The Evolution of Organizational PM Training

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of chatting with a PMO director who had just taken over a secondary role of training manager for her company.  I must admit, at first, I was bit surprised at this juxtaposition, but on further reflection it actually made a lot of sense.

First off, let’s look at the role that projects play in many companies.  At a high level, projects are what bring in new technology and processes.  In fact, when you look at some of the key drivers for developing new training: supporting new technology is probably right up there at the top – perhaps along with government regulations, and your safety incident management system.

Secondly, rolling out a new PMO is very much an exercise in training.  Typically, training plays a major role in rolling out a PMO in general, and an EPM tool to support the PMO in specific – although I often consider the two experiences to be pretty much one and the same thing, i.e. the tool implementation often provides the catalyst to drive PMO process maturity and the required training.

Hence, whether the training component of the tool deployment is limited only to scheduling best practices, or expands further to include process maturity and the development of an internal certification process, training is an integral part of what a PMO does.

Competency Models

If you’ve caught any of my presentations over the past couple years, you’ll know that I consider PMO development to be primarily an epistemological journey.  Likewise, the training required should map to where we are on that journey:

The first step is to identify what we don’t know, and only then can we focus on what we need to know.  How is that supported through training?  Often the first step in PM maturity is to go out and see what the industry best practices are – usually in the form of some generic PMP or PRINCE2 classes.

That gives a core group of individuals the ability to see a broad scope of what could be done, and then adapt that to the specific needs and maturity of the organization.  Hence, most PMOs typically start with sending a core group of individuals to PMP training.  As the PMO expands, this may or may not be a desirable goal – as PMP-certified project managers are often more mobile, and also end up spending time learning about things that may not be relevant to the specific organization.

At this point, the organization typically begins to resort to more targeted training specifically designed to support internal processes.  The training needs begin to merge with the project manager’s career development path.  It’s at this point that we begin to run directly into the organizational purview of the training management organization.


Enter the corporate training office.  How can they be successfully integrated into the project management training delivery?  Or, how can project management training delivery be successfully integrated into what the training office is doing?

Here’re a couple of questions to ask early in the PMO development cycle:

  1. What training assets do we currently leverage as an organization?
  2. What approach to defining training needs to we currently leverage as an organization?
  3. Have we engaged both our training assets and our need definition methodology in developing our PMO roadmap?  If not, why not?
  4. When do we plan on engaging our training department to assist in supporting our PMO process deployment?
  5. How will this training program integrate with your employee incentives and internal PM career development plans?

As your training folks will probably agree, it’s never too early to engage them in a process.  Even if you’re just rolling out a pilot training program, at some point, that program will need to be merged into the overall corporate training system.  Any tool use that has been configured to support specific business processes will likewise require integration with the ongoing training system.

For more on items to think about when deploying a PPM training program, take a look at this post.

…and please feel free to contact the UMT Institute to discuss any of your project portfolio management training needs.

The Evolution of Organizational PM Training

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