Using mentoring to grow a project management infrastructure. On to mentoring specifically, and it's importance on bringing out the best of those capable, qualified and ready for a specific career.
When you're setting up a project management organization, you're likely going to suffer from some budget constraints. So it's apparent that you can't just go out and hire 10 project managers with 15 years of experience. The price for something like that would be just too high for an organization building a new PM infrastructure. This is where mentoring comes in. Here is my recommendation.
Go with some experience.
If you're just building from scratch, you must have some experience. And by experience I mean some real, successful, project-proven and road-tested experience. Think, 10+ years experience...not less than that. These individuals will help develop your project management methodology, the templates and processes you will use and follow, and the documentation that you will build your PM infrastructure around. They will be both managing projects and “managing” project managers, in a sense. Have them play in the background on smaller projects that new project managers are assigned to and have them lead the larger, more complex projects while new project managers assist and watch from the shadows on those engagements.
Fill the rest with new college grads eager to learn.
Finally, look to cheaper labor – meaning skilled business talent right out of college. You may eventually weed some out along the way as project management isn't easy and it isn't for everyone. But you will get eager fresh faces to work alongside the small, experienced staff you're starting out with. Likely you'll find yourself 10+ years down the road with a highly successful project management organization that is very entrenched in great PM processes and best practices.
If you're looking to start a PM practice, don't go too big too fast. It won't be cheap. But by hiring some experience and relying on mentoring to shape your infrastructure, it is very possible to grow that PM practice quickly and turn out some very good project managers in the long run.