Project Management is a specialized field which involves bringing together diverse business aspects in order to create and implement an effective plan of action and accomplish the predefined goals of a project. However, there are a number of factors that can influence the outcome of any project-related decision and it would be difficult to pinpoint who or what actually led to success or failure of a project. This is where things become a little complex for businesses that seem to think that Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification is some kind of guarantee for successful execution of projects.
It is true that PMP certification is highly valued and there is good reason for it as the Project Management Institute (PMI®), the governing body which conducts the PMP exam is known for the kind of stringent standards it has set for this discipline. While preparing for this certification, a professional will learn a great deal about the fundamentals of project management and gain insights into the decision-making process which can prove invaluable in making real-life decisions. Despite this, it is important to understand that a PMP will not teach everything one needs to know in order to be a successful project management professional.
This can look like a contradiction to the popular opinion that PMP prepares you well enough to be a successful Project Manager. However, moving beyond generalizations, we need to focus on what actually is taught and tested in the exam and what is not. To understand this, we must know what the prerequisites are and how they help a professional.
What Do Professionals Learn While Preparing for PMP?
- Professionals learn the fundamentals of project management processes that include initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. This covers the stage-wise planning for a project and crucial factors that need to be taken into account.
- PMI stipulates detailed understanding of the concepts explained in Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®), often quoted as the bible for project management professionals. The highly structured content of PMBOK with its division in ten Knowledge Areas (KAs) touches on all aspects, including scope management, time constraints, resource management, risk assessment, efficient collaboration and critical decision-making processes.
- PMI stipulates that to appear for PMP exam, professionals should have 7,500 hours or 4,500 hours of documented project management experience depending on if they are holding a secondary-level degree/diploma or a 4 year bachelor’s degree or its global equivalent respectively. This ensures that they do not earn the credential without having the required experience and helps them learn how to tackle different aspects of project execution in a structured manner.
- Professionals need to earn 35 Professional Development Units (PDUs) to qualify for the certification exam. This involves receiving 35 hours of formal education through a Registered Education provider (REP). Authorized training equips professionals with the ability to perform project tasks in a more efficient manner.
There is no doubt that the standard framework adopted by PMI helps greatly in delivering value in terms of knowledge and skills relevant to businesses of all kinds. However, even if it seems like these criteria are enough to ensure that a professional has the right kind of capabilities to be a successful Project Manager, there are things that the certification won’t validate.
What PMP Won’t Teach?
- Being a PMP certified professional can boost confidence and increase value in the eyes of prospective employers, but it cannot ensure that the individual has that leadership ability required to work in dynamic environments. Though in real life, it can be a crucial ingredient for any efficient leader and if it’s missing then other qualities may not be of much help. Knowledge of a concept is one thing and executing that in real life is quite a different thing.
- One of the most impressive prerequisites for PMP is the kind of extensive work experience it asks for, but what most people may not know is that it does not actually need a professional to have managed a project from end-to-end. Taking critical decisions in real-life can be very different and demands abilities to patiently analyze the factors involved and arrive at a decision with a balanced and confident approach.
- It is difficult to argue against a certification like PMP but there may be food for thought when one considers the fact that there are a good number of successful Project Managers who do not have this prestigious certification. While this certainly does not make the credential irrelevant but it helps bring out the fact that having it may not be enough to ensure the success of a project and conversely, not having a PMP does not mean that one cannot be a good Project Manager.
In conclusion, though PMP offers the perfect groundwork for any professional to gain an in-depth understanding of project management concepts and practices, there are certain qualities which one needs to possess in order to be successful. It is more like combining the necessary qualities and capacity as an individual with requisite amount of knowledge and experience as a professional. This might prove to be the right recipe for becoming a good Project Manager.
Note: PMI, PMBOK, and PMP are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.