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Journey to teaching IT Project Management (Pt. 1)

Author by Giamo Rivera

For context, I was offered to be the project assistant for a internship program at UWM called Nonprof-IT. The purpose of the program is to help local nonprofits with their technology. This can range from web design, database creation, social media campaigns or any projects an average college student can manage. We then pair students together with nonprofit’s after the application process, allocating the students to projects that pair well with their interests. Throughout the semester, students work alongside their clients to provide progress reports, deliver project deliverables and conduct presentations.

In order to improve the program, I conduct surveys with the students and ask for any suggestions that would have improved their overall experience throughout the program. One of the most common suggestions was implementing education around project management frameworks, methodologies, and strategies that the students can utilize for their own projects. I thought this was a great idea and I felt that I could bring that value to our program. The issue was how was I supposed to achieve this at my current experience level; which consists of a few projects under my belt and a few weeks employed at Concurrency.

The Value of teaching “Value”

I needed to think of a starting point. Do I just jump straight into teaching project management or am I missing something? I decided to back-track a bit and think over what are some fundamentals that are necessary for a project to be deemed successful. One of the things that we try to get our students to absorb is how they provide value to their respective internal teams. Now this is also part of Concurrency’s core philosophies, especially towards clients. Our teams aim to provide value to our clients with the expected result being that our clients have an ROI with our technological solutions. This made me think to this past semester. Were we focused too much on internal value rather than external? I honestly couldn’t recall. So I made note of that.

  • The importance of teaching “external” value:
    • How is your projects benefitting “the clients of your client/nonprofit”:
      • How does this impact their goals/services?
      • Does this benefit their internal processes with their employees?
      • Can the solution lead to growth?
      • Is the solution scalable/modular?
      • Can the solution evolve and keep the nonprofit working with our program.

So much more can be added to these notes. Nonetheless, I feel “Value” is a important fundamental step to learning effective project management.

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