projects. Classes on
MS Project are available at County Colleges across NJ; the
license is affordable. In fact, Microsoft will provide a
free license if one qualifies for their BizSpark program
entrepreneurs. Oracle Primavera classes on the other hand,
are hard to find and expensive; it doesn’t even get a flame
) in the Wind Energy PM technology list. No
guesses as to what a Primavera license might cost. I have
seen Primavera used in the infrastructure construction
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a discussion of some of
the tools used by the “no collar” workforce
teams, non-profits and hackers use online tools that are (by
and large) free. Trello, Team Gantt, Slack Channels, Google
Docs, Alignable, Zoom Video Conferencing are not nearly as
comprehensive in their capabilities as the more professional
tools. Still, employers pick the tools. The no-collar
workforce will include more and more PMINJ members over
time. So, for anyone who wants to keep up with the times,
feel free to play with some of the new cloud-based
2. PROJECT SIZE
Demarcations as to project size are $2M, $10M and $100M
according to my study of job listings. Construction and
pharmaceutical industries will use project size experience
as a proxy for capability, particularly if project
management certifications are not common within the talent
pool. There is not much to be done about this one – unless
one can show that they’ve analyzed larger projects – it will
be a barrier to entry.
3. PM CERTIFICATIONS
If you are reading this article, you’ve undoubtedly chosen a
PMI certification. Good choice from a salary perspective.
PMI’s Program Management certification (PgMP) tops Certification Magazine’s list
Yet there are competing certifications which are worth
recently highlighted 11 for
consideration. The PMP is listed first. Certified Scrum
Master makes the list. PRINCE2, short for Projects in
Controlled Environments also makes the list. I’ve seen
PRINCE2 listed as an equivalent for the PMP by European
employers, particularly UK based operations. The American
Academy of Project Management offers a Master Project
Manager (MPM) certification. Though it made the CIO magazine
list, it seems few, if any NJ employers recognize it. Near
the bottom of the list is the Professional in Project
Management (PPM) credential issued by Global Association for
Quality Management (GAQM). This I have seen requested by
firms in the automotive supply chain, which isn’t a large
part of NJ’s economy. Before we dismiss it though, note that
GAQM are the people who administer the Lean Six Sigma exams
as well as PRINCE2.
In an interview, I was asked once to explain what
distinguished the PMP from competing certification. I
claimed the PMP was the most rigorous and that it was
complementary to tools-certifications like MS Project.
That’s my story and I’m sticking with it until corrected.
Universities are also getting into the act – developing
curriculum and issuing their own certifications.
Universities seem poised to be PMI’s best frenemies. This
gives us a segue to next month’s article about growing the
Until then you’re welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn
or email me at