I started Part 1 of this blog post with the following words: A “puppy mill” is defined as “a commercial dog breeding facility that is operated with an emphasis upon profits above animal welfare …” (Wikipedia definition). I then drew parallels with what I believe is an abuse of the PMP certification process, as organizations churn out a host of inadequately qualified PMPs.
Continuing the case study from Part 1: what about PMI’s requirement to have experience in all five process groups? To meet this requirement, she and her “team” (of one) had conducted Quality Assurance on deliverables produced in all five process groups executed on the project.
Yet she obtained her PMP certification. Yes, she had the educational experience. Yes, she knew how to study and take tests. She was “book smart”; but she was woefully short on experience in actually leading and directing the project, and in the five Project Management process groups.
Before you dismiss my “puppy mill” analogy as an extrapolation from a single case study, let me assure you that I asked similar questions of a number of her peers. I observed similar results. On the next bid that this company responded to, the company was able to propose sixteen PMP certified staff for the project. Impressive. However, in my opinion, the PMP certifications were for the sale, not for the delivery.
I strongly believe that when government organizations jumped on the PMP bandwagon, and subsequently mandated PMP certified Project Managers on their projects, this initiated a frenzy of activity for IT consulting firms to certify as many staff as possible. Similarly, when non-government firms signaled a preference for PMP certified PMs, the frenzy continued.
Don’t get me wrong; I strongly believe that the certification process is necessary if we are to improve our success rate in project delivery. But how is the “puppy mill” churn going to help that? When a government department awards a major contract favoring a PMP credentialed Project Manager over a seasoned, non-credentialed Project Manager with a history of successful project delivery, how is that affecting the long-term good? How is that promoting the PMP standard?
So what are we to do? How can we tighten up the eligibility requirements to help ensure that only legitimate experience and qualifications are allowed to sit for the PMP examination? In the case study that I cited earlier, that young woman has since become a fine Project Manager through mentorship and progressively more responsibility. She is truly PMP qualified today; but she was not qualified at the time that I did my informal survey.
Smarter people than me need to take up the cause. Because if we don’t, we are in danger of having the “Puppy Mill Pedigrees” dilute what our industry has worked so hard to establish, and derail our progress toward more successful delivery.
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