20 August, 2018

10 Revealing Questions to find the Best Project Management Course

Do you want to Find the Best Project Management Course for You?

Of course you do. It is an important decision, because:

  • you will be investing a considerable amount of time in your learning
  • the outcome matter to you… or you wouldn’t be bothering
  • you will be spending a moderate to large chunk of money

So let’s get the money question out of the way first.

You do need to know how much the course will cost. But money should not drive your decision.

Instead, what you are looking for is a course that best meets the criteria in the ten questions I will set out. You need a course that makes you feel comfortable with the purchase you are potentially about to make, and for which the cost is consistent with what you will get.

Are you Ready to find the Best Project Management Course?

Which Project Management Course?
Which Project Management Course?

Before we start though, I am going to assume that you are ready for a Project Management course.

If you are not sure, click the link, and read that article. You may also be interested in a Project Management career. You should be – it’s a great career.

That said, however, you may want and need to find the best Project Management course even if you don’t see yourself in a Project Management career. Because Project Management skills are highly transferable.

You Get What You Pay for…

As with all things, be very wary of a Project Management course that is way cheaper than all of its apparently competing products. You tend to get what you pay for, and if something looks too good to be true, it usually is.

That is not to say that there aren’t real bargains out there. Some producers might be true philanthropists, evangelists, or simply don’t know the worth of their content. But one skill of a project manager is most certainly to be sceptical of the evidence – and especially of exceptional claims.

So decide what you want and need, and then choose the right Project Management course for you. If this has a good price, buy it. And most important of all:

  • take the course,
  • study hard,
  • reflect on your learning,
  • and take the ideas out and practice them.

Four Factors for Evaluating the Best Project Management Course

Start off by scoring the courses you are considering on four factors. I’ll take you through them in detail, below. The four factors are:

  1. The Trainer
    How confident are you that this is the right trainer for you?
  2. The Content
    To what extent does this course offer the content you need, to learn and put into practice the skills you want to aquire?
  3. The Style
    How well will the trainer’s teaching style, and the way they present their information, fit with what you need and the way you like to learn?
  4. The Experience
    How easy will it be to use the trainer’s chosen platform, and to gain access to more content and knowledge that is presented in a consistent way and will mesh with the investment you have made?

Are you Analytical or Intuitive?


If you are one of those people with an analytical mind, who is never happier than when you are building a new spreadsheet, this framework can work well for you.

Simply use the answers to the questions below to score each factor on a scale of 1 to 10. This will give you a score out of 40, for each course you evaluate. Use these to compare your options, and look at the top performers in more detail. These are your candidates for the best Project Management course for you.


If, on the other hand, you are more intuitive in your decision-making style, and prefer to get a sense of each option, and then mull things over, use these four factors as a framework to guide your consideration.

Hold in your mind that you need to be satisfied on all four. Then assess more carefully the two or three that fit best, to make your final choice.

As an additional resource, you may like our article The Essential Guide to Robust Project Decision-making.

Ten Questions to Test the Four Factors

The Trainer

Qn 1: What are the Trainer’s Project Management Credentials?

Put simply, have they walked the walk? Or have they simply learned Project Management from a book or from another training course, and then taught themselves to talk the talk?

A lot of Project Management trainers are ‘trainers first; project managers second’. This may suit you, but I would argue that you need a companion who has been to the front and seen some action. Choose a trainer who has strong project management experience.

Qn 2: How Skilled is the Trainer at Relaying the Information?

An experienced Project Manager is the right starting point, but also need one who has learned how to train well and has developed a sound approach to relaying their content clearly and in a way that you will be able to understand.

Most of project management is fairly straightforward when explained well. But the last thing you need is a course that makes everything seem complicated or difficult. The best Project Management course for you is one that makes it all seem clear and straightforward.


Qn 3. How Broad and Deep is the Coverage of Material?

There is no right answer on this one. You have to decide the breadth and depth of information that you need for your situation. When you have done that, you can see which courses best match that scope.

Beware: scoping is (in my experience) the hardest part of Project Management. There will always be compromises in selecting the right scope for you, and in balancing it up against other considerations, like time, cost, and quality. Often, a modular or extendable training solution will mitigate a lot of your risk here.

The best Project Management course will offer options to buy more content easily and without paying again for what you have; something like the OnlinePMCourses ‘easy-upgrade promise’.

Qn 4. What Added Content and Materials will You Get, to Make your Learning Easier, and to Assist your Real-world Implementation of what You Learn?

A course is a course, right? Well, restaurants sell food, but they also give you the tools to eat it. So too, should you expect to see the best Project Management course offer tools, templates, and other valuable resources to help you learn, and then apply your learning in the real world.

But don’t be seduced by trinkets. There is a class of internet marketers who will add lots of things to the package on offer that you don’t need. They will make up high supposed prices for each of these, and then tell you you are getting $Y,000 worth of content for $X00. Decide what content offers a real benefit to you before adding it into any assessment you make of value.

Qn 5: What Continuing Support is Available from the Trainer, to Help You Understand, Test, and Clarify what You are Learning?

One of the benefits of live training (see our article, Is an Online Project Management Course Better than Live Training?) is that the trainer is there to answer your questions and help you understand the material. So find out how this is replicated in the online environment. Is there some form of chat or forum functionality, and does it also give you access to other students’ questions? How easy is it to get clarification from your trainer?


Qn 6: What is the Style of Learning on Offer, and How Does it Match the Way You Like to Learn?

Let’s be blunt: there has been an explosion of online learning in recent years, under the grand-sounding title of ‘Digital info Products’.

Some are good and some are great. But far too many of them consist of a poor sound quality voice-over, laid on top of bad PowerPoint slides that are little more than sets of bullet points. There is no interaction, no human content, and no production values. Try out some of the free modules and see if the style of learning on offer suits the way you like to learn.

And if there are no free preview modules… That should tell you all you need to know. Move on. Nothing to see here!

Qn 7: How does the Course Balance Theoretical Knowledge with Practical Skills?

Project Management is a discipline with a lot of underlying theory, and a very practical purpose.

Some of us like a lot of theory, and will figure out the practical application for ourselves. Others get bored with theory and impatient to get to practical advice. Of course, there is no one-size fits all solution, so the best Project Management course will be one that gets the balance right for your preferences.

Qn 8: Where does the Trainer Pitch the Balance between Simple and Complex? 

This one is simple: how does the trainer make you feel? Do they make you feel:

  • ‘I’m stupid’
    I don’t get it yet. It all seems so complicated. The trainer seems pretty smart though, but I just don’t understand. Maybe this Project Management thing is not for me.
  • ‘The trainer’s stupid’
    This all seems pretty simplistic, and I feel like I’m being treated like a child. Does the trainer really understand this stuff, because I’m getting no sense of the depth to their material.
  • ‘I’m smart’
    This is good stuff. The trainer is building up the story and I can follow everything they say. It starts simply and develops to a point where I really understand some complex stuff.

User Experience

Qn 9: How Convenient is the Learning Platform for You?

Where and when do you want to do your learning? When you know this, find out if the learning platform of the Project Management course can handle your needs.

And how well does it do so? If you are on the road a lot and need to deploy the ideas away from base, can you watch the videos or listen to the content while you are travelling, and then download the tools and templates when you reach your destination?

Qn 10: If You Want to Learn More, What Follow-on Courses are Available, to Extend Your Knowledge?

What if you like this Project Management course? What if you like it and want more: more depth, more breadth?

Does the course provider offer other, complementary courses that can extend your learning in the directions you might need? And is that content presented in the way that works for you? Does it use the same frameworks and language that you are used to?

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Mike Clayton

About the Author...

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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