Microsoft Advances Its Project Management Technology and the Project Management Profession

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 20, 2006 – The growing number and complexity of projects that companies must manage has led to rapid growth in the demand for highly skilled project management practitioners. Reflecting this growing demand is the dramatic increase in membership in the Project Management Institute (PMI), the leading membership association for the project management profession. PMI, the first project management standards body to achieve recognition by ANSI (American National Standards Institute), has seen its membership grow from 17,058 members in 1995 to nearly 220,000 in 150 countries today.

Microsoft is highlighting its commitment to customers and the project management profession as the Official Host Sponsor of the PMI Global Congress 2006 – North America in Seattle, Oct. 21 – 24. PMI Global Congresses are the premier educational and networking events for project practitioners.

During the event, the company will preview Microsoft Office Project 2007 and reveal details of a new credential program designed to set a new standard of quality in the use of its tools. Microsoft Office Project 2007, which is expected to be released to businesses by the end of calendar year 2006 with general availability in early 2007, is also the first version of Office Project to offer newly acquired portfolio management tools, reflecting Microsoft’s commitment to lead in this growing market segment.

“PMI’s Global Congress provides us with a great opportunity to preview Office Project 2007 to an audience with the knowledge and experience to fully appreciate our new technology,” says Mike Angiulo, general manager of Microsoft’s Office Project business unit. “It also provides an ideal showcase for our ‘First-To-Market’ partners that have solutions ready to run on the Office Project 2007 platform when it ships later this year. Featuring this growing number of solutions demonstrates to customers the rapid adoption of our new technology. “It also demonstrates the breadth of solutions that they can expect to see in the coming months to address specialized scenarios including government compliance and quality management in vertical markets.” 

Microsoft will also be announcing its new “EPM Connect” program, which provides customers with a hosted online environment where they can find and experience custom solutions that are built on the new Microsoft Office Project 2007 platform. The new portal helps eliminate the complexity and cost associated with internal deployment for evaluation and proof of concept.

“Microsoft’s new training and certification product lines, some of which are being independently announced concurrent with PMI® Global Congress 2006 – North America, were developed after consulting the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge – Third Edition (PMBOK Guide – Third Edition),” says Gregory Balestrero, PMI’s chief executive officer. “This is proof of how two independent organizations can complement one another for the benefit of the project management profession as a whole. As the global voice of the profession, PMI cannot endorse Microsoft’s products, yet the Institute looks forward to working with tools providers, such as Microsoft, in the pursuit of helping organizations successfully complete projects and deliver business results.”

Microsoft Office Project 2007 Certification and Curriculum Program

Microsoft Learning General Manager Lutz Ziob explained the underlying design goals of Microsoft’s new Credential program and the significant role of PMI’s PMBOK Guide as a foundation for supporting specific Microsoft Office Project 2007 competencies.

“Our new certification and curriculum program provides a fundamental framework of proven best practices, and the practical, hands-on skills approach Microsoft’s certification and training program will provide,” Ziob says. “The PMBOK Guide, which generically identifies the use of tools in the practice of the profession, provides a strong foundation on which our customers, many of whom are already project management professionals, can build specific Microsoft Office Project 2007 competencies. This will improve project outcomes and the value that our customers receive when building solutions on our platform.”

Project management skills are recognized as an increasingly strategic and critical asset in companies of all sizes and in virtually all industries. To identify, attract and retain these vital workers and help increase their value, many leading organizations are developing their own career path models that are based on the assessment of project management skills and competencies. For example, Siemens AG, one of the world’s largest electrical engineering and electronics companies, has developed its own Project Manager Career Advancement program which it now uses as a key HR management tool. This program uses an assessment of skills and related job experience as a measure of competency and qualification for filling specific project manager roles across the company.

“Siemens is pleased to actively support Microsoft’s introduction of a professional credential program as part of its Office Project 2007 product launch,” says Siemens vice president Rick Gage. “Project business is a significant factor for Siemens’ future success. Toward this end, we continue to invest in training to develop our project management skills and abilities. Effective training costs less than learning the hard way on a project. It is our intent to integrate Microsoft’s professional credential for Office Project 2007 into our extensive internal training program.”

Microsoft Certifications for Project Managers

Three new certifications will be introduced to address the needs of people using the Microsoft Office Project 2007 desktop and the EPM solution. The credentials are designed to be incorporated into training programs that provide a progressive career path and promote high standards. These certifications also align with Microsoft’s support for the People-Ready business, the company’s commitment to prepare users with critical skills and competencies that lead to successful project outcomes and greater efficiencies. Microsoft’s Certified Partners for Learning Solutions can now participate in the opportunity of preparing users to migrate to the advanced functionality of Office Project 2007 EPM.

“The complexity of project management is driving the need for a more educated practitioner,” says Ziob. “Microsoft is committed to advancing the project management profession. This is especially important as project management evolves from a desktop application to an increasingly strategic enterprise level business solution. For end users, the new certifications will help them gain measurable skills and industry recognized credentials to help advance their careers. For employers, the credentials will help identify and assign qualified employees to improve project management results.”

International Institute for Learning, Inc. (IIL), a leading provider of Project, Program, and Portfolio management training and consulting, is very excited and pleased about the opportunity presented by building specialized curriculums that extend and add value to the new Microsoft credential program, explains Laverne Johnson, CEO.  “We see this core set of Microsoft credentials as a great value for our global customers, since it offers them a set of broadly recognized standards of practice and competencies in the use of Microsoft Project 2007 that we can tailor through our own value add curriculums to meet their specific needs and business models.”

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