The Project Notebook

The PMP Exam and the PMBOK® Guide, Fourth Edition

A PM Hut reader wonders if it is possible to pass the PMP Certification Exam based on the Fourth Edition after having studied using the Third Edition. While I guess this is always possible depending on the knowledge of the exam candidate, the best way is to be prepared. A possible mitigation strategy would be to find out what differs between the two editions.

The good news is, there is plenty of information available about those differences. Two short summary video clips are available at and These videos include information supplied by the PMI Project Manager for the update project. To have the best chance of passing the exam, review these videos and use them to guide a brief study of the Fourth Edition. There are many good pre-tests published which you may want to try as well.

Best wishes for future success and good luck with the exam!

Project Success

Last week I wrote about the value of the PMP® Certification. During the week I received an email asking me if there was a survey which showed this value. Obviously one source of information which was not a survey but a series of case studies, was the Value of PM study performed by the University of Athabasca. The web site home for this research project is Value of PM. This early study focused on the overall value and did not focus on the value of PMP certification. The results are more powerful and relevant though since they were achieved through detailed studies and not just surveys.

Back in 2005 I asked myself the same question: how can we show the members of our PMI components the value of the PMP®. I developed a short survey which was mailed to our members, prospective members, and the CEO’s of their employers. The response was phenomenal — while most surveys fail to achieve high response rates, this survey had a 24% overall response rate with 35% of our membership responding.

Among the conclusions of the survey:
– Firms experiencing successful projects use project management work products more often
– Firms experiencing successful projects employ more PMPs.

Visit Project Success Survey to see the results presentation for this survey. I’d welcome any feedback from readers! Please leave a comment or drop me a line at

Surprise! PMP Certification Does Not Predict Performance

An article entitled “Project Management Certification Does Not Predict Performance” on the Struggling Manager blog caught my eye. My first reaction was “no surprise here”. Most certifications do not predict performance, but rather ensure a minimum amount of knowledge and experience. Unfortunately the premise was the training to earn this certification wasn’t useful.

Rob, the author, contended that he valued communication of executive status and project events, driving teams to completion, and relentless issue resolution. On the surface this seems reasonable, but reflecting on it further, its unfortunately more of the “herding cats” mentality.

In more civilized, projectized environments, skills like drawing up project plans and schedules are valued. Planning and managing is more important than chasing the project team members to complete tasks. Risk management becomes more important than relentless issue resolution. Its no wonder the Struggling Manager is struggling. Relentless issue closing can be draining and demoralizing.

While PMP certification may not may not predict performance, it is not without its benefits. At the organizational benefits cited include:

– more disciplined workforce
– workforce knows how to begin to plan projects
– workforce will value teamwork
– clients have increased confidence because basic practices are in place
– clients will value project managers with a code of ethics
– you will have repeatable practices and improved project results

Stop being a struggling manager. Support PMPs and project management best practices as a manager to create a more empowered team and pleasant work environment. Stop herding cats and start planning for success.

PMP® Credential: The Chicken or Egg?

Fellow blogger Fadi El-Eter contacted me this morning to let me know an article on earning a PMP credential which I had on his site, PM Hut, had a question in a comment and invited me to provide an anwer. For those of you who are unaware, the Project Management Institute has been raising the bar for earning a PMP credential at regular intervals. When I took the exam in 2000, the language around qualifications was a lot looser. Although I had plenty of experience managing projects and leading teams, many were able to get by with simply doing project work.

The tighter qualifications now require managing projects and leading teams as an eligibility requirement, leading Brian P. Branagan to post the following question:

Again and again, we see that companies do not allow a candidate to manage a project without PMP certification. You emphasize that one is not eligible to take the examination without project management experience. Something must be allowed to come first. What helpful thing can you say about this?

My response:

While its true in the past, you only had to work on projects, the September 2008 PMI PMP Certification Handbook now states:

The PMP Role Delineation states that candidates for the PMP credential:

• Perform their duties under general supervision and are responsible for all aspects of the project for the life of the project

• Lead and direct cross-functional teams to deliver projects within the constraints of schedule,budget, and scope

• Demonstrate sufficient knowledge and experience to appropriately apply a methodology to projects that have reasonably well-defined project requirements and deliverables

The key phrase here is “under general supervision”. When I first became a Project Manager 25 years ago, my manager, himself an experienced Project Manager who moved into a management slot supervised my efforts. Such on the job training is the best route to take to gain the needed experience. Smart companies create internships and mentoring opportunities.

One way to convince your manager you are ready for such an “apprenticeship” would be to earn the CAPM – Certified Associate Project Manager first.

While its an unfortunate truth, there are also still companies which create the “knighted” Project Manager — you get a copy of the MS Project documentation (if you’re lucky!) and are told to “go forth and manage”.

Either way, you can still earn the necessary experience, even though just working on projects isn’t any longer sufficient.

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