Costs/Benefits of PMP Certification on a Construction Project
Malgorzata Plaza, Komal Naz and Anthony Sangra
TRSM, Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street, M5B 2K3, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Keywords: Training, Project Management, Construction, Progress Curve.
Abstract: Training is an attractive solution in times where economy experiences a decline in the supply of skilled
workers, which is the current trend in the Canadian construction industry. Regardless of its form,
employee’s training is expensive, so its benefits should be carefully assessed to assure a proper return from
the investment. Research offers several methods, which can be used to measure the outcomes of training.
Neither of those methods includes the non-linear changes of performance due to the “learning on the job”
effect, which can be depicted by an employee’s progress curve. This paper explores various training
assessment approaches and offers analytical decision model. The model can be used to evaluate the impact
of employee’s progress curve on the time after which the benefits of training balance its costs. The model is
illustrated with a real case of a construction project, in which cost effectiveness of hiring a senior PM is
compared to training of a senior and a junior PMs, who are with the company for a number of years. The
results of the study demonstrate that training of a senior PM is the most beneficial option.
According to Statistics Canada, the construction
industries employed about 1.2 million people in
2008, which accounts for 7.2% of all jobs in Canada
and 30.6% of those in the goods-producing sector.
The workers consisted of managerial, clerical and
administrative personnel in various occupations.
Any decline in the construction sector would have a
huge effect on the economy, so the industry has to
be carefully managed to ensure the well-being of
Canadians as a whole (Clikeman 1999).
The construction firms experience continuous
decline in the supply of qualified workers, which is
one of the reasons why labour productivity has
fallen in the industry ("Construction"). Training
seems to be a proper solution; since it delivers the
various skills to the candidates seeking employment
and therefore carries a promise to increase the
overall productivity of a Canadian workforce.
Training is expensive and takes time.
Accountants can easily estimate its various costs but
cannot with the same degree of confidence assess
the value and future benefits of various training
programs. It remains up to HR department to supply
that information. HR, which aspires to become a
strategic part of the organization, must fully
understand the labour requirements and be able to
evaluate various training strategies (Rowden 2001).
Research emphasizes the importance of training
and offers a variety of assessment methods to
measure its outcomes. However, the available
methods do not include the impact of an employee’s
progress curve on his/her performance. As a result,
the management cannot compare the two most
common options, which are: (1) allowing an
employee to “learn on the job”, or (2) sending an
employee to an external partner for a formal training
(Plaza, Ngwenyama et al. 2010). There is also very
limited discussion on the pros and cons of training a
company’s staff versus hiring a new employee.
This paper explores the available training
assessment approaches and methods and closes the
gap in the extant literature by offering an analytical
decision model as its research contribution. The
model can be used to assess the impact of a progress
curve on the time, after which the benefits of
training balance its costs. The model is illustrated
with a real case study of a Construction Project. The
Cost/Benefit analysis is conducted for a Project
Manager (PM), who earns a Project Manager
Professional (PMP) certification through a
professional training.
Plaza M., Naz K. and Sangra A..
SHOULD A COMPANY INVEST IN TRAINING - Costs/Benefits of PMP Certification on a Construction Project.
DOI: 10.5220/0003718803710379
In Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Operations Research and Enterprise Systems (ICORES-2012), pages 371-379
ISBN: 978-989-8425-97-3
2012 SCITEPRESS (Science and Technology Publications, Lda.)
The paper is organized as follows: the next
section discusses the role of training and various
approaches used to evaluate its benefits, including
the Return on Training Investment methods. The
analytical model is presented in Section 3.2 and its
application to a Construction Project is discussed in
Section 3.3. The future directions are outlined in the
concluding Section.
2.1 The Significance of Training
People are the most critical resources for any
organization and must be managed effectively.
Training is a big part of resource management, since
companies invest approximately $750 billion around
the globe on training alone, which roughly makes
2% of payroll (Stewart 2007).
A study conducted jointly by the American
Society for Training and Development (ASTD) and
Saba Software in 2000 ranked organizations
according to how much they spent on training. The
researchers found that the firms in the top half had a
shareholder return of 86% higher than firms in the
bottom half and 45% higher than the market
average. Furthermore, firms in the top quarter had a
24% higher profit margin and their price to book
ratio was also 26% higher (Stewart 2007).
