Blogging AllianceBruce HarphamProject Management

Are You Building Professional Assets as a Project Manager?


Assets are a fundamental building block of success in the business world. My favourite definition of an asset comes from the classic personal finance book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki:

An Asset is something that puts money in my pocket.

Of course, you can substitute time and resources for money in the above definition. As project managers, we make use of organizational assets – procedures, checklists and systems – to work on our projects. If we deliver, our projects also create assets for the organization. What about our careers? What assets are we creating to put more money, time and other assets in our pockets?

Let me share with you five assets you can use to enhance your career. Feel free to use these assets directly or use them as inspiration to build your own assets.

1) Career Management Document (with quarterly updates)

The career management document, a stroke of genius from Manager Tools, is a file that documents all your career achievements. It is much, much longer than your resume. The document includes copies of performance reviews, thank you notes from colleagues (especially detailed ones) and details on your accomplishments.

Investment Required

The time required to create the career management document initially will depend on the length of your career. As a guideline, expect to work one hour on your resume per year of work experience (i.e. if you have five years of experience, creating the first career management document will take around five hours). Once the document is created, you will need to spend an hour or two each quarter adding new material.

How This Asset Benefits You

It is commonly accepted wisdom that customized résumés (i.e. written to meet the requirements of the role) tend to yield better results. When you have a full career document, preparing for interviews and writing custom résumés becomes easier.

A detailed career management document also provides a boost to your confidence. It feels great to see all of your achievements laid out on the page.

2) Current Contact List (with quarterly updates)

With increasing reliance on Facebook, LinkedIn and other tools, you may think that a contact list is no longer needed, but in actuality, a contact list is a key career asset. The contact list simply provides the name, physical address, phone numbers and email addresses of your current and former colleagues, clients, family members and other important people.

Investment Required

You can create a current contact list of about 100 people in roughly a week. For best results, email a copy of the spreadsheet to your personal email account and keep a printed copy at home.

How This Asset Benefits You

Corporate employees may assume that their company-provided email application (e.g. Microsoft Outlook and/or the employee directory) provides everything they need. What happens when you leave the organization? With a current contact list, you can easily stay in touch with former colleagues.

3) Weekly Review

meetingXI learned the Weekly Review concept from Getting Things Done by David Allen, an outstanding book for learning the art of productivity. Once a week, I open a template Excel spreadsheet I created and check off the tasks. I review my calendar, my email accounts and other activities. Interested readers can contact me by leaving a comment on this article if you would like a copy of the template.

Without fail, the Weekly Review gives me a sense of a control over my calendar. Of course, I don’t pretend to be perfect. However, the Weekly Review remains one of the best tools to put you back in control of your time.

Investment Required

The weekly review generally requires 30-90 minutes of time to execute each week. At first, the Weekly Review process will take longer to complete as you learn the process.

How This Asset Benefits You

Have you ever forgot an appointment or failed to follow up on an email? It has happened to all of us. The Weekly Review is one of the tools that professionals use to prevent those embarrassing oversights from happening. If you include “review annual goals” as a task in your Weekly Review, the process will keep you focused on your true priorities.

4) Standard Meeting Agenda

Meetings are an essential tool to get work done, whether you’re running a charity or an engineering firm. As the organizer of a meeting, you are expected to structure the meeting. With a template to guide you, meetings become much easier to manage.

As a minimum, I suggest your standard meeting agenda have the following elements:

  • Attendees: list their names and roles (this is especially important if your meetings routinely involve people from outside your department or company)
  • Meeting logistics: date, time, conference line and other needed details
  • Discussion points: a numbered list of items to be discussed
  • Action Items: the section where you assign work to carry out decisions made in the meeting

Time Investment

Creating a meeting template will take less than an hour. Assuming your organization has no preferred format, I suggest doing a Google search for “meeting agenda template” and look at a few options. You can adjust the template to meet your needs.

How This Asset Benefits You

You will save time each and every time you arrange or attend a meeting. The meeting template is also an excellent way to take notes. Mastering meetings is a key skill that you cannot afford to neglect.

5) Set Aside Funds For Professional Growth Every Month

About a year into my corporate career, I started saving money for professional development. By setting up a separate savings account for professional growth, it is easier to fund development. For example, you can use the funds to take certification exams such as the Project Management Professional (PMP). You could also use the funds to take online courses, buy a subscription to a magazine or attend a conference.

Tip: Not sure what kind of training to pursue? Read 51 Training Resources For Project Managers for ideas.

How This Asset Benefits You

Depending on your financial situation, allocating money for growth and development is challenging. You may feel that your employer ought to cover these expenses (and sometimes they do!). Do you really want your ability to learn new skills and expand your network to be captive to unpredictable corporate budgets and policies?

calendarChallenge: Build One Professional Asset Next Week

Building assets takes time. What professional asset will you start building next week to enhance your career? If you already feel confident in your career assets, choose one asset to improve and refresh.


For more brilliant insights, check out Bruce’s website: Project Management Hacks

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