According to the April 2009 statistics released by PMI, there are over 336,000 active PMP-certified professionals. A few years back, this number exceeded the total number of active PMI members. While there is arguably a global demand for an even greater number of qualified project management professionals, there is no doubt that some percentage of active PMPs are not sufficiently qualified to be able to successfully manage even a small low-complexity project.
A possible source of this is the dualism of PMI’s purpose.
On one hand, PMI strives for excellence. This is evident in many aspects of their certification program: having a Certification Governance Council, using an audit process and having highly skilled PM practitioners regularly review, refine and add to the pool of exam questions.
On the other hand, PMI plays a strong advocacy role in increasing the visibility and credibility of the profession, and like any up-and-coming religion, it needs an army of missionaries “talking the talk” – hence, the need for knowledge-based certifications with all the inherent weaknesses of this qualification method.
I am not attempting to critique PMI – given the duality of their purpose, it is logical, and based on the current process to achieve the PgMP credential, they are aware of the value of experience or performance-based certifications. However, having received my PMP credential almost a decade back with extremely limited study materials, I cringe when I see how much easier it is to achieve this credential now. The size of the PMBOK Guide may have doubled (or tripled) since then, but the quantity of training aids have increased exponentially.
I have noticed that the “jump the shark” moment for most competencies or credentials is when recruiters begin to mindlessly use it to filter applicants for roles – I doubt you’d argue my assertion that we’ve already reached that stage.