Healthcare 131 Project Basics

Individual Online Mentoring Thru the Course & A Year Afterward $1,995

Healthcare managers and beginning project managers learn the basics of project management. Practice managing a project step-by-step with your instructor.


Healthcare Project Basics – Individual Online Instruction

Learn the basics by managing a healthcare project working with an expert project manager. Learn to use real world tools and techniques, not vague academic concepts. You master a straightforward, proven methodology for small and medium-size healthcare projects.

After the course you will be able to plan projects

  • Ask the right question of the boss, administrators or care-givers
  • Breakdown what they want into pieces you can manage
  • Present the plan to management for their approval

You will be able to schedule and assign tasks to your team

  • Quickly schedule in project software (several choices)
  • Accurately estimate work and time & finish as soon as possible
  • Make clear assignments that tell your team what you want

You will be able to track and report progress

  • Spot problems early when they are easier to fix
  • Plan your corrective action
  • Make a professional status report.

Industry Specialty Courses: Construction, BusinessHealthcare, IT/IS, Consulting
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How It Works

Individual, Customized Project Management Training; Instructor-led Online

Learn a simple methodology with templates that you can use on all your IT/IS projects. You will know how to plan, schedule, track and report progress.

You work with your instructor as you manage every step in a project

  • Private, customized hands-on training from an expert project manager
    • Do assignments when you wish; take up to 1 year
    • Get feedback within 24 hours & discuss it in private video conferences
    • Practice running meetings & presentations live with your instructor

Training Project Managers Since 1986Click for the BBB Business Review of this Management Training in Denver CO


Healthcare Project Basics Online Course Tuition $1,995

Talk to a Counselor 1-303-596-0000

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Our Credentials

  • We have been training project managers for over 25 years
  • Our courses have been approved by PMI® for 30-60 education hours (PDUs)
  • Our courses have been offered for graduate school credit at major universities
  • We have had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau for 17 years
  • Our staff is composed of experienced project managers who have worked more than a decade in various industries

Course Modules: What you will learn and how you will practice the new skills

Skills & Techniques in Reading & Lectures Practice in Live Meetings & Presentations
1. Define Scope – Learn to ask the right questions of the healthcare administrator to unearth the project scope and the major deliverables. Learn how to use a strong scope statement to avoid scope creep. Learn to uncover the major constraints on the project cost and schedule. Lead a live project planning session with your instructor who plays the roles of the administrator and department heads. Ask them questions to define a clear scope for the healthcare project that will solve their problems. Then gain their approval of the scope.
2. Gather Requirements – Learn how to ask the right questions and to link requirements to project goals. Learn how to use this information to handle change requests. Uncover all the requirements so you can address them early in the project. Learn to document requirements and the project goals they support. Run a live requirements meeting with each department head (role-played by your instructor). Gather their requirements and define the achievements each department must produce using those requirements.
3. Build Project Plan – Learn to design a plan covering deliverables, resources, rough cost estimates and project risks. Make initial estimates of time and cost. Then identify risks and plan how to avoid them. Build a Power Point slide show of your healthcare project plan. Present your plan & slides to the administrator & department heads (role-played by your instructor). Answer their questions about your plan and gain their approval and support.
4. Create a Work Breakdown & Schedule – Learn how to sequence and estimate your tasks using project management software. Learn to build a healthcare project work breakdown structure (WBS) detailing all the deliverables your team will produce. Break down your high-level deliverables into individual assignments for your team members. Create clear performance expectations for each assignment. Review your schedule with your instructor when you complete the WBS, predecessors, estimates of work and time. Discuss the schedule’s strengths and weaknesses in live meetings with your instructor and make improvements after each review.
5. Tradeoffs & Critical Path – Learn to develop alternative ways of doing the project by changing the scope, duration, costs and resources. Optimize your schedule to minimize cost and duration and develop trade-offs between them for the administrator & department heads to evaluate. In a live presentation to the administrator & department heads (role-played by your instructor), discuss trade-offs between scope, duration and cost to give them options for the project.
6. Conflict Management – Learn five strategies for resolving conflicts plus how and when to apply them. Learn techniques to minimize the impact of conflicts on your project schedule and budget. Watch a video of a conflict between two team members. Select the correct technique to manage the conflict and discuss it with your instructor.
7. Tracking & Status – Learn to give the administrator & department heads accurate forecasts of the completion date and final cost. Identify problems and model solutions using the project management software. Update your project schedule to reflect actual results to-date and forecast final dates and costs. Using status data from your team, update your schedule, spot problems and develop solutions. Present the status to the administrator & department heads (role-played by your instructor) using Power Point slides. Answer their questions.

