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Next Steps After PRINCE2: Software and Tools

Next Steps After PRINCE2: Software and Tools

Last week, we talked about the certifications other than PRINCE2 that can help you during your project management career. This week, we focus on tools and software that you can use to make your job easier and be a better project manager. Microsoft Project Part of Microsoft’s incredibly popular Office suite of software, Microsoft Project is probably the world’s most popular project management program. First created in 1984, Microsoft Project has been specifically designed to help project managers plan projects, manage resources, track progress and much more. A long established and reliable player, Microsoft Project remains the gold standard for many companies at the enterprise level. Although immensely powerful, the software notably can have a steep learning curve, with users criticising it for not being particularly intuitive. Oracle Primavera With a version of it having existed since 1983, Oracle’s Primavera is a giant in the industry. Specifically designed for enterprise-level project portfolio management since the beginning, Primavera has been and continues to be popular, particularly with project-reliant industries such as construction. The software suffers from some of the same drawbacks as Microsoft, however, being quite complex and requiring training in order to use properly from the beginning. Asana Founded by two ex-Facebook employees in 2008, Asana is specifically designed for agile-style management, incorporating features such as sprint planning and backlogs into an easy-to-learn, user-friendly interface. Best of all? It’s free for up to 15 team members. As for the drawbacks, users say it’s not great for more complex projects, and it lacks the ability to see progress from the top-level, e.g. using a Gantt or Burndown chart. Because of this, it should not be thought of as project management software as such, more of a tool for task management. Basecamp Like Asana, Basecamp is another well-established web-based project management tool. Its prime focus since its conception in 2004 has been its simplicity, making it easy to pick up for new users. Many people enjoy its team management abilities which reduce email chains and make it clear who is accountable for what task. For drawbacks, users tend to criticise the outdated interface. Also, unless you’re a teacher or student, there is no free option. Trello Although lacking the power of high-end enterprise offerings, Trello can be an incredibly useful tool for task management. Its highly visual organisation system of boards, lists and cards, first introduced in 2011, takes a leaf out of Kanban’s book and makes it useful for any Kanban-style management. The Corello add-on for Trello makes it even more suitable for Scrum or Kanban, providing cumulative flow diagrams, burndown charts and cycle time diagrams for projects. Users tend to like the user-friendly drag-and-drop functionality of Trello while criticising its lack of suitability for more complex projects (the boards can quickly become cluttered). These are some of the most well-known tools out there, but of course, there are plenty of others. What do you think? What tools are your favourites? Let us know and we might follow this blog up!

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  09 Aug 2017

Next Steps After PRINCE2: Certifications

PRINCE2 can be a valuable certification in any project manager’s arsenal, whether you’re just starting your career or a seasoned professional. But it’s not the only thing out there if you’re looking to enhance your career. In this two-part guide, we’re going to look at not just other certifications that will be able to help you, but some software programs and tools, too. This week: Certifications. PMP® In AXELOS’ recent PPM Benchmark Survey, PMP/PMBOK was in the top 5 most recognised methodologies by project managers, so there’s no denying that it is popular. More interestingly, it’s the also the methodology with the second highest uptake after PRINCE2, with 48% of those surveyed having studied it. If you’re not familiar, here’s a primer: It’s more generalised than PRINCE2. It measures knowledge of the PMBOK, a series of continually updated global standards for project management which are set by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It has education and experience requirements – A four-year degree, 4500 hours of leading projects, and 35 hours of project management education. It’s more popular in some regions than PRINCE2, especially in the US and Canada. The bottom line is that if you’re wishing to gain an experience-based qualification in leading and directing projects, PMP is the gold standard. AgilePM® There’s no denying the growing appetite for agile methodologies in organisations over the past few years, as companies continually look to do more with less time. 46% of companies were interested in incorporating it into their project management, and 39% were interested in it at the organisational level. This makes AgilePM a strong choice for anybody wishing to work in an agile project environment. Here are the key features: Derived from a collaboration between APMG and the Agile Business Consortium, the creators of the popular DSDM methodology, the original agile project delivery framework. A rigorous framework for developing products incrementally, its controllable nature makes it particularly suited for the corporate environment. No requirements or experience required – just pass the exam, and that’s it. PRINCE2 Agile® Created for those wishing to gain some knowledge of agile without abandoning PRINCE2, PRINCE2 Agile provides the best of both worlds. By adapting PRINCE2 to support agile ways of working, PRINCE2 Agile allows professionals to reap the benefits of agile without moving away from the proven governance of the process-based PRINCE2. The highlights: An extension to PRINCE2 which shows you how to apply agile methodologies to the framework. Provided and accredited by AXELOS, the owners of PRINCE2. Just one Practitioner-level qualification, which is gained by taking a short exam. Scrum Scrum provides another way of incorporating agile techniques into your project toolkit. A more specific framework for implementing agile than AgilePM or PRINCE2 Agile, Scrum uses a strictly defined structure which breaks projects down into sprints of one month or less. It is also the third most recognised methodology in the AXELOS survey, but conversely, the least undertaken. Despite this, it ranks as the fifth most important methodology for organisations. The scrum certifications most suitable for project management are Scrum Master and Scrum Product Owner. Its main features are: Scrum utilises an iterative, incremental approach to the creation of products. Scrum teams are composed of three roles: Product Owner, Development Team and Scrum Master. Certifications are available for each of these roles. Teams are self-organising, meaning they choose how best to complete their work. ITIL® Although not applicable to everyone, if you work on projects in the IT industry, ITIL is the perfect complement to PRINCE2. In the survey, it was ranked the 3rd most important to organisations. It was also the 4th most heard of and 3rd most undertaken certification. ITIL features: A range of 13 certifications within five certification levels. Provides a complete framework for the management of IT services from design to delivery. The global standard for IT service management. MSP® Ready to handle something bigger than projects? Then MSP could be worth a look. Like a PRINCE2 but for programmes, MSP provides a framework for the management of large changes which can be broken down into smaller, inter-related projects. Although not in the top six certifications for project managers, 6% of organisations indicated that it was an important methodology for them. Like PRINCE2, certification is divided into two main levels: Foundation and Practitioner. There is also an Advanced Practitioner. As with all AXELOS products, it follows best practices derived from the experiences of professionals. No prior experience with programmes needed. Check back next week to read about the best tools and software for project management out there.