When providing up to date training the
companies keep workers engaged, motivated and
productive. More and more organizations recognize
the need for skills improvement, which is added to
the experience gained during the work engagements.
The management appreciates how training is linked
to work, so it comes as no surprise that statistics
provided by almost all national organizations show
continual increases in monies invested in its various
forms (Murray and Efendioglu 2007).
Canada follows the global trend. According to a
Conference Board, leading-edge Canadian
companies regard training as an investment, not as a
cost, so businesses spend about $859 per employee
each year on formal training (Stewart 2007). Nearly
half the respondents in the Conference Board survey
reported that their training budgets are increasing as
they are recognizing employees as the source of
their competitive advantage (Stewart 2007).
Investment in training is significant and must be
managed accordingly. The companies need tools and
methods to properly evaluate their training
strategies. The traditional HR processes and policies
are adjusted, so that training alternatives can be
evaluated before the commitment is made. The
management of the respective departments must
develop the clear objectives for training programs,
explain how they address organization’s
requirements for resources, and list the expected
benefits (Dipietro 2006). In the next section we
discuss the methods, which are frequently used to
evaluate training.
2.2 The Evaluation of Training
Measuring the return on training investment is
complex. The previous section already established
that the cumulative effect of training on a bottom
line must be calculated. There are many different
models, which can be used to assess the impact of
development programs on employee’s behaviour on
the job, and on the company’s performance. Some
organizations consider the costs of not training
employees as it often leads to a loss of valuable
resources. The company must then consider a cost
associated with finding and training the replacement,
a possible loss of any trade secrets, the loss of clients
associated with the employee, etc. (Stewart 2007).
The three most popular training evaluation
methods, which are discussed in this Section, are:
Kirkpatrick’s model, 360 degree feedback Method
and Balanced Scorecard.
2.2.1 Kirkpatrick’s Model
The model classifies training outcomes into four
levels: reaction, learning, behaviour change, and
results. Each level is evaluated by the following
methods (Rowden 2001):
Level 1. The reactions of participants are
evaluated first. Since “Happy trainees” are more
likely to focus on the key concepts of a program and
correctly apply the information on the job, the level
of satisfaction must be measured right after the
training is completed (Stewart 2007).
Specific feedback is important, so the
participants must be given a chance to provide
insights into the content and techniques that were
helpful to them. Although positive reactions do not
guarantee the success of training, the evaluation at
this level allows screening any changes experienced
by participants during the program.
Level 2. The knowledge of participants is
evaluated second. The method assesses the content
and outcomes of learning. Many organizations give
exams before and after training to evaluate the
improvement in employee’s knowledge.
ICORES 2012 - 1st International Conference on Operations Research and Enterprise Systems
Level 3. Behaviour change, which is evaluated
third, refers to the effective application of the
material and principles learned in the training
sessions on the job. The method evaluates the extent,
to which the attitudes have changed and the new
skills were gained.
Level 4. Finally, the financial results are
measured. The method evaluates the costs versus
benefits of training. Return from training can be seen
in several areas, such as: increased productivity,
decreased waste, improved quality or increased
sales. (Stone 2005) believes that ROI is a most
appropriate tool, particularly when the investment is
made by a company with limited funds.
Kirkpatrick model is not overly expensive to use,
provides immediate feedback and examines the
impact of training on a personal level. If reliable,
clear scoring metrics are established, the model
gives accurate assessment of the knowledge gained
and skills, which still need to be learned. The results
are shared with both instructors and students, so the
obstacles to performance improvements are
identified and accountability is established.
The main drawback of this model is its
complexity. Many organizations pick and choose the
levels they want to apply, often leaving out a few
levels and thus missing vital information. It has
recently become apparent that managers are
effective in evaluating Levels 1 and 2, but are still
challenged by the assessment on Levels 3 and 4. The
model must be applied comprehensively in order to
draw the most benefits and get the real picture of the
effectiveness of training.
2.2.2 360 Degree Feedback Method
The method offers as accurate view of performance
as possible, since the input comes from all angles:
supervisors, peers, team members, customers, and so
forth. Evaluation revolves around self-assessment. It
was demonstrated that such feedback improves
behaviour and increases performance, which in turn
has a positive impact on Return on Investment (ROI)
(Rowden 2005). The method has the following
advantages (Stewart 2007):
1) It is very comprehensive since responses
are gathered from multiple perspectives.
