BETTER PMP RETENTION THROUGH TRAINING

Project management is a highly competitive field, and experienced, skilled project management professionals are in demand in industries across the spectrum. Retaining key employees continues to be a challenge, with organizations continually looking for innovative and compelling ways to keep high-performing PMPs on board.

One concept that’s often overlooked, even in progressive PMOs, is the role project management training plays in employee retention. As the project management field continues to expand and diversify, it’s no longer enough to offer workers new opportunities for growth and career advancement. Top-level PMPs expect more for their efforts, and a thoughtful, forward-focused training program can be a compelling benefit.

project management training

A well-crafted training initiative contributes to employee retention objectives in several ways. One of the more obvious and traditional concepts is that a wider variety of responsibilities are open to workers when they broaden their skills. On a more intangible level, workers also want to feel valued. They’re investing a portion of themselves every day in the organization, and they prefer to work for an organization that invests in them in return. Along with compensation and general working conditions, these are the kinds of benefits PMPs look for when weighing their employment options.

The details of what constitutes engaging training will vary by organization, but PMOs can use the following tips to maximize the hiring and retention advantages of their particular program.

Training can’t be an afterthought or an add-on. Programs that focus only on baseline skills, that don’t encompass the latest thought leadership on methodologies and best practices, or that only target junior-level team members send the message that the organization doesn’t truly believe in the value of solid project management training. The skill sets needed to successfully execute projects continue to expand. Soft skills, such as leadership and communication, also have greater importance as PMOs increasingly rely on diverse, distributed teams. Training curriculums must keep pace, evolving to meet emerging needs.

Don’t limit training to what your group already knows. Niche skills and insight into best practices are sometimes better found outside the organization. Internal team members are often fantastic repositories of knowledge, but if they’re the only ones contributing to the training program then PMPs aren’t getting the comprehensive education they need and expect. An inside-only program also has the potential to limit the range of skills team members are able to develop. Outside experts are sometimes the best resource for specialized or advanced training, and an organization that recognizes the value of external trainers will set the standard for ongoing education.

Don’t overlook technology training. New tools, software platforms, even mobile applications are often sizeable investments. PMPs want to get the most out of them and training is frequently the best way to make that happen. Maximizing efficiencies is just the tip of the iceberg, though. The latest crop of technology offerings give project teams the power to conduct far more in-depth benchmarking exercises, to produce more granular cost projections, to leverage more comprehensive historical data, and to better allocate finite resources. An organization that takes technology seriously will also give it the attention it deserves when it comes to training.

Make time for training. Too many organizations continue to haphazardly cram training between other duties, shortchanging the entire team in the process. PMPs are often already losing time at the office and at home because of travel schedules and other demands. A company that exacerbates that issue by not carving out sufficient time for training lowers worker satisfaction and compromises the ability to retain key employees. Training is an important activity. Organizations must make it a priority and put real action behind that mission.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING CROSS-SKILLED

Project management teams are comprised of individuals with a variety of backgrounds, experience levels, and skill sets. That’s one of the strengths of the PMO—they possess a deep well of expertise in multiple areas. There are many advantages to this structure, but savvy PMPs are increasingly seeing the need to broaden their capabilities and learn new skills and techniques outside their established disciplines. While the concept is sometimes a tough sell (training costs time and money), those PMOs and project professionals that have embraced the notion of cross-skill training know the advantages are numerous.

Adding skills, particularly those outside the usual project management arena, gives PMPs far more flexibility in the types of projects they tackle. The PMO gains new insight and methodologies for approaching specific issues or problems. Pursuing knowledge in human resources, for example, would allow a PMP to apply more advanced techniques to staff oversight and development. It would also provide them with expertise well suited to managing a project involving the implementation of a new HR technology platform or construction of a space dedicated to candidate interviews and new hire training.

By applying a deeper level of knowledge of the areas and operations a project will impact and ultimately improve, the PMO is able to increase its value to the project’s stakeholders. Team members will be better positioned to function as good project advocates. They will likely have an improved understanding of the challenges stakeholders face as the project impacts their workflow, and deeper insight into how issues that crop up in the project will affect stakeholders and their day-to-day operations.