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  02 Aug 2017

Would you let these famous faces run your company?


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  25 Jul 2017

A Guide to SAFe®

Due to the recent arrival of our new range of accredited SAFe® training courses, , we thought it necessary to provide you with a simple guide to SAFe®, to clear up any burning questions you may have. What is SAFe? You may be wondering what SAFe® actually is: SAFe® stands for Scaled Agile Framework. SAFe® combines the methodologies of Lean and Agile to integrate knowledge-base techniques for the purpose of large-scale software development. SAFe® has been constructed around helping customers provide solutions to their greatest scaling problems, so SAFe® aims to equip you with the ability to adequately lead the conversion of Scaled Agile Framework into your organisation. The striking thing about SAFe® is its suitability for a wide range of industry types, regardless of size. SAFe® can be applied to small businesses made up of under 100 practitioners, to vast enterprises which deal with substantial software solutions. As a result, SAFe® is scalable and pliable, and can be adapted to the specific needs of an enterprise.   What SAFe® courses do we provide? The Knowledge Academy provides five SAFe® training courses in total, all focusing on different SAFe® aspects and of varying difficulty levels. The courses are: Certified Scaled Agile Framework Leading SAFe® 4.5 Training & Exam (2 Days) Implementing SAFe® with SPC Certification (4 Days) SAFe® 4.0 Release Train Engineer with RTE Certification (3 Days) Certified SAFe® Product Manager / Product Owner Training & Exam (2 Days) Certified SAFe® Practitioner for Team Training & Exam (2 Days) The first course, Leading SAFe® 4.5, is ultimately a Foundation level training course. Similarly, Implementing SAFe® with SPC Certification represents an Intermediate level course, so it acts essentially as a follow on course. The final three certifications can be defined as subsections of advanced courses, which are more specialised in nature, for example the final course listed above is designed for teams in particular. It is also highly recommend that a delegate possesses one of the Foundation or Intermediate training courses before attending some of the more specific courses. How can SAFe® help me? SAFe® can assist you and your business in keeping up with ever-changing economic and technological conditions. This is vital, because if you are unable to adapt quickly to fast-paced business environments then your organisation may dissolve, just like former market leaders Nokia, Blockbuster, and Kodak, for example. Whilst this is a notable advantage of SAFe®, many others exist: Enhanced quality of services/goods Increased productivity Deliver value faster Greater employee engagement Boosted transparency SAFe® in Practice One of the key components of SAFe®, Agile Release Trains (ARTs), which align teams to a common goal and technical mission, can be witnessed in an athletic relay team. ARTs ensure that SAFe® delivers value by organising people so they plan and perform together. ARTs are based on the Value Streams of an organisation, and exist to adopt improvements that will increase user value. Ultimately, deployment has the goal of achieving a continuous flow of value. Strengths are identified in terms of performance advancements,  so in the case of the relay team, their ‘new functionality’ is their ability to improve their current personal best. The common mission for this relay team was to keep reaching this personal best, to identify what they were doing differently to achieve their score, and maintain this. Applying this in business terms allows for the effective delivery of value and solutions, whilst managing the risks and inconsistencies present within developments. Essentially, ARTs are multi-functional and possess the ability to identify, implement, experiment, and deploy new systems. If Scaled Agile Framework interests you, our SAFe® training courses are now available now. Book with The Knowledge Academy today, earn your certification and enhance your career.

