FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. - For decade’s corporate businesses, government organizations to include the U.S. Army have searched for ways to perfect, streamline and mitigate the effects of scope (mission) creep. As technologies transform, contracting laws change and resource complexity grows, the challenge of achieving project success within specified time frames and forecasted budget allocations continues to be elusive.
However, like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Army Quartermaster Corps; the Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) is taking steps to implement the science of project management to insure personnel and leaders have the tools and skillsets to approach projects according to the principles and guidelines instituted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) that govern the certification of the Project Management Professional (PMP).
According to the Army Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) website, “the (PMP) is an advanced skill level credential for professionals who lead and direct projects. PMPs perform their duties under general supervision for the duration of a project and are responsible for all aspects of a project. PMPs lead cross-functional teams to deliver projects within the constraints of schedule, budget, and scope.”
Like all things in the Army, it often takes leadership involvement, commitment, investment of resources and time to make a program like the (PMP) certification a successful one. Thus, this is exactly what NETCOM is doing.
“Previously, the (PMP) certification program began under the leadership Maj. Gen. John Baker, former NETCOM Commanding General in March of 2018. Accordingly, NETCOM also setup a (PMP) boot camp training initiative in June of 2018 to insure candidates remained committed, developed a study plan, practiced for the test and were prepared for the examination phase,” said Robert K. Mayfield Deputy Director, NETCOM Command Business Office (CBO).
Today with the continued support of the current NETCOM Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Maria B. Barrett, the NETCOM PMP certification program has seen great success. As a testament to this, the program’s completion rate far exceeds the national average.
“Currently the pass rate across the country for the PMI, PMP certification is around 60%. In contrast, NETCOM’s PMP training and boot camp currently has an 80% pass rate,” said Robert K. Mayfield, NETCOM CBO Deputy Director.
The benefits of PMP certification can be quantified on so many levels as a Return on Investment (ROI) for the organization, because the benefits for those, who participate can be rewarding as it can enhance their ability to manage more complex projects, increase their chances.
“Knowing how to develop and manage a project from beginning to end can be applied in all aspects of my professional career or personal life. In addition, having this knowledge, skills, and certification adds to my professional development as a Department of Army Civilian.,” said Sharon K. Shulsky, NETCOM Strategic Communications Analyst.
“The PMP certification has aided me on developing a holistic methodology to best convey project related communication and collaboration language with a common lexicon of terms and processes that can be easily understood by my peers, superiors, subordinates and stakeholders,” stated Billy J. Busse, NETCOM Information Technology Services Management (ITSM) Division Chief.
PM certification not only benefits people’s careers, it also introduces critical thinking skills and focused management methodology that can benefit the operational up-tempo of an organization.
“In addition, by applying the basic principles and techniques of project management, certified PMP individuals can save an organization time and resources which translates into fiscal dollars. The ability to identify project show stoppers through the use of Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) charts, the Critical Path Method (CPM) and Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) approaches can assist in de-bottlenecking critical paths, while allowing critical tasks to be mitigated if necessary and allow them to flow unconstrained without further obstructions,” added Dr. Ronald Richards, NETCOM, CBO Director.
Although considered a time consuming endeavor, requiring commitment and dedication the PMP certification is an attainable goal for many since the experience and education perquisites are objectives that both military personnel and DA civilians might already possess.
According to the Army COOL website, PMP Certification requirements entail;
A four-year degree
36 months leading projects
35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® Certification
— OR —
A high school diploma or an associate’s degree (or global equivalent)
60 months leading projects
35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® Certification
The NETCOM PMP certification program is setup for success according to the CBO deputy director.
“At NETCOM the PM certification is based on the PMI certification standards. The NETCOM CBO has established training prerequisites and a boot camp based off of these standards and prepares the student to pass the PMP certification test,” said Mayfield.
“NETCOM’s sponsored PM Program is a PMP boot camp based on PMI construct and uses PMI certified vendor materials; once students have completed the prerequisites and completed the boot camp, (taught by NETCOM PMI Certified Project Management Professionals), they will have the tools necessary to take and pass the PMI PMP certification test,” emphasized Mayfield.
However, before a NETCOM PMP candidate can enroll in the CBO sponsored boot camp they must complete a couple of additional steps which include a 35-hour Skillsoft course on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) 6th edition. In addition, Students must also complete the application and membership process via the PMI portal.
In addition, Students must also complete a comprehensive reading assignment from the provided PMI certified study material. Once completed the student is given a space in the PMP boot camp.
“NETCOM’s sponsored PM Program is a PMP boot camp based on the PMI construct and uses PMI certified vendor materials; once students have completed the prerequisites and completed the boot camp (taught by NETCOM PMI Certified Project Management Professionals), they will have the tools necessary to take and pass the PMI PMP certification test,” emphasized Mayfield.
The boot camp is also designed with a holistic approach to ensure all organizations and subordinate commands within NETCOM can benefit from the PM program.
“PMP certification and NETCOM is not aimed at any particular Directorate or skill set, the PMP Certification allows for individuals to obtain the skills necessary to successfully manage projects. PMP certification is the Gold standard in PM and is a world recognized certification,” said Mayfield.
“As of December 2020 the NETCOM CBO Team has sponsored 4 boot camps attended by both military service members and Department of the Army (DA) civilians from all areas of NETCOM to include personnel assigned to our subordinate commands as well as others outside of our organization such as the Program Executive Office (PEO), Regional Cyber Centers (RCC)’s, and others,” reiterated Mayfield.
Having personnel with PM skills helps NETCOM streamline operations and processes.
“On a collective and strategic level, having personnel with PM skillsets help avoid and mitigate project show stoppers and mission creep within the contracting, procurement and project execution processes making PM certification a win-win outcome for stakeholders, mission partners and NETCOM,” recapped Richards.
“Likewise, good PM discipline can improve resource utilization, improve the validation of requirements identification, increase contract efficiencies and provide leadership with the information they need for real-time decision-making,” said Richards.
In the near future, the CBO is considering establishing a NETCOM Enterprise Program Management Office to holistically support NETCOM PMPs throughout its global command, as well as providing other virtual training opportunities that will prepare future candidates for what is coming up next in the world of program management.
"The prospects of the NETCOM PMP Certification Program are bright. Currently, there are expected PMI updates for 2021 that are moving to the more ‘Agile style’ of program management. The CBO team is currently revamping its boot camp based on these changes in preparation for the new certification test that is available at the beginning of 2021," said Shulsky.
Editor’s Note: Sharon Shulsky, NETCOM, Strategic Communications Analyst is also a contributing editor for this article.
For more information on NETCOM please visit: https://www.army.mil/netcom