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Topics: Career Development, Resource Management, Talent Management
Is it beneficial to the Project Manager (and the entire project) if project team members have been exposed or completed some level of Project Management training?
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I have recently been assigned to a project but have limited understanding of project management tools and techniques. So, I've enrolled in a Project Management Program affiliated with a local college. It seems to me that to enhance total project management effectiveness, it would be beneficial for organizations to offer some form of project management training to potential team members. I am really interested to learn of other's experiences and what other organizations may have in place.
Thank you.
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While it would be beneficial for project team members to have some Project Management training, it isn't essential. If the Project Manager properly communicates to the team regarding their roles and what they can expect from the Project Manager, the team can operate just fine without receiving formal project management training.
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I understand your premise, but I don't think that would be a sustainable model. I don't foresee a different level of understanding for Project Management would help in their specific roles. Their work would remain the same. Extraneous efforts on the PM side would remain the responsibility of the PM.

Think about a trail guide. The group on the guide do not need to be trained as a guide. They simply need to do what they know how to do, walk, take pictures, take in the sights, enjoy themselves. The guide simply takes them through an organized journey, of which the guide, from experience, knows of some potential pitfalls, knows where more or less effort may need to be placed, or knows that the group can tend to be overly optimistic at the start, helping to level-set expectations.
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It can be beneficial but it is dependent on the structure of the project and where you draw the boundaries of the "project team".

There is a leadership principle with military origins called "commanders intent" which delegates decisions to people closest to the problem so that they don't need explicit orders for everything from the commander. In that regard it helps if the team knows what the PM is trying to accomplish through our processes (the intent) . They can then better help the PM develop the right plan by enabling the right decisions at the detail working level.

On the other hand, in businesses with highly repeatable processes, the PM communicates with some work cell leader. That leader generally understands PM principles but they put the planned work items into a queue, and the PM never knows who's even doing the actual detailed work. Those people won't benefit much with PM training if at all. The plan says make 4 of X and they make 4 of X. You see that often in companies that have employed lean practices and "standard work".
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1 reply by Adrian Carlogea
Oct 27, 2019 9:43 AM
Adrian Carlogea
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In practice team members in a project work directly with relevant stakeholders and usually it is not the PM the one who tells them what to do, not even at a very high level. Most PMs work as facilitators ensuring the communication between stakeholders is efficient. So I think the analogy between the PM and the military commander is not appropriate in most cases.

Regarding team members trained in project management I think this is an important factor for the success of the project especially when the PM has no good domain knowledge.

For example you may have some team members working directly with the customer. The customer may be asking for things that are not on the scope and if the team members don't know much about project management they may be working on those items without raising a change request.

The PM should be managing the scope but many times since they don't get into the details of the work they may not be aware that things that are not on the scope have been requested. The team members are much more aware of this fact but if they have no project management training they may not care and may just do what the customer tells them to do.

I have seen a project that delivered successfully but produced a big loss because the scope was not properly managed and the team members just did what the customer was asking them to do without caring if the work item was or not on scope. In the end the customer refused to pay for the additional work change requested had not been raised.
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I actually am a fan of ensuring that everyone involved with contributing to or supporting projects has a fundamental understanding of the discipline. If we expect that PMs should have sufficient technical domain expertise to be effective, why shouldn't team members understand "something" about what we do?

Kiron
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1 reply by Joao Marcelo da Silva Huguenin
Oct 27, 2019 7:26 PM
Joao Marcelo da Silva Huguenin
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I totally agree: a new project member, does not matter your position in the project team, becomes a stakeholder whose should know about Code of Ethics and also about the Project Knowledge areas and Processes in order that he/she can develop a holistic understanding about each one of the critical success factors to achieve not only the project goals but yourself skills improvement as well - everybody wins in the end!
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Dear Joseph
Very interesting your question
Thank you for sharing it.

I really like the principle shared by Keith: "There is a leadership principle with military origins called" commanders intent "which delegates decisions to people closest to the problem so they don't need explicit orders for everything from the commander."

If our goal as project leaders is to support members to take advantage of their enormous potential, I recommend that your team members have project management training.

In this domain, I am aligned with Kiron's way of thinking
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Transparency and cross-fertilization are features of good teams, they instill buy-in, trust and joint decision making. As such I normally strive that any specialists on the team, including the project manager, share their knowledge and others are interested to learn.

There are some skills of a project manager that are useful at any level, like meeting management. conflict handling, presentations, stakeholder engagement etc.

A good start to learn is PMI's PMEdge app, where you learn about meetings, stakeholders, risks, requirements and agile/hybrid approaches, more to come over time.