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  24 Jul 2017

What is ITIL Foundation?

ITIL is a qualification that provides a detailed set of practices for IT service management, focusing on the idea of aligning IT services within the business in order to help measure improvements, as well as demonstrating compliance on a range of issues. Ultimately a business that implements ITIL practices is able to better manage their IT services and can ultimately transform themselves by pushing for business change and growth. Here, we’re taking a closer look at ITIL Foundation and why people are turning towards this particular qualification.  What Is ITIL? Research has shown that many IT professionals have felt like their business is generally out of sync with the requirements of their IT projects. In fact, a huge 78% of IT professionals felt this way. Some businesses have been looking to change this point of view, with 45% of organisations beginning to invest in project management as a whole. With ITIL being the most widely accepted form of training for IT professionals and service managers, it’s easy to see why this approach is beginning to be adopted. Generally, ITIL is comprised of 5 different levels, from Foundation to Expert, and the concept behind this is that it helps to provide specialist processes for professionals to utilise depending on which stage of the service lifecycle they work in. These stages generally include design, development, delivery and support, and with some of the biggest brands in the world such as Boeing, IBM and Microsoft all using this framework, it’s easy to see how much of an impact ITIL can have on a business.  What Does ITIL Do? Generally, ITIL is the key to maintaining quality of IT services, and with IT projects generally revolving around delivering services in an efficient and effective manner, there are a number of ways that ITIL can support this. Statistics show that 75% of IT professionals believe that their projects are ‘doomed from the start’ and this can lead to a lot of negativity within the workplace. In addition to this, 80% of professionals believe that they spend at least half of their time doing rework throughout a project, which is unproductive and not beneficial for the delivery of the project. Interestingly, this has led to 32% of organisations never or only sometimes completing their projects on time, and only 31% of projects managing to not exceed their budget. These statistics provide an idea of just how many problems organisations tend to face when it comes to IT project management. Other problems include inconsistency in approach, frequent changes to scope and poor resource management. ITIL aims to eliminate these issues and apply a framework to IT projects in order to help keep a consistent approach, offer clear goals and provide better resource management in order to ensure services meet the needs of end users. What Will I Learn In ITIL Foundation Training? ITIL Foundation is the first of the five ITIL certifications. It provides an introduction to the concepts of ITIL and IT service management, including the IT service lifecycle on which ITIL is based, as well as information regarding the principles and the fundamentals. By providing a full understanding of the basics of ITIL, ITIL Foundation can help IT professionals stand out in their field and prepare to work in a company which uses ITIL practices. While it is the most basic level of certification when it comes to ITIL, it provides an excellent basis for producing a much more streamlined and effective service management process within a business. Why Should I Learn ITIL? There are a huge number of benefits when it comes to learning ITIL for both business and personal development. For your business, ITIL provides a structured order of processes for improved planning and delivery for both the business itself and its customers. In addition to this, ITIL can help to better manage business risk and service disruption, ensuring a stable service even when services are in the transitional stage. ITIL encourages regular reviews and improvement of services, helping to better provide their customers with improved services and ultimately improving the business as a whole. ITIL can also improve the visibility of costs and assets for IT service managers, helping them to reduce their service cost and better use the resources that they have available. On a personal level, when it comes to professional development, ITIL qualifications provide improved employability, improved chances of a promotion, better pay and acknowledgement to employers that you understand how to work using the most used IT service management framework in the world. ITIL is a globally used service management practice, improving your business’ relationship with customers and helping to boost your professional development too. If you’re looking to learn ITIL, then make sure to contact The Knowledge Academy today to find out more about the ITIL Foundation courses that we provide. 

