Simple sample project for PM Certificate study?
May 15, 2016 12:56 PM   Subscribe

Looking for ideas for a relatively simple case project to use as a base for my PM Certificate course. My actual experience is with projects that are far too complex to use to work through the course.

I'm taking an online PM Certificate course (backed by PMI) at a local university and we're meant to come up with a project example that is complex enough to build a business case, conduct cost-benefit analyses, create project charters, create work breakdown structures, identify risks, and work through procurement, stakeholder management, etc.

My challenge (as a current working PM) is that all of my concrete, recent examples are complex (350+ WBS tasks each) and there is no component of business cases as the driving force behind our client project work is "because the government regulators say you have to have this". Previous PM experience was in advertising where the client said "here's our budget and metrics for success, go!" - and with those examples the details are so heavy and they're missing the parts where I could get exposure to more of the initiation and project planning work, as the structures which I've worked within in the past have followed standardized, pre-determined critical paths.

One of the examples used in the course - just for a frame of reference - is planning an office move. I'd like to work with something along these lines so that I can get through the modules in a reasonable time frame but also pick up and get practice with the various processes along the way. The first course is meant to be only 15 credit hours and to use a project with which I'm familiar would take far longer than that - and I already know how to do the projects that I'm working on. My plan is to go for the PMP designation next year.

Can you think of any examples (or point me to existing topics or case studies) that are less complex but which I would also find challenging in the context of this course?

posted by mireille to Education (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A couple of projects that aren't so complex that regular people can't muddle through, but probably would also benefit from some formal management skills:

Throwing a wedding
Remodeling a kitchen
posted by ctmf at 1:21 PM on May 15, 2016

Changing to a paperless work space

Client has customer service problems and wants to fix it (open call center, contract out, etc)
posted by momus_window at 1:55 PM on May 15, 2016

Honestly the wedding planning one works really well. I did my PM certificate course while planning my wedding and managed to kill two birds with one stone. It's cheesy but a wedding has a budget, schedule, deadlines, vendors, and a good to-do list. It works.
posted by olinerd at 1:57 PM on May 15, 2016

Planning a special event or fundraiser could work.
posted by areaperson at 2:32 PM on May 15, 2016

I'd try and keep it as close to your job experience as possible. Is there some way you can break down a project that you're doing / have done into workstreams, and treat one of the workstreams as a project in its own right?

e.g. if you're procuring and implementing a new IT application, can you separate out the training component and call it a project? There are always options available to help you write a business case - taking a vendor product training course "as is" vs adjusting it to add specific organization business process training; doing the work in-house vs procuring training consultants to develop training materials and/or deliver training - so that covers initiation. Planning, execution (+ monitoring and controlling) and closure would be relatively straightforward to work through.

For someone without PM experience, the "planning my mom's 60th birthday party" or "remodeling the kitchen" are great examples to use. But basic PM stuff like creating and managing a Risk Log, and managing change, are artificial at best in those contexts. I think that if you can use something more work-related, then that will really help to (a) set you apart from other course participants, and (b) learn the PMP jargon and structure and how it applies to your job, in preparation for taking the PMP exam.

Good luck!
posted by finding.perdita at 10:45 PM on May 15, 2016

Thanks all! I'll likely be using a simple event/wedding planning for this (this part of the course is self-study and not shared with the instructor) and will take finding.perdita's advice when I move into the final assessment paper course in the winter. Much appreciated!
posted by mireille at 5:21 PM on May 16, 2016

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