Project Managers don’t often think about training… except maybe as a project deliverable. Yet, it is a part of your responsibility to ensure your team members and your stakeholders are properly trained.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) recognizes this. Their PMP certification (Project Management Professional) includes the requirement to understand how to ‘ensure team members/stakeholders are adequately trained’. This means they consider this skill a part of the requirement for a professional project manager.
Hang on a moment… ‘adequately trained’? Let’s not set the bar too high, eh!
Anyway, I digress.
It will serve to introduce you to the elements of training. And I have structured it into what I consider the eight essential disciplines for creating good and effective training.
Note that, in writing this, I am focusing on the kind of professional and managerial skills you are likely to need to cover. Much of my advice is also relevant to other types of training, like manual skills. But, as that is outside of my direct experience, I cannot warrant its precise correctness.
Before you can even set your objectives, you need to assess your training requirements. You might reasonably view this as part of your Human Resources Management Plan. In our article, Complete Primer on the 6 Themes of Project Human Resource Management, we included Professional Development under the Theme of Individual Management.
But in this article, let’s go a lot deeper.
First of all, you need to think about the competencies you will need. These will be both:
So, set the context and assess what requirements your project will place on your team members and stakeholders.
Now you need to carry out a gap analysis. What knowledge and skills do your team members and stakeholders already have in these areas? That gap will expose the development or training needs.
And we bring this all together into a Training Needs Analysis (TNA).
This article cannot give you a detailed guide to the process of training needs analysis. But I think it will be helpful to offer you a simple framework.
Start by reviewing what you need to achieve – both as a:
For team members, this means having the capabilities to deliver the project in an optimum way – balancing the needs for pace, quality, efficiency, and safety.
For stakeholders, you need to think about how they will interact with your completed deliverables. Often, the benefits your project is able to deliver will depend on this. Consequently, you need to think about training users and other stakeholders to work with the products of your project, in the way the designers intend.
Now assess the current levels of capabilities across your team and among individual team members and stakeholders. Work across all the different types of capabilities we listed above.
What are the gaps between your project’s requirements and the capabilities your team and stakeholders have? Once you know this, you can start to review potential strategies for filling the gaps.
In the third of our eight disciplines, we will see the different ways to deliver training and development interventions. But, in your TNA, you will consider whether there are strategies that will allow you to fill gaps without the time and cost of training. These include ideas like:
Other aspects to consider in your TNA are timing and priorities. Timing first: when will you need each of the capabilities you are missing. Ten, prioritize your training needs based on importance, size of the gap, and urgency.
Document your training needs analysis, and present it to your sponsor and maybe your steering group or project board. They will, of course, ask about things like cost and schedule. You will address these with two of the others of our 8 disciplines.
Once you have your TNA complete, you can set your Training Objectives. What do you need to achieve through your project’s training and development program?
This will be important, because it will help you answer some of the questions you will have in designing your program, such as:
One of the terms you will increasingly hear is the concept of T-shaped People and a T-shaped Team. These may well figure in your objectives. So, here is a short explanation of the terms.
How will you deliver the training you need? For each requirement in your Training Needs Analysis, consider which of your training options will work best. Take into account the efficiency of delivering the training, cost, and effectiveness.
For each need, you will select the most appropriate of these methods. Putting them all together will create your training program design. Often, and for virtual teams, in particular, your first consideration will be whether to:
I hope I don’t need to go into the details of the budgeting process here. If you do want more, take a look at our article: 3 Ways to Produce Your Next Project Budget.
Likewise, you should not need a detailed description of the estimating process, either. And if yo want more on this, check out:
But you will need to put together a budget. You will base it on your estimates of the costs associated with your proposed program.
The output from this discipline is your Training Budget.
As with all aspects of Project Management, you need to create a schedule for each item of your training program. This will show when you will roll out each element.
Getting this right is a matter of balance:
The output from this discipline will be a training calendar. I’d recommend you publish this calendar and track progress. This will include:
Let’s put together the outputs of disciplines 1 to 5. What you will end up with is the basis for your Project Training Plan. And a good project manager needs a good plan!
The simple answer is logistics. This includes:
So, what does implementation mean, in this context?
Well, there are a number of things you and your team will need to do. For each element of the program, you will:
Just as with Project Benefits Management, you need to both assess the outcomes and follow-up to ensure that you maximize them.
The first part of this is evaluating the training. This is an activity for learners at the end of their training course or program. There are many approaches, and the best model for this is the Kirkpatrick Four-level Training Evaluation Model. This has four levels (who’d have guessed?) From least to most sophisticated, these are:
For most training, Kirkpatrick level 1 or 2 is perfectly adequate. Other levels take far greater resources.
Of course, to get the perfect measure of the training, you may also want to carry out some baseline assessment of learner performance before they attend the training. This may be anything from a simple pre-assessment questionnaire to a full post-training evaluation. However, in my experience, this is not common.
For Kirkpatrick Level 2, you will need to evaluate the learners’ development so that you can evaluate the training.
Inevitably, this means setting up some form of testing.
This can be anything from a short quiz to a fully proctored and moderated examination. And, it’s this latter model that we see in certification training. Familiar examples from the world of Project Management include:
Very often, you can magnify the impact of training with effective follow-up. Ideally, this would be by the learner’s own manager, supervisor, or team leader. This will reinforce the value of their learning in the workplace setting. It will also help the learner to apply their learning into the context where they will be using it.
Kirkpatrick Level 4 is the gold standard of evaluation. You are not always going to choose to (or even be able to) measure the outcomes of the training directly. They will, inevitably, be wrapped up with a lot of other changes. But it is well worth considering what you will do to report back on the effectiveness and value for money of your overall training plan.
Finally, do let us know about your experiences, insights, opinions, and questions, in the comments below. And, as always, I’ll respond to every one.
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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