Expanding the range of skills within the project management discipline also benefits the organization. Studying risk management practices in depth, for example, gives a PMP the ability to take on those projects with a significant risk profile and to better manage or mitigate the liabilities the organization may encounter. In addition, a PMP with risk management expertise is in a position to oversee high-risk projects which might otherwise be outside the scope of the PMO to handle internally.

Even where robust skill sets are already available within a project office, increasing the abilities of team members often pays dividends in the long run. PMPs with extensive backgrounds in finance management, as an example, can cover for each other during vacations or they can team up on projects involving complex financial requirements or finance-focused regulatory oversight. Not every PMP needs to exercise these cross-skills in every project, but having them available is a benefit to the team, to stakeholders, and to the company.

Nearly as important as being cross-skilled is knowing where gaps in expertise exist, at both the individual level as well as across the project office. Not only does this knowledge allow each PMP to focus their training efforts on the areas that will be most beneficial, it also gives the PMO an opportunity to prioritize and plan for filling those gaps appropriately. It may make sense to provide training in a particular area or discipline, or the PMO may choose to identify an external expert if time and budgets lean that direction.

Justifying cross-skill training can be difficult in some organizations. PMPs should be ready with a thorough overview of the specific skills they would like to pursue, along with examples of projects that would have benefitted from having those capabilities in-house. Be sure to include all potential impacts, including workflow efficiencies, cost savings, improved vendor management, reduced time to accomplish specific tasks (e.g., meet compliance deadlines or complete contract negotiations), and the need for fewer labor resources either internal, external, or both.

project management cross skilled training

The Benefits of Including Project Sponsors in Your Training Program

Corporate America invests millions of dollars each year in project management – offices, technology, project management training, and project management consulting support. Conversely, data reflects that even with project management being a relatively common process used at most companies; project success rates do not reflect the investment. Studies show that project management success rates range between 35 to 45% – far from a sensational benchmark to brag about. Bottom line, despite many companies investing in project management infrastructure most projects are not delivered successfully (on-time, within budget and to desired quality). Though the root causes for project failures are many, one glaring deficiency becoming clearer is the lack of project management training at the sponsor level. Project managers usually garner most of the attention for project management training initiatives, followed by team members and software experts. However, project sponsors – those individuals who fill the role of resource provider, key decision maker and remover of obstacles -tend to slip through the training cracks. Including project sponsors (and executive stakeholders) in project management methodology training will help three key areas project sponsors training: (1) better project direction, (2) better project data utilization, and (3) improved cultural adoption of project management.

Common Characteristics of Productive Sponsors

  • Understands the Planning Methodology
  • Provides Active Direction During Planning Sessions
  • Stays Current on the Latest Project Status Report
  • Uses the Project Information Provided to Challenge Teams
  • Commits to Instilling PM in the Corporate Culture
  • Is Present and Engaged During Control Meetings

Better direction

The project sponsor plays a key role in defining the strategic direction of the project and communicating management’s expectations for the project. This information is often times captured in the form of a project charter. If a project sponsor has not been involved in the basic building blocks of project charter development, they often times struggle to provide
clear direction to the project manager. The result is the project manager may drive the team to successfully completing the wrong project! The project sponsor is the conduit between the executive stakeholders and the project manager. Without a clear understanding of how to communicate the objectives of the project, how the objectives of the project determine the key deliverables, and how the project manager can best deliver the project with specified deadlines; the sponsor is ultimately helping to facilitate a failed project. By ensuring your project sponsors are grounded in the same project management methodology as the project manager, you are providing your project manager and team the best opportunity to launching a successful project.

Better Project Data Utilization

Project management information is not very valuable if it is not being utilized effectively. Even the most detailed report package or visually stimulating powerpoint presentation will fall on deaf ears if the recipients do not know what they are supposed to do with the information provided. To this point, the sponsor’s key role throughout the course of the project is to allocate and redirect resources as needed, remove obstacles preventing the project from moving forward, and providing strategic direction to the project manager, among others. Without the sponsor understanding the same planning methodology as the project manager, discussions on concepts of critical/controlling path, compression techniques, and resource management alternatives, will often get confused. In the end, the sponsor and project manager may either get misaligned or the sponsor gradually becomes disengaged. By including the project sponsor in the project management training, they are able to internalize the data being presented to them, understand strategic options and provide more sound direction to the project manager.

