Is Your Firm Giving Project Managers the Right Type of Training?

Oct 26, 2015

Training for Project Managers

Zweig Group’s 2015 Project Management Survey found that a little more than half of firms provide either mandatory (23%) or voluntary (33%) training to project managers. That leaves 44% that don’t provide project management training. When respondents were asked, “What is the most important thing your firm can do to improve project management?” the second most common answer was “training/mentoring” (23%). Only “staffing/accountability” scored slightly higher (25%).

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Types of Training

The most common types of general skills training are “preparation of project budgets” (51%), “preparation of fee estimates” (47%), and “client relations” (46%). The most common types of firm-specific training are “how to open a job number” (63%), “preparation of project budgets” (61%), “invoicing procedures” (58%), and “policies on charging time to projects” (57%). As for business development, the most common types of training are “client relations” (41%), “communication” (38%), and “none” (38%). (Respondents were asked to select all answers that applied for each of these questions, so percentages totaled more than 100.)

Challenges for Project Managers

Although “client relations” ranked as one of the most common types of training for both general skills and business development, “managing clients’ expectations” was the most common response (29%) when respondents were asked about their biggest challenges as project managers. “Managing my time” was the second most-chosen response at 18%, followed by “staying within budget” at 15%.

The biggest complaint of PMs? “Lack of time/workload” at 23%, followed by clients’ needs at 14%.

Opportunities for Improvement?

While “client relations” was the third most common type of general skills instruction, only 46% of respondents received training on this topic. Firms that don’t provide guidance on client relations may want to consider adding it to their training plans; those that do might consider giving additional education on managing client expectations. Another area where firms might want to increase training: “Time management”, the second most common challenge for PMs, with only 29% receiving general skills training on the topic. When asked about the types of general skills training they needed most upon becoming a project manager, nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) chose “time management”, while another 75% picked the related topic of “scheduling.” “Preparation of budgets” is the most common type of general skills training, and the second most common type of firm-specific training, but “staying within budget” is the third most common challenge for PMs. “Fee/budget preparation” is also the type of training PMs say they need the most, at 76%. While most firms provide some type of training about creating a budget, firm leaders may want to consider whether additional training about sticking to a budget could be helpful. Zweig Group’s 2015 Project Management Survey contains a complete look at the data used in this article, plus a wealth of information about other project management issues, including PM structures, project management software, business development, and much more. Data is broken down by firm type, firm size, region, and growth rate so readers can easily make comparisons to firms most like their own. Zweig Group’s 2015 Project Management Survey will be released November 2, and is available for pre-order now at Download a free two-page summary report on the 2015 Project Management Survey here:

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.