Do you want to Find the Best Project Management Course for You?
Of course you do. It is an important decision, because:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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?
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!
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.
This one is simple: how does the trainer make you feel? Do they make you feel:
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?
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?
Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 13 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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