by Moira Alexander

8 quick ways to increase your PM knowledge

May 31, 2016
IT LeadershipProject Management Tools

If you’re a project manager, crammed schedules, overflowing to-do lists and restricted budgets can limit your chances of pursuing formal training. Here are eight ways to learn more about project management without breaking the bank or disrupting your busy schedule.

With 10 interconnected knowledge areas that incorporate the use of 47 processes organized into five process groups, project management can be a multifaceted maze to navigate. Developing a deeper understanding of this discipline can be an all-consuming and intimidating task at times, and just trying to find out where to turn for training can feel overwhelming.

Here’s a look at eight inexpensive and not terribly time-consuming ways to learn more about project management, with a rundown of the pros and cons of each.

1. E-learning programs and webinars

Online training is agreat way to develop project management knowledge because the offerings are easily accessible and often self-paced. There are many e-learning options out there, so you should do some research to find the ones that fit your learning requirements.


  • Web-based, which means they typically offer anytime, anywhere access.
  • Usually self-paced.
  • Flexible — you can fit the training into your schedule.
  • Less expensive than formal classroom training and seminars.


  • Not all online training programs have live instructors.
  • Participants must be fairly tech-savvy.
  • Additional support may not always be available.

[Related: 8 project management skills in high demand]

2. Videos and slideshows featuring professional tutorials

Watching tutorials presented in videos or slideshows is a good way to familiarize yourself with new material or solidify and expand on your existing knowledge. These resources are typically created by industry professionals and are often available free of charge.


  • Web-based, typically offering anytime, anywhere access.
  • Flexible — presentations can be paused when necessary to fit your schedule.
  • The information is provided by knowledgeable professionals.
  • Typically free, or at least less expensive than other types of training.


  • No live instructors.
  • Additional support may not always be available.
  • May not benefit people who prefer hands-on experiences.

3. Seminars

Seminars on project management topics are often available throughout the year in many cities. They offer advice from real-life project management professionals or trainers from consulting firms that specialize in project management or professional education. Participants also have face-to-face access to seasoned professionals.


  • Led by real-life professionals with project management expertise.
  • Immediate on-the-spot responses to questions.
  • Direct access to experienced professionals.


  • More expensive than some other options.
  • Participants often must take time off from work in order to attend.
  • Travel may be required.

4. Boot camps

A rigorous way to gain a wealth of knowledge, boot camps typically cram a lot of training into a short period of time. If you don’t mind the fast pace and the intense learning environment, you might prefer boot camps to traditional training programs because they don’t require as much of a time commitment.


  • Offer significant amounts of knowledge in a short period of time.
  • Direct access to experienced professionals.
  • May include hands-on team-based exercises.
  • Immediate and direct feedback to questions.


  • Can be extremely intense and highly stressful.
  • Very fast-paced — information can be missed.
  • Little individual support.
  • Can be very expensive.

5. Professional books and articles

Simply keeping up with your reading can be a great way to gain direct knowledge from seasoned industry experts, at little or no cost.


  • Online or offline access anywhere at any time.
  • The material is typically based on the author’s direct professional experience.
  • Authors can usually be contacted by email.
  • Less expensive than other types of training, and often available at no cost.
  • Authors are typically vetted by editors of the publications.
  • The pace of learning is determined by the reader’s schedule and personal preferences.


  • May not benefit people who get more out of hands-on experiences.

6. Industry publications and trade journals

Professional journals and trade publications offer more in-depth insights from seasoned project management experts than mainstream books and periodicals, but they can also be more expensive.


  • Usually fairly easily accessible anywhere at any time.
  • Offer advice based on direct professional experience.
  • Authors can usually be contacted by email.
  • Typically less expensive than seminars and other types of training.


  • May not benefit people who get more out of hands-on experiences.
  • Not typically available free of charge, unlike articles in most online publications.

7. In-house lunchtime workshops

Casual brown-bag gatherings can be a good way for senior project managers to share their expertise with co-workers and offer insights into how the organization’s approach to project management is tied to business objectives.


  • In-house project managers share their expertise and offer direct company knowledge.
  • The subject matter has specific relevance to projects within the company.
  • The presenters are available to offer direct support in a timely manner.
  • The sessions are free of charge, and you don’t have to take time off to attend.


  • Participants may hesitate to ask questions for fear of being judged negatively by their co-workers
  • The information may only be relevant within the organization.

[Related: 5 practical project management certifications]

8. Mentors and coaches

Veteran project managers may be willing to mentor younger colleagues or offer customized coaching services through consulting engagements.


  • The advice they offer is based on direct professional experience.
  • Mentors and coaches are usually willing to let you contact them by phone or email.
  • They may not charge for their services, but if they do, they’ll typically be less expensive than seminars and other types of training.


  • Mentors may be busy with their own jobs, so the amount of time they can share with you could be limited.

Where do you start?

Talk with other project managers to get advice on credible professional publications and to find out about veteran project management professionals who can offer valuable insights. Ask around within your social media networks. Then, after talking with your peers as a starting point, spend some time doing additional research to find reliable and up-to-date sources that meet your needs.