Why Earn a Project Management Professional (PMP)® Certification?

By Ed Lively, PMP, PRINCE2 Practitioner, MCITP   |   IIL Senior Consultant and Trainer

About the PMP® Certification

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the most recognized and important industry certification for project managers. It doesn’t matter what organization you are currently employed with, PMPs can be found to be leading projects in virtually every industry and every country worldwide. The PMP certification is truly global.

According to the most current study on project management salaries from the Project Management Institute (PMI)®, Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey, Ninth Edition, the average annual salary for PMPs is $111,969. This is $20,000 or 22% more than non-certified Project Managers in the U.S.

Another PMI® study, Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap 2017-2027, indicates that in the next decade there will be 2.2 million new project-oriented roles each year through 2027. The analysis in 2012 found that the future demand for project management jobs would grow to 52.4 million by 2020, but by early 2017 the number of project management jobs had already reached 65.9 million.

Other than being a globally acknowledged certification and the potential to significantly increase salaries, the PMP certification also offers benefits like:

  • Expanding your market reach and scope
  • Job opportunities
  • Greater visibility to recruiters
  • Security even in economic downturns

For current employers, the benefits of PMP-certified Project Managers far outweighs the cost. In PMI’s 2017 Pulse of the Profession: Success Rates Rise…Transforming the high cost of low performance, the executive summary states:

[trx_quote style=”1″]For the first time in five years, more projects are meeting original goals and business intent and being completed within budget. There has also been a significant decline in dollars lost. Organizations are wasting an average of $97 million for every $1 billion invested, due to poor project performance—that’s a 20 percent decline from one year ago.[/trx_quote]

While this is a move in the right direction, organizations still have a long way to go. The percentage of organizations providing training and development has been stable for the past five years and this is encouraging. According to the 2017 Pulse of the Profession:

[trx_quote style=”1″]Three in five organizations provide training on project management tools and techniques, and just under half have a formal process to develop project manager competency and a defined career path for project managers.[/trx_quote]

Only one in three organizations reports high benefits realization maturity, the new measure of true project success.

In 1994, the Standish Group’s Chaos Report indicated that the number one reason for project failure was inaccurate requirements gathering (this report continues to be quoted partially because the 2015 Chaos report changed its definition of success and the factors that contributed to success.) In 2017, PMI looking at the problem globally, reported that the largest contributing factor in project failure was a change in an organization’s priorities.

However organizations view the reasons for project failure, it is clear that they still have a long way to go to improve project performance … well-trained and qualified Project Managers is the way forward.

How to get PMP certified

  1. Fulfill Eligibility PMP Requirements

Begin by downloading the Project Management Professional (PMP) Handbook from:

http://www.pmi.org/~/media/PDF/Certifications/handbooks/project-management-professional-handbook-pmp.ashx .

This will provide you with the most current prerequisites for the certification. Currently, if you have a bachelor’s degree or global equivalent, you will need 3 years (36 months) of unique, non-overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 4,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project. In addition, you will have needed to complete 35 contact hours of formal project management education.

It is a good idea to take a training class that will prepare you for the certification exam. Some training companies offer this in a two to three day “boot camp” which may not be sufficient to adequately prepare you for the rigorous 4 hour, 200 question exam. I would suggest a minimum of a 5-day class and plan on about 40 hours of additional study to review the material before you attempt the exam.

  1. Complete the PMP Application

For purposes of ease and expediency, I suggest filling out the online application, as opposed to paper. The online application typically takes about five days to process. Once you start the application you cannot cancel it. You can save it unfinished, come back to it later, and edit any information you already entered. The application will remain active for 90 days. You will need to record your experience and education on the application. Be sure to record projects individually regardless of the number of projects you include.

