All professionals who wish to be successful, in whatever field, needs to continually aim to improve their skills. As project management is becoming recognised more and more as a profession, project managers need to ensure they have the appropriate training to develop their careers and that they keep their skills relevant and up-to-date. That is just as true for new project managers taking the APM Project Fundamentals Qualification as it is for highly experienced project managers seeking to gain the prestigious APM RPP accreditation. Continuous professional development (CPD) has always been a recognised part of the career path of those in the well-established professions such as accountancy and law and is now being incorporated into training courses for project managers.
Project managers are required to fulfil an increasingly expanding and important role as projects become more and more complex with new technologies being developed ever quicker. They are having to find new ways of coping with increasing expectations from both clients and employers.
The right type of professional training course can equip a project manager with the skills to deal with these complexities and to plan and manage their projects efficiently, deal with risks and change effectively, and to deal with people at all levels involved in a project.
The benefits of professional qualifications and credentials to the individual can be a higher salary, better career prospects and improved job satisfaction so project managers themselves should need little encouragement to attend a training course. But employers also recognise the benefits of having a well-trained and motivated employee who can deliver complex projects successfully so most major organisations offer access to a training program.
For those project managers who are self-employed or employed by small companies without a training budget (or, worse, a company without the desire to train its employees) there are plenty of good courses aimed at individuals to help them gain recognised qualifications or credentials independently.
One of the unsung benefits of a training course (or at least, traditional classroom-based learning) is learning about the successes and failures of both the trainers and the other delegates. It is highly likely that there will be someone on your course who will have experienced, or is experiencing, the same issues as you. Being able to discuss these issues with others, in the company of a professional trainer, can be a good learning experience in itself.
So why is professional training worthwhile?
Planning and Managing
Whatever approach you might take to planning and managing a project will be determined by the type of methodology you have learnt (PMP, PRINCE2, APMP etc.). But what is certain in all projects is that a schedule will need to be planned and managed. Depending on the industry, your approach to the schedule may be that it is flexible, adaptable and likely to change frequently before the project is completed. This particularly true in software development projects. Nevertheless, every project will start with some sort of schedule, and knowledge of the key areas of good project management will enable the well-trained project manager to develop a schedule that takes into account all necessary tasks, their interdependencies, estimations, milestones and resource tracking, whilst also being capable of flexibility, where necessary.
Dealing with Risks and Change
Methods can be learnt to better anticipate risks or deal with those risks that could not be predicted. A training course will also promote the importance of a good change management process, how to establish one and how to ensure it is followed so that the management of change requests does not become a full-time job and change requests do not obscure the original purpose of the project.
Dealing with People
With the help of training, a project manager can learn team-building skills, including how to develop a motivated, committed team that will work co-operatively. And how to communicate effectively with everyone involved in the project, including the stakeholders. It will give him, or her, the confidence to stick with the plan when the plan is right, change the plan when it is wrong and be prepared to make unpopular decisions when necessary.
Finally, training will ensure every project has established and documented the criteria for success, which can be used to confirm that a project has been successfully delivered.
These are just some of the reasons why project management training is important, whatever methodology your organisation is committed to: PMP, PRINCE2 or APMP. It will help every project manager to develop fully, to be recognised as a professional and to deliver complex projects successfully.