PMI's Project Management Professional (PMP) Certificate
Are project success rates getting better or worse? What is the cost? What are the controlling factors? How does someone calculate these numbers? The answers are elusive. Lately, Roger Sessions has taken exception to one source—The Standish Group. He has many valid points. However, I doubt there are any statistics giving us a complete picture.
This twitter banter prompted me to dust off some old reports, dig through my library and search my online files to pull some meaningful data together. I was wondering about the headline sentence of this year's Standish Chaos Report, which contains "[2008's] results show a decrease in project success rates, with 32% of all projects succeeding." A pretty alarming statement.
In a meeting the other day, one exasperated participant exclaimed, "This isn't part of all the processes I just learned to get my PMP, how am I supposed to run this project?" I bit my tongue and refrained from looking over the top of my glasses and calmly telling him that running a project is a heck of a lot more than a series of check boxes. The poor guy was frustrated and lost. He was truly dumbfounded. His hard-earned certification failed to prepared him for his new assignment.
People, who know me, are aware I am less than enamored of certifications and titles. Therefore, when I got my PMP many were taken aback, some laughed aloud, and, since I seemed to get it overnight, all asked why and how I got it. However, it is not just my situation, this is a perennial question in online forums and groups and it is a common topic at local project management meetings. In many of those discussions, people try to analogize the PMP to a CPA or MBA; without question, the requirements to get a PMP have none of the independent educational rigor of college level degrees. The PMP's worth is visceral and personal—it depends on each individual's goals and their project management experience.
After being a project manager for a couple decades, the Procedure Police finally caught up with me and I had to get my PMP®. No, not for a job, for marketing. My publisher's marketing department made a PMP a requirement for publishing my new book. My wife was aghast that after teaching courses to PMPs so they could get their educational credits and recovering multiple projects that PMPs had led down the red road to failure, that I would have to go through any process to get this certificate. In her mind, my record of accomplishment should have stood for itself. I realized the bureaucracy of the whole affair and trudged forward.
"I just want to be a project manager. I don't want all that responsibility." The room was silent, save a few exasperated sighs. We all looked around trying to figure out how we would handle the comment. However, there are many levels of project management maturity and only the highest levels require leadership. In fact, the prominent certification process—PMI's PMP®—has little to do with leadership until 2015. So where do we learn about leadership and how can we improve our leadership skills?
The steps I think would be best are:
- Apply to PMI and start the application process. This provides you with a tool to track your hours, much like the spreadsheet I have, which should be considered a good starting point. I mailed this to each person that might end up being questioned on it so that it would minimize the chance of problems.
- When you think you have your hours, take a class. PSU has great PMP prep classes. I took a set of online courses from a reseller. The big thing to look for is the sample tests. I think they are critical and the I bought had two sets of test. They other offerings too.
- From the PMBOK and the classes I made flash cards to help me memorize certain material. I did them by hand, since I learn better that way, but you can probably find them for sale somewhere.
- After you get your 35 contact hours, then determine how long it will take you to nail the tests and apply for a test with enough time to study the sample tests. I would lot a few weeks for that.
- Watch the timing. The PMBOK's Fifth Edition in in progress and I am not sure when it will kick in. Do not study the fourth edition and find out you need the fifth. It is best to check with PMI on the timing.
I, also, borrowed the textbook Project Management: A system approach to planning, scheduling and controlling, by Harold Kerzner, and found it very good. I am thinking about getting it for my library. It is not something you need for the PMP, it is a good PM reference textbook.
The total cost for the PMP in 2009 was $997.00. Now it is about $50 more.