Cultural Adoption

Successful project management initiatives are not rolled out without some discomfort involved. Project management is a process that involves the team’s time, focus and commitment to success. Without these elements, everyone is simply going through the motions and not viewing project management as a value added management tool. When utilized to its fullest, project management can be an early warning system that helps reduce organizational stress and assists the project team with prioritizing their time.  A strong sponsor that is well trained in the planning methodology and bought into its success can act as a “lightening rod” in channeling project success into a cultural game changer. By driving the team to become engaged in the planning and control process and utilizing the techniques they have been trained in, they can quickly generate momentum that illustrates their investment (time and budgetary) are worthwhile.

The project sponsor fills a critical role in the success of a project and thus should be grounded in the same planning and control concepts as the project manager and team. By not including the sponsors in the training, the message received from the project manager and team is “do as I say, not as I do” – a recipe for failure. By speaking the same project management language the sponsors are able to take a more active role in setting the direction of the project, ask the right questions when the project management data is presented, help the project manager navigate potential obstacles during the project execution and ultimately motivate the overall corporate culture to adopt project management as a value added process.

project sponsors training

 

Team Project Management Training Done Right

Many PMOs include team-based project management training sessions as part of their educational program. It’s often an effective way to solidify preferred methodologies among all members while enhancing communication between working groups and smoothing out task hand offs. But creating useful team training courses takes more than just putting everyone in a room and giving them a curriculum. Savvy PMOs will get the most out of their training investment by following a few simple guidelines.

Be thoughtful when setting class size. It’s not only important to include enough team members to make team training useful, it’s also critical that training not include too many people. You want to elicit good discussion and knowledge sharing without making the class overwhelming for participants or unwieldy for the instructor. If the sessions are intended to convey information on new processes or changes to administrative procedures, then interactive portions will probably be less frequent and a larger group may be workable. On the other hand, teaching new skills or rounding out niche competencies is usually best done with smaller subsets of the team.

Balance cost with scheduling. Depending on the topic and the dynamics of the team, it may make more sense to hold several smaller training sessions than one big, all-encompassing event. Weigh what you expect the training to accomplish before signing up for the least expensive option. If attendees don’t receive the level of instruction or depth of knowledge necessary, then your PMO will likely need to invest additional time and money in follow-up sessions.

Consider personalities before lumping team members together. Mixing strong personalities with those who are more reserved can be an effective strategy, but think carefully about how you include those at either end of the spectrum. Will a group of particularly energetic members overpower one or two individuals who are typically more subdued? In some cases these lopsided classes are a big hit, but you’ll need to take your team’s individual personalities into account before deciding what will work best.

Format matters. Will the course feature breakout sessions? Is a single-day event the most appropriate length? Is it advisable to group together members who manage similar disciplines? Would it be preferable for the team to conduct scenario discussions using the PMO’s real-world projects instead of hypothetical examples? Look at the team’s needs when determining which format will offer the most effective training experience.

Onsite or offsite? There are big pros and cons for each, so weigh them carefully before deciding. Onsite project management training may appear less expensive at first glance, but beware the potential for reduced productivity when attendees flock to their desks at break time to check messages or take care of tasks. By contrast, offsite sessions usually entail more travel and lodging costs, and individuals must plan for time out of the office. On the plus side, offsite events typically have fewer interruptions and remote workers may save time and money by traveling to a more central location.

Work closely with the instructor. Experienced trainers may already have ideas on how to address your PMO’s particular challenges, whether it’s devising a format suited to the team or moving the sessions along at a pace that allows junior members time to soak up the knowledge they need. Talk with the instructor about what you’re hoping to cover and which areas the group needs to focus on to move forward. Some instructors may also be able to accommodate requests for multiple training sessions in different regions to accommodate workers at satellite locations. Ask for the trainer’s input and then work together to create sessions that address exactly what your team needs.