2) The quality of information is better and it
provides data for developmental purposes.
3) The emphasis is placed on internal and
external customers and teams, so it compliments
TQM initiatives.
4) It reduces bias and prejudice since
feedback comes from several and not just one
5) It provides more consistent information on
behaviours and actions.
6) Feedback from peers and others increases
employee self-development.
The main drawback of the method is its
administrative complexity. The method combines
more information than a typical performance
appraisal, so companies use Web technology to
compile and aggregate the information. The other
drawbacks are as follows (Stewart 2007):
1) Employees might feel overwhelmed and in
shock from the information they receive.
2) There may be conflicting opinions, though
they may all be accurate.
3) Employees may collude the system by
giving invalid evaluations of one another. As a
result, the feedback provided might be intimidating
and may cause resentment. The evaluation may be
seen as a popularity contest.
2.3 Measuring the Return from
There is an increasing trend to assess training as a
long term strategy, rather than the short-term
financial returns from investments. Unfortunately,
four out of five organization do not even measure
the ROI on their training dollars (Stewart 2007). The
two ROTI methods presented below are suitable for
analysis of strategic implications of training.
The first method was developed by Service
Strategies. It is a spreadsheet guide that allows a
user to insert organizational metrics related to
strategic goals and training costs. The system
calculates the bottom line financial results, which
must be accomplished to justify the investment. The
method encourages the use of metrics derived from
Customer Relation Management (CRM) and an
organizational budgeting system. The model consists
of a 5 step process described below (Stewart 2007):
1. Supply basic investment and cost
information (average class cost and other variables)
2. Calculate/estimate the value of estimated
increased productivity
3. Calculate/estimate the value of increased
customer retention (if applicable)
4. Calculate the value of reduced recruitment
and retraining costs
5. Calculate the ROI and months required to
payback the training investment
SHOULD A COMPANY INVEST IN TRAINING - Costs/Benefits of PMP Certification on a Construction Project
The second method, which was developed by
FutureEd, uses the following approach to calculate
the ROTI (Barker 2001):
1. Focus on a single unit, e.g., sales, product
defects, employee turnover.
2. Determine a value for each unit, e.g., cost
per item.
3. Calculate the change in performance
attributable to training.
4. Obtain an annual amount.
5. Determine the annual value of
improvement: the annual performance change
multiplied by the unit value. ROTI then equals the
net annual value of improvement less the program
The second method is more suitable for a
manufacturing industry while the first is adequate
for a service firm, such as a construction company.
The critical drawback of both methods is that the
non-linear changes in performance due to learning
on the job, which is a typical process on any project
(Vandevoorde and Vanhoucke 2006) are not
included. The next section discussed the learning
curve theory, which is used to model and track the
non-linear performance changes.
2.4 Learning Curve Theory
The learning curves have been used for decades to
model the productivity improvements due to
learning (Yelle 1979; Mazzola and McCardle 1997;
Blancett 2002) and are most commonly associated
with production rates and costs (Teplitz 1991).
Learning curve is also used in relation to project
management, where it is called a progress curve. For
example, (Jackson 1998) applies a progress curve to
financial analysis of technology implementations
and (Ngwenyama, Guergachi et al. 2007) uses the S-
curve to track the performance of a company after
the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) project
An S-curve shaped progress curve were used to
track the progress of projects by Cioffi (Cioffi 2005;
Cioffi 2006). (Vandevoorde and Vanhoucke 2006)
evaluated the application of various methods used to
track the project schedule on three Construction
Projects and came to the conclusion that S-curve
based method would provide the best results.
Neither of the above mentioned methods allows
tracking the impact of training on the project
performance. (Plaza 2008) closes that gap and offers
a model, which calculates the costs/benefits of
training on ERP projects. Unfortunately, the model
can only be applied to the teams and does not allow
calculating the benefits of training the individual
The decision model, which is the contribution of
this paper, addresses the above mentioned
limitations. The model integrates a ROTI method
with a progress curve, so it includes the non-liner
changes of performance due to learning effects.
Therefore, it can be used to assess the impact of a
progress curve on the time, after which the benefits
of training balance its costs.
