Google Project Management Professional Certificate Journey – Part I

The Google Project Management Professional Certificate course is a stepping stone anyone who wants to enter the world of project management. The course covers the fundamentals skills for being a successful project manager, for transitioning to a project manager role or changing careers to a project management role.

The Professional Certifications consists of six courses:

  • Foundations of Project Management
  • Project Initiation: Starting a Successful Project
  • Project Planning: Putting It All Together
  • Project Execution: Running the Project
  • Agile Project Management
  • Capstone: Applying Project Management in the Real World

Foundations of Project Management

In this course, the foundations were laid down – what is a project? what is project management? what are the job titles of people who work as a project manager? Then, I learnt about the main tasks carried out by a project manager – planning & organizing, managing tasks, budgeting and controlling costs. Apart from these, a project manager should be able to focus on the customer, build a team, prioritize work, delegate work and have effective communication skills. Some important skills of a project manager are to enable decision making, flexibility, strong organizational skills, communication and escalation. Depending on the organization or the project, you might have to follow a traditional methodology like Waterfall model or an iterative methodology like Agile/Scrum. We also learn about two common types of organizational structure – traditional hierarchical model and matrix model. This course set the foundations for everything one needs to understand when venturing into the world of project management.

Project Initiation: Starting a Successful Project

Things get a bit more intense from hereon. We learn about the project management life cycle and deep dive into the first phase – Initiation of a project. We learn about the various components in this phase:

  • Goals
  • Scope
  • Deliverables
  • Success Criteria
  • Stakeholders
  • Resources


Goal is something that is getting achieved as part of the project. It is good to set SMART goals for the project. SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound. For a goal to to specific, it should answer some of these questions – What is the goal accomplishing? Why is this a goal? Who is involved? Where should it be delivered? A goal is considered measurable when there is a specific metrics aligned towards the goal. For eg., increase the profits by 10% by the end of the year. A goal is considered to be attainable when the ask of the goal is reasonable or feasible. This can be checked by looking into the historical data. For eg., if the profits are increasing year on year by 5% already, then an additional 5% increase in a year is a reasonable ask, whereas a 50% immediate increase in not reasonable. A goal should be relevant, that is, it should make sense towards the business objectives of the organization. Finally, a goal should be time bound. A definite time frame should be defined in the goal. For eg., increase sales by 20% in 6 months.

While we learnt about goals, we also came across something called a OKR. OKR is Objective + Key Results. Objective defines what needs to be done and Key Results defines the desired outcome. OKRs combine a goal and a metric to determine a measurable outcome. Generally, OKRs are more aggressive than a goal, it helps the team to try to achieve something that they haven’t already.


Scope is the boundaries of a project; an agreed-upon understanding as to what is included or excluded from a project. A thorough understanding of the project is important before the scope is finalized. Timeline, budget and resources should be included in the scope. Changes, growth, and uncontrolled factors that affect a project’s scope at any point after the project begins is knows a scope creep. It is always beneficial to have the scope creep in control because if scope changes, then the cost or time will get impacted. We learn about this from the triple constraint model – the combination of the three most significant restrictions of any project: scope, time, and cost. A process should be defined to evaluate and decide whenever there is a scope change coming up.


Deliverable is a tangible outcome from a project; what gets produced or presented at the end of a task, event, or process. It can be a website, a mobile app, a training program or a report

Success Criteria

Success Criteria – The standards that measure how successful a project was in reaching its goals. It tells if the project was successful or not. It mentions the specific details about the goals and deliverables. There is a misconception that people consider the project to be successful when it is launched. A project launch is when the project is delivered to the client or the end users. At this time it is not know if the end result is being used or not. Ideally, a project is considered to be successful when it has landed. Landing means to measure the success of a project using the success criteria established at the outset of the project. Metrics like customer adoption matrix and customer engagement matrix can be helped to determine is the project landed successfully for not.


Resources are the budget, people, materials, and other items needed for a project. When determining if the budget is correct, al the factors like salary to employees, infrastructure cost, software cost, hardware cost, vendor costs etc. needs to be considered. While choosing a team, the project manager needs to find the required roles, the team size, necessary skills, availability and the motivation level of the people who are going to work on the project. There might be cases where the project manager is directly given a team, in that case the project manager should use his/her communication and leadership skills to talk, understand and motivate the team.


Stakeholder is anyone involved in the project who has a vested interest in the project’s success. The stakeholder can be the project sponsor, project manager, project team members, department heads, CEO, end users etc. It is beneficial to perform a stakeholder analysis to make sure we understand the influence and interest of each stakeholder so that we can make sure we communicate or discuss with them accordingly. Stakeholder analysis is a visual representation of all the stakeholders that illustrates which stakeholders are taking on which responsibilities; also called “stakeholder mapping”. Three steps are followed in stakeholder analysis – list all the stakeholders, determine the level of interest & influence of each stakeholder and finalize their involvement & participation.

Another important tool is a RACI chart – A visual that helps to define roles and responsibilities for individuals or teams to ensure work gets done efficiently; lists who is  “responsible,” “accountable,” “consulted,” and “informed” for project tasks. As part of the course, I had the opportunity to perform stakeholder analysis and to create a RACI chart. I really enjoyed doing these activities as it gave me hands-on experience.

Stakeholder analysis
Stakeholder Power Grid
RACI Chart

Finally, the course teaches you how to make a project charter – a document that clearly defines the key details of a project. There is no defined format for a project charter but it generally covers the following – executive summary, project goal, deliverables business case, benefits, costs, budgets, scope, project team and success criteria. This the project charter that I created as part of this course.

I am moving ahead to the next course in the Google Project management Professional Certificate – Project Planning: Putting It All Together. I will post about my learnings and a summary of the course once I finish it.

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