PMAlliance has a national open enrollment training schedule
For more information on the event locations and schedules click HERE

 

 pmTraining

Project Management Training Courses Are Coming to a City Near You

PMAlliance‘s national open enrollment project management training schedule has been posted. The initial calendar consists of an eight city event beginning in Nashville, this April. Followed monthly by Indianapolis, Houston, Seattle, San Jose, Washington DC, San Diego, and Atlanta. For the full schedule and to register click HERE. Continue reading Project Management Training Courses Are Coming to a City Near You

Speak Your Mind and Overcome That Less-Than-Ideal Training Session

Project management training should be a high priority for every project management consulting professional. But occasionally you may attend training that isn’t quite what you hoped for. Fortunately, there are some tricks you can use to improve the experience. If you’re willing to speak your mind and go after the information you want, chances are good that you can overcome a less-than-ideal project management training session.

The material isn’t what you were looking for. Maybe it’s geared toward a different industry or there aren’t enough real-world examples to develop a thorough understanding of the principles. If that’s the case, start by asking open-ended questions that will lead the conversation toward the information you hope to learn. When the workgroup sessions begin, pick the brains of those on your team to see if they can add useful knowledge to what the presenter has already offered.

The content is too remedial. You’ve paid for the class and taken time to attend, so get the most out of it. Pay attention to what sort of questions the other participants—who may be digesting exactly the kind of information they need—are asking. These are the likely the same things the more junior members of your own PMO are keen to learn. Gather as much insight as you can into the skills and scenarios the other attendees are interested in and carry that knowledge back so you can boost the competencies of your own team.

The presenter isn’t great. Many factors can dampen an otherwise great class—a flaky sound system; a presenter who talks too fast; slides with a tiny or unreadable font. The key is to say something to the organizer as soon as you discover there’s a problem. The instructor likely doesn’t realize you can’t hear them, or that they need to zoom in on key graphics.

project management Brainstorming

PMAlliance has a national open enrollment training schedule
For more information on the event locations and schedules click HERE

 

 

PMALLIANCE LAUNCHES NATIONAL PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING CALENDAR

PMAlliance,continues to align their service deployment strategy with their client’s needs by delivering flexible and cost effective project management training options.  Reflecting on the position as an industry leader in the training field, PMAlliance is launching a national open enrollment training schedule for its two most popular courses.  The initial calendar will consist of an eight city event schedule beginning in Nashville, Tennessee.

Duration-Driven® Planning & Control, PMAlliance’s flagship two-day program on basic project management techniques, arms students with the skills to be well equipped to participate in the creation of project plans and teaches them the value of a disciplined control process for maintaining the plans throughout the life of the project.  Advanced Microsoft Project is a one-day course designed to be a follow-on to the Duration-Driven Planning & Control program by showing students how to use Microsoft Project software and apply the general project management techniques taught in the two-day program.  The combination of these two courses offers all participants immediate benefits on how project management is applied to their most important projects.

Jay Wilson, Director of Training at PMAlliance, has seventeen years of experience applying the Duration-Driven methodology with various clients and has delivered project management training audiences worldwide with much acclaim.  “We (PMAlliance) are always interested in looking for new ways to add value to our clients,” said Jay Wilson, a Partner at PMAlliance.  “The open training schedule will help our clients get the project training when they need it, as well as where they need it.  In addition, this opportunity is more cost effective for smaller numbers of students than hosting a private class.”

For more information on the event schedule visit http://www.pm-alliance.com/open-training

open project management training schedule

Project Management Training Infographic by PMAlliance

Check out our latest infographic to find out why Project Management Training should matter to your team and organization.

Also check out our other Training Infographic for more great stats: DO YOU NEED PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING? project management training infographic pmalliance

PMAlliance has a national open enrollment training schedule
For more information on the event locations and schedules click HERE

PMAlliance project management consulting.

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GROUP FACILITATION – SKILLS YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM IS MISSING

Project management doesn’t happen in a vacuum. A huge portion of the discipline revolves around people and the dynamics at work when they get together—conducting needs assessments, justifying objectives and costs to leadership teams, coordinating with end users to mitigate project impacts, communicating with stakeholders, and devising practical solutions to potential problems. Unfortunately, many project management training programs skip over group facilitation skills.

The what:  Project management is one long list of opportunities for group facilitation expertise, from the creation of project charters to performing the post-project wrap up. Strong facilitation skills enable almost anyone in the PMO to lead others through the project’s complex stages without losing focus, to maximize the effectiveness of group work sessions, and to deal with difficult personalities in a group setting.