One item to consider is whether you wish to join PMI as a member. The current cost of membership is $139 (USD). This will save you $150 (USD) on the exam. The current cost of taking the exam for members is $405 (USD) and for non-members it is $555 (USD). In addition to saving you on the PMP® exam cost you will receive the following benefits:

  1. You will receive a free digital copy of the PMBOK® Guide
  2. You will have access to tools and techniques
  3. You will have access to webinars and articles, and
  4. You will receive the following publications
    1. PM Network
    2. PMI Today
    3. Project Management Journal

Occasionally, an application is randomly selected to be audited. They may request copies of your diploma, signatures of supervisors attesting to your experience, copies of certificates, etc. PMI gives you 90 days to respond to their request.

Once submitted, your application remains active for one year from acceptance of the application (if audited this means once you have satisfied the audit requirements and have your application accepted.)

*In some cases, training companies will help you with the application process.

The online application can be found at:  http://www.pmi.org/certification/project-management-professional-pmp.aspx

  1. Payment

Make payment through PMI’s online certification system. Once you’ve made payment you’ll be emailed an eligibility number that you’ll use to schedule your test appointment. You will be eligible for one year and you may take the exam up to three times during that year.

  1. Schedule the Test Appointment

Go to www.prometric.com to schedule your examination. You will need your eligibility number that PMI sends you. Choose the date and location you would like to take this computer-based test. Be sure to allow enough time to adequately prepare for the exam.

  1. Exam

On the day of the exam you will need to provide two forms of identification that match exactly with the name you registered under. One of these must be a government ID with a picture. The exam has 200 questions and you will have four hours to complete the exam. Of the 200 questions, only 175 will be scored, 25 of the questions are field tested to check the statistical validity of the question before they go “live.” You will not know which 25 will not be scored. There are no scheduled breaks, but you may take a break if you wish. The clock will NOT stop.

While challenging, passing the exam will be extremely gratifying and provide you with an entry into one of the most rewarding careers of your life with unlimited potential.

When you’re ready to get PMP certified, IIL can help.

Three ways to learn:
Self-paced online – 35 hours
Live Virtual Classroom – starts October 30
5-day-Day Traditional Classroom – scheduled around the world

Register with code SOCIAL for 10% off!

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About the Author

Ed Lively brings a wealth of experience to the project management field as a practitioner, presenter, mentor, and author. His multidimensional skills allow him to teach 52 different classes in three core subject areas: negotiation and conflict resolution skills, all aspects of project management and team leadership.[/trx_infobox]

Suggested PMI Publications:
Project Management Professional (PMP)® Handbook
Project Management Job Growth and Talent Gap | 2017-2027
Pulse of the Profession: Success Rates Rise, Transforming the high cost of low performance
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)—Fifth Edition

*Note: The PMBOK® Guide—Sixth Edition will be released September 2017. The PMP exam is changing in the first quarter of 2018. Anyone taking the exam prior to Q1 2018 will receive the current version of the exam that references the PMBOK® Guide—Fifth Edition.

PMI, PMBOK, and PMP are marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

How Project Managers Can Survive in an Agile World

By Lisa Hodges on behalf of AXELOS   |   Owner/principal consultant, Cornerstone Service Management

Any discussion of project management demands the question: “How well are we doing?”

In my view, while project managers are putting so much emphasis on the elements of time and cost, we are losing something in scope and quality. This doesn’t apply to all projects or project managers, but it remains a real phenomenon.

But how has this happened?

In the past decade, project managers have been struggling to balance cost, time, scope and quality with focusing on the benefits to the customer. Customer requirements change over the life of a project and many projects are not delivering what the customer needs.

Also, the popularity of agile and Scrum approaches reflects an underlying malaise in project management. The Agile Manifesto itself shows an active hostility to traditional project management – especially in the US – in which the role of the project manager doesn’t exist.

This brings us to A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)-based project management. The Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Standard offers a vast body of knowledge to project managers, but lacks the specific guidance to turn knowledge into practical and actionable methods tailored to different situations. This has resulted in failures, and practitioners spending too much time translating the knowledge and not enough time executing and delivering it.

Some organizations have developed their own methods but with a variety of different customized templates, methods, and processes it becomes difficult to collaborate and communicate.

