A “puppy mill” is defined as “a commercial dog breeding facility that is operated with an emphasis upon profits above animal welfare …” (Wikipedia definition). An ugly definition of an ugly business, but it has parallels with what I have seen happen with the PMP certification process over the years.
The contrarian in me has often lamented the proliferation of cheapened PMP certifications in much the same way that U.S. puppy mills churn out more than a half million “pedigreed” puppies every year. Clearly it’s not a perfect analogy, and I am purposely overstating it for dramatic effect; but I believe the analogy has merit, as absurd as it sounds.
Let me explain. Our industry has instituted one of the best improvements to the practice of Project Management in many years. The PMP certification is designed to instill standardized processes to help ensure more successful project delivery. Yet there are those who, in my opinion, abuse the process for profit over method and for expediency over the long-term good.
This is why I coined the term, the other “PMP” – “Puppy Mill Pedigree”. For example, I once interviewed a bright young analyst to understand how she was able to attain her PMP certification so early in her career. She recounted her educational and professional experience:
- Four-year degree (she had a degree in Management Information Systems);
- Minimum 36 months of professional Project Management experience (she had graduated five years earlier and had not had an unbillable day since);
- At least 4,500 hours spent leading and directing the project (she had lead the Quality Assurance team for over three years on a long term IT project);
- 35 contact hours of formal Project Management education (she had participated in the PMP preparation study conducted by her firm);
- Experience in all five process groups (she had participated in all five over the course of the project delivery); and
- Pass the PMP exam (she scored “proficient” in all areas).
Any red flags for you? There sure were for me. I knew this young professional as a brilliant mind, a conscientious worker, someone I would fight for to have on my project. But I also knew that she had no more sense of what it takes to manage a project than to herd sheep in the Australian Outback. I asked her about the pre-qualification of 4,500 hours of project leading and directing. She noted that she managed a team of one other individual, and their primary responsibility was to review deliverables for format, grammar, consistency, and completeness.
I ask you, how does that equate to the required experience of leading and directing the project?
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