The why:  Getting groups of people to effectively work together is at the heart of successful project execution. Without a good facilitator, the various groups involved in the project become much more vulnerable to inefficiency, ineffectiveness, in-fighting, and poor communication. Any one of these factors has the potential to put the project’s success in jeopardy. Meaningful progress—especially when facing difficult time or budget limitations—often hinges on good group facilitation. If all that sounds extreme, remember that simply running productive meetings (especially when teams are particularly diverse or include a number of competing priorities) may require better-than-average facilitation skills.

The how:  By its very nature, facilitation training should be highly interactive. If your PMO already has someone in-house with top notch facilitation skills, they may be able to offer others on the team solid and very focused instruction. Otherwise, look for an experienced outside consultant so you know your organization will receive quality training. Group facilitation skills are so important that cultivating bad habits is sometimes worse than having no habits at all.

PMAlliance has a national open enrollment training schedule
For more information on the event locations and schedules click HERE

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SKILLS YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM IS MISSING – RISK MANAGEMENT

Many PMOs have internal project management training programs, some of which focus tightly on filling in the blanks most relevant to a particular organization. We’ve already covered where training programs often overlook important communication skills, but the majority of in-house training programs also skip over the more advanced disciplines associated with risk management. Project Managers may find that a more thorough understanding of risk management is not only useful, it’s actually a key factor in achieving repeatable project success.

The what:  Comprehensive risk management skills cover the entire project lifecycle. PMs must be able to understand and articulate which risk factors are present, what sort of impact they may have on the project, how best to mitigate them, and how applied risk management strategies are functioning as a project moves through to completion.

The why:  Competency in risk management principles allows PMs to pinpoint  and mitigate potential areas of risk. If a team has less-than-excellent risk management skills, the downstream effects may be numerous, including an inefficient use of resources, missed milestones, and failure to fully achieve deliverables. But with many PMs focusing their risk management skills on the narrow swath of projects most frequently managed within their organization, it’s easy to sidestep the more complex aspects of the discipline. By rounding out the team’s expertise with additional training on risk management best practices, a PMO will be better able to effectively gauge and manage risks on a day-to-day basis.

The how:  Targeted instruction from a trainer experienced in project risk management can provide PMs with valuable skills without spending a lot of time or money. Modules on identifying risk (and risk types) should be combined with sessions devoted to in-depth risk analysis, both qualitative and quantitative. Developing the right approach to address each project’s unique risk profile is also a critical skill.

PMAlliance has a national open enrollment training schedule
For more information on the event locations and schedules click HERE

 

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SKILLS YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM IS MISSING – COMMUNICATION

As PMOs develop and tweak their project management training programs, there are often a handful of core areas that are overlooked. Whether it’s because many project managers have already received foundational instruction in these areas or because most project management training is focused on other competencies, these baseline skills are crucial to project management success. One of these areas is communication, a vital skill for any team but one that is frequently discounted or ignored.

The what: Too often, communication training focuses on negotiation tactics and presentation skills. For truly effective team communication, project managers must be able to develop and employ solid listening techniques. They also need to understand how their communication skills contribute to the team’s accomplishments, as well as how to use appropriate communication strategies to successfully resolve conflicts (both within the group and with external partners).

The why: A deep understanding—of user needs, of stakeholder and coworker concerns, of potential project limitations—are all necessary for repeated project success. Project managers with sagging proficiency in the communication arena will often create the same obstacles for the group—such as the prolonged needs assessments that may result from poor listening skills—over and over again. But with all the other areas project managers must master, it’s easy to overlook communication skills as being less important than they really are. By regularly nurturing and expanding this fundamental area of expertise, project teams have more tools available to them in overcoming challenges and working together to solve problems.

The how: Continuous development of good communication skills is crucial for project success. Along with targeted communication courses, consider adding components of communication training to other educational offerings. Planning and risk management modules, with their strong attention to communicating well and accurately, may be good opportunities to provide team members with additional coaching in communication best practices.

Also check out “BE A BETTER COMMUNICATOR” and “COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES AND PUMPKIN PIE

project management training

PMAlliance has a national open enrollment training schedule
For more information on the event locations and schedules click HERE

 

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WHEN TO TAKE PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Project management training isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it type of undertaking. It’s something that should always be evolving to address changing needs, new views on best practices, and ever-advancing technology tools. With that in mind, we put together a few scenarios to look for that signal it’s time to take Project Management training—either for individuals within your group or for the PMO as a whole—to the next level.