Project management is a life skill. We teach it in schools.
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In my point of view is always beneficial that the members of a project has at least the basic knowledge of project management, it helps to understand, the dead lines, the milestones, the constrains of the budget schedule and quality, make the team members aware of this interactions.
Project management trainning never should close in a bubble where only the leaders should have the knowledge about the subject.
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First of all remember this: everyone in this world is performing project management from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. What differs from personal life is the degree of formality you take. Then, here my first comment. your organization have to decide "the way" it will take to perform project management. Is not the same to use a method like PRINCE2 than to use a guide from where you have to create your own method like PMBOK. Second, to enroll in project management training will not help because most of the times is based on a specific way to do project management (for example based on PMI) that could be the oppositte your organization decided to use. So, my recommendations is: took the knowledge areas of the PMBOK because those are the items to take into account (I have published articles about that) and help your people to think and leave each one as they think and live each one in their personal life. And first of all, think in your organizational strategy and the functions/process that compose it and map those knowledge areas to the existing functions/process to add value.
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Project team kick-off meetings are sometimes held as a workshop, wherein details regarding the project and the project management processes are discussed. Although not training, this workshop is purposed to be the first step in ramping-up the team. From this point, training deficits can be addressed by formal training (internal or external).
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Oct 26, 2019 6:00 PM
Replying to Keith Novak
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It can be beneficial but it is dependent on the structure of the project and where you draw the boundaries of the "project team".

There is a leadership principle with military origins called "commanders intent" which delegates decisions to people closest to the problem so that they don't need explicit orders for everything from the commander. In that regard it helps if the team knows what the PM is trying to accomplish through our processes (the intent) . They can then better help the PM develop the right plan by enabling the right decisions at the detail working level.

On the other hand, in businesses with highly repeatable processes, the PM communicates with some work cell leader. That leader generally understands PM principles but they put the planned work items into a queue, and the PM never knows who's even doing the actual detailed work. Those people won't benefit much with PM training if at all. The plan says make 4 of X and they make 4 of X. You see that often in companies that have employed lean practices and "standard work".
In practice team members in a project work directly with relevant stakeholders and usually it is not the PM the one who tells them what to do, not even at a very high level. Most PMs work as facilitators ensuring the communication between stakeholders is efficient. So I think the analogy between the PM and the military commander is not appropriate in most cases.

Regarding team members trained in project management I think this is an important factor for the success of the project especially when the PM has no good domain knowledge.

For example you may have some team members working directly with the customer. The customer may be asking for things that are not on the scope and if the team members don't know much about project management they may be working on those items without raising a change request.

The PM should be managing the scope but many times since they don't get into the details of the work they may not be aware that things that are not on the scope have been requested. The team members are much more aware of this fact but if they have no project management training they may not care and may just do what the customer tells them to do.

I have seen a project that delivered successfully but produced a big loss because the scope was not properly managed and the team members just did what the customer was asking them to do without caring if the work item was or not on scope. In the end the customer refused to pay for the additional work change requested had not been raised.
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1 reply by Keith Novak
Oct 27, 2019 3:08 PM
Keith Novak
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Your experience is very different than mine in the stakeholder communication regard. I'm not saying it's right or wrong however as businesses vary widely, merely that it's different.

As a PM, one of my very top functions is acting as a filter for information. Most team members do not communicate directly with anyone but with other teams where their product level work directly interfaces with another internal team. This is necessary for a few reasons.

- With many internal and external organizations, each with multiple team members contributing, the communication channels would be unmanageable. People wouldn't know who to talk with. Some people would be overwhelmed with emails and calls. Information would be different from many sources. I sometimes attend 5+ hours of meetings and then spend the next few hours disseminating accurate information to the right people before I can work on my own deliverables.

- Not everyone is allowed to talk to all the stakeholders. Talking with customers and suppliers often involves a dedicated representative from a customer or supplier facing organization. It is easy for misunderstandings, or people not knowing where the boundaries of their authority ends to request things or commit to things that have significant contract/cost implications. If they can talk directly, that rep still needs to be part of the conversation which results in another resource bottleneck.

- Not everyone has the skillset or perspective to talk to all the stakeholders. If fiance asked for cost estimates from 10 groups, they'd get 10 different formats, many of which unusable. Team members may not understand the scope of what their desired change impacts so my job is to review it and identify everyone else involved. Executives don't want to listen to 10 X 40 minute presentations on the progress of a project, so I summarize all the inputs into 10 minutes with key points highlighted.

This is where communication skills on my end become critical. I have to make sure that the right people get the right information in a very consistent and accurate way. When something comes up, the top level stakeholders come directly to me, to go talk to everyone else and either give a consistent direction, or to figure out what is going wrong so that we can go fix it.
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