The project management community needs to figure out a mechanism to get the best out of the PMBOK® Guide and make it actionable. And I think PRINCE2® is the solution to the problem of taking PMBOK® Guide knowledge and making it practical. Why do I think that?

  • PRINCE2 is complementary to the PMBOK® Guide by providing what the latter doesn’t: a prescriptive. Having been through the PRINCE2 training, it doesn’t conflict with what I already know from the PMBOK® Guide, is a solution to the problem, and helps my project management.
  • PRINCE2 is not a substitute for the PMBOK® Guide and it can address the agile challenge facing the project management world.
  • Rather than trying to handle traditional and agile projects differently, using different methods, project managers can use a method like PRINCE2 to run traditional projects while using it to wrap around agile projects. If Project Management Professionals (PMPs)® are looking for how they fit into a Scrum world, this is it.

But what’s the payback of investing in another approach for project management professionals and the organizations that hire them?

  • With PRINCE2, an organization’s Project Management Office is able to capitalize on its existing investment in the PMBOK® Guide Global Standard. Many less experienced project managers flounder because they have some project management knowledge, but little experience and no method to apply it. Sitting the PMP requires between 4,500 and 7,500 hours leading and directing projects, so project managers have a tendency not to study the PMBOK® Guide until they have the necessary hours, right before sitting for the exam! As a result, they spend the early part of their careers figuring out project management on their own and learning bad habits.
  • Adopting the same method of applying project management knowledge will heighten efficiency, effectiveness, and help project managers produce more consistent results at every level of experience. For individuals advancing in their careers, an understanding of the PMBOK® Guide and PRINCE2 gives them a practical method to bring knowledge and solutions as soon as they’re hired.

Yes, we know that project managers are under a lot of pressure, already working at more than capacity and with little spare time to examine the value of something new. But this is a solution to project managers’ problems, complementing and improving what they already have, freeing them up to do a better job and to spend more time on projects’ scope, quality and value.

With both PRINCE2 and the PMBOK® Guide, you speak the language of project management across the entire world, regardless of who you’re doing business with.

More insights await at the virtual Agile and Scrum conference, going live on May 4th. 5 keynotes and 20 sessions to choose from, plus networking and PDUs/SEU®s.

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About the Author

Lisa Hodges is a PRINCE2® Practitioner, PMP®, ITIL Expert™, and CPDE® – Certified Process Design Engineer. She is a process improvement evangelist with 20+ years of experience in project and service management, in technical and managerial roles, working with organizations in higher education, government, manufacturing, financial services, and others.[/trx_infobox]

PMBOK and PMI are marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc. PRINCE2® is a registered trade mark of AXELOS Limited.

I’m a Project Management Professional (PMP)®! Why Do I Need Agile?

By Kellie Morrell   |   Agilist, PMI-ACP & PMP, CSM, CSP, AHF, AFC, ICAgile ICP and ATF
Enterprise Agile Coach and Trainer, Agile Transformation Inc.

That was my question 9 years ago.  I had earned my PMP® certification in 2002 and was proud of it.  I had been somewhat successful in managing my projects; or least the ones where the clients did not change their requirements every other day.  So why would I need to learn something new?

My reason was very simple…my Senior Management asked me to pilot Agile for the organization. My first step was to find out what ‘Agile’ meant since I didn’t have a clue.

Agile Education

I attended a “Real World Agile” course by Agile Transformation, Inc. They also provided me with an Agile Coach. I learned that Agile was just another ‘tool’ in the project management ‘tool box.’  My Trainer and Coach helped me learn the basics of Agile.

[trx_infobox style=”regular” closeable=”no” icon=”icon-ok”]Learn more about IIL’s Agile Project Management courses >>[/trx_infobox]


The Main Agile Roles

  1. Product Owner – Business Owner that sets the business vision and priorities of the work. They also accept and/or reject the work the Team does.
  2. Team Members – Developers, Analysts, Testers, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), etc.
  3. ScrumMaster – Agile Project Manager who facilitates the Agile process and meetings. They also are focused on the Team’s health and removing any impediments or road blocks the Team may have.  This was my new role.

