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Project Planning: from corporate trend to ECDL / ICDL module

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It’s the terrible irony of the modern workplace that technology often puts a greater strain and expectation on workers, when it should be making tasks quicker and easier.

We know from studies that workers tend to overestimate their digital abilities, leading them to spend too much of their day resolving technology-related issues that could be solved by upping their skills. In a Dutch study for example, workers without formal ICT training were found to spend almost 8% of their day resolving technology problems. Both the workers and their managers were unaware that this was such a problem.

Of course it doesn’t have to be this way. Like many other things, modern technology is a bad master, but a great servant. Project Planning tools are a great example of this.

The value of Project Management software

Project Management software covers just about everything you need to make your working life easier. Once workers employ Project Management software effectively, they can find a surprising amount of extra hours in their day. Mundane manual activities including monitoring resources, time and constraints can be handled by the software, with the ability to track goals, progress and discussions with perfect accuracy.

Neil Farren, Programme Research and Development Manager at ECDL Foundation, points out the role project planning can have at avoiding project delays and failure:

“Various research has been carried out on the failure rate of IT projects in the past, and the commonly cited problems can often be avoided by good project management supported by Project Management software”.

The need for Project Planning software training

As Project Management theory claims to use resources more effectively and deliver projects with less delays, it’s no wonder that it has become hugely popular in business.

A report from PM Solutions found that 3 out of 4 of the firms surveyed offer Project Management training to employees. Large organisations are most likely to offer Project Management training (84%), followed by mid-size organisations (79%), and then small organisations (62%).

However the Project Management training that has become so widespread often focuses on theory, and overlooks the software itself. It doesn’t always allow the time for students to become fully competent in the actual tools they will use.

This is the issue that the ECDL / ICDL Project Planning module was designed to address. 

The Project Planning module is born

ECDL Foundation has a defined process for developing a module that begins with establishing the main principles for it. These guidelines are then supplied to an Expert Working Group of ICT professionals who decide what should be included in a new module, supported by further input from the wider ECDL / ICDL community around the world.Thomas Geretschläger of the Austrian Computer Society was part of the Expert Working Group for the Project Planning module when it was assembled in 2010. He explains the rationale for developing the new module:

“There was feedback from different countries that project management is becoming a widely used competency in corporations and that different types of schools have integrated Project Management into their curricula.”.

Project Management software was becoming more and more common in the workplace and in other fields as well. Thomas explains:

“There was the perception that Microsoft Project was one application that might be worth covering in a   module. Additionally there was the cross check to see if the syllabus items were feasible with  OpenProj.”.

Since the Project Planning module was released in 2011, the traditional desktop applications such as Microsoft Project are seeing increasing competition from web-based cloud computing applications, such as Zoho Projects, Basecamp, Citrix's Podio and Clarizen.

The module is vendor neutral so the skillsets learned through ECDL and ICDL modules can be applied across all software.Ultimately, the ECDL / ICDL Project Planning Module will make any project planner’s life easier. It teaches one how to use a project management application to create a new project and work on an existing one. Candidates also learn how to save different project file types; set up calendar options (such as base calendar, working time, non-working time); create and assign resources to tasks; monitor project progress; and better understand logical relationships between tasks, from finish to start and start to start.


Project Planning for everyone

Programme Research and Development Manager Neil Farren points out that demand for the project planning module comes from all sectors, including project managers themselves, participants in vocational education, participants in back-to-work schemes, and any individuals who just wish to become proficient users of project planning applications.Candidates may be building software or a house, planning a conference or a wedding, but in all cases, project management software can assist in the smooth progression of the effort. And our Project Planning module can make sure they’re getting the most from it. 

Learn more about the ECDL / ICDL Project Planning Module