How I Advance Project Management Career through Certifications
Nearly 2 years ago, I embarked on the project management certification journey by preparing for the PMI Project Management Professional (PMP) Exam. As I benefited much from the knowledge and experience gained through the PMP journey, I looked to other certifications in the field of project management. PMI Agile Certified Professional (PMI-ACP®) was my next goal. ITIL® 4 Foundation Certification followed. (I am now preparing for the PRINCE2® Certification — more on this later).
Actually, I was originally at a loss of what to do next to advance my knowledge and qualifications in project management, luckily I came across Simplilearn Project Management Expert Masters Program (more on the program later) recently that gives a structure to my professional development.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not mean certifications are all-important for the career of project management — I firmly believe that real-world, hands-on, practical experience is the single most important factor to become a good project manager… certifications will get you nowhere if you do not have the practical knowledge to apply the theories and frameworks learnt from studying for the various project management certifications.
Yet as an “experienced certification earner”, I can attest that certifications can help a lot in the advancement of your project management career.
Of course, one can still learn all the project management knowledge with certifications. I admit I am a bit lazy… but with the Certification exam dates set, I am highly motivated to learn the inside out of all the project management methodology and framework. The use of Certifications as a motivator works wonder for me!
Edward’s Project Management Certification Journey
Below is a brief description of my certification journey and tentative planning on future endeavours, which I hope would shed some lights on fellow project management profession aspirants. The project management profession is becoming more and more important nowadays and I do hope my two cents here will help others in some way.
1. PMP Certification
The PMP Certification is the go-to project management certification for project management practitioners coming from Asia and the United States. It is definitely a tough certification and this is why PMP is one of the most sought-after certifications in the industry. (Perhaps you have heard about CAPM® which is an entry level version of the PMP Certification. I would advise against getting CAPM® if you are qualified to sit for the PMP Exam.)
2. PMI-ACP® Certification
Agile is the most heated project management methodology nowadays. Agile embraces rapid and quick development cycles with multi-iterative approach.
With Agile, projects can respond promptly to changes in the environment and requirements which are vital to projects in this fast changing world. Though Agile applies mostly in IT software projects, other professions have tried incorporating Agile principles into project management with success, in particular in product development. The PMI-ACP® Agile Certification is a natural choice if you also have PMP.
3. ITIL® Certification
As I am in the IT industry and ITIL® is one of the most popular IT Service framework in the world. It is natural for me to at least understand what it is and how I can incorporate some of the processes and concepts in my projects. What I found is that the ITIL® is complementary to PMP knowledge and I got a lot of insights in improving my IT project management skills. (I took only the ITIL® Foundation Certification as my organization does not practice ITIL® — I have no way to earn the required experience in order to progress through the ITIL® certification scheme.)
4. PRINCE2® Certification ← I am here
Since the PRINCE2® project management framework is most popular in Europe and Australia, it is imperative to at least gain an overview knowledge of the project management methodology in order to gain all-rounded knowledge on project management.
That’s why I am studying and preparing for the PRINCE2® Foundation Certification Exam — yes, with the PMP credential, I could go directly to PRINCE2® Practitioner Exam; however as there are some fundamental differences between project management concepts in PMP and PRINCE2®, I invest a little extra time in PRINCE2® Foundation Certification in order to gain a firm base to progress.
What’s Next: Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification
Quality management is one of the most important aspects for the success of projects and both the PRINCE2® and PMP place a lot of emphases on it. Lean Six Sigma is one of the top methodology nowadays combining lean manufacturing/enterprise and Six Sigma practices to help improving project performance by systematically removing waste through team collaboration. Knowledge in quality management practices will help the project manager to constantly deliver success.
The Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification will be my next goal after PRINCE2® Certification.
Maybe Next? Program Management Certifications — Program Management Professional (PMI-PgMP) / Managing Successful Programs (MSP)
Maybe I will aspire to these certifications later on, but it does not hurt to learn the knowledge required of these certifications. As a project manager progress in project management career, they will probably be required to overlook and manage multiple projects at the same time which would compete for resources and attention or even “life or death” of the project. This is where knowledge in Program Management is required.
A program is a group of related projects. A program manager or a project manager tasked with the responsibility to overlook several projects as a program will need the knowledge and skills to manage and prioritize multiple projects in order to achieve and advance strategic goals of your organization.
Program Management Professional (PMI-PgMP) / Managing Successful Programs (MSP) are the very certifications that aim at recognizing and advancing the knowledge of program managers (PMI-PgMP is for PMP holders while MSP is for PRINCE2® practitioner holders — and it is beneficial to get both too).
Additional Skills – Project Management Tool
Computer-based project management tools are indispensable to project managers nowadays. And one of the most frequently used project management tool is Microsoft Project 2013.
With Microsoft Project 2013, project managers can create Gantt charts, plan budgets, track progress, etc. which many automation features to save them a lot of time and efforts in tracking project status and generating progress reports. Though one can learn to use Microsoft Project on their own, taking a training course will allow project managers to discover the many gems inside.