Most of the mid career IT professionals have at least given some thought to PMI’s Project Management Certification (PMP). Professionals are looking for this certification for various reasons. Some real questions I have seen in recent past are:
I am a 8+ years experienced IT professionals at Technical Lead role. I want to change my role to Project Manager quickly inside or outside my current company. Will PMP help?
I am a Project Manager with 10+ years experience. I have decent project management experience so is it worthwhile for me to get a PMP certification?
How Project Management Certification can help?
Context is important here and it depends on what do you want to do professionally in long term (say 5-year time frame). It’s important to understand where PMP can actually help and more importantly, where it cannot help. So, here are the 3 areas where I have seen PMP helping:
1. Build mainstream thinking
PMP establishes a common knowledge and a common framework among project management professionals. Basic working knowledge of project management will provide you the edge to begin with. Obviously, it should be supported with your relevant experience. You expect to learn best practices, common techniques and global trends.
2. Professional Signaling:
PMP certification demonstrates your professional commitment towards Project Management. It’s the right signaling! Hiring managers look for such signaling to shortlist you. It might not be enough to get you a good project management job, but it would certainly provide you more opportunities to sell your profile. Then, it’s up to you to leverage it. If you are in services industry, your client might also give it some preference.
Networking is the most underutilized benefit of PMP among IT professionals. I agree that PMP doesn’t provide a natural way to network but it’s better than nothing if you are committed to network with similar professionals. It provides a starting point and then you can build your network by being proactive.
And, where it doesn’t help?
In the end, PMP is merely a test that validates academic competency. PMP can’t solve all your growth issues so you need to realize that.
1. PMP might not solve long term growth
Mostly, professionals invest in academic programs to address their growth issues. Scope of PMP is very limited to project management ecosystem so it isn’t enough to solve your long term growth issues. Your next step after project management might be managing accounts, client relationships or even revenue. You need to look at the bigger picture and think like an owner of your company. PMP doesn’t provide the differentiation and knowledge to help you there. You need to fix it professionally or academically through other channels.
2. What about your business perspective?
Knowledge of project management framework and tools is only one aspect. You also need to have right business acumen, awareness, soft skills for people and client management. Refer to this article at PMI. Simply fixing one aspect in isolation would not provide you necessary results. You need to ask yourself how you can add more value to your organization.
3. Expanding your horizons by looking at other career paths
Your growth can come through horizontal switches as well. e.g., project management/operations to consulting, pre-sales, business analysis, product management. PMP will not help you to explore such possibilities and provide any differentiation if you are trying for them.
Finally, you need to look PMP w.r.t. your career goals. I have spoken to many professionals who completed PMP and were disappointed where their growth issues weren’t solved. It may solve only a piece of your aspirations or it may not be for you. It isn’t about collecting certifications but making them purposeful for your career growth.