I have often said that simply sending anyone on a project management training course (this can be to attain specific qualification or to develop skills) will not in itself make them a better project manager. Clearly, the course will help but developing people to be proficient in project management is a long term process and needs to be continued beyond the training room.
One aspect I have recommended to clients is setting up a Project Management Academy. What is it? Well, it can be anything you want it to be so here are some thoughts:
1. an on-line community where you openly share project management documents such as blank and completed project templates, lessons learned reports
2. an opportunity to download various articles thought to be of interest to the overall community including the overall company strategy and where each project fits in
3. a place where brief breakfast or lunchtime sessions are held to refresh or introduce new ideas to those in the community. If people cannot attend then capture the speaker on video and place on your intranet
4. a community where training needs can be identified more clearly if you have a specific community with the same objectives
5. knowledge transfer – this is a particularly important aspect of the Academy. Yes, some of the above will enable this however, if it is set up to ensure that knowledge is transferred between members then this could save a lot of time, money and duplicated effort
6. mutual support – there are occasions when a project manager may well need support. This desire has been expressed to me on a number of occasions. The Academy would be that place!
7. supporting and contributing to the overall project management culture; helping to challenge while at the same time supporting the overall use of project management
Build a strong business case for your project Academy
I said that the Academy can be anything you want it to be and its creation needs to be treated as a project. You need to develop a solid business case for its existence and of course you need to have some concrete project objectives.
Now before someone suggests that I am creating a new bureaucracy this can be managed by a couple of people part time and would be an excellent role for say a graduate or (possibly) someone in the project office.
The development of those in project management roles or those who are engaged in projects is a continuous process. Creating an academy is one idea to build skills and knowledge alongside the approach to project management your company requires. Build it to suite your needs, let it evolve and it will help build a stronger project management culture.