Certification is Not Enough to Become a Good Project Manager
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Project Management Institute (PMI) and the Association of Project Management
Group (APMG) are two of the biggest reasons that projects fail. They have
sold the myth to the corporate world and to their certification customers
that successful completion of their certification tests and the addition
of Project Management Professional (PMP) after their name or adding PRINCE2
Certified on their Resume or Curriculum Vitae makes them a Project Manager.
Companies believe the myth. They believe that when they hire a certified
Project Manager, they are getting someone who is truly a successful Project
Management Professional not just a newly graduated student. So when they
hire project managers, just about the first requirement they put in their
job specification is that the person needs to be a PMP or PRINCE2 professional.
The truth is that Project Management certification does not make the student
a Project Manager.
I'm not in any way saying that becoming certified is a bad thing. In fact,
I believe it is a very good way for potential project managers to learn
the basics of Project Management. What certification does is teach the
person the mechanics of Project Management tools and techniques. And,
although it teaches them how to use them from a mechanical standpoint,
it really doesn't teach them how to use them in the overall context of
their project, when to use them, how to modify them due to circumstances
or, in fact, when not to use them at all. And it doesn't recognize or
teach them what is really about 80% of the Project Management success
equation which I'll cover later in this article.
PMI started certifying Project Managers in 1969 and PRINCE was established
by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) in the UK
in 1979. This was just about the time that independent surveys showed
that approximately 70% of all IT Projects failed when measured against
the criteria of cost, schedule and expectations. Since then, PMI and the
APMG say that they have worked with and certified over 550,000 people
as either Project Management Professionals or PRINCE2 certified Project
Managers. PMI have over 270 chapters in over 70 countries. the APMG are
in over 20 countries. PMI have sold over 2 million copies of PMBOK - the
Guide during that period of time. The APMG has sold approximately 1 million
copies of their PRINCE Manuals. PMI and APMG are making wheelbarrows of
money off of the certification myth. In addition, a huge network of companies,
organizations, associations are also involved. A very large industry has
been built up over the years based on certification. With all of this
training, certification, book sales going on, surveys now show that approximately
70% of all IT Projects fail.
What! If, as claimed, becoming a PMP or a PRINCE2 certified person makes
one a Project Manager and over a half a million people have been certified
as Project Managers why are projects still failing at the 70% rate? In
addition, millions of dollars have been spent over the last 30 to 35 years
on the project manager, on training, on certification, on Project Management
Processes and Procedures and on other project management tools and techniques
and still approximately 70% of all IT projects are failing. That tells
me that successful Project Management must depend on something other than
competence in those project Management tools, techniques, processes, procedures
In my experience from working on and successfully managing some of the
most visible projects over the last 40 years, including the Apollo Program,
the Trident Submarine, The Cruise Missile, computerization of the British
Income Tax System, other major programs for some of the largest companies
in the world along with the rescue of a $600M program for the UK Government,
what I've found is that good project management processes and procedures
must not only be in place for projects to be successful but the Project
Manager must truly understand how and when to use them and modify them,
Without a doubt, Project Managers must understand and be experienced in
the hard skills of Planning, Organizing, Monitoring and Controlling their
projects. PMI and PRINCE2 certification is certainly a very good way to
learn these hard skills. However, I believe that these hard skills are
only about 20% of the success equation. The much bigger part of the equation,
the 80%, are the soft skills, the attitudes and behaviors, that the Project
Manager should have and practice. These soft skills include, but are not
necessarily limited to, enthusiasm, energy, commitment to success, commitment
to excellence; good communication skills - knowing what to say, when to
say it, how to say it and when to shut-up; good interpersonal skills,
approachability, self-motivation, the ability to motivate the project
team, good team building skills, a go-for-it attitude, a no-problem attitude,
a go-the-extra-mile attitude and a good sense of humor. None of these
soft skills are really part of the PMBOK and aren't really required for
PMP or PRINCE2 certification.
I'm a true believer in the song title, "It ain't what you do, it's the
way that you do it." By all means, I think potential project managers
should work to get certified because certification will teach them the
hard skills foundations. But they shouldn't believe nor should the PMI
or the APMG continue advertising that certification makes a person a Project
Manager. The real way and the only way to being a true Project Manager
and to lower the project failure rate is to ensure that our Project Managers
are not only proficient in the hard skills of Planning, Organizing, Monitoring,
and Controlling their projects but that they, also, have and continue
to practice the soft skills.
You'll start to see the changes when companies advertising for project
managers start off the requirements list with the soft skills requirements
and finish up with the hard skills. After all, a person can be taught
the hard skills a lot easier than the soft skills attitudes and behaviors.
Did you agree or disagree with Richard? Either way, you
should get a copy of Richard's book or CD program at http://www.buymorreale.com.
Book Richard to speak at your next meeting or conference, to train your
project managers to make their certification work better for them or to
rescue a major project that might be causing you trouble. Put Richard's
over 35 years of experience to work for you. firstname.lastname@example.org
or 336 499 6677.
Published - May 2010
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