Project management and procurement

If you are looking to acquire an academic or educational credential that can open the door for you to enter the procurement field, you would be hard pressed to find a more logical route to take than that of project management. After all, Project Procurement Management is one of the ten official knowledge areas identified in the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), which means that anyone attempting to acquire PMP certification—considered by many to be the gold standard of the project management profession—will have mandatory procurement management instruction included in the 35 mandatory hours of formal education mandated for all PMP test takers by the Project Management Institute.

Included in that procurement education are very specific procedures for how to plan procurement management, along with the means to conduct and control procurements. And, while you might suspect the “project” theme of this procurement education would limit its value solely to the temporary undertakings that projects are designed to be, the procurement knowledge attainable within the project management knowledge area is applicable to all sorts of business undertakings.

In fact, even if you isolated the three procurement management processes from the other 46 process groups of project management, you would still have more than enough material at your disposal to make you adept at procurement management in virtually any setting.

For instance, under the definition of organizational process assets, you will be advised to consult whatever preferred seller lists your organization may have in place, which is intended to simplify the procurement process and save considerable time. This category also asks you to familiarize yourself with the policies within your organization that influence vendor selection, and also to be aware of your company’s financial policies and procedures pertaining to invoicing and payment processes, which might constrain your ability to do business with certain sellers.

Your PMI coursework will walk you through the process of source selection analysis, during which you will determine the criteria that will govern your quest to acquire vendors. These criteria include least cost, qualifications only, quality-based or highest technical proposal score, quality- and cost-based, sole source and fixed budget.

Within the category of enterprise environmental factors, project management teaches you to weigh how certain internal and external features of your company, including the industry it operates within, will influence the ways in which you are forced to conduct your vendor selection processes. This includes such things as local laws and regulations regarding procurements, and especially the consideration of laws that require a portion of the purchases to be acquired from local vendors.

When the time arrives for you to advertise your need for a vendor, the project management guide instructs you to consider a host of options, including traditional outlets like newspapers and trade publications, and also newer methods like internet postings. By this point, you will also have been advised as to the intricacies of each of the standard bidding documents, like the request for information (RFI), the request for quotation (RFQ), and the request for proposal (RFP), and the conditions under which each request is suitable for inclusion in the bidding documents.

In order to ensure that all would-be vendors have the same information, and can therefore submit proposals to you based on the same information, project management processes include the best practices for conducting bidder conferences. This is intended to be done for the benefit of the project, but is also in line with the ethical standards of certified PMPs, which obligate them not provide any bidders with preferential treatment. Far from being reserved for the management of procurement processes, ethical standards are brought to the forefront of all activities in which certified PMPs participate, and PMPs can be stripped of their certification if they are ruled to have engaged in any project activities that demonstrate an ethical lapse on their part.

An adherence to ethical practices is paramount when it is time to generate contracts with vendors, and project management coursework will prepare you to hammer out all sorts of seller agreements. This includes arming you with knowledge of the most frequently utilized contract types. In this column, there are three primary types of contracts—fixed-price, cost-reimbursable and time-and-material—and several variations of these contracts exist depending on how many variables are deemed relevant to the transaction. For instance, you’ll be taught about fixed-price contracts that include considerations for economic price adjustments. This allows for modifications to be made to the contract price over time if there are drastic cost increases related to essential commodities, or changes in the rate of inflation.

If you want to explore project management coursework as a means of supplementing your present knowledge base, you’re in luck. Due to the widely acknowledged value of the subject matter, there are countless opportunities available to learn the fundamentals of project management and immediately apply them at work. Frankly, there is a lot to be learned simply by reading through the PMBOK. However, since formal education is required before most of the readily accepted project management certifications can be garnered, there are many options available for acquiring that education, and many of them come through university-backed certificate programs. In some cases, college credit is offered for taking project management coursework, and many universities allow those credits to contribute to degree programs, including graduate degrees specifically tailored to the field of project management.

With universities like Georgetown, Cornell and Duke all offering online certificate courses that simultaneously satisfy the PMI’s education requirement, this might also double as an opportunity for you to bolster your resume with branding from a world-renowned university while also acquiring a skill set (and ultimately a credential) that virtually all employers respect. And, if you’re interested in acquiring a non-expiring project management credential that can be attained after logging a negligible number of project experience hours and requires no maintenance fees, Syracuse University offers its CProjMgrSU certification to anyone who completes a two-hour online certification exam, as long as that person has also completed at least 24 hours of formal project management instruction.

In light of this, if you are looking to reroute your career path in the direction of procurement, or to utilize credentials and certifications to elevate the trust that your procurement coworkers are willing to place in you, project management education is one of the simplest paths toward accomplishing these goals.

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