I’m the office manager and bookkeeper at Solarity. And while I know they love me, there was a time a few years ago when I felt a bit like a gosling in a duck pond.

See, all of my project manager colleagues were throwing around words and phrases I just didn’t get.

Things like project charter.

A process is not a procedure and a procedure is not a process

Even scope creep.

Scope creep? Sounds like something from Stranger Things. (It’s also called feature creep, as if that makes it any better.)

So rather than suffer in ignorance, I decided to take Solarity’s Best Practices in Project Management course (I took it twice, actually). Let me tell you how it went.

First of all, I learned what project charter, process, procedure and scope creep mean. (Scope creep refers to how a project’s requirements tend to grow over time, not unlike a blob in a sci fi movie. You’re welcome!). And I learned so much more than lingo.

 

Here are a few highlights from my time in the Solarity classroom.

  1. I learned how to organize and coordinate not just work-related projects, but any project. From a birthday party to a church function to a plan for reaching a life goal, it was all laid out for me in a way that my brain could understand and tied up with a neat little bow. I took away actionable principles that I could use right away. In fact, I got so good at coordinating that my church asked me to organize an annual women’s conference, which I did. After a few years, when I tried to step back, they said, Okay, Sarah, but can you still at least take notes and tell us what to do?
  2. I learned about communication, and I can tell you it’s kind of like one of those unfortunate images that comes across your computer screen that you can’t unsee. Now that I understand how effective communication works, I can see how really poorly most people around us communicate. What a difference it makes when you start a meeting by talking about your goals and your vision and deliverables instead of jumping right to how you’re going to pull whatever-this-is off. Accompany that by timely, appropriate interactions and wow, it’s a whole different ball game. Or women’s conference. Or work project.
  3. I had fun, too. Let’s address the obvious here– training is not always fun, is it? I’ve signed up for courses that were snooze-fests and I bet you’ve experienced something similar. But when training is done with interactive segments, group work and games, by talented, passionate, and energetic trainers, it’s a blast!
  4. We worked on real-life projects. That’s right. It wasn’t all practice exercises. During portions of the course we were invited to pull out actual projects we were working on in our actual jobs. We brainstormed together, worked through issues as a group, and with guidance from our trainers (who, by the way, don’t only train students but also actively manage projects of their own), we moved our projects forward during class time. And there was a bonus– I got to meet so many awesome people from different industries all coming together to help one another overcome challenges. I know I’m making it sound corny, but it wasn’t. It was really cool.

I’m glad I took the courses for so many reasons. And even now when I’m in my office working, sometimes I can hear training classes going on in the comfy, roomy training space, and I smile. People are laughing, people are having a good time. It brings me back to the classes I took, the energy in the room and the best practices in project management I still use. Getting me out of my office, sharing snacks and coffee with my fellow classmates…

Sigh.

Maybe I need to go get a refresher on scope creep.

If you are an “accidental project manager” looking to increase your efficiency and gain new skills, check out our Featured Classes.

About the Author

Sarah Sechrist joined to Solarity in 2012 as the Accounting and Office Manager. She was immediately drawn to the project management world and loves the atmosphere at Solarity. Sarah is known for getting things done and is passionate about our company. She ultimately helps Solarity keep all of our projects organized internally. Sarah currently serves at the Treasurer for the International Institute of Business Analysis, Bluegrass Chapter and actively shares her skills by volunteering with her church.

About Solarity

Our mission is to help people, organizations, and communities THRIVE! Our broad range of experience and knowledge in a range of different industries allows us to customize our approach to fit the situation. We work in total partnership with our clients to understand their business needs and the current environment, and then match the right amount of process to meet the culture and the project.