Another day, another training organization explaining why you need project management certification. This one was linked from a group on LinkedIn, which is why I saw it. The provider proudly exclaimed that they would teach you to deliver projects “on task, on time and on budget.”
Once upon a time, that was all that was required. Now, it’s about delivering value, minimizing “time to market” or “time to value,” implementing Lean practices, being Agile, and all sorts of other improvements. And then there’s quality management, risk management, stakeholder management, change management, and so on. It’s been several years since I managed a project team spread across fewer than three time zones, and the average is probably between four and five. Bottom line: the old “iron triangle” is now a Buckyball.
I’ve been managing projects for well over twenty years, and I’ve maintained my PMP for ten years. I support credentialing, as a mid-career milestone. I just disapprove of any credential being touted as a career entry point. You can’t even buy a Subway franchise without spending some time working on the counter, building sandwiches. Your dues have to be paid in full, in advance.
Note that this is not a diatribe against trainers. I admire anyone who passes on the tribal knowledge, whether it’s in a formal classroom or just over coffee in an otherwise empty conference room. I’ve spent a few years in classrooms, teaching, and much of the last decade or so, mentoring. It is the marketers and the shills who annoy me. God bless any PMP prep course that insists their students document the requisite experience to sit for the exam, before taking their money. I just haven’t heard of one.
Blogger Geoff Crane reports that, after twenty years of managing projects, he’s finally decided to take the PMP exam. This was at least partially prompted by the news that August 30 will be the last day you’ll be able to take the exam under the current formulation. Beginning on August 31, there will be a new mix of questions, featuring ethics and responsibility more evenly distributed throughout the exam. Of course, there are a few other people who had the same idea, so he only got a slot to take the exam before then when someone cancelled. The next available slots are in September.
The exam is still based on the 4th edition of the PMBOK – only the mix of questions have changed.
The PMI Agile Community of Practice sponsored a webinar discussion today between Alistair Cockburn and James Shore on “The merits and limitations of certifications.” Both are well-established Agile teachers and thought leaders, and I thought their arguments reflected the dialogs we’ve been having here in the blogosphere. A recording of the webinar is available here. It runs 58 minutes, safe for work. Highly recommended.
James raised a point that I felt was not sufficiently rebutted: that certification contributes to “stagnation” in the field. I will disagree, and point to the ever-increasing number of PMI standards, publications, and other resources that have accompanied the dramatic increase in the number of PMP credential holders over the last few years. PMI sponsors conferences, publishes papers, provides scholarships, and promotes publications by various experts in their bookstore. And they continuously improve the quality of both their publications and their credential exams; witness the coming updates to the PMP and PgMP exams, and the coming fifth edition of the PMBOK. Far from being stagnant, I would argue that the field of project management has benefited tremendously from the alignment of interests brought about by the PMP credential program. It has been the nucleus for development of a market of practitioners and their employers, resulting in new software, knowledge, and consulting products of every kind.
I hope you’ll add your thoughts on the webinar and on the value of professional credentials and certifications in your comments to this post.