The Main Artifacts

  1. Product Backlog – Requirements log in highest priority.
  2. Sprint or Iteration – A time box of 2-4 weeks where the team designs, codes, and tests and the Team could potentially move to production.
  3. Sprint Backlog – Requirements log of work to be completed in the 2-4 week Sprint.
  4. Burndown Chart – Daily progress of the team burning down their hours to the end of the sprint. Show roadblocks early.

The Main Meetings/Ceremonies

  1. Sprint Planning – What work the team wants to commit to getting done in the next sprint (2-4 weeks).
  2. Daily Scrum or Stand Up Meetings – A 15 minute meeting where you stand up and answer 3 questions.
    • What work did you get done yesterday?
    • What work are you going to commit to get done today?
    • Do you have any impediments?
  3. Sprint Review/Demo – The Team shows the work they have completed to Stakeholders and get their feedback. Time to celebrate as well.
  4. Sprint Retrospective – We called these ‘Lessons Learned’ meetings in Traditional project management and took place at the end of the project. These are completed each sprint and answer these 2 questions.
    • What did we do well this sprint?
    • What could we improve upon for next sprint?
  5. Agile embraces continuous improvement. The team would select 1-2 items from the Retro list that they want to get better at next sprint.

How I Made the Transition from PMP to Agile

Agile is not all that different than Traditional project management. The big change is the focus on People and Value Delivered versus the project management process. In Traditional project management, I always had an Initiation Phase and a Planning Phase. So does Agile. At the end of my Traditional projects, I always had a Release into Production. So does Agile. The big difference is the iterative planning and the iterative development. Agile project teams have a Closing Phase for the project work, but continue on the next highest priority project. Their closing phase is really a few stories and, of course, a celebration.

The big difference in Traditional and Agile is the iterative planning and development. This took me about 3 months to really learn how to break down the large work efforts (epics) into smaller chucks so we could deliver during our 2 week sprints.  I finally learned that the smaller the chunk of work, the better we can understand it, design it, code it, test it, and deliver something valuable that we could get quick feedback on.


Hardest Lessons Learned

  1. I was surprised to learn that Agile aligns with A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)—Fifth Edition (2013)
  2. I was also surprised on how many other PMPs were doing Agile.
  3. I learned the pros of Traditional Project Management:
    • Structured management
    • Budget and schedule predictability
    • Easy to scale
    • Skills Specialization
    • Documentation = knowledge transferability
    • Familiarity – often part of organizational culture
    • Structural support from other departments
  4. I also learned the pros of Agile:
    • Early and continuous delivery
    • More flexibility
    • More certain to deliver what the customer wants
    • Less defects in the final product
    • Higher visibility with frequent validation and transparent reporting
    • Increased estimating accuracy
    • More customer interaction
    • Improved team morale


Advice for Us “PMPers” Making the Transition to Agile

  1. “You can use all Agile some of the time and some Agile all of the time.” So try it.
  2. Allow yourself time to adjust to the new terminology, roles, process, and iterative development. It took me about 3 months before I began to feel comfortable with the framework and ceremonies.


Just like a good carpenter, you must know what tool will work the best depending on the job you need to do. Sometimes you will need a hammer; other times it will be an electric drill. The key is to know how both work, so you can select the best project management practices for your Project/Program and your Culture. In the end, what is really important is your organization’s Enterprise Business Agility. The method or framework you select will depend on the project.

Whether a PMP or Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®, our job is to facilitate the projects/programs, drive innovation in our organization, and keep up with the market and competition. Having both Agile and Traditional project management knowledge and experience will make you a better project manager. And you will have a few extra “tools in your PM tool box.”

More insights await at the virtual Agile and Scrum conference, going live on May 4th. 5 keynotes and 20 sessions to choose from, plus networking and PDUs/SEU®s.


PMP, PMBOK and PMI-ACP are marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.