How Instructor-led Individual Training Works: Course Features

Healthcare Project Basics Online Course Tuition $1,995

Talk to a Counselor 1-303-596-0000

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Business Strategy

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
Dick’s Books on Amazon

Project managers, especially those who manage medium and large size projects, must understand how their project fits into the business strategy of the sponsoring executive and the organization. To do a good job of planning and managing a new project, the project manager can’t focus on just the technical issues of plans, schedules, budgets and change orders.

What is the Business Strategy?

Many organizations don’t publicize their business strategy. Don’t be confused between a business strategy and a mission statement. The mission statement is what an organization prints on every envelope and box that leaves their premises. It is public relations babble. Also don’t assume that every organization has a business strategy. They may not have anything better than target rates of profitability and sales growth for the coming year. Those are certainly good goals that state a valuable financial market position but they are not a business strategy.

An organization’s business strategy is a position that takes advantage of their unique strengths. Let’s say they provide home cleaning services and have a unique competitive advantage with a low-cost labor force. Then a business strategy of becoming the low-cost provider of home cleaning services might fit. The business strategy results from an analysis of the market in which the organization operates or wants to operate. It includes an analysis of the competition they face and any opportunities that exist. After careful data-gathering and study, the organization may decide that the best competitive position is for them to be the low-cost home cleaning service in their market. With that competitive position selected, they would align their internal goals and projects to achieve that strategic goal. In other words, they concentrate their resources and energies on achieving their desired market position. That alignment and resource allocation might mean they terminate their high-priced luxury home cleaning services. They are inconsistent with being the low-cost provider. business strategy

Business Strategy Components

A business strategy has several components. First is establishing a targeted competitive position.  Second is aligning the company’s resources and efforts to reach that position. Third is planning projects with specific goals for the coming year(s) that will help them reach the target competitive position. This strategy also includes deciding what projects or initiatives not to do.

Let’s go back to our example. Why did the organization pick being the low-cost producer? It may have been the fact that no one else was focused on that competitive position. All the other competitors were focusing on trying to offer high-end services. On the other hand, it may have been as simple as a preference by the senior executive. Whatever the reason and rationale, if the strategy is for the organization to be the low-cost home cleaning service in their market area, all of their project efforts and goals should be aligned with achieving it.

This information is often closely guarded because the executives may not want to alert the competition to their plan for future success. Some competitors might eventually find out but the information is not widely publicized in the initial stages of implementing a new strategy. The organization wants their competitors to discover their new position after they have successfully positioned themselves as the low-cost provider of home cleaning services.

Why Must a Project Manager Know the Organization’s Business Strategy?

The obvious answer to that question is that understanding the organization’s business strategy and the initiatives aimed at achieving that market position prevents us, as project managers, from making stupid mistakes. Actually, they are honest mistakes that result from not knowing the competitive market position goal.  To achieve success, we must ensure that our projects are aligned with the organization’s business strategy. In our example, projects to design high-end home cleaning services would obviously not be aligned with the business strategy. How do we avoid being out of alignment? We ask questions about how our project(s) support the corporate strategy. Hopefully an executive will give us some insight into what the business strategy actually is and what competitive position the organization wants to occupy in the future.

All of this assumes the organization has invested in the thought process required to identify an optimal market position and then aligned it’s projects and resources to reach that position. If this did not happen and there is no corporate business strategy for gaining a competitive market position, the project manager is stuck trying to convince stakeholders of the value of the project based on its own merits. This position is much less effective than aligning a new project with the organization’s business strategy.

Project Feasibility – Video

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
Dick’s Books on Amazon

Many organizations require project sponsors and their project managers to prepare a project feasibility assessment of new projects before they are authorized to proceed. Organizations can call them by different names but the project feasibility assessment is part of the project approval process. It’s basically a justification for the project. The review by management committees is the only way organizations can bring project initiation under control. The organization suffers if people can start a project and use company resources without upper management review and approval. The lack of control over initiation makes it exceedingly difficult for those organizations to deliver strategic level projects. We call them “pachyderm projects” because their benefits to the organization are huge. Very often an organization cannot deliver a pachyderm project because so many resources are tied up on less valuable categories of projects.

