When I first got into this profession over fifteen years ago, other than in consulting or engineering firms, it was rare to find titled project managers in most companies. Of course, that doesn’t mean that project management wasn’t being practiced, it just happened to be the responsibility of staff with a different title.
Formal credentials such as those administered by PMI, APMG and other associations existed, but were not well known. I recall that when I took my PMP certification exam, there were only one or two Prometric testing centres in the whole Greater Toronto area which were able to administer that test, and when I showed up to sit for the exam, the staff had not heard of it and tried to convince me that I must have got the name of a Microsoft certification exam such as the MCSE wrong!
The Guide to the PMBOK’s second edition had recently been published and it was still considered a featherweight reference at under three hundred pages.
How times have changed.
Most companies with meaningful investments in project work retain at least one project manager on staff. Bulk purchasing sites such as GroupOn frequently offer discounted deals on PMP certification preparatory courses. And at just under six hundred pages, the Guide to the PMBOK has capably demonstrated its versatility as an exercise dumbbell.
In general, such widespread increase in the profession’s profile is positive. Yes, there are still companies out there which need to be educated on the value of disciplined project management, but their numbers are dwindling year over year. Sustained salary growth for experienced project managers has proven that this profession is not just a short-term fad.
But there is also a dark side to this mainstream adoption.
I’ve seen an increase in the number of people who are really not qualified to manage projects aspiring to achieve (and in many cases, successfully achieving) credentials such as the PMP. And, on recent home renovations, I’ve had more project managers attempt to close the deals than ever before. While these renovations might meet most definitions for project work, the activities performed by the so called “project managers” have usually ended once the contract gets signed.
So what’s the issue?
Unqualified practice and usage of the project manager title dilutes the credibility of the profession.
When everyone is a project manager, no one is a project manager.