3.1 Research Method
In this paper we present a ROTI model developed
from application of learning curve theory to project
management. The main objective of the model is to
support evaluation of various training strategies
offered to a project manager, in order to improve the
profit generated by a Cost Centre under his
responsibility. The model can be applied to any of
the evaluation methods discussed in Section 2.
We follow a design science research
methodology, which is comprised of the four key
stages (Hevner, March et al. 2004). First, the
constructs or the vocabulary for the problem are
selected. The model, which is an analytical
representation of a problem domain, is created from
the constructs next. The instantiation of a model is
its implementation, for example a prototype system,
which would automate and streamline the
calculations. It is developed in the third stage. A
method, which offers a guideline of how the model
should be applied to a problem domain, is proposed
in the fourth stage.
The problem domain revolves around
costs/benefits of training. The constructs, which we
selected for the model, include accumulative cost
function and a performance function. The cost
function depicts training costs, expenses and salaries
of a PM incurred before, during and after the
training. The PM’s performance changes due to
learning are depicted by a progress curve.
The model is derived using a 5-step process after
(Stewart 2007). It integrates the cost and
performance functions. We use a linear function to
represents an accumulative daily costs and expenses.
Earned Value (EV) delivered during the progression
of a project represents PM’s performance and S-
shaped progress curve is used to depict the changes
ICORES 2012 - 1st International Conference on Operations Research and Enterprise Systems
of EV as a function of time after (Cioffi 2006;
Vandevoorde and Vanhoucke 2006; Plaza 2008). A
project is a Cost Centre, so the changes of EV are
substituted with a profit generated by a Cost Centre
in a period of time similarly like in (Ngwenyama,
Guergachi et al. 2007). The constructs and model are
further discussed in Section 3.2.
The instantiation of a model is a prototype
decision system developed in Excel. The system
includes several graphs, which depict an impact of
PM experience, learning ability, salary scale and
training costs on the time after which investment in
training is returned. The system was developed
using a similar approach as discussed in (Plaza and
Turetken 2009).
We selected a real life construction project as a
most suitable Case Study to illustrate the application
of our model. The problem domain includes analysis
of timing and benefits of PMP designations
subsidized for PMs by a construction company. In
our case, the PM is responsible to generate a fixed
amount of profit during a year. The company
expects that amount to be increased after PM
successfully completes the training and receives a
PMP designation. The Case Study and a method, in
which the model can be applied to a real life
situation is discussed in Section 3.3.
3.2 Basic Concepts and Formal
Description of the Model
Let’s assume that i is PM’s salary grade and is equal
to 1 (before training) or equal to 2 (after training and
promotion to the next level). If C
(t) represents a cost
of a PM incurred over time, r
is PM’s daily rate, T
represents the number of days of training and r
the total cost of training, than a cost function can be
depicted by Eq. (1), assuming that the individual is
not producing profit while in formal training.
TT 212
The total cost of training includes course fees
and expenses if training is provided out of a place of
employment. We are also assuming that training is
taken on company’s time and therefore wages paid
to PM during training are included.
Let’s also assume that P
(t) is a performance
function (Figure 1), which takes a form of an S-
curve (Eq. (2)) and represents the changes in profit
delivered by a PM over time.
Value after the trainin
Value before the training
Time after which Costs
invested in Training are
Figure 1: The Performance Functions of a PM before and
after training.
k is a Progress Curve Coefficient
is the asymptote to the Progress Curve or
a maximum profit generated by a PM
is the minimum profit, and
is a Profit Increase Coefficient.
Note, that a Progress Curve Coefficient
represents the gradual performance changes due to
experience accumulated on the job. However, the
maximum profit and a Profit Increase Coefficient
represent the shift of performance expected from
training. Therefore, the investment in training will
be recovered when the difference in profits before
and after training will balance the difference in costs
incurred, which can be expressed as:
1212 rrrr
where T
is the number of days, after which an
investment in training is recovered. When Eqs. (1)
and (2) are substituted into Eq. (3) it can be
transformed into:
SHOULD A COMPANY INVEST IN TRAINING - Costs/Benefits of PMP Certification on a Construction Project
which after integration can be rearranged as:
Equation (5) cannot be solved explicitly for the
critical points, so we use a Goal Seek function in
Excel to numerically derive a time of investment
recovery, T
The simple system, which is comprised of
several graphs supporting training strategy selection,
was developed in Excel as an instantiation of the
model. The application of a model is illustrated
using a real construction company, which needs to
analyze an investment in a PMP certification. PMP
training and a Case Company are introduced in the
next section.
