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Project Management Professional

by Hal on April 13, 2009

in PM practice, PMI, training

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Is project management a profession? The experts in the matter of establishing conditions for a profession say no. Why? Most of it has to do with the accumulation and study of theory. I've been on the fence about whether or not we should seek professional status for project managers. I'm married to a registered nurse. Her brother is a registered engineer. My cousin is a licensed physician. One son is finishing his law degree so he can sit for the Bar while the other is studying for the landscape architect's exam. I know what these people have done to become professionals. It's time that project managers do the same.

The world needs project managers who know how and why projects succeed and can create the circumstances so they do.

We live in a project age. An age that I predict will last for generations. Sure, the industrial age was less than 200 years. The information age surrounds us. Some say the knowledge age is upon us. But the project age — this time where great things happen in a project setting — is only going to become more important as companies, communities, and professions deal with the rapidly changing technological environment. The world needs project managers who know how and why projects succeed and can create the circumstances so they do.

The PMI is working hard on this issue. The Project Management Professional® (PMP) certification is one step in that direction. The PMI Board recently revised their mission to bring to the forefront the project manager's responsibility to do good things for the world. We need some good things at this time. (Detroit needs lots of good things.)

This is a very good time to commit to life-long learning and the highest standards of performance.

We also need leadership — project leadership, community leadership and leadership for our team mates.

This is a good time to build our credentials…a very good time to commit to life-long learning and the highest standards of performance. It's the project age. Nothing less will suffice.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Glen B. Alleman April 14, 2009 at 3:33 pm

To become a professional, some sort of peer review as well as board certification will be required.
Personnaly I think this is a good idea. In the heavy construction they do essentially this with internal peer review and board assessments.
In the Defense business EVP and Cost Analyst SCEA. With the Virtual Communities coming to the PMI SIGs it’s unlikey the qualifications will be harder, but will be easier.

2 Paul Snare April 14, 2009 at 4:06 pm

I was a PM and Project Director over 35 years and was responsible for $600million(as spent) in industrial projects. I do not endorse PM as a profession. It is a skill, no question, but I believe the team aspects, variable conditions, culture and potential for “expertitis” make it an unlikely discipline for licensening. Read my book, “Tales from the Project Trade” for relevant episodes and my detailed opinions.

3 Dr. Paul D Giammalvo April 15, 2009 at 5:01 am

Hi Hal,
Saw your posting on Project Management being a profession, and figured you’d enjoy (or not enjoy) my PhD dissertation on the subject……… “Is project management a profession? And if not, what is it”. It is published by ProQuest tp://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?url_ver=Z39.88-2004&res_dat=xri:pqdiss&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:dissertation&rft_dat=xri:pqdiss:3310456 or if you prefer, email me, pauldgphd@gmail.com and I will send you the full dissertation.

But getting back to your example, Supposing 50% of your wife’s patients died or got more ill? Or 20% of your brother in law’s bridges kept falling down? Or your son lost most of his cases at trial?

Like you, my background is Construction Management, and as I am sure you know, we have never been able to be accepted as equals with our Engineering or Architectural colleagues.

Bottom line- until and unless we can start to CONSISTENTLY deliver projects on time, within budget, in substantial conformance to specifications that fulfill the needs for which they were undertaken, we have not EARNED the right to call what we do a profession, much less call ourselves professionals……

Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia

4 curt finch April 15, 2009 at 8:43 pm

There are project management academics who like to put PMP on their resume’ and talk about the PMBoK all day but haven’t ever really managed a project successfully.

Doctors have to have an internship that takes years. Maybe that’s what is needed.

5 Daria April 16, 2009 at 8:08 am

Great post, Hal!
As for the leadership topic, you might be interested to check Andrew Filev’s post about leading collective intelligence: http://www.wrike.com/projectmanagement/02/12/2009/Leading-Collective-Intelligence
Your feedback is welcome.

6 Rod June 18, 2009 at 6:07 pm

PMP simply put is crap and nothing more then a money making scheme for the PMI organization. At this point in time I believe it costs over 5000 dollars to go to the classes and get the study guides and take the tests etc. You can go to a lot of excellent classes for 5000 dollars that you will learn no only about project management but a lot of other things. I have never met a PMP certified person that did the prerequisite number of hours before they took their tests. And I’ve had to save several of their asses because they couldn’t do the job
I’ve seen a number of managers lie about the hours of experience that a person has so they can take the test. It allows persons that don’t have the background into a field that they shouldn’t be in.
Also to say that a person that doesn’t have a college degree has to do 7500 hours and a person that does only 4500 hours is nothing more then hipacritical. I’d take the person that had the greater successful experience every time.
Also I have been managing projects for 30 years and have taken a number of classes during that time. To have someone come and tell me that all my training and experience is of no value any longer is really arrogant.

Also if companies continue to insist that persons have a PMP certification and they have to have 4500 to 7500 of Project Management experience before hand then they’re only creating a catch22 situation and they’re not going to have any Project managers anymore.

7 Hal June 18, 2009 at 9:18 pm

I hesitated when I saw the above post. I don’t know who Rod is. I presume he is well-intended. Having said that, he is wrong about the cost to get PMP certified. It’s closer to a few hundred dollars than it is $5,000. Self-study guides are rather inexpensive ranging from $20 to $200. I haven’t priced classes, but they’re unnecessary for a project manager with experience. I’m not endorsing or not endorsing the PMP. Rather, I am endorsing that people who are project managers take the role seriously…very seriously. We often have a great responsibility not just to our client, our team and our firm, but to society. We need people who are staying current with the practice. We need people who hold themselves to a high standard. We need people who have demonstrated that they have the foundational skills to deliver good projects. Will a certification prove that? Of course not. But neither does an M.D., R.N., P.E., or WOCN. A whole string of alphabets following our name only demonstrates that the individual has demonstrated a comprehension of a body of knowledge and has met some “time in the profession.” My wife just came back from her annual convention. She logs 40 hours/year in continuing education. While that doesn’t necessarily make her a better wound care nurse, her commitment to her ongoing education is evidence that she takes her role seriously…very seriously. How many hours have you logged in formal continuing education? How many did you log last year and the year before? This is the seriousness that I am calling for. C’mon folks, we have a very exciting and responsible role we play. Let’s carry it out in a professional way.

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