Posts Tagged With: certifications

What does project management mean to YOU?

I’m not asking for your elevator pitch for the discipline, but rather what does it mean to you personally?

Being in the middle of changing roles, the thought process I went through to decide to make a change caused me to revisit a question which I’ve asked myself more than once over the past two decades.

If you see your current work in project management as a stepping stone to a higher role such as a C-level business executive then it might just be a job. While you will develop and use project management competencies to successfully deliver projects, you generally won’t commit much personal time to the profession such as mentoring junior PMs or giving presentations. While you might seek and attain a credential such as the PMP, that is a means to an end, and you are likely to let the credential lapse once you have moved into your next non project management-focused role. There is nothing wrong with considering project management as a means to an end, and becoming a senior leader who has done one or more tours of duty in a PM role is an excellent way of elevating the importance of the discipline.

Perhaps you are playing the long game with the profession. A career in project management might give you the opportunity to take on initiatives of progressively greater complexity and scale or to move from delivering individual projects to managing a portfolio or leading a PMO. Instead of a vertical career path, you might pursue a lateral one by switching industries once you feel you’ve developed sufficient domain expertise in any one. Or you might specialize by focusing on a particular aspect of project management such as recovering troubled projects or by becoming a project risk management specialist. You will most likely attain and maintain one or more credentials and might even contribute to the evolution of the profession if you see it furthering your career.

But the third path and the one which will give you the greatest gratification is if you view project management as a calling. Those who see the profession in this light are easy to identify. They are likely unaware of it, but they smile a lot when they speak about project management. They commit a significant amount of personal time to the profession, not because doing so will help advance their career, but because this re-energizes them and they want others to be as passionate about project management as they are. Being recognized as thought leaders by those they respect is more important to them than a promotion or the latest credential.

So is project management your job, your career or your calling?

There is no escaping reason; no denying purpose. Because as we both know, without purpose, we would not exist.” – Agent Smith

Categories: Project Management | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Project management education should be like riding a tricycle

tricyclePMI has just announced a number of changes to their Continuing Certification Requirements program which requires certified professionals to earn Professional Development Units (PDUs) over a three year period to retain their certification.  One of the key changes is that formal education-based PDUs must be earned from courses spanning the following three areas: technical project management, leadership, and business & strategic.

When we categorize the multiple competencies which are required to be a successful project manager, you’ll find the need to have a solid foundation of project management theory and practice, coupled with significant soft skills and sufficient domain expertise.

Some of you might argue that only the first two are a must, but the reality is that most managers will prefer to hire a project manager who understands their business processes and industry nuances enough that they can help identify risks and challenge assumptions and estimates.

These three categories map exactly to PMI’s new requirements. So while my initial reaction was to ask “Why fix what isn’t broke?”, upon further reflection, I believe this change is positive.

Many of the project managers I’ve met had focused their formal education on technical project management (e.g. risk management, critical chain) earlier in their career but as their experience increased, the focus shifted to enhancing soft skills or in gaining further domain expertise.

While any effort spent on developing oneself is good, there are risks in focusing development efforts on a single area.

If we focus on technical project management, we could learn about tools and techniques which we can’t apply within our work environment, and the investment is wasted. We could also run the risk of becoming dogmatic as there are very few technical project management courses that are 100% pragmatic.

If the focus is on soft skills development alone, we will certainly improve our ability to forge positive relationships with stakeholders and with our team members, but might lose track of how the tools and techniques within our profession are evolving and could come across as Luddites.

Finally, if the emphasis is placed on domain expertise, we would gain the respect and credibility of our customer and key business partners, but we run the risk of overstepping our boundaries with the analysts and other subject matter experts on our teams, and we might lose sight of the key tools and techniques required to be a successful project manager.

Recognizing that individual professionals are not likely to have the same level of interest across all three categories, PMI has only established minimum requirements for each. If someone is particularly interested in developing their soft skills, once they have earned the minimum PDUs for all three categories, they can earn the balance of their formal education-based PDUs through additional soft skills courses.

While a unicycle can be a capable means of transportation, a tricycle is more versatile.






Categories: Project Management | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Agile has NOT “jumped the shark” with PMI’s latest certification!

In late 2011, PMI plans to launch their latest certification, the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner.

PMI supporting agile methods by offering such a certification should be taken positively, however, many cynics and naysayers may not agree.

There might be the perception that a stereotypically “heavy” PM association would only support agile as a pathetic attempt to stay relevant or (for those that are even more cynical) to make more money from “certification-chasers”.

Here’s why the development and implementation of the PMI-ACP certification is a good thing for agile.

  1. PMI’s standards and the certifications that are aligned with them focus less on low-level implementation details and more on providing a broad understanding of good practices.  This addresses one of the challenges many organizations face when adopting agile methods – they sometimes focus too much on implementing specific methodologies and less on embracing the guiding principles & philosophy behind them.
  2. For traditional companies that may be hesitating about investigating agile approaches given some of the hyperbole and fanaticism exhibited by some “fringe” agileistas, PMI’s support for agile will provide some additional sponsorship and credibility.
  3. The inclusion of the Agile Manifesto within the certification content pays homage to the origins of the movement and emphasizes its core values and principles.
  4. One of its objectives (as taken directly from PMI’s certification content outline) is “to show that the practitioner has the capacity to lead basic Agile project teams”.  PMI does not try to claim that certified practitioners will be able to successfully manage complex agile projects OR to successfully introduce agile methods into waterfall organizations.
  5. The content for the certification does not advocate or focus on any one specific methodology (e.g. Scrum, Extreme Programming).

Given the large numbers of agile practitioners and the stated objectives for the certification, it would have been challenging for PMI to have designed the PMI-ACP certification process to mimic the PgMP (which includes the use of a panel review and a multi-rater assessment).

As I wrote in an earlier article, knowledge-based certifications are not ideal, but this still represents a positive move for PMI.

Categories: Agile, Project Management | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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