A PMP Certification is Not Enough
By Andrew Makar
Each year project managers across the world apply for the Project Management Professional certification as the rite of passage into the PM profession. The industry recognizes PMI certification as the standard to identify project managers with a solid PM competency. A quick search for project management on any of the job boards will reveal the demand for PMPs. Nearly every PM posting lists the PMP certification as a required or desired characteristic.
According to the Standish Group’s Chaos report, only 29% of all projects surveyed were successful. 18% were outright failures and 53% were challenged with late delivery, cost overruns and failed to deliver the required features and functions. If so many project managers are pursuing PM certification, why are these projects continuing to fail?
Certification in project theory is an excellent first step to validate a project manager’s competency. However, it doesn’t effectively develop a project manager’s proficiency. Instead of focusing on how many project managers are PMP certified or have university sponsored PM certificates, organizations need to focus on how many project managers effectively apply the project management body of knowledge. A growing number of PMPs are left having passed the test, but lack the proficiency to effectively implement PM processes using repeatable techniques.
Take a quick survey of schedule development in your organization. Look at their project schedules and you’ll notice each one has a different format. You will find some of the schedules lack a project baseline, lack project actuals, lack dependencies and resource assignments. Some project managers treat a project schedule as a glorified task list. Other PMs are effectively developing and building project schedules to encompass the PM processes. How can these inconsistencies exist if everyone is PMP certified? After all, we passed the exam so we all should know how to establish a project schedule baseline?
The reality is even PMP certified project managers could use a little help turning PM theory into practice. In order to achieve predictable results, organizations need to adopt common, repeatable processes. Common, repeatable processes are supported with standard techniques and tools.
Establishing a PMO to enforce project schedule development standards and templates is one approach to put additional rigor behind “PMP in Practice”. Simpler actions can include forming a PM community of practice and starting to share common lessons learned, common milestones, and best practices on schedule management. Schedule development is just one example of how PMPs can apply their certification and the PMBOK framework in actual practice.
The key is to implement techniques that produce repeatable results across your organization. By implementing useful and reusable techniques, PMOs and advanced PMs can help answer the question that project managers often ask - “I passed the test. Now what?” By adopting this focus, PMOs staffed with PMPs can enable new project managers to transform project management theory into practical application.
Andrew Makar is an IT program manager who is focused on effectively translating project management theory into actual practice. Additional techniques on tactical project management including Microsoft Project Schedule Development and Management can be found at http://www.tacticalprojectmanagement.com He can also be reached at email@example.com.