 

When the skills you want to develop are highly specific or uncommon. Generic training typically won’t suffice when targeted disciplines are involved. Whether it’s industry-specific (such as a competency related to regulatory compliance) or a niche job skill (software platforms that require detailed knowledge, for instance), sessions that are narrowly focused will typically give your team the best bang for their training buck. For results that maximize investments of both money and time, look for a consultant who specializes in the areas or competencies you want to address, and who can tailor training to your organization’s specific needs.

 

When you want to train the trainer. Most standard training opportunities are great for the majority of project professionals, but if you want to create an in-house expert, it’s time to move things up a notch. Look for elevated training that not only includes deeper insight into project management competencies, but also has a curriculum that deals with the skills needed to successfully transfer knowledge to others. Remember—teaching is a skill of its own!

 

When an individual has trouble picking up new skills during standard training courses. Some folks just learn in different ways, so take the time to look for different, possibly unconventional types of training opportunities. Sessions that focus on increased participation, or perhaps even a short-term internship, may offer individual team members the kind of educational experience that suits their style.

PMAlliance has a national open enrollment training schedule
For more information on the event locations and schedules click HERE

 

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6 SNEAKY WAYS TO GET MORE PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING

We’ve talked about the benefits of Project Management Training and even covered some of the secrets of putting together a good training program. But sometimes just figuring out when to pack training into an already crowded schedule is the hardest part. Below are 6 ninja tricks for getting more training in your PMO.

1 – Use what you have. Is someone on the team a guru when it comes to a piece of legacy software? See if they’ll give a quick brown bag session that includes a cheat sheet with the platform’s coolest tricks. It’s a fast, free, no-fluff way to get targeted training.

2 – Make meetings do double duty. You can’t cram training into every project meeting, but you can assign the task of ferreting out at least one low-cost training opportunity to a member of the team on a rotating basis. Have them present their findings as an agenda item.

3 – Connect with external mentors. Industry groups regularly pair experienced mentors with new professionals. The cost is usually free, aside from any dues you pay to be part of the organization.

4 – Build education time into purchase contracts. Did you just buy a new piece of equipment? See if the manufacturer will throw in a factory tour that includes an “Installation and Maintenance 101” session.

5 – Make software training mandatory. When shopping for new software, always include a training line item in the budget. You’ll maximize your software investment when the team can use the platform to its full potential.

6 – Volunteer. Professionals who donate their time at project management conferences and local business functions not only give back to the industry, they also frequently get to attend the event’s training and informational sessions for free.

 

project management training tips PMP

PMAlliance has a national open enrollment training schedule
For more information on the event locations and schedules click HERE
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Do You Need Project Management Training? Infographic

Check out PMAlliance’s infographic on the importance of  Project Management Training. It has some great statistics on the benefits that proper PM Training can bring to your projects. Even if your organization’s processes have been refined over the years, it’s up to YOU to follow and further improve them.

Also check out our other Training Infographic for more great stats: PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING INFOGRAPHIC

 Project Management Training Infographic PMP

Maintain your project management training with PMAlliance and keep up to date with the latest project management techniques to have more successful projects.

PMAlliance has a national open enrollment training schedule
For more information on the event locations and schedules click HERE

 

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4 Benefits of Project Management Training

Most project management professionals come into the PMO with at least a baseline skill set in the art of project management. But savvy teams know that a well-crafted project management training program brings benefits that go beyond just nailing down core competencies. If your PMO hasn’t seized on the value of good training, consider just a few of potential payouts.

1 – Better participation. When team members have strong project management skills, they can more fully participate in all phases of a project’s lifecycle, from planning to execution to post-project analysis. Project professionals that are pigeonholed into a narrow sector of disciplines often miss out on new opportunities, and are less able to lend their expertise across multiple aspects of each project.

2 – More consistency. A solid training methodology available to all project professionals in an organization allows members across the team to apply consistent project management principles. This leads to better long-term project execution, as well as improved stakeholder and end user satisfaction. It’s also a launch pad for project improvement initiatives that result in repeatable successes.

