Project management training has reached a new low–in pricing that is!

wcfieldsMy wife receives Groupon promotions on a regular basis. The other day she forwarded to me a promotion for project management training that was truly amazing. This PM training company was offering 126 PDUs worth of training, worth $995 for $95; that’s right, $95. And it was offering this deal to my wife, plus four of her friends, colleagues and associates. I heard the sound of the old “carny barker” when reading the ad.

I’ve seen, and I bet you have too, many “offers” and “discounts” for project management training. Many of these are pitched at the professional who needs PDUs to satisfy the requirement to earn 60 PDUs in a three-year period to maintain any one of a number of PMI credentials. I know this firsthand. As the holder of three PMI credentials I always make sure I earn the minimum to maintain them as well.

Deep discounts such as the one in the Groupon promotion reveal a few things, at least in my mind, about the state of project management training.

First, PM training pitched certainly seems to have become a commoditized business. So long as the buyer perceives that the content is “good enough” then price will be the driving factor when buying such training. It’s good to be a wise “shopper” but price alone is not necessarily the best way to select a PM training provider.

Second, the PM training market is saturated with providers at all levels. For example, my former employer (I’m an independent consultant these days) competed against companies at the course level (its PMP Prep classes vs other companies that only focused on PMP prep training); at the local level (Universities that had gotten into the business); regional level (medium-sized organizations offering mainly offering public courses); national level; and, finally, at the global level.  I would always note the new entrants to the field when reading PMNetwork magazine and other materials I receive on a regular basis. Competition keeps prices down, but in PM’s case, it has actually lowered prices through the years; and, it has actually lowered the income of those independent consultants who train in the field. That’s good, and not so good, depending on your point of view of course.

What buyers (corporates in particular) want in PM training, in terms of content and modality, have and continue to undergo a dramatic and fundamental shift. For example, many corporations (at least those who select providers on other factors including price) don’t want “off the shelf” content. They want content customized to their industry and their company; and, they want that content delivered in bits, bites, and chunks through eLearning, virtual classroom, or video or in some combination of the three. The days of the three-day instructor led course where project managers fly to some far away city racking up T&L costs are evaporating before our very eyes.

The PM training market is in for a very large shakeup. Many organizations will simply go out of business and others will be acquired by the bigger players. Let’s face it, when PM training becomes the “stuff” of Groupon discounts, we’re not looking at a healthy industry.