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How to measure ROI from project management training

24-02-2014

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Training can be a valuable way of not just getting a workforce up to speed, but also making them feel as though their employers are really investing in their development. As such, it can make for a happy, productive and switched-on workforce that is well-equipped to complete any task set of it.

Despite all this, training is something which many business owners approach with suspicion. After all, many of the benefits sound good on paper, but they are rather intangible, so cannot be measured in terms of bottom-line figures. In addition, there are fears of whether the training would achieve what it set out to do in the first place and if employees will be as receptive to it as hoped.

All of this can sew seeds of doubt among those controlling the business accounts, especially as they have to tessellate this with their long-held focus on real-world ROI. In terms of cold hard cash, it can be difficult to measure ROI from project management training, but that needn't mean it's impossible, you just need to know where to look.

Internal promotions

When looking at ROI from a cost perspective, handing out promotions may seem counter-intuitive. However, hiring from within for managerial positions can have numerous cost benefits. For example, they will only need to be trained up on their new position, as the overall business workings will be entirely familiar. Conversely, new recruits would need time to get up to speed with just how a business works and how to get the best out of their staff. There's also the risk of new managers not gelling within the team, which leads only to discord and - eventually - someone handing in their notice.

Instead, promoting from within should help with any teamwork and time management concerns. Additional benefits can then come from the happier and more productive workforce, as staff see that promotions are certainly achievable. These intangible but very real benefits continue with the likes of job security even in uncertain times and steadily increasing salaries for as long as they stay with the business.

More successful projects

At the most basic level, companies can enjoy successful projects - and all the knock-on benefits that go with it - if their staff are suitably trained up on their specialism. Businesses live or die on the results of their projects, with word getting around quickly to others of just how much of a success (or, indeed, failure) each has been.

Completion of successful projects will only open the door to more business, which is guaranteed to impact bottom-line ROI. Then in future, clients will be more ready to take on repeat projects if prior experience was a success, or at the very least recommend the services to their own clients and partners. For all these reasons, businesses want to do all they can to improve monitoring and control of projects - which training can help.

To measure the ROI of project management training, first look into the reasons why previous projects have been deemed a success or a failure. For greater accuracy, remove those where third party factors were influential, to leave behind only those where the results could be attributable to the workers involved with the project, then simply look to see whether results were bettered after training was completed.

Reactive management

Continuing with on-project work, the right training will help managers deal with situations as they arise, knowing just what they need to do in order to solve a problem or eke out the desired result. Anyone trained in proactive risk management should then know just what "surprises" could crop up during the project and how best to deal with them.

Trained, agile project managers should then not only better guarantee the success of a project but may also complete it in a much quicker time. Without costly delays stretching the project days or weeks beyond the original specification, a business can move onto the next and not get bogged down paying out when better training would have stopped this at source.

Staff turnover

One of the best ways to measure training in terms of bottom-line ROI is staff turnover. It's long been known that high levels of staff turnover can be costly to a business. Not only are there the financial implications of interviewing and recruiting, but also the time and effort it would take to train up a new staff member. This is on top of negative feelings which are bound to arise from losing staff members, who could then be taking their skills and expertise to a competitor.

Then, in the interim period, staff members that haven't yet jumped ship are often tasked with picking up the extra tasks now going spare, which overworks them and can even send more people out the door, quickly following those who left just weeks or months before.

Factor these issues in for each individual employee and it will become very apparent just how costly a high turnover of staff could be.

One way of keeping staff turnover low, however, is to give adequate training throughout their career, not just when taking on new roles.

A key differentiator

Businesses need selling points to win over prospective clients or customers. These key differentiators need to hook people in and suggest a service or offering that competitors may not be able to provide.

Regular training is one such way of offering this, as it shows staff are kept right up to date with all the standard processes or best practice solutions to which they should be adhering. Again, it may not be particularly easy to monetise peace of mind, but when orders begin coming in that may not have otherwise done, it's easy to see how this can hugely impact business turnover.

All this should illustrate why it's no mean feat measuring the ROI on project management training in terms of cold hard cash. It should also show, though, that it's not impossible, when seeing the benefits it offers that can turn very quickly into bottom-line boosters.

Author: David Howells

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