The Real Cost of Buying Versus Building Talent

New Study from ESI International Shows Up to 500% Return on Investment for Project Management Staff Development

ARLINGTON, Va.--()--According to a new study released by ESI International, the world’s leading project management training company, the staffing challenges facing many organizations are best addressed by developing talent internally rather than hiring from the outside. Training new graduates, for instance, showed a 500+ percent return on training investment.

Hiring externally is costly. For the 83% of project organizations that reported they were understaffed, the cost of hiring from the outside can be as much as 10% more expensive than developing and promoting employees from within, depending on the level of employee proficiency.

“Our research shows that there is a definite cost and time advantage to developing and promoting entry and mid-level project managers,” said ESI International Vice President of Corporate Marketing & Open Enrollment, Mark Bashrum. “The advantage is reduced at the senior project manager level, but the scarcity of those candidates makes developing existing talent the more viable option.”

The study, ESI International Annual Project Manager Salary & Development Survey, is based on a survey of 1,800 project management professionals from more than a dozen industries throughout the U.S. The results provide critical data for decision-making about talent development, including the real cost of buying versus building talent and return on investment of training, taking into account salary, time to proficiency, cost of training and other metrics.

Real Cost of Buying vs. Building Talent

  • Entry level: $103,883 Buy vs. $92,499 Build, or 10.96% more to buy
  • Mid level: $140,962 Buy vs. $130,089 Build, or 7.7% more to buy
  • Senior level: $201,715 Buy vs. $201,558 Build, or .08% more to buy

Investing training dollars pays off at all competency levels, as the following indicates the return on investment of training at each project manager level:

  • Entry level: 501% ROI
  • Mid level: 268% ROI
  • Senior level: 358% ROI

“Budget constraints, an aging base of professionals and a looming talent war all contribute to a talent crisis that should be addressed from the highest levels of the organization,” said Bashrum. “The growing needs of businesses demand a more strategic view of the staffing, development and promotion of their project managers since project execution impacts an organization’s bottom line and its ability to satisfy its customers.”

To download a copy of the ESI Annual Project Manager Salary & Development Survey and the Talent Drain Fact Sheet, go to

About ESI International

ESI International, is a global project-focused training company helping people around the world improve the way they manage projects, contracts, requirements and vendors through innovative training in project management, business analysis and contract management. In addition to ESI’s more than 100 courses delivered in more than a dozen languages at hundreds of locations worldwide, ESI offers several certificate programs through our educational partner, The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1981, ESI’s worldwide headquarters are in Arlington, Va., USA. To date, ESI’s programs have benefited more than 1.35 million professionals worldwide. For more information visit


Four Leaf Public Relations
Christine Hohlbaum, 917-477-3788

Release Summary

ESI International conducted a survey of project professionals to determine what is more cost effective: training project professionals or hiring talent from outside the organization. Learn more now!


Four Leaf Public Relations
Christine Hohlbaum, 917-477-3788