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Train train train…

I’ve heard quite a few project managers say lately, “I don’t have any formal project management training,” as if to discount whatever observation they were about to make, because it was “only” based on years of experience. A mix of training and experience is perhaps ideal, to give the project manager a framework upon which to build. Training alone, even if it is accompanied by a seal of approval, cannot match up to the competence gained from time “in the trenches.”

One reason for this is that, in formal training, you (appropriately) learn patterns. In practice, you may see the rough outlines or a suggestion of those patterns, but reality is disorderly. It’s possible that you may see no pattern at all. I’ve spoken to more than one project manager fresh from certification who was stumped as to how to proceed in the absence of some of what they’d been taught were foundational aspects of the project environment (the pattern), such as a charter or a scope document.

So, that said, I have been thinking about training lately, because I am working on a recommendation “to identify and/or conduct ongoing skill building opportunities” for University of California Library project managers. This is part of the work of a UC Library systemwide task force on project management skills ( I mentioned the Task Force a couple of months ago when we were getting back the results of a survey we conducted of UC library project managers. Since then, we’ve developed our ideas, vetted them with key stakeholder groups within the UC Libraries, and are now working on our final recommendations.

Gathering background, I put out a query on Twitter, LinkedIn (the PM Toolbox group), and a listserv of digital library folks. I asked for reasonably priced project management training resources and tools. On LinkedIn and the listserv, where I had more space to write, I was able to add that I would be interested in onsite (vendor) or web-based offerings, for these topic areas:

  • Project tracking, in particular: work breakdown structure, gantt charts and critical path analysis;
  • Time and resource allocation, in particular: scheduling, and time estimation;
  • Change management, in particular: scope management, and stakeholder relationship management; and
  • Risk assessment and management.

Interestingly, I have not gotten very many recommendations. That is, I have not received very many messages from people recommending someone else’s services. Here are the referrals I have received:

Do you have other tools or training to recommend, aside from something you or your company provide?