The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers a certificate for people wanting to become a Project Management Professional (PMP). The institute, a not-for-profit professional organization, has been providing this opportunity since its creating in 1969. As with any well-credentialed professional organization, studies must be periodically completed to ensure the quality and usefulness of the services provided. Recommended for completion every 3 to 5 years, the PMI recently examined the field of project management in a Role Delineation Study (RDS). Based on this study, the PMI decided to alter the PMP exam, beginning in July 2013.
The RDS Study
According to national recommendations for professional organizations, the PMI used this research study to carefully examine project management professionals’ specific tasks and the skills necessary to perform those tasks. Based upon this RDS study, the organization may decide to update or adjust the qualification exams and required skills to more fully reflect the current nature of the profession. If the PMI did not complete these studies and did not periodically make changes to the certification requirements, the program would continue to reflect the same standards that were in place 20 years ago. With the constantly changing technologies and materials used on job sites, refusing to adjust accordingly is just not an option in this profession.
A recent RDS indicated that it was time for the Project Management Institute to update its requirements and exams to better prepare new professionals for current practices as the nature of the job continues to evolve over time. The first stage of these adjustments is in the form of the newest, 5th edition of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide). This new set of guidelines will be released in January 2013, followed by the changes in the PMP exam that go into effect July 31, 2013.
Changes in the Guide and Exam
The new 2013 PMP exam will be based on The PMBOK Guide 5th Edition. This new guide reflects the continuing changes in collaboration practices and working environments that project managers must face on a daily basis. Because of the evolving field, the 5th edition has added a new knowledge area, Project Stakeholder Management. This 10th knowledge area is dedicated to emphasizing the importance of project managers working closely with project stakeholders in the key decisions of any project. With the addition of this knowledge area, the number of processes included on the exam has increased from 42 to 47 processes.
By adding this new knowledge area, the guide has also altered the processes associated with it. These processes will be included on the new PMP exam. Here are the new processes with a short description, including the location of the process in the PMBOK 4th Edition:
1. Identify Stakeholders – Dedicated to recognizing the people and groups with interest and influence on projects, this process was previously part of the communications knowledge area. The new guide and exam hope to emphasize the importance of project managers working in collaboration with the people and organizations that will be utilizing the project.
2. Plan Stakeholder Management – After identifying the involved stakeholders, project managers must also be able to monitor and control the stakeholders’ participation in any project. Based on this necessity, this new process was created from several underlying processes spread throughout the previous communications area. This is simply the planning stage of working with stakeholders, in which preparations are designed but not yet implemented.
3. Manage Stakeholder Engagement — After the planning process, a project manager must address the actual running of the stakeholders’ participation. This process includes communications with the stakeholders, addressing their issues, and evaluating their needs and expectations. In the previous edition of the PMBOK Guide, this process was known as Manage Stakeholder Expectations, but this new title is intended to better reflect the collaboration efforts of this process.
4. Control Stakeholder Engagement – Created from some of the tasks previously found in the Report Performance process, this new area addresses the actions of project managers and the results of their actions. Project managers are encouraged through this process to continually evaluate and improve their plans if the results are not as expected.
In addition to these processes, the new PMBOK strives to redefine its project data information and information flow sections, hoping to increase the consistency and alignment with the Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom section of the information and exam. Finally, this guide adds four new planning processes in an effort to show how each smaller plan should be seamlessly integrated into an overall project plan. These four new areas are Plan Scope Management, Plan Schedule Management, Plan Cost Management, and Plan Stakeholder Management.
Although the main tasks and processes have not changed a great deal, the new organization of the PMBOK Guide and exam are intended to place greater emphasis on the way that project managers spend their time communicating and collaborating with stakeholders. In fact, the PMBOK indicates that project managers should spend nearly 90 percent of their time communicating with everyone involved in a project. The new organization of the guide and exam indicates that PMI would like that 90 percent of time to be divided into its main seven processes.
Despite the changes to the PMBOK Guide and the PMP exam, many of the criteria and plans for certification remain unchanged. The education and experience requirements remain the same. A PMP candidate must have complete a four-year degree and have at least three years of project management experience, or the candidate must have a secondary diploma and at least five years of project management experience.
The number of questions on this multiple-choice exam remains the same at 200 questions, including 25 pretest questions used to test the questions’ validity and that do not affect a candidate’s score. The examination process lasts four hours, preceded by a tutorial and followed by a survey. A successful candidate typically prepares for 35 hours or more by reviewing the PMP credential handout, the PMP Examination Content Outline, and PMP sample questions.The completion of a PMP training course will substantially aid in the success of any individual taking the certification exam.