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  19 Jul 2017

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Introducing PRINCE2 2017 Online Training

Introducing PRINCE2 2017 Online Training

  19 Jul 2017

  The PRINCE2 2017 update is here, and in accordance with this, The Knowledge Academy has released a new set of updated online training courses. Our new Foundation, Practitioner and Foundation & Practitioner online courses allow students to acquire up-to-date project management knowledge in the comfort of their own homes. What are the changes? The latest PRINCE2 2017 update from our partners AXELOS has involved a significant modernisation of the project management methodology in order to keep up with the latest ideologies in the world of business. The update has arrived eight years after the introduction of PRINCE2 2009. Since then, AXELOS has been constantly monitoring feedback received from Project Managers all over the world. This year, it was decided to act upon the feedback and adapt the syllabus to meet the modified requirements of the modern project professional. Ultimately, the proven fundamental principles of PRINCE2 have not been altered, but there have been some additions which will prove inherently valuable to Project Managers: Enhanced guidance on tailoring the methodology to the needs of organisations and project environments Clarification of the link between themes and principles Restructured ‘Themes’ guidance to incorporate specific examples of tailoring Numerous examples, hints and tips for practically applying the method and guidance In addition, both the Foundation and the Practitioner exams have been modified to correspond with the new version of the syllabus. The Practitioner exam stresses the practical application of PRINCE2 and the use of all parts of the methodology. Furthermore, both exams will now be in line with the new focus on tailoring the methodology to specific scenarios. You can find out even more about the PRINCE2 2017 Update by reading our ‘Everything You Need To Know About The PRINCE2 2017 Update’ Blog. Why do PRINCE2 Online Courses? Our PRINCE2 online courses are especially useful for those who have a busy schedule or are unable to reach a training venue to take a PRINCE2 classroom training course. Using e-learning facilities, students can learn at their own pace and in their own time, whilst also being able to tailor their training to their unique specific requirements.Any PRINCE2 online course booked with us running from 10th July onwards follows the new 2017 standard, with updated syllabus, courseware, and exam. If you wish to find out more then don’t hesitate to contact us.

Announcing Our New PRINCE2 2017 Classroom Courses

Announcing Our New PRINCE2 2017 Classroom Courses

  22 Jun 2017

We’re delighted to announce the release of our new range of PRINCE2 2017 classroom training courses. Following the latest 2017 syllabus from our partners AXELOS, our new Foundation, Practitioner and Foundation & Practitioner courses update the methodology for a modern world where organisations are increasingly required to be able to adapt quickly to business needs. The 2017 update marks the first time PRINCE2 has been changed since 2009. Over the eight years of its use, PRINCE2 2009 has proven itself to be the world’s de facto project management methodology, used by thousands of organisations and businesses around the world. Rather than being a replacement, the new version should be thought of as an evolution. The tried and tested fundamentals of PRINCE2 have not changed; the latest version simply improves on it by making a number of changes based on the feedback and experiences of project professionals around the world, ensuring PRINCE2 continues to set the standard for project management. PRINCE2 2017 includes the following main additions: Enhanced guidance on tailoring the methodology to the needs of organisations and project environments Clarification of the link between themes and principles Restructured ‘Themes’ guidance to incorporate specific examples of tailoring Numerous examples, hints and tips for practically applying the method and guidance Along with the updated courses come new Foundation and Practitioner exams which are designed to ensure PRINCE2 students know what they need to succeed in a project environment using the methodology. Both exams have been updated in line with the new focus on tailoring, and the Practitioner exam emphasises the practical application of PRINCE2 using all parts of the method. Any PRINCE2 course booked with us running from 10th July onwards follows the new 2017 standard, with updated syllabus, courseware and exams. Contact us for more details. Stay tuned for our PRINCE2 2017 online courses, which will be released soon.

WannaCry ransomware infects computers around the globe

WannaCry ransomware infects computers around the globe

  24 May 2017

Organisations and users around the world have been infected by the cyber attack WannaCry. The attack, which takes the form of a ransomware program, encrypts users’ files and prevents them from accessing their computers unless they make a payment to the attackers. If they do not pay within 7 days, the ransom doubles. Having started on Friday 12 May 2017, the attack spread on an unprecedented scale, affecting machines in organisations including the National Health Service in England and Scotland, FedEx, Hitachi, the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Russia, Renault and Telefónica. The attack was slowed in its early stages by a cybersecurity researcher who unknowingly activated a kill switch. This gave time for countries which had not been attacked so severely to deploy defences. Nevertheless, estimates suggest that around $72,000 in payments have been made already. In addition, a new strain of the virus is now operating which doesn’t have the kill switch, making it much more difficult to prevent. The attack is believed to have entered systems via an exploit within the Microsoft Windows operating system. Although the exploit had been patched in recent security updates for newer systems, older, unsupported systems like Windows XP were not protected. In a rare move, Microsoft rushed to bring out an emergency update for the older operating systems Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003 shortly after the attack. The impact of the virus has caused many to reconsider their stances on cyber security, as they realise how important it is to keep systems and protection up to date.

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