In a time of skills shortages, organisations frequently need to create project management resources from within. The task of skilling project managers is often left to HR managers who may have neither the time, nor the expertise to advise on the best track for project manager development.
It’s not just about training. Organisations need a co-ordinated strategy to guide people to learn the theory, translate it in practice and review progress toward goals. Michael Young, Principal Consultant of ‘Transformed’ recommends 7 steps to success in building Project Management capability for your organisation:
Get expert assistance – Work with project management experts to design a capability building plan specifically tailored to your organisation’s needs. Set goals and devise a plan combining recruitment, qualification pathways, training, on-the-job experience and a sound review mechanism.
Find the right people – Good project managers come from all sorts of backgrounds like IT, Policy and program areas or from experienced specialist technicians. Expert assistance can help identify the key characteristics that organisations should seek to fill project management traineeships.
Invest in good training – A good training program will include modules that integrate to a fashion a formal qualification in project management and certification with the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM). For optimum results, trainers should have extensive on-the-job experience and offer real-world examples to demonstrate how the practical application of theory can deliver outstanding outcomes.
Balance hard and soft skills – A well-rounded program will balance essential hard project management skills (like scheduling and budgeting) and softer – people-focused – skills. Communications, relationship building, leadership, team building and environmental sensitivity skills are in great demand in contemporary projects.
Provide opportunities to practice – Many organisations omit the vital step of reinforcing learning with on-the-job experience. They assume a qualification is sufficient for complex project management. However the experience of many recent APS project disasters demonstrates the importance of using project managers with solid experience.
Initiate Mentoring – A clever organisation will couple training and on-the-job experience with a structured mentoring program to facilitate the passing on of knowledge from old hands to novices.
Review Progress – As with any good project, an essential step is to monitor results and review progress against goals. Lessons learnt can then be applied to future plans to ensure ongoing success in building your organisations project management capability.