The Slow Growth of the PgMP Community

The April issue of PMI Today reports that there are now 530 holders of the Program Management Professional (PgMP) credential.  Over the last few months, PMI has been awarding an average of nine PgMP credentials per month.  That’s compared to over 3,000 PMP credentials per month.  Are there really more than 330 project managers for every program manager?  Or is the PgMP credential simply not reaching the target market?  Or is the process too onerous?  I do regular scans of the major job boards, looking for PgMP as a requirement.  So far, I’ve only seen it listed as an alternative to PMP, and never for an actual program manager position.  So, is this a failure of PMI to market the credential to potential employers?

Now PMI is reporting that they have completed the PgMP role delineation study, which is conducted every five to seven years to ensure the credential exam reflects current practice.  They say they interviewed over 1100 program managers, including 119 PgMP credential holders, with an average of 9.5 years of experience as a program manager.  Although there’s no firm date for when it will happen, the study will significantly change the PgMP examination; PMI estimates that about 56% of the exam content will change.  The original six domains will now be compressed into one new domain, Program Life Cycle, and four new domains will be created: Strategic Program Management, Benefits Management, Stakeholder Management, and Governance.  See the new PgMP Examination Content Outline for details.

In the Outline, PMI notes that “those involved in the study … were not bound by The Standard for Program Management.  They were charged with defining the role of individuals leading and directing programs, and using their experience and pertinent resources to help in this task.  Many of the domains, tasks knowledge, and skills outlined by the PgMP Examination Content Outline are new, revised, or reclassified in comparison to what is found in The Standard for Program Management.  Candidates studying for the examination will certainly want to include the current edition of The Standard for Program Management as one of [emphasis added] their references, and would be well advised to read other current titles on program management.”

In other words, PMI has obsoleted the several study guides on the market, as well as their own Standard, and given little guidance on what they consider to be authoritative replacements.  And while I applaud their intent, I have to wonder how they plan to drive candidates to undergo what was already a far more rigorous and expensive process than the PMP or any of their other credentials.  And while they’re at it, drive demand among employers.

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About Dave Gordon

Dave Gordon is a project manager with over twenty five years of experience in implementing human capital management and payroll systems, including SaaS solutions like Workday and premises-based ERP solutions like PeopleSoft and ADP Enterprise. He has an MS in IT with a concentration in project management, and a BS in Business. He also holds the project management professional (PMP) designation, as well as professional designations in human resources and in benefits administration. In addition to his articles and blog posts, he curates a weekly roundup of articles on project management, and he has authored or contributed to several books on project management.