The Project Notebook

PMI North American Leadership Institute Meeting

I just returned from the Hyatt Regency Atlanta and the Project Management Institute’s North American Leadership Institute Meeting. Over 570 global volunteers from PMI components in 27 countries met to network with each other, the PMI Global Operations Center Staff, and other volunteer leaders throughout the Institute. As Component Mentor for PMI Region 7 (Southwest North America), I was there to participate and lead a breakout session for my region.

As always, there were a lot of new announcements. While many of these do not affect the general PMI members at large, there are two this time which are exciting and there for everyone. First, after undergoing rigorous testing, the new PgMP (SM) certification is ready and applications are being accepted. This is a very rigorous certification for Program Managers which includes a thorough applicant review, and exam, and a 360-degree evaluation by 12 people.

The second is the new Performance Management Framework for PMI Components. The framework specifies minimum service levels to be provided by all components to normalize value to members around the world. I’m pleased to say that from a first look, all the components in my region are meeting these performance levels.

What happened in Atlanta doesn’t have to stay in Atlanta, so if you are interested, you can read my Component Mentor Trip Report. I’ll be back with a regular article next week.

Don’t Wait for 20 Years! (Part II)

I’ve had some further questions about last week’s article, so thought I would continue the story in this week’s post. Once you receive your certification, CAPM, PMP, or PgMP, there’s no need to wait another 20 years to continue your professional growth as a Project Manager. In fact, you will have to put in some minimal effort to maintain your certification. I’ll focus on the PMP.

To recertify as a PMP, you will need to earn 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) every three years. There are plenty of ways to earn PDUs, so obtaining an average of 20 per year is a reasonable goal. With many sources available, the associated expense can be very low, and in many cases, free. Here are a few good ways to earn them:

  • attend local PMI breakfast, lunch, or dinner meetings (usually worth 1 PDU each)
  • become a volunteer for your local PMI component (committee member or Board member)
  • take a Project Management class offered by your local PMI component or university
  • take an online Project Management class
  • write Project Management articles or papers
  • volunteer to teach a Project Management class
  • volunteer to be a speaker on a Project Management topic
  • self-study — e.g., read a book and write a brief review

The list goes on. Of course it will be difficult to get the PDUs if you wait until the last month in your renewal cycle, but with a little planning, its very easy. Your local PMI component is there to assist you and also provides a very inexpensive source of PDUs — the cost to attend a dinner meeting is usually just the price of a meal, and many breakfast and lunch meetings are free (you buy or bring your own meal). What could be simpler than that?

You will also notice many of the ways to earn PDUs give something back to the Project Management community. After I received my certification, I started attending dinner meetings (10 PDUs per year in San Diego) and became a volunteer director (another 10 PDUs per year). With occasional speaking and teaching engagements, I typically have three times the required PDUs each renewal cycle.

Don’t wait for 20 years — get involved in the Project Management profession today to make a difference and maintain your credential.

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Don’t Wait for 20 Years! (Part I)

There is absolutely no reason to wait 20 years as I did to get your PMP®! Although PMI was founded in 1969, it was virtually unknown when I embarked on my Project Management training in 1980. I had on-the-job training from my managers, seminars from IEEE and ACM, and formal classes from the GE Management Institute, but PMI never played a part in any of that. There was also a lot of effort in self-study — I was one of the early adopters of Visi-Schedule, perhaps the earliest well known scheduling tool.

It wasn’t until 1999 that I had the opportunity to work with a fellow Project Manager who was a PMP. Tom encouraged me to look into the certification. In between work and travel (I was a jet commuter every week from San Diego to Walnut Creek at the time) I looked into the exam requirements, found I met all the qualifications, and had more than 75% of the knowledge to pass. I had just two relatively new knowledge areas to look into, a few areas to brush up on, and had to learn “the PMI way” (which was only slightly different than what I was practicing). By November 2000 I took the exam and it was the following year I decided to look into the organization behind it. The rest, as they say, is history.

Back in 1980, the road to Project Management was very different than it is today. There is a far larger demand for Project Management, so getting the necessary training and qualifications early is more important so you are distinguished from the other potential candidates. Worse yet, if you find yourself being the “knighted Project Manager” (here’s a copy of MS Project — go manage our projects), you may never find the time to gain the right skills and knowledge to allow you to move your career ahead in a constructive manner.

Besides the benefit of having the qualifications in hand, there are other benefits of having a PMP:

  • You demonstrate to your prospective employer you have some minimal training
  • Likewise, you have at least 3-6 years of practical experience
  • You are expanding your network of contacts and opportunities
  • You are giving something to the future of others in your profession
  • The PMP was rated #5 of the top 10 IT qualifications — an extra benefit for IT PMs
  • You are demonstrating your commitment to life long learning
  • PMPs have higher average salaries
  • PMP is now a requirement for certain jobs
  • PMP has major recognition in large organizations (e.g. US Government, Microsoft, HP)

Now, there is even less reason to put off working toward this credential — the new CAPM® certificate is an intermediate milestone you can shoot for along the way. I like to think of it as the mid-point in your path, since it carries half the experience requirements of the PMP. There is also the new PgMP if you have already obtained your PMP.

Have any questions about the PMP credential or exam? Feel free to contact me at and I will either answer your question or put you in touch with those who can. Please also visit the PMI links and “Notebook News” found on the right hand side of this blog!

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© 2010-2012 Ray W. Frohnhoefer, MBA, PMP, CCP