Online training in project management – including PRINCE2® and PRINCE2 Agile® – since the onset of Covid-19 has created some valuable and unforeseen benefits for trainees.
Before the pandemic, there had never been a large market for online training. People generally preferred the face-to-face, classroom experience.
When this type of training stopped during the first UK lockdown in March 2020, the initial response from trainees was to wait for classrooms to re-open. However, people decided there was value in upskilling while, for example, on furlough and so decided to jump into online courses.
And what they found was that training remotely – with all the right tools such as video applications hosting groups and breakout functions – wasn’t so different to being in a classroom. In some ways, it’s proven to be better.
Particularly with PRINCE2 Agile, people are able to relate to it because they’ve had to become more agile in response to the pandemic: for example, daily video calls with their colleagues are like the Agile technique of daily stand-ups. Equally, the conditions have shown people the importance of collaboration, plus approaches such as timeboxing, delivering to time and budget and saving costs.
The unexpected benefits of online training
In a traditional, professional training course and exam scenario the delegates will work towards taking the exam at the end of a short course.
The impending exam can put pressure on some people and, consequently, they sometimes switch off from the most important element: the training, learning and application of knowledge.
Conversely, online training means that people can book their examination at a time that suits them up to six months after the course. This way, they use their time better for learning and I’ve seen the exam results improve.
On a practical basis, hosting online courses takes away the need to commute to a training centre. Candidates are therefore more relaxed and get more out of the sessions without having to run for the train home. People with children can do the school drop-off and fit in other life tasks without missing out on training time and delegates from anywhere in the world can access courses, as if they’re attending in person.
There will always be advocates for classroom training – and it’s not going away – but I think that online courses will become part of the new norm.
Bringing PRINCE2 and PRINCE2 Agile theory to life
As the pandemic has prompted people to get involved in many new, personal and work projects it has made the concepts in PRINCE2 and PRINCE2 Agile much more real. Domestic examples such as creating a vegetable patch or landscaping a garden are helping delegates grasp best practice project management concepts.
In one example, I asked a delegate to walk through applying PRINCE2’s seven principles to growing vegetables at home. As we began looking at each principle, it was like a light bulb going on. By talking about the benefits and describing how he’d helped his parents when younger, he was essentially building a business justification and learning from experience.
As he progressed in the project, he kept an eye on the cost and timescale, keeping to the initial scope (which vegetables to grow). With a plan for when to pot certain produce, he was now demonstrating focus on products and elements of management by stages. He was also managing by exception, joking about how his partner had to water the plants at specific times or advise him if she’d forgotten!
In terms of defined roles and responsibilities, he saw himself as the key decision maker and expert, sounding very much like the executive and senior supplier, while his partner – in selecting specific fruit and vegetables – was the senior user.
Finally, having started their project with a structure in mind – writing down certain things and recording information – they had basically tailored the method without realizing it.
The future of training
While training will resume in classrooms, people will also want the option to log in remotely.
Training organizations will be expected to deliver blended learning for face-to-face and online learners – in effect, practising what we preach about offering greater agility.
For people and organizations who remain unsure about remote training and learning, I would recommend:
- Requesting a demonstration from a training provider to experience how it feels.
- Asking to trial the system before committing to a course.
Technology is making it easier to mirror and even improve on the classroom setting; allowing delegates to interact, learn, take exams and obtain certifications even more effectively.