PMI PMP Certification Project Management

What are PDUs?

A whiteboard in a classroomPDUs are Professional Development Units, necessary for maintaining Project Management Institute (PMI)-certified credentials. They are a part of PMI’s Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) program. One PDU is worth one hour of project management training, though there are some exceptions to this rule. PMPs and other PMI credential holders can claim PDUs by visiting PMI’s web site. After logging into the site, in the left hand sidebar there will be an option to claim PDUs for valid credential holders.

In order to maintain your PMI credential you will need to amass a certain number of PDUs within a three year period. The three year period used to start the beginning of the calendar year after the year that you earned your certification (so if you passed your certification in March of 2008, your three year period would start in January of 2009, meaning you’d get an extra nine months to earn PDUs tacked on for free), but this is no longer the case. PMI now states: “Your certification/CCR cycle begins the day you pass the exam and/or multi-rater assessment (for PgMP credential holders) and ends on the same date three years later.”

The number of PDUs credential holders need to earn depends on the certification:

  • PMP (Project Management Professional): 60 PDUs needed
  • PgMP (Program Management Professional): 60 PDUs needed
  • PMI-SP (Scheduling Professional): 30 PDUs needed in the specialized area of project scheduling
  • PMI-RMP (Risk Management Professional): 30 PDUs needed in the specialized area of project risk management
  • CAPM (Certified Associate Project Manager): No PDUs necessary, but the CAPM must be renewed by the retaking of the CAPM examination at the end of a five-year cycle.

If you earn more than the required amount of PDUs within your three-year cycle, you can transfer up to 20 PDUs from the last year of your current cycle into the next cycle. If you do not earn the required amount of PDUs within the three year cycle, your credential will expire. According to the PMP Handbook, if this happens your PMI credential will be suspended, during which time you are not permitted to refer to yourself as a holder of the credential in question until the overdue requirements are earned, for up to one year after your three-year expiration date. If you fail to make up those PDUs during this one year suspension you will have to apply to retake your examination, and we all know how expensive and time-consuming that process can be.

PMPs may maintain their credentials when they retire without having to earn PDUs by applying for “retired status”. In order to do so they must be PMP credential holders in good standing for over ten years, and no longer be practicing professional project management.

PMI offers PDUs through its Registered Education Provider (REP) program, which project management trainers can apply to become members of. It has some benefits, but it is very expensive, and not necessary to become a trainer of courses that project managers can take in order to earn PDUs. Similarly, it is not necessary to take courses solely from Registered Education Providers in order to earn PDUs.

A lot of people don’t want to become PMPs because of the cost of PDUs. In fact, there are plenty of ways to get free or inexpensive PDUs, one of which is by volunteering your time and skills as a project manager. I’ll cover other methods in future posts.

This has been a pretty basic overview of PDUs. If you want an even more basic overview of PDUs, you can watch this video from PMI, which I believe may have actually been delivered by a robot.

PMI Project Management

What is PMI?

The Project Management Institute (PMI)PMI is the Project Management Institute, a not-for-profit professional association dedicated to “advancing the practice, science and profession of project management throughout the world”. They do this in a conscious, proactive manner to increase the chances of adoption and utilization of PMI project management processes in organizations throughout the world.

The Project Management Institute was founded in 1969 by working project managers; today, there exist over half a million PMI members. PMI is also a certificate-granting organization, the most famous of which is the PMP (Project Management Professional) credential. The full list of credentials offered by PMI include:

  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Program Management Professional (PgMP)
  • PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)
  • PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)

In addition to issuing credentials, PMI also publishes a variety of standards. The most widely recognized of these is the PMBOK (Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge), a comprehensive book of project management norms, methods, processes and practices. It is this guide that PMP certification candidates must study in order to pass the PMP examination. The full list of standards include:

  • A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)
  • Construction Extension to the PMBOK Guide
  • Government Extension to the PMBOK Guide
  • Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3)
  • Practice Standard for Earned Value Management
  • Practice Standard for Project Configuration Management
  • Practice Standard for Scheduling
  • Practice Standard for Work Breakdown Structures
  • Project Manager Competency Development Framework
  • The Standard for Portfolio Management
  • The Standard for Program Management

PMI features a research department that has sponsored projects since 1997. To date over US $15 million has been invested in the project management profession.

PMI is a dynamic organization. Throughout the world, a great number of PMI chapters host PMI chapter meetings where project management practices are discussed and presented by a variety of project management experts. While PMI-based material is of course frequently presented at these meetings, topics may also include non-PMI-based project management materials.

PMI PMP Certification Project Management

What is the PMBOK?

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)The PMBOK (or PMBOK Guide) is the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, one of the key sources of PMI (Project Management Institute) standards and guidelines. This comprehensive project management document describes the norms, methods, processes and practices involved in professional project management. As described in the PMBOK Guide itself, these standards and guidelines are developed through a consensus standards development process through consultation with volunteers and project management experts. PMI is the administrator of the process but does not write the PMBOK nor does it test or evaluate its accuracy; the information contained in the PMBOK is a culmination of the information put together by these experts and volunteers.

