I attempted to pass the Project Management Professional certification *exam and didn’t. About failing the test: several people have shared that they also didn’t pass the PMP certification on their first attempt, so there’s that.
However, I came away with some insights about the study of project
management and how it relates to my journalism and communications background that may be helpful to my blog readers.
First, I saw the connections between news and project management,
between the “rundown” used in broadcast news and the “budget” generally found in print newsrooms and that of the project charter. In project management, the project charter is the official document that says someone (known as a sponsor) is paying for work to be completed by a certain deadline. Each project needs a project charter, a project manager as well as a team to do the work, of course.
In news, the rundown or the budget documents the stories being
planned for that day’s newspaper or newscast. In other words, the budget and the rundown are the official documents showing the lineup for each day's news product.
Second, a work breakdown structure, which is used to plan the project's activities, is similar to a storyboard in broadcast. The WBS is a graphical representation of the project broken down into work packages based on the information available. The storyboard allows you to visualize the show, the movie or even the commercial as it’s supposed to appear.
Third, iteration (repeat planning) happens a lot in project management as plans change or new information becomes available, just like in news, when there’s breaking news or an error must be corrected. Both project management and journalism are iterative. The planning continues until the news product is published or broadcast and until the deliverable has been accepted by the customer.
Fourth, then the project is formally closed with all lessons learned
documented and archived to aid future projects. In news, photos, scripts, past stories, court records, lawsuits, obituaries, interviews, reporters’ notes and sometimes audio/video outtakes are saved for future news packages or investigative purposes. Depending on your journalism landscape, they are saved in the morgue, the library or the database (SharePoint site), etc.
Fifth, the project manager's title is similar to that of the executive editor (print) and the news director (broadcast). The project manager is in charge of the team and is faced with getting the project completed in a timely fashion, while keeping an eye on the money and the organization's business objectives. The editor and the news director are overseeing the production of a daily news product and battling to stay fiscally above water.
Sixth, stakeholders are everywhere and they can make or break a project. I was especially fascinated by the stakeholder power/interest matrix that should be completed early in the project planning process. Why? Because successful project management involves identifying all the stakeholders, their interests as well as their preferred communications methods.
Those communications’ preferences are expected to be documented in a communications plan, according to project management protocol. In the news business, stakeholders are online, in front of the TV screen, in the newsroom editing audio or in a nearby editing bay feverishly cutting video for a live shot five minutes away, in the sales department, in Creative Services, in the car listening to radio simulcasts, or using a digital recorder to report from a three-alarm fire at 2 in the morning. The news director and the editor have to respond to their stakeholders promptly and professionally if they want their news product to be successful.
Seventh, both project management and journalism have a monitor and control process. In news, it's called copy editors (print) or producers (broadcast). The producer & copy editor are responsible for ensuring the accuracy /integrity of the news product and that the show runs on time. They do fact checks and verify the source's name is correct. They are concerned with attribution (what source said the mayor has been charged with the crime or whatever). And money, least I forget that: they check figures and review reporters' math.
In project management, the monitor and control process, under the project manager's reign, focuses on keeping the project on budget, within scope and that risks are monitored and controlled, among other knowledge areas.
Finally, like journalism, project management requires the ability to make decisions fast, change direction quickly or even close (cancel) a failing project. Similarly, their overall shared goal is achieving customer (stakeholder) satisfaction.
P.S. I actually enjoyed the computer-based *testing process (sounds odd, I know) because once I settled in, the exam provided a lot of information about learning styles and the value of lifelong education. Hmmm, maybe there’s a way to marry project management and journalism/communications/social media/PR?
About the Author:
Regina L. Burns, M.A., Project+, is an award-winning multimedia editor and journalist, specializing in Black history and African American stories at Harvest Reapers Communications. Her work has been published in Texas Highways magazine, WFAA-TV, The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as well as The Commercial Appeal, the Tri-State Defender and The Flyer, among others.