3 – Increased confidence. Training gives team members the confidence to tackle difficult, complex, and critical-path projects. A strong training program introduces real-world project scenarios that allow PMs to develop good decision-making and other skills in a safe environment. It also gives them a much broader set of experiences to draw from when faced with challenging circumstances.

4 – Improved efficiency. When training focuses on a particular tool used in a PMO, such as a specific software suite, or on aspects of the project lifecycle that required detailed knowledge (planning and facilitation are two that come to mind), team members are able to become power users and experts much more quickly. They can then maximize the functionality and effectiveness of that tool or discipline.

project management training

PMAlliance has a national open enrollment training schedule
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More posts on Project Management Training:

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SKILLS YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM IS MISSING – RISK MANAGEMENT

SKILLS YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM IS MISSING – COMMUNICATION

GROUP FACILITATION – SKILLS YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM IS MISSING

WHEN TO TAKE PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING TO THE NEXT LEVEL

DO YOU NEED PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING? INFOGRAPHIC

4 BENEFITS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING

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BANISH THE BULLY: PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING

Earlier we looked at some of the signs that indicate you might have a bully in your PMO (Bullying In The Workplace). But once you’ve confirmed there’s bullying going on, what can project management team members do about it? If the bully is the leader of the team, affecting their behavior will likely be difficult. You may also be hesitant to raise the issue with someone in a position to fix the problem—the bully’s boss, for example—for fear of reprisals. There are other options, though, that may help your project management team address the situation in a positive way.

Get HR involved. Employers today typically won’t tolerate any measure of bullying in the workplace, so bringing an HR rep into the conversation may be the best way to resolve the situation. They’ll work with the bully to modify and improve their behavior, and may also be able to address issues the problem has caused within your PMO. Be sure to pull together several examples of the bully’s problem behavior ahead of time, to help illustrate exactly what’s going on.

Establish alternate communication channels for stakeholders. Help project supporters and end users avoid the bully by designating a point person for these folks to contact with project questions or concerns. Beware that this may not be an option in those cases where the bully has purposely made themselves the sole communication conduit into and out of the PMO, as they’re unlikely to relinquish such a powerful, visible role.

Create new opportunities for team building. If one person’s domineering behavior is hurting group morale, take the time to schedule some activities designed to pull folks back together and rebuild trust. Even a simple team lunch can work wonders. Plan something offsite, and keep your intentions quiet so the bully doesn’t catch wind of it and show up.

PMAlliance uses a team of highly experienced and certified professionals to provide project management consultingproject management training and project office development services.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING: STOP MEDDLING!

Project management leaders are always looking for ways to boost synergy within their teams. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to near-constant meddling. Not to be confused with micromanaging, the sort of meddling I’m talking about revolves around the team’s various personalities, not  its overall effectiveness. But leaders who want their PMO to resemble one big happy family should realize it’s actually detrimental to the team when they involve themselves in every disagreement. Below are some of the problems teams often encounter when members aren’t able to forge their own solutions for balancing personality differences and overcoming strife.

A lack of productive conflict may result in unimaginative problem-solving efforts. We’ve said it before: conflict isn’t always bad. In fact, sometimes it can be very good. If the team’s leadership imposes its will in an attempt to quell arguments—determining a specific course of action or a preferred solution to a particular problem, for instance—any potential innovations that might have arisen from the conflict-discussion-resolution process are lost.

Too much interference allows underlying problems to fester. Sometimes, seemingly minor issues can grow significantly worse if those involved aren’t able to butt heads and successfully devise a way forward that works for them. When this happens, whatever put them at odds in the first place may actually continue unchecked. If others in the group also become embroiled in the situation, morale in the PMO could quickly drop.

Personality clashes could consume project management time. Once the PMO’s leadership decides to take on anything but the most difficult personnel conflicts, the entire team may learn to depend on having these types of issues solved for them. And if managers are focused on individual-level conflict resolution or confrontation avoidance, high-level efforts such as mentoring and the championing of strategic initiatives could suffer in the long term.

project management training

PMAlliance uses a team of certified professionals to provide project management training services.

THE TASK CONUNDRUM

In project management, there are two schools of thought on doling out tasks to team members—assign all tasks at the beginning of the project, or assign them as they come up in the project schedule. Each method has merits, along with some notable pitfalls. Here we examine both strategies to see what’s good about each, and where problems may lurk.

