Have you ever walked into an auto parts shop trying to find the exact part(s) it takes to fix something on your car and the sales representative is not knowledgeable enough to answer your questions and provide you with good customer service to fix your vehicle?
Not only may they not be able to provide you with the parts necessary, but most likely they cannot answer any questions that you may have on how to install the parts?
The majority of these workers are becoming more computer dependent, as they cannot think or act without an input from the computer. This lack of training is becoming a common practice today in different industries, as organizations are looking for ways to decrease costs and increase revenue, so training gets pushed down lower and lower on the priority list.
A large portion of company resources go into projects, so knowing that your project manager has the proper skill-set necessary to improve the success of a given project should be an easy choice.
Often, project managers are promoted into the position based of their technical ability or their past performance they have shown, but they may be lacking necessary cross-functional team management skills.
Few organizations offer project management training programs and even fewer are requiring an internal or external certification, so this raises concern as organizations are most likely not seeing the benefits from this medley of training that could have been achieved when compared with a more focused and comprehensive approach.
In a 1999 survey conducted by Tippett and Peter’s, only about half of the respondents indicated that their project managers had any type of management training prior to taking on their management responsibilities.
In another survey conducted by Crawford and Gaynor, only 12.4% of their sample set had any kind of certification or registration in project management.
So you may be asking yourself the following questions:
- Why is training important to move from an accidental project manager to certified, formally trained project manager?
- How much does training cost?
- Is it worth it to the corporate organization to train your project managers?
Before you start thinking, all is lost, there are several options your organization can look into doing to increase success!
In essence, by increasing the tools found in a project manager’s toolbox is key to this approach. Take myself for example, several years back, my immediate manager assigned me to a project, reviewed the requirements and vision for the end goal, and was then told to run with it.
In taking on this project, I felt I possessed strong organizational, communication, and leadership skills through my past experiences running group projects for school and my non-profit organizations.
I knew this project would be a challenge, but it would also be a great learning experience. However, I encountered several roadblocks along the way, such as: not having a signed Project Charter, defined communication matrix, detailed WBS project schedule, ROI, just to name a few.
I decided to take it upon myself to purchase project management books, read articles, ask other experienced project managers several questions, and read other project manager’s blogs to provide me with helpful resources in managing a project.
In the end, the project had a successful rollout, but could not have happened without the help of some great mentors and resources I was provided. I did learned a lot from this experience, but feel that I could have done better job, if I could have formal training to help set me up for success in the beginning stages.
Now here’s what can done proactively that range from zero cost to larger-scale investments in project management, which are:
- Purchasing the PMBOK Guide or PMI books
- Join social media sites, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+
- Find a mentor
- Join your local PMI chapter
- Read other Project Manager’s blogs to increase your PM network & relationships
- Attend a college class, whether it is a project management, communications, finance, management course
- Get your Project Management Professional Certification (PMP)
- Attend seminars
Your organization could look into implementing a development program model, using the PMBOK guide, along with the company’s own needs and methodology.
This program would be much more than training, but a development program that includes practice and mentoring. This type of program can increase the project manager’s confidence to perform their job with the tools and experiences they learned throughout the program.
If your organization is paying for any courses, the organization has the responsibility to ensure the programs are complete, focused, and relevant to skill-building needs of the individual, in addition to being aligned with the business strategy and goals of the organization.
So is training worth the investment? After taking a formal project management course at my local university, I have found that proper training, reading books, and having several project manager mentors at work have really helped me along the way to become a better project manager.
About Our Guest Contributor
Lisa Drake, MBA is a Technical Project Manager for International Game Technology (IGT), which is a lending company specialized in the design, development, manufacturing, distribution, and sales of computerized gaming equipment, software, and network systems worldwide.
She manages a diverse project portfolio for IGT, which includes their customer promotions, gambling machine and spare part pricing, along with SAP technical projects.
One of her latest projects she is passionately working on is starting her own business called Holcomb Ranch Honey, where she will be producing honey and gifts to sell locally and online.