You are pursuing your PMP® certification and have decided upon a PMP prep course (often called "PMP boot camp"). Your prep course takes 4 business days within a single week. Being a good project manager, you prepare for 4 days away from work.
You get the time away from work approved by your supervisor, and then adjust your project schedule. You let key personnel know you will be away and whom to contact in your absence. You re-schedule any meetings, make any necessary childcare arrangements, and in some cases, book travel to the course location.
Then you get the dreaded email - your PMP course has been postponed due to low enrollment. The new dates won't work for your already scheduled exam or all of the arrangements you've made in your work and life. You now have a big problem.
It is hard to imagine any company putting its customers through this nightmare or that people agree to pay for training that may or may not occur as originally scheduled. This type of schedule changing is not allowed with Project Management Academy® PMP courses, as we guarantee our courses run as promised.
This article provides key questions you should ask any training provider and shows how Project Management Academy puts students as a top priority.
I. Why are firm course dates so important?
As outlined above, a course postponement can wreak serious havoc on your work schedule. For better or worse, the dates for a particular course are often the primary decision point when you make your selection. After all, you can't just take any four days away from the office. It is hard to find a time during a project when you can feel reasonably comfortable being away for four days, so you would naturally like to have some control over when this occurs.
If you are one of many who travel to attend a PMP prep course, then you will be more severely impacted by these unethical business practices. You will have to cancel your flight outright, since you probably won't be given a new date (and even that date would not be guaranteed). So already you are down $175 - the average cost to change or cancel flight reservations. Then there is the hotel, rental car, etc. In many cases you could escape without any further charges there, but who wants to go through all that, only to end up back at square one?
Perhaps the most painful side effect of course postponements is your inability to take the PMP exam when you had originally planned. That is the goal after all, to become PMP certified. Very often there are time restrictions for people seeking their PMP. Many people work for companies bidding on a major project for which the PMP certification is required, and the bids are quickly coming due. Others have the PMP certification as a personal goal for their annual performance evaluation, and the clock is ticking. Or perhaps someone is simply looking to switch jobs, and the new job requires the PMP certification. Whatever the reason, people generally have a specific timeframe in mind. But when your training provider cannot guarantee when your prep course will actually run, you lose all control of this timeline.
II. What do you need to know before signing up?
A. Do they guarantee their courses will run on the dates listed?
If the marketing materials don't say this explicitly, then the answer is almost certainly no. You should ask anyway though, just to be certain.
For the companies that run non-guaranteed PMP prep courses (which is the vast majority), the dates they initially list probably mean nothing. Unscrupulous companies may simply schedule the course at a time when their biggest competitors have already listed a course in an effort to steer buyers away to their lower-price offering. So be on the lookout for this situation. If you see two courses listed for the same days in the same cities - one with guaranteed dates and one without - you should definitely be suspicious.
B. How much will it cost you to walk away?
Be sure to ask what rights you will have if and when the original course date is postponed, and try to get this in writing if you can. Odds are you will have few options, and they won't be good ones. Most companies will allow you to cancel, but only for a hefty fee. So even though they have interrupted your work and personal scheduling, delayed your timetable for certification, and generally made your life miserable, you will actually have to pay them to walk away. This is an absurd proposition, but it unfortunately happens every day.
C. How many times can the course be postponed?
Having learned that you must pay a fee to cancel a course which the company couldn't even deliver when promised, you likely are ready to look elsewhere. But in case you are still interested, be sure to ask how many times the course could be postponed. You probably won't get a straight answer here, but rest assured, the company will postpone the course as many times as needed before signing up enough students to reach their maximum profit. Forget about your work and personal life, your career goals, your travel arrangements - these companies don't care. They want to fill seats and cut overhead, so they string you along indefinitely to avoid running small classes.
D. How many of their courses have been postponed in the past?
If you are somehow still considering a course with non-guaranteed dates at this point, ask what percentage of their courses have been postponed in the past. Insist on specific numbers, not wishy-washy sales speak. Again, you are unlikely to get a clear answer, but you certainly deserve one. The way they respond, however, will likely tell you all you need to know.
The same factors you use as a project manager evaluating vendors for your project can be helpful when selecting your training provider. Do not expose yourself to the hassle and expense of having a non-guaranteed course date. Rescheduling prep courses can impact not just your work and life schedule, but those around you.
If a company puts their own profit above customer service, you will be impacted. If the company accepts your money but does not provide the course on the dates originally promised, what does that tell you about the quality of their course? Honest and ethical businesses put customers first, even when it impacts their own costs.
When you sign up for a Project Management Academy PMP exam prep course, you know that the course you register for is the course you will attend, regardless of how many people have registered for that same time. We put our students and their success as our first and top priority.