At a time when companies of every sort are desperate to find
professionals who can direct people and resources in high-priority projects, the
Project Management Institute (PMI) has quietly become the world's standard
bearer for building the PM profession.
Founded nearly 40 years ago with just 60 members, PMI has
grown to more than 270,000 members in 170 countries. During that time, the
Philadelphia-area association has spearheaded training and credential programs
for professionals ranging from accountants and engineers to IT specialists and
managers of government programs.
Equally important, PMI over the last five years has
increasingly challenged corporations to assess the quality of their own internal
environment for enhancing the careers of project managers. That message has
sometimes been a hard sell to cost-conscious firms, which get bombarded with
ideas for management approaches that run the gamut from "lean manufacturing" to
"Six Sigma." Even so, a growing cadre of blue-chip companies has joined PMI's Global
Corporate Council in promoting new methods for building the PM profession. To
cite a few examples: Airbus, BAE Systems, British Petroleum, Ericsson,
Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Nokia, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, SAP and Siemens.
"Whether we are talking to a disaster relief organization or
a company that manufactures products, we challenge these organizations to
evaluate how project management is enabling their business strategy," notes
Brian Weiss, PMI's VP of Product Management. "The essence of effective project
management is that it delivers predictable results on time and on budget."
A Mark of Distinction
For four decades, PMI has been building certification
programs that it believes clearly distinguishes its graduates from the rest of
the pack in the job market. "We position our certification programs as a way
for companies and organization to quickly identify experienced professionals in
project management," says PMI President and CEO Greg Balestrero, who started
his career as a Georgia Tech- educated industrial engineer.
PMI offers several certification or credential programs,
aimed at different aspects of the project management function. These include:
Project Management Professional
(PMPÂ®). With a bachelor's degree or global equivalent, applicants need
to have accumulated 4,500 hours of project management experience. Also
required: 35 hours of project management education. Applicants must then successfully
complete a four-hour examination composed of 200 multiple-choice questions
that measure the ability to apply knowledge, skills and techniques used in
project management. The examination is developed by groups of individuals
from around the globe who hold the PMP credential. Once they've earned the
PMP, holders must accrue 60 professional development units (PDUs) during
each three-year certification cycle. The PMP is the world's most widely
recognized project management credential, with some 275,000 holders
worldwide (PMI membership is not required for this credential). Fee: $405 for PMI members, $555 for
Certified Associate in Project
Targeted to project team members, especially those who aspire to run projects,
this credential requires 1,500 hours of work on project teams or 23 hours
of formal project management education. Applicants must
pass a three-hour, 150-question examination, based primarily on the PMI's Guide to the Project Management Body of
Knowledge. Also referred to as the PMBOK
Guide, this book is considered to be the Bible of the field, available
in 10 languages and ranked consistently among Business Week's top-selling business books. Fee: $225
for members, $300 for non-members.
Management Professional (PgMP). This credential responds to
industry's need to identify individuals with the qualifications to oversee
multiple projects that make up important company programs. Those with
bachelor's degrees need a minimum of four years managing projects, plus another
four years of program management work. Among other requirements, applicants
must undergo a review of their education and program management experience, as
well as pass a four-hour exam. In addition, colleagues and peers of the applicants
are asked to evaluate his or her performance as a program manager. Launched in
2007, this new credential has already drawn interest from some 12,000
professionals around the world. Fee: $1,500 for members, $1,800 for non-members.
This year, the institute unveiled a new PMI Scheduling
Professional (PMI-SP) credential. "With all the baby boomer retirements,
there's a lot of concern in industries like aerospace about the coming shortage
of people with experience in keeping very complicated projects on track,"
explains Harry Stefanou, a Ph.D. physicist who managed R&D programs at Arco
and Bayer before becoming PMI's VP of Market & Business Development.
