Photo: Janet Guaca, online project management expert and educator
Even as pandemic restrictions ease, many organizations are sticking with remote or hybrid working arrangements. A recent Statistics Canada survey found that 25 per cent of Canadian adults still work from home at least part of the time.
We developed the Online Project Management certificate to help team leads and managers thrive in this reality.
This week, we interviewed the instructor, Janet Guaca, a virtual project management expert with over 20 years of experience in the field.
She walks us through some key challenges project managers are facing right now, and how this course can help.
Q: Janet, can you share a little about your education and professional background in project management?
Janet: I actually studied mathematics and was intending to do development and behind-the-scenes calculations. And then I started working at a company that started introducing me to clients, and I found that I enjoyed meeting with people and planning things out with client input. So that’s how I got into project management.
I trained under a project manager and got my PMP [Project Management Professional] certification. I’ve been working in project management since 1999, and I’ve been doing it remotely since 2008.
Q: What is your experience as an instructor? Have you taught project management courses before?
Janet: As I moved up, I became a senior project manager, and part of that was training new junior project managers. From there, I ended up getting instructor roles to teach college courses and certification courses as well as exam preparation courses.
Q: Can you give us a quick overview of the Online Project Management certificate? What skills do students learn in this course?
Janet: The goal of the Online Project Management certificate is to give the students a good background in virtual project management and the skills to lead projects remotely. They learn the standards and processes to direct a project from the start to the end.
What’s special about this course is the focus on the virtual environment. A lot of other project management courses focus only on standards and tools—but how do we apply those virtually? That’s the gap right now, and that’s what this course addresses.
Even if you’re comfortable working remotely, the rest of your team or your clients might not be. So how do you motivate them? How do you get results from people that you can’t call into a meeting room?
As you learn online project management, you’ll build those skills.
Q: Who is this course designed for? Who will benefit most from the training?
Janet: This program is ideal for anyone who is looking to get into a project management role as well as any project manager who wants to refine their skills and manage remote teams.
I also believe the skills taught in this course could apply to any sort of virtual work environment. So even if someone didn’t want to be a project manager, this course will still give them the knowledge and skills to contribute effectively to a distributed project team.
Q: What kinds of hands-on assignments do students do in the Online Project Management course?
Janet: You might get a contract or a statement of work and be asked to answer some questions on that. You might also put together a project plan with a budget and cost schedule.
I like to have students think of a simple project or maybe one that they’ve worked on, and then we take it end to end. How do you start planning? What kind of status reports do people expect? What do you do with all that documentation when it comes time to close out a project?
Q: What are some benefits to managing projects remotely?
Janet: One of the biggest benefits is that a manager can work on multiple projects simultaneously. Traditionally, the big consulting firms would hire people to come on site for them 40 hours a week. But let’s be realistic: how much of that 40 hours are you really working on their project? Sometimes you’re waiting for people to do things or you’re waiting for approval before you can proceed. But you can’t really work on other projects because you’re physically at a client location.
By being virtual, you can manage multiple projects for different clients. And that’s more efficient for everybody, because the clients aren’t paying you to sit there and do nothing.
I find that project managers like to constantly be doing things. Being virtual and having the opportunity to work on multiple projects gives them that challenge and motivation.
Q: COVID obviously accelerated the move to remote work, but do you see virtual project management continuing to grow in the coming years?
Peter: Definitely. Many companies are realizing that virtual project management saves them money. They don’t have to fly people around the country or pay for dedicated office space. I have clients who used to insist on project managers being on site and now they insist on virtual because they don’t want to pay for travel.
By taking this course, you’ll understand the challenges and build the skills to be self-sufficient.
Need help managing projects and people online?
Explore the Online Project Management certificate at Kompass. This course runs for 14 to 28 weeks and is delivered online.
You can learn practical virtual project management tools and skills and customize those approaches to your own work challenges.
Click below to explore the certificate in more detail and chat live with an admissions advisor.