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Demystifying PM Certifications in Three Easy Steps

December 3, 2009
by Pete Rivera
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When it comes to hiring a Project Manager you get presented with resumes full of acronyms and letters. Most candidates list previous Project Management experience and hold certificates in Project Management. They may even have a Black belt in Six Sigma. This certainly means they are “certified in Project Management;” Right? Nope, not even close.

First Step: Look for a certificate from the Project Management Institute (PMI) indicating they are a Project Management Professional (PMP).

  • In order to obtain this certification they must have a Bachelor degree or global equivalent of 4,500 hours of project management experience over 36 months during the last 8 years and 35 hours project management education. –OR- High School Diploma, Associate's degree or equivalent, 7,500 hours of project management experience over 60 months during the last 8 years and 35 hours project management education.
  • They must pass a comprehensive 200 question exam and demonstrate knowledge of all the PM formulas, methodology and tools.

Second Step: Are they current with their certification? Verify membership through www.PMI.org.

  • The certification is good for three years. During this time each PMP must earn Professional Development Units (PDU’s) by completing additional training, conference presentations, publishing articles and actual project management experience.

Third Step: Vendor Agnostic. One thing I focus on is the portfolio of projects the candidate has worked on. Look for size and scope of the projects and clients they have managed. Was it a niche product or did they work for a vendor?

  • Most Healthcare software vendors throw out the PMP rule book (called the PM Body of Knowledge: PMBOK) in favor of their own methodology. This methodology is intended to expedite the install while cutting corners on tools that the client may need, such as Communication Plans, and Client Work Breakdown Structures.

Project Management principles apply to all industries. A good PM can manage a project regardless of vendor or software function (clinical or financial). Remember, you are looking for a manager not an analyst. You want someone focusing on your needs and not the vendor’s.

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