Also being introduced this year is another credential
focusing on risk management (PMI-RMP), aimed at helping companies identify
individuals who can assess the tradeoffs involved in today's high-stakes
projects. Among other potential areas for future credentials, says Stefanou, is
"earned value management" -- a tool that
essentially requires that project managers demonstrate at specified milestones what
their teams have accomplished for the money and other resources expended. EVM
is often required in government-funded programs.
Gauging PM Winners
Do such credentials pay off in the marketplace? A 2007
salary survey by PMI shows that over a 12-year period, individuals with the PMP
credential earned, on average, about $90,000 more than did managers without
that certification. The credential also sets holders apart in the job market.
specify the PMP credential when they run ads," says Balestrero. "Especially in
the engineering profession, there is a shortage of proven project management
specialists who can hit the ground running." Balestrero adds that about two
thirds of PMI's members come from science, engineering and other technical
It's clear that more and more engineers now understand
the advantage that PM skills bring to their jobs. In a 2008 Design News survey, 91% of respondents
said that good project management was either "very important" or "extremely
important" to the success of a design project. Another 2008 survey of engineers
by Test & Measurement World found
that 85% of the engineers polled rated project management know-how as a key
skill for advancing their careers.
Even so, PMI's Weiss concedes that individuals
interested in project management are sometimes frustrated by the lack of
company support for that function. "Some complain of not getting respect within
the organization; others don't see a career path."
Because corporate support is so essential, including
covering PM training and credential costs for employees, PMI has put a major
focus over the last five years on promoting the PM function to organizations of
all sorts, including companies, nonprofits and government agencies. For
example, the institute in 2005 signed a three-year principal sponsorship of the
Forbes Global CEO conference. It also
developed what it calls its Organizational Project Management Maturity Model
(OPM3Ã) to help companies assess their progress in
implementing exemplary project management strategies. Just as important, OPM3
includes tools to help organizations plan and nurture the careers of their
Also key to demonstrating the value of project
management to companies is a major research study on the value of project
management. Results of the three-year project, which studied 60 companies
worldwide, will be released at PMI's October global conference in Denver.
"Companies always ask about the ROI on project management,"
notes Stefanou. "But up until now we haven't had concrete answers. This study
directly addresses what companies do when they implement project management, as
well as the benefits they derive from it."
A Profession on the
The new research is expected to fuel an already growing interest
in the pivotal role that project management plays as companies strive to
compete effectively in a tough global economy.
For example, you don't have to convince organizations in China that good
project management pays off. That country already ranks third after the U.S. and Canada in the number of professionals
who have earned the PMP credential. "In China, the appreciation among
companies and the government in the value of project management is very high,"
says Steve Fahrenkrog, PMI's VP of Regional Development and a former systems
engineer with the Naval Air Systems Command. "The dramatic progress that China has made
in developing its infrastructure is testimony to that."
Though hampered at times by budget uncertainties and changes
in administration, governments also are embracing PM more enthusiastically,
adds Valerie Carter, PMI's manager of Government Relations. She notes that
engineering-driven departments, such as NASA, DOE and DoD, lead the way in
stressing development of project management skills. The Office of Management
and Budget, adds Carter, also is enforcing a new mandate that government
personnel in charge of monitoring contracts earn a new Federal Acquisition
Certificate in Project and Program Management.
"No matter what Administration comes to power next year in Washington, you'll see a continued focus on performance
in government agencies, which face the same kinds of challenges as industry,"
says Carter, who also heads up PMI outreach programs to government agencies in
Europe, China and India.
Finally, PMI is addressing the pipeline for future project
managers. The institute recently registered its 1000th education
provider for training project managers. It also has accredited 14 academic degree
programs in project management. Meanwhile, the PMI education foundation
provides scholarships and grants for programs in secondary schools aimed at developing
scheduling, time management and other project management skills.
Despite such efforts, the institute realizes that it has
only scratched the surface in addressing the gaping shortfall worldwide of professionals
with the experience and know-how to drive projects successfully. "The need is
enormous," says Product Management VP Weiss. "There are probably 20 million
people worldwide who are practicing project management, yet only 275,000 have
the PMP credential."