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5/11/2009
12:12 PM
Rajan Chandras
Rajan Chandras
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PMP Certification for Info Pros: Part Deux

What makes the PMP certification valuable is not so much the certification examination but the very fact that you cannot appear for it without having substantial project management experience. In other words, PMP is not so much about teaching... as validating our experience

First, here's a quick Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) primer.

  • The PMBOK organizes "project knowledge" in the form of processes (42 in all) categorized into process groups and knowledge areas. Every process falls into one (and only one) process group, and one (and only one) knowledge area. PMBOK lays out five process groups (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing) and nine knowledge areas (Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Human Resources, Communications, Risk, Procurement - add the word "management" after each).
  • There are two roadblocks to getting PMP certified: getting qualified for the PMP examination, which requires that you demonstrate substantial, real-life experience across the five process groups; and the four-hour PMP examination itself, which requires that you answer 200 questions covering the process groups.

Here, at last, is my follow-up post about PMP training and certification.

  • The PMBOK is fairly comprehensive. It took me about eight to ten weeks to get through it, using online vendor tutorials for the course requirements (mediocre at best) and two books (and their associated online preparatory materials) but without any instructor-led courses. Of these two books (I won't mention the names), I found one book to be very good, and the other seriously annoying and even disturbing in its coverage and presentation, though it had great questions!
  • In my opinion, what makes the PMP certification valuable is not so much the certification examination (although it's pretty comprehensive), but the very fact that you cannot appear for it without having substantial and demonstrable project management experience. In other words, PMP is not so much about teaching us project management as validating our experience and aligning it with a standard approach (with all its pros and cons).
  • IT and data management is, to a very large extent, about projects: the ability to plan and successfully execute projects is key to individual and collective success. Given the complexity of data warehousing, business intelligence and master data management projects (to name but a few), project management training (in the form of certification) has strong benefits. For anybody advising others in IT strategy, planning and execution, certification undoubtedly adds that little bit of extra authenticity.

On the other hand:

  • The PMBOK looks like what it is: a large, complex document written by different people. This results in some inconsistencies across chapters that can get tricky to reconcile (for example, one section mentions three types of change requests; another mentions four types).
  • The PMBOK is, at times, quirky in its coverage or position. For example, "expert judgment" is specified as in input to only a few of the 42 processes, which is difficult to agree with: I cannot imagine a single project process or activity where expert judgment does not make a difference.
  • To get through the certification examination, you must not just learn, but also unlearn -- for example, the subtle difference between focus groups, facilitated workshops, group creativity techniques and group decision making techniques; or that while all four are used in the Collect Requirements process, only facilitated workshops are used in the Define Scope process. In other words, you have to realign your knowledge (at least temporarily) with the PMBOK perspective.

I could write more, of course, but this is enough to get the idea. If you have specific questions about PMP training or certification, write to me at rchandras@gmail.com.What makes the PMP certification valuable is not so much the certification examination but the very fact that you cannot appear for it without having substantial project management experience. In other words, PMP is not so much about teaching... as validating our experience

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