08 Jul 2013

How Do I Choose the Best Project Management Training Program?

Article on - How Do I Choose the Best Project Management Training Program?

Project management is a key skill in a wide range of positions and disciplines, ranging from engineering and construction to information technology and business improvement projects. A project management training course will improve your career opportunities and differentiate you from those who have not taken any formal training in the subject.

There are a great number of colleges and universities offering various training courses, and also specialist training providers and online schools.

How then do you choose the best Project Management Training Program?

There are seven things to consider when looking for the best project management training courses for your needs:

  • Training company
  • Course material
  • Instructors
  • Accreditation
  • Funding support
  • Post-course support
  • Online courses

Training company
Has the training provider been around for some time? Do they have administration and support staff to help you in the event of any questions? Do they specialize in project management, or some other area such as IT training (with project management only a smaller offering compared to their core business)?

If you are taking a project management training course to improve your career options, then look for courses that have a schedule to suit you; for example full-time or part time, weekdays or weekends, allowing you to complete the course with a minimum amount of time away from work.
Check the company’s website and social media for feedback on their performance.

Course Material
The level of project management training courses varies widely, from novice to expert level and depends on the particular training provider and their intended target audience. You should carefully read the course description and daily agenda, to ensure the course contains the appropriate level of detail for your needs.

You should also check that the course material is up-to-date and aligned with a global standard and current industry good-practices. Always check where the course material was developed; was it done in-house by a team of course developers, or by a single contractor or consultant? Did the developer(s) follow current instructional design techniques? If the course was created and maintained by one individual, then the course material might be completely different for different sessions of the same course, particularly if the instructor does not share their course material with other Instructors.

Finally, check that the training course has ‘Learning Objectives’, stating exactly what you will be able to do after the course is complete. Avoid signing up for a course with wooly, unclear or undefined ‘objectives’ for example:
  • Increase your project management skills
  • Gain an understanding of the subject
  • Appreciate the role of the project manager
It is not possible to accurately measure and verify if you have ‘increased’ or ‘gained’ or ‘appreciated’ anything after a course, so you should ask the training provider to clarify exactly how they will perform these activities.

Project management training courses should be taught by qualified instructors who are experts in their field. The level of skill of the instructor has a huge impact on the depth of material that can be covered, and the level of interaction in the class. The instructor should facilitate case studies and practical examples to relate the training material to your real-life projects.
Instructors should also use a variety of approaches in the class to ensure you gain as much benefit as possible. This can include the use of visual aids, audio, video, flipcharts, games and exercises. They should also be able to manage the class, and not allow distractions like cellphones and computers to disturb the learning experience.

Read the biographies of the instructors carefully, and check their project management and training experience. The training centre should allow you to meet the instructor in person, or at least telephone them, prior to a class.

When reviewing project management training course options, it is important to ensure that the training provider has been reviewed by an independent agency to ensure minimum standards are met. This also ensures you are learning a traceable framework of good-practices and not simply one individual’s ideas on the subject.
Funding support
Although not a primary reason for choosing a training provider, you should consider the availability of funding support. This helps to defray the cost of training, and also informs you that the provider has been audited to a high level of financial management and professional conduct.
Post-course support
Does the training provider have qualified consultants who can interact with you after the course is over? If a course is run by a single contractor then it might not be possible to call them for post-course support, for example with customizing templates for your company, or answering questions and concerns.

Online training
Do you choose traditional classroom or online training?
Project management is a unique set of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques that you can apply to increase the chances of success in your projects - both large and small. Projects are always performed in teams, requiring a high level of interpersonal skills on the part of the leader or project manager. These ‘soft-skills’ are difficult to teach in an online environment as you would be sitting alone in front of a computer screen instead of discussing, negotiating and interacting with a group of people in the training room.

You should consider the choice of online training very carefully, and weigh the convenience against the loss of personal interaction that a traditional classroom would offer.

  • Training company (specialist or general)?
  • Course material (developed by who)?
  • Instructors (are they accredited and experienced)?
  • Accreditation (aligned with global standards)?
  • Funding support (available)?
  • Post-course support (available)?
  • Online courses (cost / convenience / benefit)?

Contributed by: Peter James Gilliland
Peter is a Director and Founding Partner of ePM Training Services Pte Ltd. He is an experienced professional consultant, trainer and facilitator with over 25 years of experience leading complex engineering projects in the mobile radio and telecoms infrastructure industry. Peter and his partners provide consultancy and training services to help companies and individuals complete their projects on schedule, within budget, to achieve their goals and maximize customer satisfaction.