There has been much discussion lately within the project management community on the “value” of project management certification – i.e. becoming a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute.
Several years ago, having a PMP was a distinguishing mark usually obtained and held by the most senior project managers. Recently however, PMI has realized the fruits of its successful marketing campaign to push the PMP credential – to the point where the credential no longer makes the PM stand out more than the next.
So what’s more important in implementing complex material handling systems – PMP certification or experience?
Some of the criticism of the PMP credential is that it lacks any sort of competency based assessment – in other words something that says “this person is a very good project manager”. The reality is that the credential just means that the person is qualified to take the test and has an understanding of the PM language. You have no way of knowing if they crammed in a bunch of book learning into a couple weeks before the exam and passed by using memorization techniques, or if they gained their knowledge of project management principals through experience and the school of hard knocks.
Competency-based assessments for PM’s have been in place in Europe for several years. To effectively compete for work in European countries, project managers must have a competence-related qualification. Recently, these assessment models have been made available in North America through the American Society of the Advancement of Project Management . Time will tell if these assessments will catch on in North America.
At Bastian Material Handling, we take a mixed approach. We want our project managers to have real world experience gained through executing projects of varying degrees of complexity and cost, but value the PMP as a “diploma” or knowledge-based certification.
Bastian project manager’s have the ability to think outside the PMI box. We want our PM’s to have the knack to adapt to our customers’ business cultures, their user personalities, as well as a host of other customer specific variables. Our experienced PM’s strive to understand the performance metrics that matter to your organization, and then optimize them. Our PM’s are also excellent communicators, team coordinators, and judicious at conflict resolution.
In short, we don’t mandate that our project managers have a PMP certification, but we encourage it. Furthermore, we place a higher value on the experience gained through the implementation of both complex and simple material handling systems, as well as the relationships that are developed in the process of meeting our customers’ expectations.
How do you feel about PMP certification versus real-world experience? Feel free to leave your comments below.