In today’s dynamic world, there are tremendous pressure to grow for both individuals and organizations. For individuals, the growth can be new skills, improved capabilities, and attaining new credentials through certifications or formal education. For organization, the concerns are improving planning and execution – how to do more with less. Thus, whether you (as an individual) are looking to develop new skills for self-improvement or preparing for new credentials or you (as an organization) are looking for opportunities to train your teams with new skills and improving communication and cohesiveness, creating the optimum forum is paramount.
In the last two decades, I have attended many forums both as an individual and as a project executive seeking this perfect forum. This article summarizes the four forums and the advantages (and disadvantages) of the following forums:
- PMI Global / EMEA Congress
- PMI PMO Symposium
- PMI Mega SeminarWorld
- PMO Advisory Mega Bootcamps
In Pursuit of a Perfect Forum
What is a perfect forum for learning? Depending on the typic of training, for project management, there are two primary considerations: environment and training quality.
The environment establishes the overall appropriateness for learning, and there are two important considerations: physical and social:
- A physical environment conductive for learning is vital. For example, a noisy environment can be distractive but a comfortable, spacious, and relative quiet environment puts people at ease. More importantly, the physical environment should also address the basic necessities such as meals, snack, drinks, and bath rooms. Common equipment includes writing pads, pens, markers, flip charts, and other relevant technologies should be readily available. By making sure these essential “stuff” are taken care of, the participants can be focused on learning.
- A social environment composed of people with similar interest – For example, a professional conference has a critical mass of like minded people. It is much better than an airport business lounge with people of various interests. The right social context also promotes networking, an added bonus for most people.
II. Quality of Training
Quality of training can be viewed from three perspectives: Quality of trainer, content and participants.
- The quality of trainer is perhaps the most important component of ensuring the optimal training forums. In project management, quality of trainers is reflected in their credentials and certifications, work and life experiences, and their interpersonal ability to connect, communicate and teach. Ideals trainers are authorities in their field who can tailor the content in real time and adjust to the needs of the participants.
- The quality of content is also important, especially in certain specialized and technical areas such as project management. The medium of the paper, whether they are paper based or electronic, needs to be appropriate for the training forum. In certification training, having large test banks for participants to practice can be indispensable.
- The quality of participants is another critical component of the overall learning. Based on my personal experience, I often learn as much from the other participants, especially in small group training. Having participants with similar background and experience can affect the pace of learning, quality of discussion, and the ability to emphasize with each other’s challenges.
A perfect forum exists when both the environment and training quality are optimally assembled.
Advantages & Disadvantages
With nearly twenty-five years of experience in project management, in various roles from a worker bee to leading very large PMOs, I am often placed in the role of being the “PM Educator in Chief”. Every year for the past two decades, I have attended numerous training classes and professional conferences but have also hired trainers with customized curriculum for organizations. Many are good, but not great and did not make the threshold for consideration here.
Below is a comparison of the four forums. For transparency sake, it should be noted that I (the author) is the CEO of PMO Advisory responsible for creating these two forums. In this article, my intention is to be as objective as possible and critically analyze all five forums.
1. PMI Global Congress
- Excellent environment setting – usually in large cities (Rome and Chicago in 2017) with quality presenters, content, and attendees
- Wonderful forum for project professionals networking and learning about the latest trends
- Large variety of topics providing a broad scope of learning
- Can be overwhelming – too many of everything – sessions, content, people
- Session size can be huge – over 100 people
- Difficult for in-depth learning
- Cost can be high for individuals, especially when factoring traveling from afar
2. PMI PMO Symposium
- Similar advantages as PMI Global Congress
- This conference is designed for more senior project professionals and executives. The networking environment is much stronger than PMI Global Congress
- I found the PMO Symposium to have higher adherence to the conference theme, which can boost learning
- Limited vendors – which can be positive but in my view, vendors also showcase their products which often reflects the latest trends
- Session size is also large (somewhat smaller than PMI Global Congress), making in-depth learning difficult
- Cost can be very high for individuals, especially when distant traveling is required
3. PMI SeminarWorld
- Similar advantages as PMI PMO Symposium in the overall environment but each class is smaller (My experience was about 25 people)
- In-depth topics, typically 2 to 4 days
- Very interesting courses, especially some advanced topics
- Excellent networking opportunity
- No major disadvantage perhaps when combined with the conference, it’s often an entire week (sometimes more for people attending the PMI LIM meeting)
4. PMO Advisory Mega Bootcamps
- Similar to PMI SeminarWorld but focused on certification bootcamps – e.g. in 2017 the focus is Portfolio (PfMP), Program (PgMP), and Risk (PMI-RMP)
- Deep immersion for learning
- Excellent forum for company team training
- Resort fee extra, but heavily subsidized, much less expensive than resort/hotels fees as compared with major cities
PMO Advisory’s Mega Bootcamps
We created the Mega Bootcamps to create an ideal environment for teams and individuals to learn, prepare, and conquer the difficult PMI certification exams. The benefits are as follows:
- Great team building experience for organizations sending multiple people
- Highly nurturing environment designed for immersion and passing the certification exam
- Learn from our best trainers across multiple certification areas
- Network among the participants
On environment, the course location is in the heart of the Pocono Mountain resort region, about 75 miles from New York City. The mountain scenery creates a perfect atmosphere for immersed learning – fresh airs and beautiful views in an award winning resort. You will be meeting our best trainers and professionals with similar interests and pursuits. Lunch and dinner time are designed for socializing, sharing ideas across programs, portfolios, projects, and risks. And when you need to take a break, there’s a perfect 0.5 mile mountain trail (moderate intensity) right on the premise and a beautiful pool and fitness to work off the excess energy and relax in the evening. The resort also has a full service spa and restaurants. For more information, visit www.stroudsmoor.com.
On quality of the training, PMO Advisory strives to be the best and most specialized in project management training. Our trainers are highly qualified and certified. Perhaps most importantly, they come with deep experiences. Click here to see their profile. On training content, we either develop our own or use highly regarded partner content. We generally develop our own test bank of practice questions, which we probably have the world largest test bank for Portfolio (PfMP) and Program (PgMP). As our courses are highly specialized, our training participants are generally very experienced and motivated.
We are preparing for the upcoming Mega Bootcamps 2017, and we are offering three highly specialized bootcamps: Portfolio Management (PfMP – 3 days); Program Management (PgMP – 3 days), and Risk Management (PMI-RMP – 2 Days). The start date is May 15th, 2017. For more information, please visit www.pmoadvisory.com/training/mega-bootcamps.