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Author: Alex Bennett

How to make your manager pay for your project management certification

Achieving a globally-recognised project management certification will improve your ability to lead successful projects.

But it’s not always easy to get certified independently, especially when juggling your career, family and social life. Good training can be expensive too and financial restrictions may be stopping you from building the skills you need.

For most of us, a helping hand from your organisation could make all the difference in achieving a project management certification. Unfortunately, it can be tough to convince your manager to pay for your training.

There are some steps you can take to get the certification you need, without paying out of your pocket. Here’s how to make your manager pay for your project management certification.

1. Explain why it’s in your manager’s interest

It’s ultimately in your manager’s best interest for you to get qualified. Put simply, the better your project management skills, the more you can contribute to the business.

1 in 6 projects overspend by a massive 200%, according to a study by the Harvard Business Review. It’s clear: employees with expert project management knowledge will save money across every project.

For example, becoming a PRINCE2 Practitioner encourages continuous improvement across project management practices. Over time, your projects will become more successful, yielding cost-savings for your business.

Alternatively, achieving the PMP certification will teach you tried-and-tested project management techniques. For over 30 years the best project managers across the world have collaborated to create a body of knowledge which is then taught through the PMP certification.

2. You’ll bring clarity to your projects

Project management certifications bring clarify to your projects by providing tried-and-tested frameworks and methodologies in which to manage projects efficiently. Your projects will benefit from a common and consistent approach that your stakeholders will take confidence in.

For example, the PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner certification provides its students with a standardised system for project management, allowing you to provide accurate reports to your project’s stakeholders, without relying on bureaucracy.

Certification is one of the best ways of adopting a project management methodology in your business and the sooner you do, the better.

3. Clients value certification

If you’re working with external clients, or even delivering projects internally, managing successful projects will help preserve your key client relationships.

It’s well worth considering your organisations wider business goals. Are you bidding on large projects, or plan to in the future? If so, you can assume other organisations will be showing off the credentials of their project managers. Pointing out this disadvantage could help your manager see the bigger picture value of your training and certification.

4. Build your case for training

Once you’ve decided you need the training to improve your job performance, it’s time to build your case for training.

Show your manager that you’re committed to undertaking the training by doing thorough research. Avoid focusing on just one training provider, instead show evidence that you’ve researched numerous certifications and courses.

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5. Ask at the right time

Time can be a crucial factor when making the case for training. Your boss may want to discuss your proposition in detail, so making sure you have their complete attention is critical.

Consider raising the topic of certification at your performance review. You should already be discussing your professional development at your performance review, so it’s an ideal time to raise your request, while explaining why the training would improve your performance.

It’s also worth considering your team’s training budget, and when it is released. Raising your request early, before the budget is swallowed up later in the year will make it more likely to be accepted.

An alternative strategy is to make your request when you’re training budget is set to expire. Within enterprises or large organisations, departments will often leave money on the table by not utilising their full periodic training allotments. Timing your request towards when you’re training budget is set to expire could strengthen your position.

Another good time to achieve your project management certification is in-between projects. This is an opportunity to highlight tools and methods you may not have used in your last project, and how you’ll be in a better position to tackle your next project from the start.

If waiting is not an option, there’s no need to ambush your boss in person. Craft a compelling email that explains why you need certification first and then negotiate it in person afterwards. This way you have two chances to negotiate and more time to convince your boss.

6. Research different training providers

You get what you pay for when it comes to training and certification. Cheaper training may not utilise official curriculum or instructors and training days may be spread over weeks or months.

If your organisation requires you in the office, consider intensive or boot camp style training which aims to get students skilled and certified, with minimal time out of the office.

Krishna Williams, Senior Consultant at Firebrand Training, says: “I’ve found it essential to communicate the value of boot camp training upfront. The longer your staff are out of the office, the less time they’ll spend progressing critical projects. This will almost always cost the organisation more in the long term.”

You should also consider when the best time is to attend the training. If your manager can’t lose you for several days, consider training over the weekend.

Your boss might still flinch at you being out of the office for any amount of time, but with smart planning, training over the weekend will minimise this friction. By sacrificing your weekend you’ll also prove your commitment to improving your skills.

Take note of where your training provider is based and what travel expenses you may incur. It’s not wise to surprise your manager with an extra bill, so have every cost itemised and ready before you make your case.

7. Consider your team

If you manage other people, this is a good time to consider whether they should also receive training. This will show you’re not just after the certification to progress your career, but also care about the business benefits.

Cost-savings can be gained by training multiple members of staff at once. If your team needs training, it may be cheaper and easier to organise private or on-site training which can offer savings over public courses.

8. You don’t need a week off work

Many project management certifications can be achieved quickly. For example, PRINCE2 certifications are quick to complete, ranging from 20-50 hours for the Foundation level.

And, if you’re looking to get qualified fast, there are a number of training providers that will bundle multiple certifications with the exams included.

What are you waiting for?

To secure funds for your project management certification you’ll first have to demonstrate the value of the certification. Following these simple steps will go a long way in ensuring that you receive this important training with the support of your business.