Archive for September, 2009

Project Management as a Competitive Strategy

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

Several years ago I graduated from Harvard Business School’s Owner President Managed Program (OPM 35). For three years, for three weeks at a time, I interacted with 100+ other CEOs and business owners from around the world while we learned how to make our companies more competitive on a global scale. I took away many fascinating new insights on the standard challenges we all face and learned tools to help navigate my company through the trials and tribulations of our times. One of the things I learned that I use daily is Michael Porter’s work on Competitive Strategies.

Looking through the lens of Project Management, is this a tool that can help an individual and a company be more competitive? I’ve written quite a bit over the years about how businesses can use PM for their corporate advantage (you can check those papers out at From the Michael Porter perspective on competitive strategies, can project management help a company or an individual:

1. Decrease the barriers to entry for themselves into a market while increasing it for others?

2. Reduce the power of suppliers?

3. Reduce the threat of substitutes on their products or services?

4. Reduce the bargaining power of customers (this is a measure of the strength of “brand”, the uniqueness of what you offer, and basic supply and demand economics)?

5. Reduce the amount of rivalry in a market for similar goods or services?

Where I see Project Management being used in the mix of competitive strategies is with reducing the time to market for new products or services, decreasing the overhead of running the business by implementing efficiency projects more efficiently, and developing a more aligned workforce that gets their projects done for less money, in less time, with fewer people. Basically it is the Faster, Better, Cheaper mantra – companies and people that can deliver their main value proposition to their customers faster, better and for less cost than their competition are more competitive. Well executed projects enable this.

But the project has to be aligned with the core strategy of the business that will make it more competitive. What amazes me though is how little time companies spend balancing their portfolio of projects to maximize their competitive strategy. It is as if the execs on high go off on their corporate retreats, come up with their game changing plan and toss it over the fence to middle management to implement without thinking through how to balance a portfolio of projects that would best help them meet that competitive strategy. Project Portfolio selection is where the executive team connects with the project management team. But while many execs have their heads in the clouds, many PMs are focused too close to the ground – on the day to day implementation, tools and techniques of PM.

To make a difference, Project Managers need to learn the language of competitive strategy. CEOs and execs think in these terms – when you learn to speak their language it makes it far easier to “sell” the concept of doing better project management. You can download a free paper on how to sell PM to senior executives at

To further help PMs develop the leadership skills necessary to interact with the executive team, over the past five years we have been teaching two classes –

Project Portfolio Management
Enterprise Project Management

Consider developing skills in these two areas if you want to make a difference in how companies you work with use Project Management as a competitive strategy.

No PMP Left Behind

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

I have said this time and time again, we all soar and sink together.   To help unemployed PMPs create new opportunities, we created a 40 hour PDU course that we offer free for unemployed PMPs.   If you are an unemployed (or underemployed) PMP who needs to maintain your credential and wants to discover how to create more opportunities, send an email to We ask that if you want to participate in this, that you refer people to Cheetah Learning for Project Management training when you run into someone who could use our courses.

Spotlight on CAPM Certification- IT PAYS!

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Kristen LaBrosse, CAPM 

I recently sat down with Sarah, a 26-year-old professional who works as an Administrative Assistant at a Financial Firm in San Diego, to ask her about her recent promotion to a Project Manager. Sarah was ready for a change in her career, and saw the opportunity for growth within her company in the project management field, so she decided to take Cheetah’s Exam Prep for the CAPM®
 Online Program to help reach her goals.  After the 3-weeks course, Sarah sat for the CAPM exam, passed, and received a promotion and a pay raise one week later.

In an interview with Sarah, I discovered why she decided to obtain her CAPM, and how she benefited from this certification instantaneously.

Q: Prior to obtaining your CAPM certification, what was your job title?

A: I had been an Administrative Assistant for 2 years.

Q: Post CAPM certification, what is your job title, and did your salary change?

A: One week after I obtained my CAPM certification I landed a job as a Project Manager and receive a 20% salary increase. 

Q: “Do you think that obtaining your CAPM has given you a hand up in your career?”

A: “Absolutely- my company is coming around to the formal PM processes, so being CAPM certified shows that I’m taking the initiative to hop on that band wagon and willing and ready for that change. Also, I didn’t have much PM experience and am trying to get my foot in the door, so taking this test showed my imitative and that I am a self-starter. It’s an great resume builder and you learn all the fancy PM jargon to boot.”

Q: What are your long-term career goals? Do you think obtaining your CAPM was a good stepping-stone in achieving these goals? And if so, how, and if not, why?

A: My dream job in 5 years is to be a successful contractor running larger than life projects.  My dream job in 10 years is to be a contractor running larger than life INTERNATIONAL projects.  I have to start somewhere- and the CAPM seemed the most logical. 

Q: What steps would you recommend other Administrative assistance take if they wished to pursue a career in PM? 

A: Put yourself out there! Tell your boss and your teams that you want to get into PM and that you want to start taking on projects and shadowing them on larger projects.  I am so grateful that so many people at my company were more that willing to give me projects and mentor me along the way.  I’d tell them to show the initiative by taking classes, reading the books, joining PMI and going after the CAPM.


Thank you Sarah for sharing your success story with us.  

If you are interesting in finding out more about the CAPM certification, please contact me at, and check out our  PM Fundamentals Certifcate Program where you can learn the basics of Project Management and obtain your CAPM certification, and get 5% off when you use promotional code CAPMsmart09


Thanks for Reading,