Brandeis GPS Blog

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Tag: Project and Program Management (page 2 of 3)

Project Management in the Government

By Mike Gauthier

Mike Gauthier HeadshotDo you work for the government? Is the public sector a career you may be interested in pursuing? Are you a contractor currently servicing the government? Do you have a passion for non-profits?

If these questions resonate with you, I would highly suggest pursuing professional development opportunities in government project management.   

Every year, Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies offers special topics courses that touch upon subjects that are popular, interesting, niche, or just unique in general. Project Management in the Government is certainly niche and popular these days, with public projects either being criticized or politicized. If you are a project manager, program manager, contractor, or administrator, this class may provide some insightful lessons learned and considerations when planning, budgeting, managing, closing out, and maintaining a project.    

The fully online course covers the framework of a government project’s entire lifecycle, but you will also explore the particulars of federal, DOD, state, local, and non-profits as it relates to these endeavors. We will look at case studies, and recent articles of the challenges project managers may face. One week of the 10-week course covers best practices in government and contractor vendor management (prequalification and after action reporting), while another hits upon capital budgeting, financing, and fundraising of projects.    

Here is what you can expect from taking this course with me:

  1. There is no textbook. I plan to run the class like a seminar where what you learn can immediately be directly applied where you work.   
  2. Your semester assignment is real world based. You will be able to use it for actual projects that you manage
  3. You will be able to perform a variety of framework analysis on planned and reactive government projects.
  4. You will be able to identify government and non-profit areas of importance to successfully work within their rule sets.
  5. You will be able to apply best practices in contractor management.
  6. You will be able to identify and analyze the proper use of project financing and debt management.
  7. You will be able to recognize and adjust to future trends in government and non-profit project endeavors.

This 10-week, fully online course will run from April 10 to June 18. Start the registration process here or contact 781-736-8787 or gps@brandeis.edu for more information.

Mike Gauthier currently serves as a Team Lead in the Contracting Services Department at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. He provides oversight, direction, and leadership to a group of contracts professionals in accordance with FAR, DFARS, and MITLL policies and procedures. He is also the Vice President for Education for the National Contract Management Association – Boston Chapter.   Gauthier is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Brandeis University Rabb School of Continuing Studies (Division of Graduate Professional Studies) teaching Negotiation, Procurement & Contract Management, and Project Management in the Government.   

Previous to MIT and Brandeis, he was the Chief Procurement Officer for the City of Woburn, Guest Instructor at the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General, Procurement Analyst for City of Somerville and worked for many years servicing the Federal and State Governments as a contractor.  

He is certified as a Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official (MCPPO) and as a Certified Professional Contracts Manager (CPCM), and Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM) by the National Contract Management Association. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Boston College, a Master’s in Public Administration at Framingham State University, and trained extensively at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Gauthier was a presenter at the 2016 NCMA World Congress and 2015 March Workshop. He is a published author in NCMA and Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General publications.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Project Management in the Gig Economy

By Leanne Bateman

Leanne Bateman HeadshotIn last month’s blog post, I mentioned that in today’s market, a professional project manager has the option to work as a full-time project manager for a company or work as a project management contractor or consultant. This month, we will focus in on the contract project manager.

Prior to 2008, it was not uncommon to see project manager positions as regular full-time roles (particularly in IT departments) in many U.S. companies. When companies could not find an available full-time project manager to meet their needs, or if they didn’t have the funding for a permanent position, they had the option of hiring a contract project manager for a limited amount of time. This worked out great for the company, who could obtain an on-site PM to either augment their staff to manage several projects or hire the project manager to manage a single project without commitment for future work. It also worked out well for project managers who appreciated the typically higher pay while enjoying the flexibility of working across different departments, companies or industries.

The Rise of the Gig Economy
The rise of contract work in the 2000s came to be known as the “gig economy,” borrowing the term used by musicians to describe their paid show in a club or bar. The gig economy really took off after the significant economic downturn of 2008-2009, as companies went through layoffs and unemployed workers started taking temporary work to sustain their incomes. While the trend formed through dire circumstances and financial instability, growth continued long after the economy stabilized. That rate of growth will continue to increase. Why?

“Gigging”—whether through a set contract or ongoing consulting—tends to offer higher pay per hour to compensate for the lack of benefits. The flexibility is attractive to those who want more control over their work schedules or who seek breaks between contracts. There is also increasing opportunity to work in different companies and different industries, or to start as a contractor and convert to a permanent, full-time position once the compatibility between employee and employer is established.

