CIPS CONNECTIONSINTERVIEWS by STEPHEN IBARAKI, I.S.P.
Renowned and Widely Regarded Project Management Author, Consultant, Instructor
This week, Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P., has an exclusive interview with David Francis PMP, a renowned and widely regarded Project Management author, consultant, and instructor with a background in diverse areas such as telecommunications, utilities, marketing, customer service, information technology, healthcare and education.
David has worked on projects with many international corporations including Dow Chemical, EDS, Cisco Systems, SBC, Simon Property Management and Clarian Healthcare.
David is an adjunct Project Management Instructor at Indiana Institute of Technology and Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. Currently, he is serving as the Director of Education for the Project Management Institute, Central Indiana Chapter. Mr. Francis is also a PMI Registered Education Provider and has provided training to thousands of Project Managers at companies such as Conseco Insurance, Eli Lilly Company, Ameritech, Covance and re:Member Data Services.
David holds an MBA from Butler University, a BA from Indiana University, the PMI Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification, IT Programming Competency Certification, Microsoft Office Suite Certification, and Microsoft Project Software Certification. He has membership in numerous professional associations and is the president of The Project Management Company (www.ProjectManagementCompany.com).
Q: David, you have a most impressive history. We appreciate you taking the time out of your demanding schedule to speak with us.
A: Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. I look forward to discussing Project Management and my new PMP Certification book.
Q: With your extensive background, you would have mastered many challenges, learned valuable lessons resulting in numerous stories to share with our audience including humorous ones…
A: I am frequently challenged by complex projects and given the opportunity to learn from some very talented people. Some of the most humorous and fun moments on any project are when the team gets together for the first time and you hear about everyone’s background. This offers the chance for people to talk about their past successes and learn from other team members. It also offers the chance for people to offer “war stories” about some the problems and issues that they have encountered while working on some of their past projects. These first encounters on a project are some of the most humorous because you realize how many diverse backgrounds that organizations attract.
Q: Detail how you got to your present position.
A: Currently I am a Senior Project Manager with Cap, Gemini, Ernst and Young at Clarian Healthcare. I became involved with this organization through a placement company. In the Project Management world, frequently resources are outsourced and in many organizations, IT has a significant amount of contractors due to the quick changes in technology. This offers flexibility to the organizations and encourages people to learn new skills. I enjoy my work and the people that I work with, so that makes project management more attractive.
Q: Describe the services provided in your consulting and where you see your consulting proceeding in the future?
A: The Project Management Company provides Project Management instructors and consultants to companies. As Project Management becomes more complex within organizations, more employees will need advanced training. Unfortunately, many Project Managers are untrained and unprepared to deal with complex, difficult projects. Frequently organizations bestow the title to employees without training them on proper Project Management processes, tools and methodologies. Consequently, they are set up for failure due to the lack of knowledge and skills. We feel the title “Project Manager” should only be used by professionals that are extensively trained on PMI methodologies.
Q: What future books can we expect from you?
A: The PMP book has been well received, so our editor at Que Publishing has indicated that they will probably reprint the book. If this book does well, we will begin working on a new PMP preparation book in the fall of 2004. I will also continue to develop white papers concerning topics in Project Management.
Q: What differentiates your most recent book? Why would the audience be compelled to read it?
A: Our book puts the PMBOK into an easy to read format and provides numerous examples to allow the reader to grasp the concepts. This should save the reader considerable time while they are preparing for the test. We also included test questions on a CD, which will allow another format for reinforcing the topics and material. We expect that people will be compelled to read the book since it puts the PMBOK in an “easy to read” format with several shortcuts to save time.
Q: What is the current and future market status of certification for project management professionals?
A: Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification has been identified as one of the hottest certifications that companies are striving to add to their knowledge base. Many companies will not interview candidates unless they have a PMP certification and we expect that to increase over time. The PMI global organization has over 110,000 members and continues to grow at a very fast pace, therefore the PMP certification will continue to grow in prestige as more companies become aware of the need for trained, qualified project managers.
Q: Could you share your study recommendations with our audience?
