Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist
project management

Join Isaiah as he reveals how projects are managed in the industry and what PhDs should know to be hired in the industry

Here’s a quick rundown of this week’s episode…

  • First, Isaiah explains why PhD students should understand the structure of project management in industry
  • Next, Isaiah reveals the different phases of project management in the industry
  • Finally, Isaiah describes the models of project management in the industry

From This Week’s Show… 

Why PhDs Should Know The Structure Of Project Management In Industry

Project management in industry is different from project management in academia. This is important to understand because if you’re still in academia, you might think that managing small projects or thesis is project management. But the level of structure that is required to manage projects in industry is much greater. There are different lifestyles and factions of this process in the industry. 

In industry, people attend even a week-long conference to learn about one style of project management. Companies dedicate millions of dollars on this, because how projects are managed will determine what gets done at a company. For instance, budget timelines, resource allocation, scope of the project, the milestones and the like. 

There are four different parts in project management in academia. Academics usually plan a project, and then execute it. Subsequently, we may get some negative or some positive data. Then we go back to planning and then we execute. However, this is only half of the equation in industry. 

Even though, you don’t plan to join a company as their project manager, you must learn how companies get stuff done. You will be asked questions related to how the company gets their stuff done. Can you get stuff done according to their project management methodology?

PhDs are expected to provide convincing answers to these questions during their job interview.

Different Phases Of Project Management In Industry

There are several facets of specific and structured project management in the industry. It starts with the initiation phase which includes paperwork, such as the statement of work or a project charter. There might be an office where projects need to get approved. So, first comes the initiation phase and then following approval comes the planning phase, and the execution phase. Lastly, a prolonged closure phase analyzes the project. There’s a lot of signing off on different parts of a venture before going from one phase to another. We call it the phase review. 

The scope of the project, budget, timelines, the actual milestones and then where all of these things converge is quality and it’s never perfect. That’s what a lot of PhDs struggle with. Sometimes you have to sacrifice what’s best, just because there’s a tighter deadline or a smaller budget. So you may be able to get it done on time on budget, but the quality is not quite there due to a tight budget. And this is something that employers are really concerned with when it comes to hiring PhDs. You have to balance all of the different factors to get a project done in the best way possible for that situation. Things are contextual. 

Models For Managing Projects In The Industry That PhDs Should Know

In academia we are most familiar with the waterfall model. It’s a sequential, non iterative process made of discrete linear phases that do not overlap. Once planned the flow is like a waterfall going down. The agile model is more popular in the industry. A PhD invented agile method.

Agile consists of a series of regular and consistent iterations called sprints. At the end of each sprint, the team has to deliver results and discuss how the project is advancing. You aim at discovering important deliverables as early as possible. Companies also use a combination of both agile and waterfall methods for maximum productivity.

Another important document for project management other than the statement of work is the blueprint. A project management blueprint is a document that delineates the goals of a project. Sometimes it will also describe how the project will contribute to the organizational objective. Yet another measure is the burndown chart. This chart is used for scrum and agile project management. Burndown chart shows the relationship between the number of tasks to be completed and the amount of time left to complete the task.

You will be involved in a lot of project management. As a project manager, business development manager, or in R&D applications. Get this information. Learn about management. Understand the industry structure. Begin expanding your industry vocabulary.

Speak the language of the industry.

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