I hope this post will not be misunderstood and taken for what it is – sharing a personal career path that started in 1984 in engineering and shifted to project management in 1990 and continuing to today. This is a sample career path and we hope it will inspire others to lead.
Is the project management community receptive to new ideas? Maybe we should zoom in and ask: are professionals who subscribe to one professional association open to things from outside the association?
It is common to hear the following comments in feedback to classes and workshops: “it would have been great to link the materials to our own internal way of doing things”. Another comments, “it would also be great if the examples and case studies are from our own work.”
We agree with both of the above comments – that would be ideal but ….
Recently we have been busy with a major project (in addition to the many other projects) that has taken away all of our brain cells; this is why we have not posted an article here in a while. We are sorry for not posting but the good news is we are working on adding quite a bit of content to our project management knowledge portal, which our community can access.
This article is part of a theme consisting of a few articles on project management professional training.
In recent articles, and in our eBook: Project Management I: Challenges, Opportunities, Methodology, we discussed that project management is at a crossroad due to damages coming from overzealous professional associations, training providers, and individuals. Project management training is one of the areas where the damage is significant and is directly contributing to more damage to the field of project management professional practice.
The various articles under this theme will highlight many cases and from different angles. In this article we present a case study.
One of our clients has been working with us for about 4 years. We provide them with project management training.
Every few months, they give us a contract to train a group of people, usually short engagements; 3 to 10 days. The feedback from the participants and the client’s representative have been great and they are highly satisfied with our service.
Last year, they come to us, recognizing that project management skills are highly important and wanted to have a long term contract to lead learning programs for a large number of team members. Obviously, they came to us since they trusted us and we have always received high praise from them and their employees who attended our workshops. My colleague Luc Bauwmans, has been the SUKAD Principal Consultant leading these sessions.
Because this time the client wanted a multi – years contract and for multiple groups, procurement became involved and refused the single source approach, and would not issue the contract. They stopped the single source approach and asked for bids. Obviously, we were on the bid slate, among many other local providers.
A few weeks later they came back telling us we lost the contract because the other providers are half of our price. Learning and development could not support or justify such a difference. We asked them – for their benefit – not to issue a contract yet. We shared with them our thoughts on the “training business” and the quality of some of the providers. We also gave them a list of things they should look for when selecting a providers; which we published with our last post.
The client came back a few days later, appreciating our feedback, and telling us we were right. They never gave details but apparently rejected the other offers. However, Procurement were still not comfortable and they decided to use our guidelines and open the bidding to other organizations that they would consider would be peers to SUKAD, including internationally.
One more cycle, the bids came, and sure enough, our prices were in line with others (no details provided) except one qualified company was lower than us. We were not not sure the magnitude of the difference. If we did not have an excellent history with this client, this would have been an easy case – our competitor would have won a multi-years contract to deliver training to a large number of professionals. Yet, because of our history with the client, the client representative was able to convince procurement to do something different.
The client decided to have the other company deliver one program for one group, and SUKAD do the same for another group, with the client representatives and procurement monitoring. In this case, the client only committed 2 small contracts instead of the major one – the better performer will get the full contract.
We are happy to say – we signed the contract!
The message, and core lesson from this situation, is that the customer must be first, second and always. We must also understand that customer might not be fully aware of what is available. If we had not worked with the customers and try to raise their awareness about the project management training “business” they could have gone with a low cost provider that might not be qualified, even if they are recognized by a professional association. Even with the second bidding, the client trusted in us to question the alternative.
For SUKAD, by giving the client guidelines on how to select a project management training providers, we were risking the contract but that was an acceptable risk to us; since our focus is the client. If an alternate is better than us – that means an opportunity to learn on how to improve.
Luc Bauwmans Leading a Workshop
At the end – what some clients do not recognize is that the significant cost of a training program is not what they pay the provider; it is the cost of 10, 15, or 20 professionals in a class – that might not meet its business objectives.
This is a true case of win-win-win! SUKAD won, the client won, and their employees are enjoying the classes with Luc!
Due to the popularity of project management certification, especially PMP Training, we have seen since 2005 a huge jump in training providers, at least in the region we operate in. There is nothing wrong in an increase in number of providers as long as they are quality providers. Yet, this is not the case! Read more Continue reading →