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Thoughts on a PMP

August 14th, 2009

In 2003, I studied for, took my exam for, and received my Project Management Professional designation (PMP). Since then, I’ve come across several people with their PMP, some even in Project Management positions!

I’ve been asked several times whether getting a PMP is worth the time, effort, and yes, money. I’m of two minds on this.


  1. There is no doubt that having those three letters after my name on my resume have pushed me into the interview pile. Many job postings require a PMP. If I had to guess, the main reason would be to have another point of exclusion amongst the pile of candidates.
  2. Some of the theoretical knowledge gained from studying for the PMP has been useful. I can talk the lingo, understand a project plan (and often, see the faulty assumptions faster), understand the risks and can work with the PMs with the same language.
  3. It’s provides some credibility with Senior Executives when explaining why you can’t have nine women create a baby in a month.


  1. Unfortuantely, the PMP is geared towards big IT or Engineering solutions (at least is was in 2003). It doesn’t scale down well. In the world of digital, spending weeks on the Project Charter and more weeks on the Requirements means that someone else is going to eat your lunch.
  2. Much of it is not applicable to the iterative processes like Agile / Scrum, that are more prevalent in digital agencies. A die-hard PMP project manager would have a heart-attack when asked to start building before the second requirement comes in the door.
  3. In my experience hiring and working with Project Managers, the true test of whether someone will cut it as a PM on digital projects is “Notches on the Belt.” How many projects has the PM actually taken from a gleam in the eye to live? That is the true test for any PM in an interview. I’d rather hire a PM that’s launched sites, but does not have a PMP, than any professional Project Manager with a PMP that has taken very few projects to the end (no matter how big).

So… bottom line at the bottom (ignoring my earlier advice). Is a PMP useful? It can be in certain scenarios. If you are looking for a new job, and you can get the cost of a PMP covered, and you have already taken projects end-to-end to back your PMP, I think it’s worth it.

Otherwise, the theoretical knowledge received from the PMP will come back to bite you when the reality of a digital project gets in the way of your beautiful WBS.

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