Who Should Attend Project Management Training?

Businessman at chart leading meeting in conference room
Small group training can be effective. Sam Edwards/OJO Images/Getty Images

Project management training is a good option for those people working in projects who want to:

  • Get a qualification (lots of courses lead naturally to a certificate, from degree-level courses to short certificate courses)
  • Learn new skills
  • Improve their skills in a given area
  • Show their employer that they can demonstrate the knowledge required to take on bigger and more complex projects
  • Earn more money as a project manager (employers often pay bigger salaries for qualified professionals so the right certificates can boost your earning potential)

    Most of the people who fall into these categories would be considered project managers, even if they don’t have the job title of project manager.

    The good news is that there are plenty of courses available, regardless of your job title or level of experience.

    Training for Experienced Project Managers

    If you have worked in project management for any length of time you might have gone through the rigorous application process for the PMP® exam. If you aren’t quite at that level yet you might have studied for and sat the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®), another qualification from PMI.

    Outside of PMI credentials, there is a host of other options including PRINCE2® and qualifications from the IPMA family of professional institutions.

    Training for Other Roles on the Team

    However, there are other roles on your team that could also benefit from understanding project management and the project context a bit better.

    For example:

    • Your project sponsor: Basic training in project management fundamentals can help them make better decisions for the project.
    • Your project coordinator: This is more than an admin or PA role. Training can make this person even more valuable to your team.
    • Your Project Management Office team: There are dedicated courses aimed at PMO professionals to help them manage the job of coordinating projects across the company or department.
    • Your project team: If they haven’t had much experience working in a project environment before, your team members could really benefit from learning more about what it means to work on a project.

    How to Decide Who Attends Project Management Training

    Typically, the process works like this:

    • Manager determines that someone needs to improve their skills and that a project management course would be the right one.
    • Manager tells employee.
    • Employee (or HR team) books a project management course.

    This is a very simple way of allocating spaces on a project management course, and actually, it’s a very ineffective way. There is no organizational strategy at play here; no understanding of where best to spend the training budget to get the biggest impact on project success. It’s great that managers want to invest in the personal development of their teams, but perhaps that isn’t the best approach for the company as a whole.

    If you can take a more strategic approach to where the training dollars get spent, you are likely to get a better and more targeted uplift in skills, which in turn will pay off in project results. You hope!

    Prioritizing Who Gets Training

    First, look at the strategic, high priority projects in the business.

    These are the ones that you need to succeed above all else. The staff working on these projects should be your priority. They are the ones who have the most influence over the success, or otherwise, of your strategic projects, so any gaps they have in their skills will have a damaging effect on the business results overall. Prioritize their training needs.

    If you then still have training budget to spare, think about who is going to be leading strategic projects, or who will be soon moving into a project management role. These people will need the core project management skills and they’ll need support to get them. They are your next candidate group for project management training, and will want to attend training focused on how to study to become a project manager.

    The final group to consider for training are those people who fall into the ‘my manager said it would be useful’ or ‘I’d like to find out more about managing projects’ categories.

    These people could do with developing their project management skills as personal career growth. It might make them more successful in their roles but they aren’t planning on leading major strategic initiatives any time soon. There’s no reason not to train these people, but if training budgets are limited then you’ll get the least return for company investment in these people.

    Of course, each case for attending training should be discussed on its merits. There might be very valid cases for ignoring the guidance here. That’s why it’s important that someone in the organization is responsible for prioritizing training for project managers across all teams, projects and departments.

    Supporting Those on Training

    Once you have identified who should attend project management training you’ll also have to establish how best to support them as they learn their new skills. Project management isn’t learned solely in the classroom. They will get the best out of their training if they can work through pre-course work and exercises in advance, discuss their learning objectives with their line manager or mentor and prepare thoroughly for the course.

    When they return to the workplace after the course they will need support putting their new skills into practice. This is where it can be hard for someone not currently running projects to really consolidate their learning. If they aren’t in a position to put their skills to use then they will find it harder to get any benefit from what they have learned. That could end up being a big waste of company training money.

    Working out how to support those going through training should also be part of the decision process for who is going to go. Those candidates with the best support networks in place will be able to make the most out of their learning, so if these networks don’t exist already you should work with potential delegates and line managers to get them set up.

    Project management training is a hugely valuable experience and a great addition to your CV or resumé. Thinking through who should attend, what the company’s goals are for project management and how best to support your delegates when they do go into the classroom are ways to make the most out of this investment in your teams.