You will know that this course is different the first week you show up. Each veteran and instructor will have a chance to introduce themselves and learn each unique story from their military experience. The instructor team dives in immediately to who their team will be for the next five weeks.
Instruction then expands into the explanation of what a project is and the role of a project manager. The day includes hands-on exercises for Sponsor Alignment, Project Charter, and early on teams begin selecting their own projects. The day concludes with a session around with the team stages: forming/storming/norming/performing. Sections include:
- Definition of a project
- The role of the project manager
- Sponsor alignment
- The project charter
- Acquiring and working with a team
By the second week, teams have been formed and a project has been selected. We begin with a session focused on working in diverse teams, and we have a team exercise. Stakeholder Identification continues for the rest of the morning. Our afternoon unfolds with a discussion on collecting requirements and building the project management plan. This plan is the foundation on which the entire project will be built. We specifically build in time for the teams to work together to build their plan and allow for interactive group time with their project sponsor (who is a certified PMP). Sections include:
- Working with a team
- Identifying stakeholders
- Stakeholder needs analysis
- Collecting requirements
- Building project management plan
- The scope statement
The third week opens with another layer of the project management plan, the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). Instruction builds on the WBS with an introduction to project schedule planning. An exercise helps enforce principles learned in both classes in the morning.
Each team has a chance to work together before the afternoon session with a scheduling exercise. Classes in estimating and budgeting start out the afternoon. This course also teaches students how to present in front of a group and to get their point across clearly and effectively. The day wraps up with prep time for the schedule and budget presentation that will open week four. Sections include:
- Understanding Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
- Estimating work
- Building the schedule
- Developing the budget
- Quality planning and monitoring
By this point in the course, students have had a chance to really get to know their teammates and the instructor team. The Schedule & Budget presentation is the first opportunity to present their idea to all the instructors and help fine tune their concepts into a coherent project. Sessions in Communications and Procurement Management round out the morning.
The highlight of the class is hands down the Risk Game (seriously, it's fun!) The class is introduced to Risk Management and the rules of the Risk Game. This interactive intense board game allows for the students to take a chance with project management and succeed beyond their wildest dreams... or fail miserably. Admittedly, this is the most entertaining and competitive portion of the course as the students begin to show their true colors. Sections include:
- Team schedule and budget presentations
- Types of organizations
- Risk management
Week five begins with several final lessons in Monitoring & Controlling and Reporting. The teams then have a chance to huddle together one last time before presenting their project to the guest panel and the instructors.
To make the presentations more realistic, CEOs and top executives from Chicago companies and Veterans representatives are invited to listen to the student presentations. Each group of students gets to give all of the aspects of their project that they learned over the course of five weeks. Each student walks away with a 35 hour certificate, which is one of the requirements to be eligible to sit for the PMP exam.
- Monitoring and Controlling
- Final team presentations
- Certificate awards ceremony
The best student group presentation from week five often gets a chance to attend a PMI Chicagoland Chapter dinner for free and present their project to the entire chapter. It's a prestigious honor for a select group of students.
Our course doesn't just teach project management skills; it also focuses on the project manager as a professional. As time allows (sometimes during brown bag lunches) a course in LinkedIn and networking helps the veteran project manager understand what it takes to keep moving their career forward.
We also continue the relationship with our Veterans through a LinkedIn group where you can find BDC alumni from previous sessions and expand your network.