Why mobilising project management skills matters

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Written by RussellKendrick on 22 February 2017

As organisations become leaner and drive higher levels of productivity, there is less time for traditional classroom-based training. Five-day classroom training courses are the exception these days. In today’s global enterprises, getting employees together in one location is a challenge in itself. Employees are used to fitting in self-directed training with work and domestic commitments, in the quest for work-life balance. Providing access to learning when the learner needs it, as part of a blended programme that includes some formal classroom training and on-the-job mentorship, is key.

Josh Bersin
principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte,1 urges organisations to accelerate their development of young people to meet the challenges that lie ahead: “We should push young people into leadership roles, give them the support they need, and coach them so they can grow and improve. The traditional model of identifying leaders through a nine-box grid and then waiting until they are “ready to lead” is simply too slow. Today’s teams need leaders who can lead projects, customer situations, and service teams.”

Learning on the move

Mobile learning addresses many of the challenges faced by businesses in the world of complex project and programme management. As well as providing accessible e-learning, a mobile learning app is a convenient resource for project managers to use to refresh their knowledge six months down the line, when memories of a formal training course are beginning to fade.

A staggering 15.7 million new project management roles will be added globally across seven project-intensive industries by 2020.

HR professionals can take a number of steps to help facilitate the right kind of mobile training support for frontline project managers:

1. Start with understanding business goals and how project management will need to deliver on them – or may be failing to achieve them – and align mobile learning outcomes to that.

2. Recognise the performance gaps and from that identify where the specific skills shortages lie. The business goal might be to deliver more projects but the performance shortfall may be risk management skills.

3. Always blend learning delivery and design the right mix of training to respond to the needs of your workforce – if you have lots of young staff or lots of mobile staff, a higher proportion of mobile learning might work for you, whereas more classroom training might work for 9-5 office workers.

4. Get management buy-in for any change in behaviour that you are expecting to result from a learning intervention. Managers can play a key role in setting out the business reasons for training and motivating staff to undertake training. Later, managers should be encouraged to deliver ongoing coaching and mentoring to develop employee project management skills. Managers themselves may need training and development in coaching and mentoring skills.

5. Measure results. A clear understanding of performance gaps and what specifically is required to fill them, can help identify KPIs that demonstrate that you have met your goals. Communicate successes widely to help justify budget for further similar initiatives.

Keeping up with shifting goal posts

Change is constant. A survey of 1,000 UK business managers2 found that 89 per cent were anticipating further changes within their organisations, following the Brexit vote. The report also revealed that most organisations are planning to make the same top four changes in light of Brexit: to source additional markets outside the EU (31 per cent), restructure and cut costs (26 per cent), reorganise (18 per cent) and relocate (13 per cent).

Almost all organisations (97 per cent) believe ‘good project management’ is critical to business performance and organisational success.3 And that would go some way to explaining why a staggering 15.7 million new project management roles will be added globally across seven project-intensive industries by 2020.4

Expectations of a project manager’s performance are becoming ever higher. These individuals are expected to be able to juggle multiple projects at any one time – few have the luxury of just seeing one project through from start to finish in a textbook fashion. Their level of skill will need to be more sophisticated than ever and it is vital that organisations enable flexibility of learning on the move if they are to drive a culture of up-to-date, adaptable project management.


  1. Predictions for 2017 Everything Is Becoming Digital’. Bersin Deloitte Human Capital Trends study 2017
  2. http://bit.ly/2kYVEaJ
  3. PWC Global Project Management report, 2012
  4. PMI skills gaps report http://bit.ly/2kYPiZ8

For further information visit www.ilxgroup.com or follow on Twitter @ILXGroup , Facebook, LinkedIn

About the author
Russell Kenrick is the Managing Director at ILX. For further information visit www.ilxgroup.com or follow on Twitter @ILXGroup

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