PMP or Not – Two key observations

I keep hearing people say you have to have a PMP or it's required for the job.  I've been an "ad hoc" project manager for a few years, ok, more than I'm going to admit to, let's just say more than 25 years.

I've been credited with saving "lost" projects, turning around massively behind schedule and over budget projects and actually launching and completing "mission impossible" projects.  Most of them required some severe bleeding on my part, but working closely with people, being honest with the sponsors and stakeholders and forcing communications among all involved righted the ships and improved the sailing.  And I was able to do those things because I have been a programmer, developer, systems analyst, business analyst, system administrator, network administration/architect, application architect, solution architect, team lead, integration lead/officer, disaster recovery manager & consultant, vCIO and held various other jobs.  I basically knew when a person wasn't understanding the requirements or able to deliver the "goods".  I was willing to force issues out on the table and have them resolved no matter how difficult the discussion.  More importantly, I was willing to tell the stake holders, customer and sponsors the project was not on schedule or within budget.  And often I told them changing the scope was the problem.

I've never been a big believer of certifications.  They are too heavily based on academic learning and not near enough on experiential knowledge.  Although, there is one certification I keep thinking I should pursue, the PMP.  I definitely agree with the benefits of standard terminology, processes and procedures to help a team function and perform better.  I have to assume the PMI is trying to remove some of the issues of projects such as the politics and lack of communications by creating a process that works in many cases.

However, I was in a meeting the other day with many project managers who were asking me questions and I was asking them questions.  After leaving the meeting it dawned on me the struggles they were having were not because of the management of the project itself, but the lack of management or handling of the politics driving the business through the projects.  The stakeholders were not willingly on board, they were being forced down the path by sponsors and external forces.  That has to be brought out and resolved are the project will struggle at best, but more likely fail.

I also realized, most of the project managers did not have experiential knowledge of the actual work they were managing.  That is, the project manager over the network enhancements and new build-out had never been a network architect, network engineer or network administrator.  He simply had no clue if the network staff was actually doing the right things in the right order with the right equipment.  How could he possibly know if the project was truly on track.

Of course, the reality is, the PMP is a great "tool" to have on your tool belt, but the best tool does not make a master carpenter.  I might add, it appears the PMP has become much more real world over the years making it an even better tool and learning experience for project managers.

For more information on the PMP visit the PMI web site at


Robert Felps
About the Author

Innovative problem solver. Robert Felps takes a holistic view of the situation, understanding the business objectives, then architects a solution that exceeds the expectations for much less than standard industry solutions would cost.

%d bloggers like this: