What Can PMI® Do For You?

Valarie Griep MBA, PMP - September 2011

What do the Department of Energy, GE, Mayo Clinic, Boston University, Rio Tinto and Credit Suisse have in common with each-other and over 360,000 individuals globally? They are all members of the PMI® (Project Management Institute). PMI® membership is on the rise to the tune of a 13% increase over last year. And the PMI® Executive Council, made up of companies who believe the project and program disciplines can help them avoid costly failures, attract more members all the time.

Some Background

Founded in 1969, the PMI® is the largest organization dedicated to project management operating globally. PMI®'s strength comes from their Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) which is published in their PMBOK® Guide soon to be revised for the 5th time. The PMBOK® is an American National Standard (ANSI), in addition to being widely recognized as a standard among practitioners.

The goal of PMI® is that "worldwide, organizations will embrace, value, and utilize project management and attribute their success to it". PMI® believes that the use of project management leads to a positive influence on organizations and society (impact); that accountability and ethical behavior binds PMI® to the community (professionalism); and that banding like-minded people together is the best way to facilitate their growth, and advance the profession (community). These values are a big reason why PMI® has grown in membership and influence. An outgrowth of living these values is the certifications that the organization offers. They are the external manifestations of the values, so to speak.

The PMP® (Project Management Professional®) Certification

PMP® certification recognizes an individual's knowledge, and project management experience. It shows that the individual has met an established standard set by global practitioners, and that they are continuing their development (the credential requires continued education and practice). To become a PMP® one must pass an exam which tests knowledge of the PMBOK® and meet experience requirements which vary depending on their education.

Maybe most importantly, the PMP® certification demonstrates a focus and dedication to the project management discipline by the individual. As project managers attempt to establish credibility in a tenuous workplace the PMP® certification tells the world they are serious about their profession and dedicated to their own development. (Good things when trying to gain an edge in the job market and distinguish oneself to employers, colleagues and stakeholders). According to pmi.org there are 451,000 active certified PMP®s globally, and with PMI®'s current growth rate, half a million is not far off.

Why the Fuss?

In the public and private sector alike, projects are increasingly used as a vehicle to solve problems, create products, build infrastructure, and implement strategy. It's estimated the Chinese government has allocated the equivalent of $1 trillion dollars for infrastructure improvements between 2011 and 2015. Mexico plans to spend the equivalent of $141 billion on infrastructure projects. Prior to the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, that country will spend $900 billion to prepare. In 2009 the US Congress passed a financial stimulus package that included approximately $108 billion in infrastructure projects. PMI®'s membership growth makes sense given these investments.

Additionally, the organization utilizing sound project management practices has an edge in the execution of their strategy through the use of repeatable, standard processes. With these processes they can more effectively communicate and collaborate. The organization can attract new project managers more easily by fostering a reputation that values structured project processes. Use of project management processes has proven to produce better results on projects—as evidenced by more on time, on budget projects that meet strategic business needs. Managers can do more with less when they charter the right, high ROI projects. Organizations' customers are increasingly looking for external demonstrations of professionalism and use of sound project management practices provides that.

What's In It For Me?

Local Chapter Events & Networking
Though PMI® is a global organization, members gain much of their membership benefit from local chapters. These local chapters offer networking, education, and volunteer opportunities along side other like-minded professionals. Much of the membership experience depends on your local chapter and some members attend events at multiple chapters to broaden their exposure. Chapter meetings are held on a regular basis and feature speakers on various project management related topics. Membership benefit can be greatly enhanced by participating in a SIG (Specific Interest Group), though there are additional fees to do so. It should be noted that chapter events are usually open to non-members as well.

Regional & Global Events
PMI® hosts PMI® Global Congresses and other regional events annually. These events provide professional development for project management practitioners, their managers, and executives from organizations using project management. According to PMI®'s official website, "Congresses feature areas of focus presentations that cover both global and regional project management issues and emerging challenges, and apply to project managers of all skill levels and career stages." Each year, PMI®'s Seminars World also provides members and non-members opportunity for professional development and networking.

Resources & Costs
In addition to the local, regional and global events, PMI® members have full access to the PMI® website's Knowledge Center, a vast library of research and best practices. Access to these resources and application of the ideas can make a difference in a practitioner's projects.

The costs you will incur as a PMI® member are yearly membership dues and fees to attend the chapter events (reduced for members). If you are interested in being certified, you will incur fees for the certification examination and application, continuing education, and if you let your certification expire, you will pay for re-certification. The regional and global events, of course, come with the added cost of registration and travel.

Bottom Line

There are two types of people managing projects. One type has the title Project Manager and that's what they do for a living. These people probably manage large projects and we find them working on projects everyday in Information Technology, Facilities, Research & Development, etc. We need these project managers's to be pros because they are responsible for the effective utilization of a significant amount of an organization's budget, capital, and talent. If you are serious about your career and you fit into this category, PMI® membership and certification may be wise.

The other type of project manager finds themselves managing projects (who doesn't today?) but it isn't their primary job responsibility. These people can benefit from understanding project management as a discipline and utilizing the best practices of their career project manager counterparts. Though developing their project management skills may be very beneficial, PMI® membership and/or certification may be less important.

Finally, it's important to note that there are extremely talented project managers who are not certified, and there are PMP®s that have a low batting average in terms of project success. However, with the trend in project management and the growing number of certified individuals, if you manage projects you may want to be proactive in determining what PMI® can do for you.

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