Today, the gig economy is even stronger than could have been predicted for all levels of employees. The opportunities have stayed on par with the demand, including the rapid expansion of services such as Uber and Lyft as gig jobs offering riders a lower-cost transportation option. In the same way, accommodation services like Airbnb and HomeAway offer alternatives to pricier hotels. For both types of services, individuals are using their personal assets (their cars or homes) to make money through a temporary arrangement.

The Gig Economy and Project Management
So back to project management. The gig economy has been an extremely beneficial environment for both new and experienced project managers. Not only are there numerous opportunities across just about every professional segment and experience level, there is a consistently healthy rate of demand with low to moderate competition. And this demand is expected to increase significantly, eventually overtaking traditional employment by 2027:

The Future of the Gig Economy

Image courtesy of Jessup University

So, if you are one of the traditionally employed project managers interested in taking advantage of the benefits of working as a contract project manager, please be sure to take note of the typical differences before you take the leap.

Benefits Traditional Employment Contract Employment
Paid time off
Healthcare benefits
Employer contribution to Retirement Plan Depends on contract agency
Feeling of inclusion
Higher hourly pay
Flexibility in work schedule
Flexibility to work across different areas
Less involvement in company issues/politics

While contracting as a project manager has great benefits, it isn’t for everyone. But the same could be said for traditional employment arrangements. Whichever you choose, there is a robust demand for project managers, and it’s great to have options!

Leanne Bateman, MA, PMP, CSM, Six Sigma Green Belt, CIP is the program chair of the Project and Program Management program at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies, and the Principal Consultant with Beacon Strategy Group, a Boston-based management firm specializing in project management services. Leanne has 20+ years of project management experience across the areas of health care, biotech/pharmaceuticals, information technology, high-tech manufacturing, human resources, construction, housing/real estate, government, and higher education. 

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Project Management Certification or a Master’s Degree: Which Should You Get?

By Leanne Bateman

Leanne Bateman HeadshotAs the program chair of the Project & Program Management program at Brandeis GPS, one of the most frequent questions I have gotten over my 11 years at Brandeis University is this: Which is more important and valuable, Project Management Certification (Project Management Professional, or PMP) or a Master’s Degree in Project Management?

Honestly, the answer depends on what you want to accomplish in your career. The options are: work as a full-time Project Manager for a company, work as a project management consultant or just gain project management knowledge and experience in your non-project management related role.

If you’re primarily interested in working as a project management consultant—which involves either working through an agency on assignment at a company, or contracting directly with a company—then the Project Management Institute’s PMP certification is the first credential agencies and companies will expect. Coupling the PMP with Master’s Degree in Project Management will add tremendous value and distinguish you from other consultants/contractors. If your interest is to work as a full-time Project Manager for a company, then both credentials will help you get the job, but the Master’s degree is far more valuable and says much more about your commitment to your project management career. Similarly, if you’re currently a manager or employee interested in learning more about project management and integrating that discipline into your daily work, then once again, the Master’s degree is the way to go. And, your company may be able to contribute to your tuition.

The difference between the two credentials is this: PMP certification is a short-term study of the hard skills and knowledge needed to be a professional project manager, and this knowledge is validated through a 200-question exam that takes about four hours to complete. While there are requirements that must be fulfilled prior to taking the exam, they can be interpreted differently and unless the exam candidate is audited by PMI, the requirements may or may not be equal from candidate to candidate. Also, according to PMI, the number of PMPs has increased by 40,000-80,000 each year since 2009; this increase further dilutes the value of PMP certification.

With a Master’s Degree in Project Management, the value is greater on several levels:

  • First, because of the longer-term period of study over 10 graduate-level college courses, the breadth and depth of academic and experiential knowledge is more extensive. This knowledge covers not only the hard skills of project management but more importantly, the soft skills so critical for a successful project manager: leadership, communication, conflict resolution, influence, negotiation and team building.
  • Also, a Master’s degree in Project Management is more discerning to potential employers since few project managers have this credential.
  • Finally—and importantly—a graduate program whose faculty possess real-world experience as professional project managers is invaluable as they demonstrate the applicability of the hard and soft skills in actual projects and programs.

If one thing is certain in project management, it is that despite any earned credentials, practical experience is the most valuable credential of all. So, a Master’s Degree in Project Management taught by experienced faculty and demonstrated through practical coursework exercises is the next best thing to actually working as a professional project manager.

Leanne Bateman, MA, PMP, CSM, Six Sigma Green Belt, CIP is the program chair of the Project and Program Management program at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies, and the Principal Consultant with Beacon Strategy Group, a Boston-based management firm specializing in project management services. Leanne has 20+ years of project management experience across the areas of health care, biotech/pharmaceuticals, information technology, high-tech manufacturing, human resources, construction, housing/real estate, government, and higher education. 