Project Feasibility: Project Categories

The “pachyderm projects” are the highest category because they are strategic for the organization.

The “puppy projects” are the lowest category. Organizations that can’t control project initiation have very large letters of puppy projects. They consume up to 40% of the available project resources. Some of the puppy projects have value; others have none. The only way to restrict the size of the annual litter of puppy projects is to make the sponsoring executive justify the project with a feasibility assessment and a cost-benefit analysis. When we help organizations install these processes, it’s amazing how two thirds of the puppy projects vanish because there is no positive cost benefit.

The second category is the “pig projects.” These are large efforts that drift from one poorly defined scope to another never addressing the business need for which they were started. The feasibility study gives executives the ability to control pig projects by identifying the original benefits they were supposed to produce and the cost of producing them.
Feasibility studies are a key tool in organizations that need to be successful with their projects. These feasibility studies may include a business case with very formal documentation of the quantified benefits and costs of the project. The business case may also include return on investment, return on assets and payback period calculations among others.

Watch this video about a new project manager needing to gather project feasibility study information and present it to executives to justify a project. Two experienced project managers guide this new project manager in all the steps to justify the project, including creating a business case and doing a feasibility study. The project manager encounters political roadblocks and difficulty in gathering data. But in the end, the project feasibility study is accepted and the project is approved by the management committee.

Assess Project Feasibility

Certified Associate Project Manager (CAPM)®

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
Dick’s Books on Amazon

One path for beginning your project manager career is getting the Certified Associate in Project Management CAPM® credential. This is an internationally recognized certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI)®. This credential is an effective resume-builder because you learn the language of project management and its processes, techniques, terms and definitions.  Project Manager Certifications Main Page

There is no project management experience required for this certification but you must have 23 hours of education in project management and pass a 3 hour, 150 question multiple-choice exam. The information covered by the CAPM examination represents the best practices in project management. The information covered by this exam is in the ProjectManagement Body of KnowlCAPMedge (PMBOK)®.  It includes the project management knowledge areas which are: project scope, project time, project cost, project human resources, project communications, project quality, project procurement, project risk, project integration and professionalism. You will learn all these project management knowledge areas and best practices in our CAPM Exam Prep course. You will read about the project management information and watch online lectures.  Then you’ll take CAPM practice exams and learn from explanations of the questions you missed.

The CAPM exam is administered at Prometric learning centers around the world. You must submit an application to the Project Management Institute (PMI) to be admitted to take the examination. The test is 150 multiple-choice questions and the time limit is three hours. You will find out immediately upon completing the examination if you have passed. PMI allows you to retake the exam if you did not pass.

You may also want to learn the basics of a proven methodology with practical tools and techniques for managing projects in a particular industry like IT, construction, healthcare, consulting or general business. These courses include practice on an industry-specific project case study and step-by-step instructions for using project management software. Take a look at the basics course in your specialty.

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Project Management Certifications

Project Management Certifications: Functional and Specialty

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
Dick’s Books on Amazon

You can earn Project Management Certifications in functional and specialty areas in addition to the certifications offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI)® and PRINCE2®. Project managers should include those options in planning their career skills and credentials for advancement.

Project Management Certifications: What Functional and Specialty Certifications are Available?

Project managers can add practical hands-on skills in planning, scheduling, estimating and risk management tailored to their specialty area such as IT, construction, healthcare, business/marketing, and consulting. These programs allow you to add those skills within the framework of your industry specialty so the learning is relevant to the kind of projects you manage. Employers value the practical, real world, hands-on knowledge these certifications provide because your capabilities deliver significant payback on their projects.

These functional and specialty Project Management Certifications also add soft skills in leadership, communications, making presentations and influencing decision-makers. These are not skills that you gain by learning definitions for a multiple-choice exam. The soft skills are best learned in environments where you actually apply the skills in live simulations with your instructor and get feedback on what you do well and what you need to do better. What is particularly effective is video feedback in a simulated meeting with a team member who is not performing well. You’re able to interact with that employee live and in real time. This is accomplished with role-playing instructors who play the role of the poor performing employee. They give you a video of your simulation and feedback on how you handled the interaction. This experiential learning with hands-on coaching is the way to gain expertise and confidence in these communication and presentation techniques.

