How to become a Project Officer/Development Officer
27/04/2011 9:41 pm
I have Admin exp but would like to become a Project Officer/Development Officer.
I am unsure as to what steps to take next. For example, how do I learn to negotiate a s106 agreement? Is Prince 2 as the project management course necessary?
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03/05/2011 12:48 pm
Hi, a very tough question. Development is probably the hardest area to get into, partly because there are not many jobs around at the moment and partly because it's traditionally a field where experience is all-important.
Prince 2 is certainly something that can be useful, but it is far from the be all and end all. S106 negotiations are, as said above, something you learn. There's no rules, it's just about securing a deal that you're happy with.
I think your best approach would be to let your manager and a senior manager on the development side know that you'd like to try out development. Development teams are always very busy and always swamped with paperwork so are normally glad to have someone else to lend a hand. It's a hard slog from there and you have to work through a lot of tedium but, if you have a good team, you will start to learn more and pick up some responsibility.
Your other option is to look into a related degree subject, ideally an RICS accredited surveying degree with a specialism in development available. Having worked in development for well over a decade, I have found that technical skills and knowledge amongst development stafff is very poor indeed and having some background in this area can stand you in very good stead.
03/05/2011 1:49 pm
Sancho is bang on the money.
Whilst a qualification will help you (and any department you work in by plugging knowledge gaps), there simply isn't a qualification that will give you the skills and knowledge for the job all by itself. Having said that, I have had a lot of staff do degrees and qualifications like Prince 2 whilst on the job and get a lot out of it.
My recommendation would be to look out for a low level secondment or maternity cover (entry level officer or even administrator - development admins can end up with significant amount of responsibility and knowledge). If you can get in and learn the ropes that way, taking a professional course whilst doing the job would really help you out.
Unfortunately though there is no quick fix answer, a lot of RP development staff fell into their first job in development for one reason or another and either survived or didn't. Its high speed, high pressure and a huge learning curve. Its really only the experience that gets you up that curve!
26/05/2011 6:12 pm
I would propose that they look generally at familiarising themselves with the development environment, Project Management courses are not fundamental more a broad understanding of construction processes and the different people involved. In my experience those that have been successful in moving from admin to development have worked in development departments initially understanding processes and building confidence around construction.
The number of people involved from legal services, construction professionals through to developers and contractors mean that the ability to build and maintain relationships is far more advantageous.
The nature of development is complex and every project has its own set of individual problems meaning that you are constantly on a learning curve. S106 agreements are a small element of the development field and although a good starting point to understand the parties involved, the process of negotiation can be more based around broader business objectives.
26/05/2011 6:25 pm
Without wishing to be flippant you probably need to become an assistant project /development officer or at least have provided admin support to project/development officers so you have an insight into the role.
You need to get hold of a Job Description and Person Specification for one of these posts. You can do this by requesting details of such a post when it is advertise ,it doesn't matter where the job is at this stage you just want to see what employers are looking for in terms of experience,skills and knowledge.
Once you know this then you can identify your gaps and think about how you would fill them in order to apply for a post when one come up in your locality. So do you meet the educational qualifications does the post require degree level or just good basic education? What skills are required, you mention negotiating skills well how would you demonstrate this in your current post or in your life outside of work? Is knowledge of housing legislation essential or desirable if essential then this doesn't mean you have to have been on a course it means you need to refer to the legislation in your application form and be confident you can answer a question on this in the interview.
The easiest way to get this knowledge is to talk to people working in housing. Don't get to hung up on legislation its more about policies and procedures which you learn on the job.