The brief doesn’t always specify the right solution

Project Management training is often sought by organisations which see the use of Project Management tools and techniques as a way of improving the performance of staff in meeting deadlines, working with budgets and producing the desired outcomes. The need is thus expressed as a need for staff to be trained in the basics of Project Management. However, this brief to the training provider does not provide the right solution.

Project Management training doesn’t necessarily produce good project managers

Project Management training alone does not turn people into project managers. To be effective, those who manage projects also need specific relationship skills, management competence, administration proficiencies and the insights brought about by experience.

Skilled project managers don’t guarantee successful Project Management

Project Management is not an isolated function. Larger projects require inputs from people who don’t report directly to the person who is responsible for managing the project.

Senior managers must understand what Project Management really entails so that they can assign clear and appropriate responsibilities to all the roleplayers.

Unless the person responsible for managing a project is authorised to issue instructions to the those who must provide these inputs, he can’t do his job.

And unless those to whom he reports know how to interpret project reports, they may not have the insight to ask for the right information or to hold the project manager to account.

Clearly, successful Project Management depends first and foremost on senior management’s understanding of what Project Management implies at the organisational level.

Good Project Management doesn’t guarantee successful projects

The value of projects to the organisation—that is, the success of projects as opposed to the success of Project Management—cannot be measured unless there is a clear, well-communicated and values-based organisational vision, mission and strategy that is supported by everyone in the organisation.

Project Managers and project teams are not the ones who determine the mission of an organisation or its strategies and goals. They must manage the projects which implement these strategies. It is essential for senior management to understand the practical implications of their strategic role in Project Management. Although they will not have to manage projects themselves, they must understand what Project Managers actually do so that they can set clear goals and success measures which reflect where the organisation is going in the long run.

The implication for training

Training must recognise the whole. Unless the context outlined above is recognised and addressed responsibly by both the organisation and the training provider, the organisation’s investment in sending staff on courses—or even conducting courses in-house—will yield limited results and little return.

Tania Melnyczuk

Director of Programme Design at ProjectManagement.co.za and the Collaboration Director of the Autistic Strategies Network.

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