Project Management Certifications: When Should I Gain Functional and Specialty Certifications?

Planning your career properly requires you to include:

  • Earning the multiple-choice based credentials from (PMI)® or PRINCE2® project manager certifications
  • Adding hands-on skills in scheduling, estimating, risk management, etc.
  • Improving your leadership, presentation skills and ability to influence and persuade people.

It’s helpful to divide your career into a number of stages and pursue the appropriate Project Management Certifications for each stage.

Project Management Certifications: Getting a Job in Project Management

Entering the project management profession is difficult when you have no experience. One credential that can enliven an otherwise dull resume is functional training in areas like scheduling, project management software, budgeting and status reporting. Those are time-consuming tasks for project managers. People with training in those skills, but no actual PM work experience, may be able to join a project management team. Beginner project management certifications give you both the practical skills in the above areas and a credential to add to your resume. They may open the door into project management. There are number of certifications that open the door into an assistant project manager or project coordinator position.

Project Management Certifications: Your First Project Management Job

Once you’ve opened the door into project management with a position on the project management team, your next career step is managing projects on your own. To prepare you for that and give you a credential to secure that opportunity there are number of basic Project Management Certifications in specialty areas like IT, construction, healthcare, business/marketing, and consulting. These certifications do not have the substantial experience requirements of PMI and PRINCE2 certifications. You can earn these certifications in your first year or two working in the project management profession. This first certification is a credibility builder because it is relevant to a particular specialty. If your skills and this credential lead to managing small projects, your PM career is on its way.

Project Management Certifications: Moving Up to Larger and More Complex Projects

When your successes on smaller projects create the opportunity to move up to larger more complex projects (and more compensation,) you may need to add an advanced Project Management Certification. These are particularly relevant in specialty areas like IT, construction, healthcare, business/ marketing etc. These advanced certifications give you sophisticated tools for estimating costs and duration, analyzing risks, managing stakeholders, leading large teams, and making presentations to executives with advanced tracking and status reporting.

Project Management Certifications: The Multiple-Choice Certification

The next step is probably earning a certification from the Project Management Institute (the PMP)® or PRINCE2®. They require 3 to 5 years of experience managing projects. These certifications may not add practical skills but they are certainly credibility builders within your organization and when you’re searching for a new job. At this point in your career, you have a substantial amount of experience, but to earn these certifications, you need to forget most of it. The multiple-choice exams are academic and focused on knowing the detailed steps in a formal project management process. However, the investment of time and effort in gaining these certifications is worthwhile for many people.

Project Management Certifications: Managing Multiple Projects and Portfolios

The final project management career step before you move into an executive management position is to manage multiple projects, programs and portfolios. This requires many new skills beyond those you acquired in managing large projects. You’ll need training for allocating resources across multiple projects based on priorities that you’ve helped the executives establish. The political, communication and presentation requirements for effective multi-project management are substantial. There are Project Management Certifications that give you the practical skills for transition into this highest level of project management.

Project Phases – Video

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
Dick’s Books on Amazon

Managing a project is a sequence of steps that are called the project phases. This is not to say that there aren’t surprises and it certainly doesn’t mean there’s only one thing happening at a time. But there are identifiable project phases that are planned and executed. The project manager and sponsor must reach agreement on which phases are going to be used on each project and how much time and money will be invested in each phase. One size of project management does not fit all projects. As we discuss the project phases, we’ll talk about what phases you can do for two types of projects: a small project done within a department and a larger project done for a customer or client.


Real-world Project Management: Assessment and Feasibility

Project Phases – Initiation Steps: SOW and Charter

When we initiate a project, we begin the planning process. That’s where we identify what the project should produce. The project sponsor usually initiates the project with a document called a statement of work or SOW. That document gives the project manager information about what end result the sponsor wants from the project. Then the project manager will meet with the sponsor and talk about the deliverables the project has to produce. The major deliverable is the project scope and that’s the business result the project sponsor wants. Even on a small project, during the initiation phase the sponsor and the project manager will identify the major deliverables that will lead them from where they are now to the major deliverable, the project scope.

Let’s start the discussion with a small project example. All the work may be done within one department where the project manager works for the department manager who is the project sponsor and the boss of all the project team members. The sponsor will create the SOW and then work with the project manager to define the major deliverables. Then they might go straight to developing the project charter which is the final step of the initiation phase. The charter lays out the scope and deliverables, the resources required and the risks that have to be managed. It also gives rough estimates of the project’s budget and duration. That might be all that’s needed to initiate a small project.

