In my experience, people who have successful PMO careers have a broad skills base. They are generalists who have skills that bridge the gap between project and operations; finance and creative; orators and the industrious. But when it comes to the types of training PMO professionals seek out, it always seems to be depressingly narrow. The focus is on either qualifications in project frameworks, or on PMO certifications such as P3O.
Looking around, there are lots of courses that could not only help PMO professionals in terms of their personal development, but could help the organizations they work for too. Here are some online courses and ideas that may be worth adding to your training and development plan for 2017*:
Data Science - Johns Hopkins University (Coursera)
PMO people - analysts in particular spend a lot of time collating data, making sense of it and publishing it in ways that enable effective decision making. But how many PMO Analysts have had any formal training? This nine-course specialism delivered by Johns Hopkins University opens up the world of data science, covering the concepts and tools, asking the right questions and data modelling. The course is quite technical and focuses a lot on programming in a language called 'R', but there is no pre-requisite knowledge required. On completion of the course you will have a university certificate in data science to add to your CV, plus a portfolio demonstrating their mastery of the material.
The Iterative Innovation Process - MIT (edX)
This 8 week course, introduces a framework for innovation, with people very much at the core. 'We need to be more innovative' is phrase heard frequently in organizations, but seldom translates into action. Could the PMO play a part in improving innovation by introducing a framework taught by MIT? This course draws on real-world examples as it teaches the innovation process model. The stated goal of the course isto change and refine the way you view the innovation process, providing you with the foundation on which to build your future innovation. Not only that, but you will have a certificate from MIT to add to your CV.
Contract Management: Building Relationships in Business - University of Southampton (futurelearn)
Just because this this four-week course is free, doesn't mean it isn't good quality. The course is backed by the UK Government and the International Association of Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM). How many times have you seen projects fail, or struggle because the contracts in place were not well structured and the relationship between 3rd parties failed? This course gives a greater insight into the importance, complexity and challenges of designing and delivering good contracts. You will learn how your objectives and those of your customer/client can be achieved in an effective way, to minimize possible threats or failures. By completing this course, you will position yourself well to support project teams as they embark on contractual negotiations with suppliers.
Coaching Skills For Managers - UC Davis (Coursera)
Coaching is a skill that is seriously lacking in PMOs. Which is odd, because the PMO is well positioned to coach Project Managers and teams alike. If you want to expand your coaching skills, this could be the course you are looking for. You will learn from Executive Coach and UC Davis Instructor Kris Plachy, who has created and transformed dozens of teams through coaching. She will share best practices, research, tools and models for coaching effectively. You will learn how effective managers use coaching to establish clear expectations and accountability, how to assess performance, and how to conduct coaching conversations that build awareness and get results.
Finance for Non-Financial Managers (Various Providers)
There are several providers offering courses in Finance for Non-Financial Managers including the Open University, Coursera and ILX group to name but a few. All offer a good grounding in the basics of finance, how to read financial reports and how to assess the financial impact of changing scenarios. This course will not turn you into an accountant, but that isn't why you embarked on a career in PMO! What this course will do is give you the vocabulary of finance and a greater understanding of how finance works - allowing you to engage confidently with finance departments and improve the way data are communicated.
Have you seen any online courses that you think would be useful for PMO Professionals? Let us know in the comments below!
*please note, I receive no revenue from any of the institutions that I have linked to, nor do I have any professional relationship with them.