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I am a mid-level project manager working in the IT Industry, in the UK. I enjoy my current job, which I've been in for one year, and it has good prospects, but one for one thing: I don't handle any project finances. This is because we deliver our work exclusively to another company in the group, who pay for our time by purchasing 100% of us as professional services. They generally task us directly, having done their own ROI due diligence.

Because of that, I never have a project budget to manage, so I lose the cost and benefits elements of the traditional time, cost, quality, risk scope and benefits control. I do have to justify ROI of our time internally, but even then only rarely and weakly.

I'm concerned that when I try to progress and am interviewed for a new job, I will have weak finance and benefit control examples and be unsuccessful. To counter that I have been looking for relevant and well-known finance qualifications that I could do in my own time, and use as proof of skill and commitment when I need it. I've not been able to find anything appropriate: I considered AAT, but that seems to be far too in depth for what I need, and all of the others I have seen wouldn't provide a recognised qualification. Can you recommend some, or provide a completely different perspective?

To put this in the context of my long term career aspirations: I hold technical BSc and MSc degrees, I started my career as a software developer, I progressed to become a project manager with PRINCE2 Practitioner and Certified Scrum Master qualifications, and I'm a BCS Chartered Engineer. In my previous project management job, I did manage a £1M budget successfully. My long term aspiration is a senior, strategic role, such as Head of IT or IT Director.

  • AAT is definitely overkill unless you plan to become an accountant – JohnHC Jan 9 '17 at 11:52
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    What tool are you using to manage your projects? – Mister Positive Jan 9 '17 at 11:55
  • We are doing 'agile' projects here, so we're using the Atlassian suite, primarily JIRA and Confluence. – Daniel Jan 9 '17 at 11:59
  • Not sure about that tool from a finance perspective. Even if you don't control it, I would suggest doing it anyway for practice. Maybe the other folks might share their financial information with you. If so, you could compare your numbers with theirs. – Mister Positive Jan 9 '17 at 12:06
  • Also a digital PM, the level of budgeting I have to do is to keep track of spending in an Excel spreadsheet and making sure profit margins are 60% based on the sell price of the project. Does not require a hell of a lot of maths. – bobo2000 Jan 9 '17 at 12:10
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Finance in project management ( IT or other area) is more about arbitration than accounting. For harcore accounting stuff your company ( if big enough) should a have a finance departement.

As project manger (usually) your job regarding finance is to choose where to spend it :

  • hire a new technical or a new sales?
  • if loosing money what should we cut?
  • If the earning are low what is your strategic proposal to increase it?
  • you have 10 millions USD to do 10 tests, your technical guy will tell you 9 is enough, so maybe you can save money but it the final product will be lesss secure, what do you choose?
  • Your project is beyond schedule and you need 30% more money, you need to justify it
  • how to bill your client? what specific details to put in the contract so it is the most advantageous for your company?

All these decisions are best learned when doing it, I am not sure getting a degree will help you as a reference to reach the kind of position your want.

If you want to be a director :

  • get an MBA ( in some company if they believe in you they can pay for it).
  • get more involved in the strategic decisions of your company. You can ask your direct manager (or higher) to give you mentorship on this matter. You can also ask that they increase your responsabilities. A lot of people help if asked. (But be carefull, maybe your boss is really happy to have you in the position your are currently holding and doesn't want you to leave).

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