8 Huge project management training hoaxes/myths

Aladins lampProject management training should be the biggest enabler for the growth and success of any organisation. But because of these hoaxes/myths perpetuated by vendors and ill informed managers alike, the return on investment in project management training is often poor to negligible. Let’s explore these hoaxes/myths.


1. Passing Prince2 practitioner makes you a project manager

This is the biggest hoax of all and yet we still pump millions of pounds into Prince2 training every year. Prince2 is a very good project management methodology. But very few organisations use it ‘out of the box’ or even follow it closely.

Yet most Prince2 training necessarily follows the methodology slavishly. I say necessarily because the objective of all these courses is to enable you to pass an exam. Almost as much time is spent in these courses on exam technique, practice and taking the exam as covering the syllabus.

What organisations that have implemented Prince2 need is training that helps their people understand how to apply Prince2 in practical ways in their organisation, using the methodology as they have implemented it, not some generic approach from a text book.

What is more, Prince2 covers but a fraction of what a project manager needs to know and understand to become truly effective. So getting the practitioner badge says very little about your ability to actually manage a project. Learning about Prince2 and passing the exams are laudable achievements but only if part of a wider learning and experience gathering exercise to become a project manager.


2. Training project managers in project management is enough to fix project delivery issues

Delivering projects is a team thing. And that team is quite wide as it includes people from the business as well as the project delivery team. It includes the sponsor and other key stakeholders. It can involve multiple departments and third party suppliers.

But if only the project manager knows anything about how the project needs to be managed, how can the other members of this extended team do all that they need to do to support the project manager. If the sponsor doesn’t understand anything about project management will he give the project manager the support he needs or will he set ridiculous timeframes or unrealistically small budgets?

A successful Formula 1 racing team is successful because everyone in the team understands what the driver needs to achieve. They all know enough about driving to be able to relate their role to the end goal. The same goes for project management. It’s far too important to be for project managers alone.


3. Senior managers are too busy to learn about project management

This is an excuse I have heard from many a sponsor or steering committee member. But in reality they are too busy NOT to learn about project management. Projects are an integral part of every successful organisation. They are the means of delivering change and driving an organisation forward. And senior managers are at the heart of that growth so they MUST have an understanding of project management.

You wouldn’t give an executive hundreds of thousands of pounds to hire more resources if he didn’t know how to manage those people and the work they will do. So why give that same executive hundreds of thousands of pounds to spend on a project if he hasn’t got a clue on how it will be managed.


4. Project management – that’s planning, methodologies and risks isn’t it?

To many people project management is all about planning, about following a lifecycle and, if they have been around a bit, managing the risks associated with these activities. As a result most project management training focuses on those topics.

But in reality, projects are all about people. They are delivered by people, for people and impacting people. So a good project manager has to be a manager of people in all its guises. Recruiter, coach, mentor, arbitrator, referee (as in conflict resolution), negotiator, manager of expectations etc. etc.

Yet few project management courses touch on these subjects. When they are taught, it is done separately and not in the context of a project.


5. Who needs training – A new project management tool will solve all our problems

Project management tools have come on leaps and bounds in the last few years. And there are many tools not typically associated with project management that can help the project manager (see my occasional Friday block posts for more on these).

But a tool is only as good as the skills of the person using it and the data that person has available to them. Give three cooks the same ingredients and you’ll three different dishes depending on their skill and interpretation. Leave out a key ingredient and no amount of skill will deliver a great cake. Garbage in, garbage out!

What’s more, the more sophisticated the tool and the higher the data requirements, the more prone to break down in process. Before long the tool is seen as a bureaucratic overhead and it falls into disuse.


6. Who needs training – Processes are the route to project management success

Project management does rely on a sound bedrock of processes. These are designed to minimise workload and ensure consistency across the business. But as we discussed above, projects are all about people. Good processes create the band width for the project manager to handle the people side of delivering the project. Projects cannot be delivered by processes alone.


7. Cutting the training budget saves money

When an organisation is struggling to hit financial targets the top three budget lines to be cut are travel, marketing and training. I have never understood the rationale for any of these cuts. If the travel was necessary, then it still is and should go ahead. Any company that thinks it can trade its way out of difficulty without continuing to engage with its customers is mad, so the marketing budget stays. That leaves training.

A properly structured and applied training budget does two things. Firstly it develops the skills the organisation needs going forwards. Secondly it is a key motivational tool for the staff. Training gives them the opportunity to grow and develop. It gives them the skills to take the company forward.

Cut the training budget and yes, you can save short term money. But the long term loss of productivity, motivation and staff retention can be significant.


8. Project management training is boring

Well if project management were to be just about planning and risks and methodologies. If it were just a bunch of tools and processes, then yes the training would be boring.

But as we’ve discussed, it is far more than that. It is about people and relationships and they are never boring. And with the right training tools and techniques all aspects of project management can be brought together and the training can be fun.

Did I say project management training could be fun? Watch the video below to find out how.


If you’d like to find out more about having some fun training project managers, hit the reply button and send me a message with your contact details. I’ll get right back to you.

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7 comments on “8 Huge project management training hoaxes/myths
  1. KC says:

    Great aspects to ‘Ponder’ in the Project Management space. Certification does provide a certain level of understanding of ‘what, why, who, when, etc…’ about the process and methodologies. Still the aspect of understanding the final objective, the players and being knowledgeable of the ‘domain’ coupled with people management skills is very important. People Management needs to be an important aspect of PM certification.

  2. Satish says:

    It will be iinteresting to do a survey to findout how many PMs use all that is in (tools/ techniques/ process) PRINCE2, APMP, MSP, PMI and how many simply work on building and nurturing a relationship with stakeholders and sponsors.

    Is Common Sense common?

    • admin says:

      That could be the basis for an interesting survey. Watch your inbox – something may be appearing soon…..


  3. Jim Dewberry says:

    I provide foundation level PM training for a large multi-national ( for who I previously worked). I do this across SE Asia and occasionally in the US. I often encounter attendees who have formal qualification in PM, ( they attend to understand the company’s process). We have used Simultrain for the past 5 years. I am regularly amazed at the lack of application the so called ‘qualified’ attendees show.

    • admin says:


      Thanks for the comment. We have a saying in the UK that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I think it depends on if the dog wants to learn. Many people ‘get the badge’ of certification or qualification like ~Prince2 Practitioner and think they are now qualified and don’t really need to learn. Good project managers are always looking to develop there skills and learn and see something like Prince2 for what it should be, a useful tool in the armoury.

      Good to hear SimulTrain is in use through out Asia. I think its a great tool that brings out all aspects of project management. I recommend its use in all my face to face training.


  4. Sanjeev says:

    Well said Allan. All points are absolutely relevant. I was thinking about these for some time. In this post, you provided me with the right words. Thanks a lot.


  5. DevCDev says:

    Once again a brilliant post. Great insight into what is actually going on in the market place, too many myths. People are the essence in any project so nurture them.

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