We’ve covered a number of competencies PMOs may want to focus on when developing a project management training program. But a handful of additional skills might also prove beneficial, depending on the existing expertise within the project team, the needs of the organization, the availability (and use) of external resources, and the commitment of the leadership team to cultivating a truly world-class project office.
Many of the skills listed below are adjacent to more formalized competencies. Use those connections to your advantage. Once you’ve assessed the environment and needs in your PMO, consider adding one or more of these competencies to the training regimen for more targeted learning.
Customer relations. Managing stakeholder concerns and expectations may be the overarching competency, but some organizations would do well to expand their training as it relates to customer relations. Project management professionals may need to develop new or different interaction styles to successfully oversee particular customer groups. Entire project teams sometimes require a better understanding of how best to address customer concerns, or a heightened awareness of how a project is likely to impact their internal or external customers.
Vendor management. Often addressed as part of resource management, overseeing vendors and their work requires a distinct subset of skills and is a competency that may need its own focus in some organizations. PMP®s responsible for managing vendors must know how to maximize the resources—in particular, the technical expertise—they’re purchasing from these external partners. They also should be able to understand how to interpret market pressures that have the potential to influence negotiations or impact the availability of specific resources.
Process management. Project management long ago gave up the concept of being all about the end result. Today’s PMP®s must engage in—and take control over—many disparate processes along the way. Maintaining efficiency often entails identifying portions of a process that need to be updated or streamlined, and dovetailing these activities into the broader responsibilities of project management is an advanced skill that doesn’t simply happen.
Time management. Learning to use time effectively (and identifying potentially redundant or unnecessary actions along the way) is a competency project professionals develop over time, sometimes with varying levels of success. Providing access to experienced time management instruction could offer tremendous benefits in overall performance to the PMO and give PMP®s the chance to boost their own efficiency.
Conflict resolution. Most projects entail a healthy dose of competing perspectives and priorities, from sponsors interested in saving money wherever possible to executives focused on gaining an advantage in the marketplace before a competitor outdoes them. Training focused on building good communication skills sometimes isn’t in-depth enough to give PMP®s the skills needed to manage conflict in an efficient and positive way.
Employee supervision. Managing employees requires a slightly different set of skills than staff development, a more common competency taught to PMP®s. Before you expect a team member to nurture a group of their own, consider preparing them with some basic supervision skills. These may be as fundamental as recognizing performance issues and learning to match recognition efforts to different personality types. In each case, understanding the role of the manager will be vital as more advanced staff development responsibilities are added.
Data management and analysis. Regardless of the industry, data—raw, compiled, analyzed—drives many project management decisions and actions. From understanding benchmarking information to evaluating stakeholder surveys, data management is at the heart of it all. Consider providing team members with training that focuses specifically on good data collection techniques and different data analysis methodologies, and also gives them a broader background on data management approaches and best practices.