A: The first step is to read the PMBOK. Second, get a copy of the PMP Exam Cram 2 book and use this as a study guide. Next, join a local PMI study group, if they are available. If a study group is not available, contact the local PMI chapter and see if you can set up a study group. There will likely be several other people, in your area that would also like to prepare for the test. The key is to review as many questions as possible to reinforce the concepts of the PMBOK.
Q: Please detail the PMI views of Project Management?
A: PMI views Project Management as a discipline such as engineering, accounting or marketing. They are of the opinion that Project Managers should be trained and developed, rather than arbitrarily assigning them a Project Management title. Effective Project Management is challenging and requires tremendous amount of knowledge, skills and abilities. Too many organizations utilize subject matter experts (SMEs) as Project Managers without any Project Management training or support processes to advance their knowledge. Therefore, many organizations go over budget and beyond their timelines since their resources are not properly trained. Project Management provides a toolbox that helps team members to manage their projects better.
Q: Could you provide tips on initiating projects?
A: Since initiation is the process to authorize a new project, here are several steps that may be helpful. 1. Get buy in and sign off for the business requirements. 2. Set realistic expectations about timelines and resources. 3. Develop accurate time estimates while considering risks, resources, assumptions, and constraints. 4. Involve the entire team in the Kick Off Meeting process.
Q: Tell us more about core and facilitating processes for planning projects.
A: Core processes have dependencies that require them to be performed in the same order for most projects. Core planning processes may be repeated during one phase of the project and include activities such as scope planning and definition, cost estimating and budgeting. Facilitating processes are utilized intermittently, as needed, during project planning and are not optional. These processes include quality and organizational planning, risk analysis and staff acquisition.
Q: How about PMI Professional Responsibility standards?
A: The Professional Responsibility Standards section of the PMBOK is new for the 2000 edition. Project Management Professionals (PMP) are held to a high standard of ethics and these standards are exemplified by this section of the PMBOK. Several recent corrupt corporate scandals have shown the importance of this issue in today’s workplace. Some ethics include honesty, truthful representations of information and integrity.
Q: Give your top tips for exam success.
A: 1) Read the PMBOK.
2) Get a study guide; we recommend the PMP Exam Cram 2.
3) Find the local PMI chapter.
4) Inquire about PMP study groups with the local chapter.
5) Study with a group or other individuals.
6) Learn from other people that have already taken the test.
Q: What are the gaps between real-world projects and PMI expectations?
A: PMI expectations are frequently “best case” scenarios. In the real world, the PMI expectations are good standards, however they offer the flexibility to accommodate real world projects.
Q: If you had to choose one, which is more important, certification or a college degree?
A: College degree.
Q: On a related note, which is more important, certification or experience?
Q: You have such a rich background. Based upon your years of experience, education, and training, describe what you consider to be the most important trends to watch, and please provide some recommendations?
A: The PMP Certification is one of the hottest certification currently. Network security and related areas will also increase in importance and popularity as the internet age continues to evolve. Identify theft will also offer numerous opportunities for talented individuals to develop systems to curtail this rampant problem.
Q: What are your top recommended resources for both businesses and IT professionals?
A: PMI is an incredible resource. Local PMI chapters frequently offer good information and programs to provide support to the Project Management community. I am also a firm believer in education, so I encourage the utilization of universities and local libraries. Our chapter donated over $7000 worth of Project Management books to the Indianapolis Public library system last year, so the library systems of the world are also one of the best resources anywhere.
Q: What kind of computer setup do you have?
Q: If you had to do it all over again?
A: I would have started working in Project Management earlier in my career.
Q: What drives you to do what you do?
A: I enjoy Project Management, education and the opportunity to help others while expanding the processes, tools and methodologies of PMI and the project management profession.
Q: If you were doing this interview, what three questions would you ask of someone in your position and what would be your answers?
A: Q1: Where do you see Project Management in 2010 ?
Q2: What is the key to success in Project Management?
Q3: What one characteristic is the most important for a Project Manager?
Q: Do you have any more comments to add?
A: I wish everyone the best in their careers and encourage you to check out our new book, “PMP Exam Cram 2” and let us know if it helps you with your studies.
Q: David, thank you again for your time, and consideration in doing this interview.
A: Thanks for the opportunity to talk with you.