The need for capable and professional project managers is clear to many businesses. With ever increasing complexity, risk and financial implications, modern society demands that projects are undertaken with a clear and apparent expectation that the project not only finishes as planned and to budget, but that any potential hitherto unknown opportunities are converted into material financial benefit. In order to do this the hypothesis is that we need professionally competent project managers.
It is virtually impossible to be categorical about the benefits of training. This is because it is rather self evidently impossible to re-run a project and compare it with a control project.
In the final analysis we will never really know, but this argument could be used in any sphere of professional life. Would we want our heart operations carried out by unqualified people, should our train drivers be people without the requisite training? Of course not. If training does not improve competence then let’s stop training aircraft pilots and see what happens.
There are three main perspectives on a project and the advantages to be gained from having a qualified and competent hand at the rudder of the project in which they have an interest.
The Customer – where a significant investment has been made in the creation of some new facility, service or product, the customer is the one who has paid. What most customers expect is the delivery of what they asked for, when they wanted it and for the price they expected to pay. They expect at some point for the cost to be overtaken by the benefits derived.
A competent project manager will be equipped to push out these boundaries to extend wherever possible the benefit derived from the known scope either by under spending, over delivering or beating the schedule. They will also seek out opportunities to extend the scope, after discussion and with due consideration to take advantage of changing circumstances or new information.
The Supplier – in a lot of organisations the project manager is delivering on behalf of the supplier be they an internal service provider or on the other end of an external contract. Either way the customer organisation is a separate entity to the project managers’. The suppliers want to get rewarded in line with their expectations set early in the concept stages. They do not want to be extricating the project manager (and themselves) from difficult conversations at every turn. They expect the job to get done without fuss and difficulty.
A competent project manager will make sure that they are fully aware of the needs and constraints of their own organisation. They will go to great lengths to understand the nature of the requirement on the part of the customer and make sure they are set up to deliver those components. They will also make sure that there is as little uncertainty as possible both in terms of the required deliverable and also the manner in which it will be delivered. It is this risk reduction that marks out the truly competent project manager.
The project manager – wants to deliver the job on time and on budget and to get rewarded for doing so. Apart from immediate praise and financial benefit, most competent PM’s have an eye to the bigger picture. They will continue to be able to deploy their excellent project management skills only for as long as they are offered the opportunity. The best way to continue this virtuous circle is to deliver the current one as well as is humanly possible.
Competent project managers will continue to seek out new and challenging opportunities to maintain their own marketability and remuneration potential. They will be lifelong learners, eager to demonstrate their continued professional development and contribution to the general knowledge and capability of their own profession.
Why should an organisation seek to develop its project managers? What’s in it for them?
The benefits of project management training for organisations are:
• They will have a pool of qualified individuals from which to draw the best placed individual for the job in hand. This pool will be comprised of the trained individuals. This will grant an organisation the option to choose who does the next job, knowing they are all just as capable as each other.
• The amount an organisation spends on its project training will have a direct result on its project success. If an organisation spends 7% of its project budgets on training successful achievement of its objectives will rise from 30-70% (source IDC).
• The trained project managers will be familiar with concepts and terms in a consistent and clear way. They will be able to repeat their experiences with reference to their successes of the past and develop a huge lessons learned capability. This standardized approach reduces re-work and cost.
• The project maturity of an organization is partly a function of the competence of the people employed and it has been shown that there is a direct correlation with a nominal maturity level and the overspend (or otherwise) of that organizations projects.
• In an environment where there is a rigid structure of financial incentives to manage projects well, the introduction of personal development can be a huge factor in the retention of good staff and their motivation. Training staff can be a relatively low cost mechanism for providing motivation when other forms are not available.
• An organisation with a reputation for good or even excellent project management will bring with it a following of potential recruits and plaudits, raising morale, profile and confidence. This will result in easier recruitment, a higher calibre of staff and teams and a groundswell of satisfaction.
Why would an individual want to undertake project management training?
What is in it for the individual?
• Individuals can improve their capability and learn new knowledge, so they can practice new skills in the workplace. This use of a wider range of tools and techniques will raise their own confidence giving them greater confidence in their ability.
• They can recognize their role as a profession and relate directly to others in the same situation. This allows a direct synergy in building support groups and networks, giving a second order access to advice and help.
• They will be able to pursue aspirations to develop a professional career, with the increased recognition of professional standards and certification. This brings with it necessary continual professional development, but this merely acts to cement lifelong development and focus.
• Where their acquired knowledge is transferable they will have the opportunity to move organizations and adopt similar roles elsewhere. This is self evident.