I’m angry!  I know a strange way to open a blog post but it’s true.  I’m getting a bit fed up when I hear colleagues talk that they got their PMP® because they wanted to a better job or to be more marketable on a federal proposal.  I get it, we all want to advance in our careers, get promotions and remain viable.  But, I’ve been teaching project management since the mid ‘90s and PMP® Prep. since 2005 and I see so much more value than this!  More and more PMP® training is being conducted as a commodity with instructors teaching students only to pass, regardless of whether they actually learn something.  This is an insult to my profession, one I’ve spent the last 32 years working to master.  Would you go to a physician who hadn’t passed their medical licensing examination?  This license demonstrates that he/she understands and can apply their medical training to you, the patient!  Ok, my vent is over, thanks for indulging me!  Let’s take a look at what preparing for the PMP® really offers each one of us.

— The practices recommended by the subject matter experts supporting PMI and written in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) are excellent!  Not one single practice will cause harm to you or your sponsors if you practice them.  The choice really is how much can your project absorb?

— There is real value in understanding how to practically set the expectations around project scope.  I love the part where we as project managers can include “scope exclusions” when presenting the Project Scope Statement.  This allows us to clarify what we will do and won’t do.  It also allows the sponsor to change their mind or clarify the scope before work begins.  Making scope changes during planning is always more cost effective than scope changes during execution.

— Isn’t the sponsor entitled to understand why a schedule is slipping and what date you will actually complete?  None of this is possible without an activity driven, well founded project schedule.

— Earned value (EV), although often difficult to grasp for beginners, is crucial to truly understanding and reporting cost status. To many project managers report over-budget as being the difference between planned and actual cost. The value of the project’s product at any given point in the project must also be considered.  When planned value (PV), actual costs (AC) and earned value (EV) are considered and calculated, project managers can truly report cost status and estimate to complete in a meaningful way.  This has incredible benefit to our sponsors.
— Even the soft skills learned in PMP® have increasing value.  Sometimes we forget that project managers are in the “people business”.  Whether motivating and leading team members, influencing stakeholders or delivering status, we must be able to properly communicate and set expectations in a professional and cohesive manner.  These skills covered in communications, human resources, and stakeholder management pave the way for good project managers to become great ones.

I could go on and on but I hope you get the point. 80% of the managers I help prepare for the exam are learning these practices for the first time.  Most of them are very successful project managers. This simply means we all have something to learn and if you’re going to be in our profession then take the time to really learn the practices.  Not only will you pass the test and enhance your resume but you’ll be a better more informed project leader.

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