Assessment Based Project Manager Training

Paul Naybour

The primary reason why businesses invest in project management training is to improve the delivery of projects. Improving project delivery requires an understanding the things done by effective project managers and instilling these behaviours in a wider community of project managers.
There are two approaches to this development; the first uses standard models of competence and training written by professional bodies such as the APM or Office of Government Commerce to set the syllabus and agenda for training and development. The second draws on an assessment the actual behaviours of effective project managers in a particular organisation. The first approach, using off the shelf assessment tools and training courses, is ideal for either smaller organisation which lack the size to invest in bespoke training needs analysis and courses or alternatively for immature organisations in which it would be impossible to identify sufficient exemplars of good practice. The second approach, using assessment based training, is more suited to organisations that have established the fundamentals of project management and are looking to move up to the next level.

Pre-requisites for assessment based training?Assessment based training cycle

Assessment based training is a consultancy based approach to people development, involving high levels of collaboration between the training provider and the client. It relies on developing a detailed understanding of what competences make project managers successful and then developing these competencies across a wider community. This approach requires some clear prerequisites including:

  • Are there sufficient high performing PMs to distil from the group the behaviours that make them successful?
  • Is the community of PMs capable of adopting the practices of the best?
  • Is there an appetite in the organisation evaluate the effect of changing behaviour on project performance?

Steps in Assessment Based Training

Parallel Project Training uses a collaborative and flexible approach to assessment based learning. We can tailor the approach based on the size of the organisation and the funding available.

Assessment Options

The aim of assessment is to identify those behaviours that lead to the successful delivery of projects and evaluate the training needs of the overall project management community. This can be achieved in a number of ways.
1) On-line assessment using a standard competence framework or knowledge questionnaire. These are very cost effective for large communities, but by their nature tend to only assess knowledge and /or a self-evaluation of competence. To some extent this can be improved by 360 degree on-line assessment, but even then this only gives a poor level of accuracy. Typically an online assessment will take between 45 to 60 minutes to complete and the results evaluate knowledge against a standard framework such as the APM body of knowledge.
2) Guided interviews using a structured interview schedule can be very effective at identifying the key attributes of effective project managers in an organisation, especially when conducted by a consultant with experience assessing a wide range of organisation these can quickly identify the development needs in an organisation.
3) Development centres can combine evaluation of effective behaviour with self-evaluation, reflection and feedback. Typically run over 2-3 days these involve a wide range of project management related activities, including planning, risk analysis, negotiation, presentation and team working. They can provide a significant insight into the factors than deliver successful project performance.


Based on the assessment a development programme is established for the organisation which focuses on the behaviours exhibited by the best in class. This programme may include certification courses, but also skills development courses such as negotiating with suppliers or risk management. The aim of the development programme will be to proliferate the practical practices identified within the community. For more information on project management development contact us.

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