The PMBOK was first put together over 25 years ago, in 1983, and there are currently over 2 million copies of the PMBOK in circulation. As of this post, the latest version of the PMBOK is the 4th edition, published in late 2008. The fourth edition of the PMBOK replaced the 3rd edition as the version tested on the PMP (Project Management Professional) exam in July of 2009; that is to say that in June of 2009, PMP certification candidates were tested on the 3rd edition of the PMBOK, and in July of 2009, the 4th. As of January, 2013, PMI has released the fifth edition of the PMBOK.

The contents of the PMBOK include an introduction to project management (including a definition of what constitutes a project), a vision of the project life cycle, and a detailed overview of the project management processes that take place during PMI-based project management. The five Project Management Process Groups are covered:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Monitoring & Controlling
  5. Closing

As well as the nine Knowledge Areas, where the skills and techniques of project management are applied:

  1. Project Integration Management
  2. Project Scope Management
  3. Project Time Management
  4. Project Cost Management
  5. Project Quality Management
  6. Project Human Resource Management
  7. Project Communications Management
  8. Project Risk Management
  9. Project Procurement Management

Although I’ve listed these Knowledge Areas from 1 to 9, in the PMBOK they are listed from 4 to 12; this is because these numbers correspond to the chapters within the PMBOK where you can learn about these knowledge areas.

The PMBOK is a thorough document; the 4th edition copy I hold in my hand (I don’t have a 5th edition version handy), including the Index, comprises a hefty 467 pages. Nevertheless, in order to pass the PMP exam you will need to understand this document. It can be a little dry (each input, tool or technique and output is described in rigorous detail for each project management process), but only by understanding each process intimately can the PMP exam be passed. I should also note that some things that you need to know in order to pass the PMP exam are not featured in the PMBOK; for example, PMI’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. The examination itself includes questions about the proper ethical behavior of project management professionals that you will need resources above and beyond the PMBOK to understand, and though you may think that questions on such a topic would take simple common sense to figure out, for the PMP exam this is not the case.

When studying for the PMP exam I would personally read the PMBOK second in your reading list; it focuses on minute details of project management that might make it difficult to obtain a proper high-level understanding of project management if it is the first document you’re reading about the discipline. I personally read Andy Crowe’s book “The PMP Exam: How to Pass on your First Try” first; then the PMBOK; and finally, Rita Mulcahy’s “PMP Exam Prep”. This progression worked well for me.

If you’re interested in learning more about preparing for the PMP exam and about how I myself studied for it, I have documented the method that I personally used to pass the PMP exam in this post.

PMI Project Management

Attending PMI meetings

PMI meetingAttending PMI meetings is not mandatory for PMI members and PMP certificate holders, but I’ve found it to be a useful way to spend a lunch hour. PMI meetings normally take an hour and a half (ours have run from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM on weekdays) and feature a speaker who presents some topic relevant to project management. And, contrary to what you might believe, the topics are not always particularly relevant to Project Management Institute (PMI) processes and practices, but normally feature real-world stories and scenarios, and I’ve found generally pretty interesting.

I’ve attended PMI meetings in both San Antonio, Texas and Charleston, South Carolina, and notice that in each city the meetings have followed a certain progression, which is this:

  1. PMI members arrive at the meeting room, mingle, grab some lunch (normally catered), and take a seat
  2. The president of the chapter speaks, discusses PMI chapter business, and asks for two groups of people to stand up; first, those who are attending their first PMI chapter meeting, and second, those people who have recently passed their PMP exam
  3. The president introduces the speaker, who gets up and speaks on his or her topic for an hour, normally accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation
  4. The speaker conducts a Q&A session on his or her topic while members gradually start trickling out to head back to work.

Your chapter may have a different way of conducting their PMI chapter meetings, but this method seems to work quite well! One thing I have noticed, is that the Charleston chapter meetings don’t have as much mingling as do the San Antonio chapter meetings – that’s something I’d like to see change, as I really appreciate the time spent meeting other project managers in the area and making contacts.

The presentations I’ve been to have covered a variety of topics – in one, a registered nurse explained how she incorporated project management into her operation of a hospital department, and in another a good friend of mine talked about his projects involving fluid dynamics graphics work at Digital Domain, which eventually led to his winning a Scientific & Technical Academy Award. This month a fellow presented an introduction to Scrum, an Agile Development framework that we use where I work as a program manager.

Attending a PMI chapter meeting grants you one PDU (Professional Development Unit), which is good for those members who are PMP certified and need to amass 60 PDUs every 3 years. If you attend every chapter meeting your chapter puts on every month, that’s 24 PDUs toward that total. So while you’ll have to do some extra work to get those additional 36 PDUs, what you can earn from attending PMI chapter meetings certainly doesn’t hurt.