3.3 Case Study
3.3.1 PMP Training and Certification
Due to the investments in new infrastructure and
buildings, the construction industry has seen
enormous rise in employment, which doubled
between 2000 and 2008 ("Construction"). It became
extremely difficult to find the suitable resources.
The companies have the most difficulties to hire
experienced and qualified managers for their
projects. Training and promotion of internal
qualified staff is a preferred choice under the
The PMP program was developed by a Project
Management Institute to train and certify Project
Managers. The students gain knowledge in the
following areas, which are fundamental for a
successful project planning and execution (Madore
and Ó Conchúir 2011):
Risk Management Processes – In this area
students learn how to identify and avoid or mitigate
risks and how to take advantage of opportunities.
Human Resource Management Processes –
Students learn how to empower resources, delegate
tasks and find the right people for the job.
Procurement Management Processes –
Students learn about buy/make decisions, how to
write a request for quotations, how to structure and
execute bidding processes, etc.
Quality Management Processes – This area
involves planning and evaluating quality through
inspection, benchmarking national standards,
establishing the right metrics and using the right
tools such as histograms, and cause and effect
Time Management Processes – Students learn
how to ensure that the project is on time.
Cost Management Processes – This area
revolves around estimating and managing costs
including indirect costs. Identification of cost
synergies and how to stay on/under budget are
critical here.
The cost of PMP training is significant and
includes: course fees ($5,200) and examination fee
($400). The training is often subsidized by a
company and it is completed on a company’s time.
Although there are several qualified provider
available in almost every part of the world, in the
case of a construction company the training would
most likely be provided out of the place of
employment. Additional costs might therefore
include a two weeks of salary (the duration of a
typical PMP course is 10 days) and travel/ living
3.3.2 Background of a Project/company
A Canadian Construction Company, which is based
in Alberta, delivers projects, such as: Hospitals,
airports, universities and shopping malls. Due to the
confidentiality agreement we will not disclose the
name of the company and refer to it as “CCC”. The
company is a large mechanical contractor and is a
privately held firm. The service offering includes
any commercial mechanical work, except for the
sprinkler systems.
PMP is one of the key professional designations,
which CCC expects their PMs to get. The company
supports the suitable candidate by covering the costs
of PMP training, examination and allowing him/her
to work toward the designation on a company time.
Currently, the support is provided without the
adequate analysis of when training should be offered
and when CCC should expect the return of that
The Cost Centre, for which a PM would be
responsible, is a construction of a new morgue in a
hospital. The project is a Bid Spec job, where a
budgeted price of 3 million dollars was accepted by
the client. The project is expected to be completed
during 14 months. CCC reviews PM’s at the end of
every year in order to assess their value. Each PM is
expected to bring in a flat line of yearly profit, which
in our case is $1 million. With any additional profit a
bonus program is implemented in order to
ICORES 2012 - 1st International Conference on Operations Research and Enterprise Systems
compensate successful PM’s at the end of the year.
The costs of training and hourly rates for a senior
PM, who would be a proper candidate to manage the
project, are summarized in Table 1. For comparison
purposes, we added rates for a junior PM, who could
also be considered in that situation.
Table 1.
Before Training After Training
Junior PM
3 10 2 5
$ 60 $55 $ 66 $60
9% 8% 13% 9%
5200 + 400
10 days
In Table 1 the profit (P
) was calculated by
prorating the amount of an expected flat yearly
profit to the PM’s daily rate. Note, that although a
junior PM is less expensive, he also delivers a lower
profit and has a lower starting performance (m=10)
than a senior PM (m=2). The PMP course is 2 weeks
(10 days) and although the travel and living
expenses are not included, the 2-week salary is
included in the training costs.
The cost of promoting from within a company is
preferable and more secure to that of hiring a new
PM. The company has a variety of management and
accounting systems that are tailored for their outfit.
A new PM would have to gain an intimate
knowledge of the company’s protocols and systems,
so the initial learning process is long.