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Brandeis graduate student publishes new book on AI and Robotics

We are excited to announce that Brandeis Project and Program Management student, Francis Govers, recently published a book, Artificial Intelligence for Robotics. Govers provided us with the following description:

Artificial Intelligence for Robotics starts with an introduction to Robot Operating Systems (ROS), Python, robotic fundamentals, and the software and tools that are required to start out with robotics. You will learn robotics concepts that will be useful for making decisions, along with basic navigation skills.

As you make your way through the chapters, you will learn about object recognition and genetic algorithms, which will teach your robot to identify and pick up an irregular object. With plenty of use cases throughout, you will explore natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning techniques to further enhance your robot. In the concluding chapters, you will learn about path planning and goal-oriented programming, which will help your robot prioritize tasks.

By the end of this book, you will have learned to give your robot an artificial personality using simulated intelligence.

What you will learn

  • Get started with robotics and artificial intelligence
  • Apply simulation techniques to give your robot an artificial personality
  • Understand object recognition using neural networks and supervised learning techniques
  • Pick up objects using genetic algorithms for manipulation
  • Teach your robot to listen using NLP via an expert system
  • Use machine learning and computer vision to teach your robot how to avoid obstacles
  • Understand path planning, decision trees, and search algorithms in order to enhance your robot

Francis Govers’s paperback and e-book can be found on Amazon here.

For software engineers seeking to develop an advanced set of robotics technology skills, Brandeis GPS offers an MS in Robotic Software Engineering. For more information about the part-time, fully online program, contact the  GPS office: 781-736-8787, gps@brandeis.edu, or submit your information.

How to keep the peace and move projects forward in the workplace

Conflicts of interest are common, both in professional environments and daily life. It is important to know how to handle them, in order to get along with and move forward with the people around you – especially as a project or program manager. The ability to accommodate others is a vital skill that all successful business professionals should possess.

Resolving conflicts has become increasingly complex with an increase in virtual teams and the globalization of project management. Virtual teams must approach conflict resolution differently as cultural differences, interests, and values can all influence negotiation strategy and tactics.

Conflict Resolution Word CloudBrandeis GPS will be offering Negotiating and Conflict Resolution during our Fall 2 session, starting in October. The fully online, 10-week course will provide students with a framework to understand the basis of conflict, select an appropriate conflict resolution strategy, and employ tactics that optimize results for both individuals and organizations. During the course, students will explore different characteristics of negotiation including the two fundamental strategies, frames of reference, value creation, value claiming, and the impact of both tangible and intangible factors on the negotiation process.

The course will highlight the challenges that virtual teams present at each stage of the conflict resolution process. Negotiation is a soft skill that benefits from practice of the concepts in addition to learning the theory, so extensive role play of virtual group negotiations are incorporated into the course.

By the end of the course, students will have the skills to develop a systematic plan to negotiate with colleagues, bosses, clients, other stakeholders, and external groups of all kinds. They will be able to:

  • Analyze the characteristics of a negotiation situation and develop strategies for conflict management
  • Execute the fundamental strategies of distributive bargaining
  • Analyze different positions taken during a negotiation and handle hardball tactics
  • Prepare for communications in negotiations and analyze the opponent’s communication tactics
  • Identify frames in negotiation, managing emotions and perspectives, and identifying cognitive bias
  • Apply power to strengthen negotiation and manage influence during a negotiation process
  • Evaluate ethical and unethical tactics
  • Execute culturally responsive negotiation strategies

At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two courses before enrolling in one of our 12 online Master’s degree programs. If you’re interested in exploring the MS in Project and Program Management, or would like to learn more about negotiations and conflict resolution as part of your own professional development, contact the  GPS office for more information or to request a syllabus: 781-736-8787, gps@brandeis.edu, or submit your information.

Faces of GPS: Kevan Kivlan

Kevin Kivlan - Faces of Brandeis GPS Online Education - Brandeis GPS Blog

Meet Kevan Kivlan, MS, who serves as a Director for the US General Services Administration in New England. Kevan is responsible for the overall regional stakeholder program management where he oversees a team who provides program, project and acquisition advice to federal, state and local governments. In 2010, Kevan received an M.S. in Project and Program Management from Brandeis University after completing his undergraduate studies at Assumption College in Worcester, MA in 2002.

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SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS: Heller School of Social Policy and Management

 

Spotlight on Jobs - Brandeis GPS Online Education - Brandeis GPS Blog

Members of the Brandeis GPS Community may submit job postings from within their industries to advertise exclusively to our community. This is a great way to further connect and seek out opportunities as they come up. If you are interested in posting an opportunity, please complete the following form found here.

