Avoid costly mistakes in project management training

iStock_000019584605XSmall - successWhenever you look at training there are always two perspectives that matter: the individual and the organisation.

From the individual’s perspective, they want training to give them two things. The first is an improved ability to do their job. The second is they want that improved ability to be transferable. They want to improve their market worth, either internally within their current organisation, or externally in the wider job market. Project management is a highly transferable and increasingly sought after skill and for that reason many employees are looking for career paths and enhancement in the project management space. I will be writing a separate blog post on getting started in, and developing, your project management career in the coming weeks.

This article is going to focus on the organisation’s perspective. But if properly implemented, project management training can be a win-win situation for the organisation and the individual. When project management training is badly implemented it can be a costly lose-lose situation for both parties.

So what are the costly mistakes?


Implementing a project management training programme in your organisation is an investment. That investment is not just in paying for courses or training materials, but it’s also an investment in the time of the people selecting and implementing the training, in attending the courses, in following up and embedding the learning, and in the resulting changes in project performance.

Sounds a bit like a project to me, and shouldn’t a project have a business case? Shouldn’t it have objectives, critical success factors and tangible, measurable benefits? Too many decisions on project management training are made without this rigour.

2ndThe right content

Given a particular need, what do most people do first? They search Google. If you perform an Google search for project management training there will be thousands of options presented to you. As in all internet searches the top of the list will be paid for results, or advertisements. Will these be the best? Possibly. But they will definitely be the most lucrative for the training companies because they’ve worked out how much they can spend to attract new customers. How do you choose?

Well, the first task should be to decide the content you need your training programme to cover based on the objectives and success criteria we discussed for the business case. You also need to decide the level of detail you are going to cover. Are you setting guidelines and principles or do you need to get down to the nitty-gritty of things like detailed planning?

You also need to consider how the content is going to be delivered. To be useful, remembered and deployed back in the workplace training needs to be engaging, thought provoking and, if possible, fun. Everyone remembers what they were doing when they had fun.

So badly chosen content and poorly thought out delivery and engagement are mistake number 2.

3rdThe right audience

We’re training project managers right? So what’s the mistake? The mistake is that it’s not just project managers that need to understand about project management. Project management is big job covering a lot of skill areas and for many large projects one person cannot hope to cover all the subject areas in depth. They need help and support. But if the people providing that help and support don’t understand the wider aspects of project management, they could make bad decisions or cause problems.

Project management has a language of its own. Put someone in a foreign country where they don’t speak the local language and the locals don’t speak their language and they are going to struggle to get anything done. He may be able to use sign language and gradually pick up some words and phrases but he is going to struggle. The same is true of a project manager where nobody else in the organisation speaks ‘project’.

You need to identify who else in your organisation needs to ‘speak project’ – sponsors, senior users or accountable executives, team leaders, PMOs etc.

How to avoid the mistakes

Street signsBack in the early 1990’s I helped build and deliver an award winning project management training course for Midland Bank (now part of HSBC). Based on that experience I have developed a three stage process to take you through selecting the right project management training programme for your organisation. I am making this available as a three part video series and it’s completely free. Click here or on the screen below and sign-up. I’d love to get your feedback.

3 pitfalls screen

Selecting the right project management training programme
Free 3 part video series – click to sign up

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