Although it is the least desirable option for a
company, hiring a new senior PM is also included in
the analysis. Based on the industry rates; we
estimated that hiring a new PM would cost the
company an additional 3-month salary. We assumed
that his rates will be the same as for the Senior PM
after the training however his initial performance
will be similar to a junior PM.
3.4 Analysis
In our case study we evaluated the following three
options, which were considered by CCC:
Option 1 – CCC will train a senior PM, who
will be promoted and will receive a 10% raise
upon receiving a PMP certification. A certified
PM will be expected to deliver at least 4% more
profit than before training.
Option 2 – CCC will train a junior PM, who has
a lower hourly rate but is expected to bring in a
lower profit after training. He will also receive a
10% raise upon successful PMP examination.
Option 3 – CCC will hire a new senior PM. The
time required to recover the costs associated with
hiring a new senior PM are compared to the costs/
benefits associated with assigning a senior PM,
who did not complete PMP training, to the project.
Option 4 – is the same as Option 1, but
calculates the time after the investment is return
assuming that a senior PM does not deliver the
expected profit, which after the training is only
2% higher than before.
The goal of the evaluation was to answer the
following three questions, which had to be addressed
before the company committed its resources to train
an internal candidate:
(1) How do learning abilities of a candidate
impact the recovery time (ROTI)?
(2) What is a profitability, which PM must
demonstrate before he is granted the opportunity?
How should it improve after the training?
(3) Would it be more beneficial to hire a new
PM, who already has the certification and will have
the potential to deliver the improved profit, or to
train the promising internal resource?
The results of evaluation are summarized in
Figure 2, where the times, after which the
investment is recovered are depicted as functions of
a Progress Curve Coefficient, k.
Figure 2: Times required to recover an investment in
training as a function of PM’s learning abilities.
The following critical trends can be derived from
the analysis of the options available in the Case
1. The recovery time is very short (around 50
days) if a PM demonstrates a high Progress Curve
Coefficient (above 1.5) due to either sufficient
experience or other significant training.
SHOULD A COMPANY INVEST IN TRAINING - Costs/Benefits of PMP Certification on a Construction Project
2. The most beneficial option would be to train a
senior PM, even if he fails to deliver the required
profit after the training (option 1 and 4 gives shorter
times of recovery than option 2).
3. Hiring a new senior PM is more beneficial than
training a junior PM but less beneficial than training
a senior PM even if he does not complete the
program or does not deliver the expected profits
(option 1 and 4 gives shorter times of recovery than
option 3).
The analysis presented in this section clearly
points to option 1 as the most beneficial choice.
Assuming the average learning abilities (k=2), the
investment in training will be recovered after 60
70 days for a PM who can deliver a profit ranging
from 11-13% of his salary upon a successful
completion of a PMP program.
As demonstrated in the Case Study discussed in this
paper, training proves to be the best option, which
not only improves a performance of a PM but also
outweighs hiring a new PM. Many companies are
looking at hiring as the less desirable choice. Their
decision, however, could not be justified with the
accurate ROTI analysis due to the lack of analytical
decision models.
Our decision model was developed in an attempt
to address the very issue. We are planning to extend
the model discussed in this paper into the decision
support system for human resource management and
develop a policy, which will offer guidelines and
recommendations for providing training to
However, before we can move in that direction
we must address the following two key limitations
of our model:
1. The limits for Progress Curve Coefficient (from
0.5 to 3.5 in Figure 4) were established from the
research on training provided to a project team prior
to implementation of an Enterprise Resource
Planning system (Plaza, Ngwenyama et al. 2010).
The testing procedures and a set of data for assessing
k must be established for a given industry sector
before the model can be used to support
development of a training policy.
2. The simple prototype system developed in
Excel in order to test the model must be expanded
into a decision support system, which will offer a
selection of graphs and reports required during a
comprehensive analysis. The system must be
properly tested by a wide group of managers and HR
personnel to demonstrate its real value and potential.
The results of this study are encouraging, so we
are planning development of a decision support
system as the natural next step.
Funding was generously provided by the Ryerson
Summer Assistant Program.
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SHOULD A COMPANY INVEST IN TRAINING - Costs/Benefits of PMP Certification on a Construction Project