Where:  The Heller School of Social Policy and Management’s Segal Citizen Leadership Program works to foster the next generation of citizen leaders, and they are seeking an experienced and motivated part-time team member to serve through June 2018.

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Brandeis GPS programs recognized for high quality education, affordability

Education research publisher, SR Education Group, recently unveiled their latest rankings for top online colleges and universities, and Brandeis GPS received high rankings for its Project and Program Management, Software Engineering, and Strategic Analytics master’s degrees.

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Improve your negotiating skills

Whether or not you’re a professional project manager, negotiating skills are crucial to the success of any project, small or large. When working with others, conflicts will always arise, but being able to control these situations and find “win-win” solutions that work for all parties involved is an incredibly valuable tool. Yet, negotiating is not an easy task and requires a wide range of strategies and skillsets. For example, you might need to create values by encouraging open communication between parties and finding shared interests so that both sides get something out of the situation. Changing your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) to boost your bargaining power in a negotiation is another useful tool.

To help project managers and those interested in conflict resolution acquire new negotiation skills, Brandeis GPS offers an online Negotiating and Conflict Resolution course that provides a framework to understand the basis of conflict, to select an appropriate conflict resolution strategy, and to employ tactics that optimize results for both individuals and organizations.  As part of the MS in Project and Program Management  degree program, this part-time, fully online course will explore several approaches to conflict resolution that differ among collocated and virtual teams. Students will also understand how cultural differences, interests, and values influence negotiation strategy and tactics. Topics will include:

  • Value creation and value claiming
  • BATNA strategies
  • Ethical and unethical negotiating tactics

By the end of the course, students will develop a systematic and positive approach to negotiating with colleagues, bosses, clients, other stakeholders, and external groups of all kinds–in ways that equip you to deal also with all kinds of conditions and circumstances.

Those interested in the course who do not yet wish to pursue a full master’s degree can still participate. At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two online courses without officially enrolling in a program. This is a great opportunity to get to know our programs and approach to online learning. View our full course catalog here, and preview our spring 2017 courses here.

Questions Contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) is dedicated to developing innovative programs for working professionals. GPS offers 11 fully online, part-time master’s degrees and one online graduate certificate. With three 10-week terms each year, Brandeis GPS provides exceptional programs with a convenient and flexible online approach. Courses are small by design and led by industry experts who deliver individualized support and professional insights. For more information on our programs visit the Brandeis GPS website.

SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS: New Dimensions in Technology Recruiting

spotlight-CHANGED-300x200SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS

Members of the Brandeis GPS Community may submit job postings from within their industries to advertise exclusively to our community. This is a great way to further connect and seek out opportunities as they come up. If you are interested in posting an opportunity, please complete the following form found here.

Where: This position is with a confidential company in Cambridge, MA. Applicants interested in the position will work with the New Dimensions in Technology Recruiting Agency.

New Dimensions in Technology (NDT) continues to be on the forefront of change. Our experienced Recruiting Team has seen industry trends come and go. NDT Recruiters have developed keen insight into companies that are most likely to grow and prosper. NDT also offers a proven track record of successful matching of candidates with client companies by understanding our candidates career goals and knowing the needs of our client companies and their corporate cultures. We have partnered with start-up companies to staff and grow their businesses into FORTUNE 500 companies; we have assisted our mid-size and large client companies in recruiting the most sought after superstars. No matter what the global economic conditions, NDT consistently delivers value to both new and long-time client companies and candidates.

Position: Head of Engineering Operations

The engineering team is looking for a results-oriented person to establish our Engineering Operations capability. The ideal candidate will thrive in a fast-paced environment, have strong project management and organizational skills, be experienced with modern software development process and tracking tools including data analysis and reporting functions, be familiar with agile software development processes, and strong communications and people skills.  The Head of Engineering Operations reports to the SVP Engineering, and is a project management and reporting service resource to the individual development teams and the engineering department as a whole.

Required Skills and Experience:

  • 5+ years of industry experience as software project manager.
  • Experience with Agile Methods (Scrum), especially as it relates to project-level information and reporting.
  • Strong organizational skills and comfort with detailed information, including financial, technical tasks and workstreams, and deliverables/action items.
  • Self-motivated, driven, and results-oriented.
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • BS or BA in Management, Business, Computer Science or equivalent. 

Great to have Skills and Experience:

  • High-tech software company experience, especially databases.
  • Experience with specific development environment tools experience:
    • JIRA
    • Confluence (Wiki)
    • Bamboo

Click here to view further details on this opportunity!

To receive full consideration for this position, candidates are asked to submit a Resume/CV and Cover Letter through the recruiting agency’s online portal here.

Please make sure to reference seeing these positions through the Brandeis GPS job spotlight post.

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