On a larger project, one done for a client for example, there may be many more steps in the initiation phase. The organization in which the project is being performed may require a feasibility study to document the likelihood of success and the costs and resources required. Before granting initial project approval, the organization may require a formal business case which documents the return on investment, the cost/benefit analysis and the payback of the proposed project. The project manager might begin the process of identifying stakeholders and their requirements during initiation. They will use that information to analyze the project’s scope as well as the high-level risks. As the scale and importance of the project increases, the initiation phase changes to an effort that may require weeks of effort by a team of people. Even on a large project the initiation phase ends with the charter, just like the small project. The charter is going to be longer and contain a lot more data but it is the document that, when approved, authorizes the sponsor and project manager to begin detailed planning of the project.

Project Phases – Planning Steps: Management Plans, Schedules, Budgets and Risks

After the charter is approved by the sponsor or by the organization, the project planning phase begins. It includes two kinds of plans. The project manager prepares project management plans. These plans tell the team and the sponsor how they will manage the project scope, schedule, cost and budgets, procurement, risk, human resources, quality, stakeholders and change control.

On small projects, some of these management plans may only state, “We are not going to track costs and budgets on this project because the costs are included in the department budget.” That is a totally adequate small project management plan for costs. The management plans specify what specific techniques we will use to manage each of the above areas, who will be accountable for the management and control process and how much resource we will use. The reason this approach is a best practice is because when we start executing the project plan, all the decisions have been made and we can focus on executing as efficiently as possible. The overall project management plan includes specific plans like the project schedule and also the project management plans for schedule which tells us how were going to manage the schedule. The project planning phase tells everyone what they are supposed to do, how they are supposed to do it and when we will begin to execute the plan.

Project Phases – Executing the Plan Steps

The executing phase of a project is where all the work gets done, all the money gets spent and all the tasks get completed to produce the deliverables. If the project manager has done his or her job correctly, it is a fairly straightforward process because people follow the plans and execute them.  The risks that the project faces have been mitigated or avoided and other problems have been corrected as they occurred.  The executing phase should be boring.

Project Phases – Monitoring, Controlling and Managing Change Request Steps

The monitoring phase of the project happens at the same time as the executing phase. Every week the project manager compares what the project team produced versus what was planned. Any differences between the plan and actual results are variances. The project manager reports the variances between plan and actual in a weekly status report to the project sponsor. In that report, the project manager details what is happening on the project and provides a sponsor with forecasts of when the project will be finished and what the actual costs will be. If things are not going according to plan, the project manager will also prepare plans to fix the problems and bring the project back into alignment with its plan. Hopefully the sponsor approves these corrective actions and the project manager implements them. The goal is to deliver what was planned; no more and no less.

Controlling the project is the second half of this phase or project step. The project manager is handling requests for changes to the promised deliverables and the project plan. The purpose of change control is not to prevent all changes. The project manager must carefully analyze every change request and its impact on the project budget, duration, risk, quality and resources. The project manager analyzes every requested change and quantifies the impact on the project budget and duration. They should make a specific recommendation for every change request and then forward it to the sponsor. The project manager wants to get the sponsor’s approval of the budget and time required to complete the project including the requested changes. When this process is not in place, the project suffers from scope creep. That’s where the deliverables expand and change over time without any adjustment in the project budget or duration. Scope creep causes significant variances to the plan because of changes to the scope and deliverables. It is a major source of project failure.

Project Phases – Closing Steps

When the last deliverable is produced and accepted by the project sponsor and stakeholders, the final step is project closeout. The project manager makes sure all the vendors are paid and all deliverables are formally accepted by the appropriate stakeholders. But the primary purpose of closeout is to make future projects more successful. As part of the closing routine, the project manager conducts a lessons learned meeting with the sponsor, stakeholders and team members. They discuss what went well and what did not as well as how problems should be handled differently next time. The project manager archives those lessons learned meeting notes so that project managers who start a similar project have the benefit of the lessons that were learned from the current project. The archive for a completed project should include the management plans that were developed for the project as well as the schedule, budget, change requests, plus the estimated and the actual costs and hours worth of work. This latter data makes the estimating of a new project much much easier. With all that work completed, the project manager is ready for a new assignment.