Assign at the beginning of the project

Benefits of this approach are felt at both the team and individual levels. Project professionals often feel they are better able to juggle tasks for multiple projects simultaneously when they can budget their time early in the process. From the team’s perspective, assigning tasks during the initial project phase may allow resources to be more efficiently managed across the overall project load. Possible downsides include increased susceptibility to delays, due to the unavailability of the person responsible for the task. If one individual gets behind, the effects may be magnified across the entire team.

Assign when the task is ready to begin

This strategy may enable PMOs to eliminate delays by leveraging available resources on a just-in-time basis, rather than wait for a specific individual to begin the task. It may also facilitate a generalist approach to project management by ensuring team members have opportunities to oversee a variety of tasks, rather than just those in their areas of expertise. Potential concerns include the delays that may occur if a task languishes before being assigned, and the unavailability of a team member suited for the task if there is a requirement for a specific skill set.

A team comprised of high performers could likely use either strategy successfully, assuming that some things—communication channels, stakeholder expectations, etc.—were well established and carefully managed. How have these approaches worked in your own experience?

PMAlliance uses a team of highly experienced and certified professionals to provide project management consulting services.

THE DANGERS OF OVERPLANNING

Can you really overplan a project? It turns out you can. When schedules are adjusted too frequently, or when task durations are forecast too optimistically, the project can quickly fall into the overplanning trap. Most people recognize and quell the occasional bout of overplanning when they see it in themselves, but what happens if that gene runs wild? There can actually be downsides to too much—or too frequent—planning.

The moving target syndrome. One pitfall of updating plans too frequently is that milestone dates can become too fluid. Unless you’re the only one involved in bringing the project to fruition, others will already have target dates in mind for items they’re managing. Manipulating those dates too often can make it difficult for others to achieve their milestone objectives.

Whittling down contingencies. It’s not uncommon for project management teams to build contingency time around key tasks, where variables make tight planning less precise. When a project timetable is managed too closely and updated too often, there’s a tendency to chip away at those contingency days. If everything doesn’t line up perfectly and that additional time is actually needed, the rest of the schedule may again need to change to accommodate the wiggle room that shouldn’t have ever been removed.

Unrealistic targets. This becomes a problem when one person updates the entire project schedule based on their own progress, rather than communicating with all stakeholders to ensure that time savings in one area actually affords the opportunity to adjust target dates in other areas. It’s particularly troublesome if equipment installation schedules or other dates along the project continuum are fixed, and changes create a milestone date that another team member can’t possibly meet. If changes aren’t communicated well, deadlines may be missed simply because someone didn’t know their target date had changed.

PMAlliance Project Management Training

4 WAYS TO SPICE UP YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM

Project Management Training is an ongoing activity for most PMOs, but participants can get burned out if the routine gets stale. We’ve rounded up some tips to keep students interested and enthusiastic.

1 – Offer one on one sessions

Training is typically more time- and cost-efficient when multiple students attend, but individual sessions can offer a helpful alternative. They’re especially useful for students who travel or work irregular shifts, and may have difficulty blending common class times into their schedules. If you have a mentor program, you already have a list of experts potentially willing to lead occasional sessions.

2 – Go offsite

Students who are too close to their desks might not give training their full attention— it’s too easy to run back for a quick e-mail or voicemail check, which is never actually quick. Traditional venues are fine, but if you’re looking for something more interesting (and perhaps less expensive), consider the picnic benches at a nearby park or even a coffee shop for events with only a handful of students.

3 – Go online

Computer-based training is a great way to offer sessions that are efficient and can accommodate the schedules of multiple students. It works particularly well for short classes, where participants can easily tune out distractions because they know they’ll be available again before long. Online presentations can also be used during traditional training sessions to offer students access to remote experts or additional accompanying material.

4 – Turn students into trainers

Interactive classes can help to keep things interesting, and tapping participants’ expertise to expand the group’s knowledge base is a fun way to maintain a high enthusiasm level. Be sure you don’t rely on any one person too much—instead, schedule several folks to present different material. This will ensure that everyone gets the chance to be a student.

PMAlliance project management consulting.