There are three project management organizations who define the profession of project management:
- Project Management Institute (PMI)
- International Project Management Association (IPMA)
Project Management Institute
Based in the United States, the Project Management Institute is seen by some as the main official source for project management standards, certification, and promotion of the profession. PMI issues the following project management certifications:
- Project Management Professional (PMP). The most popular certification in the world for project management, this designation requires a certain number of hours of project management experience as well as passing an exam.
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). This designation is similar to PMP except that it does not require practical experience. It is aimed at people who wish to move into project management or otherwise demonstrate project management knowledge.
- Certified Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP). This is a specialty designation which certifies your competence in project scheduling.
- Certified Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP). This is also a specialty designation which certifies your competence in project risk management.
PMI publishes the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), which is accepted in most parts of the world as the most authoritative project management methodology. There are a number of “practice standards” which, together with the PMBOK create a comprehensive project management methodology.
International Project Management Association
Based in Switzerland, the IPMA is the global standards body for a network of project management organizations throughout the world. Each country has an IPMA member organization through which the IPMA’s certification and training activities take place. The member organizations issue IPMA’s project management certifications in four levels:
- Level A (IPMA-A): Program manager, or a manager of multiple projects. This is effectively not a “project manager” certification in its strict sense.
- Level B (IPMA-B): Manager of larger, or complex, projects which require significant application of project management principles.
- Level C (IPMA-C): Manager of smaller projects for which stakeholder relationships are usually more important than strict adherence to project management fundamentals.
- Level D (IPMA-D): Project management associate, similar to CAPM.
Since individual member country organizations have the autonomy to tweak the requirements, and even the names of, these designations, every candidate must consult directly with the member organization in their country.
The IPMA publishes the Individual Competence Baseline (ICB), which is used to assess project managers on 46 “competence elements.” These elements are grouped into three categories:
- Technical competencies
- Behavioral competencies
- Contextual competencies
In short, project management is an art as well as a science. Whereas the PMBOK focuses almost purely on the science, the ICB retains a substantial focus on the art form. However, I believe it does this at the sacrifice of the science, since it does not contain much about project scheduling, earned value analysis, and so forth. Thus, the ICB is not a comprehensive authority on the science of project management, which it must be to be a complete methodology. Although it serves the purpose of judging competence, the PMBOK is the authority on project management methodology.
Partially owned by the UK government, Axelos is the standards development body for the PRINCE2 project management methodology. PRINCE2 is a system developed in the UK which is very similar in purpose (although not in content) to the PMBOK.
Axelos and PRINCE2 have a very basic structure. The methodology is maintained and updated by Axelos, and anyone wishing to demonstrate their project management expertise can obtain the official guide and write the exam. There are no experience requirements, no courses to take, and no CV’s to submit.
The three levels of certification are:
- PRINCE2 Foundation
- PRINCE2 Practitioner
- PRINCE2 Professional
Although I said earlier that PMP was the most popular project management designation, PRINCE2 probably has more certifications worldwide over its lifetime. The certification lasts for 3 years and it seems that nobody knows (except for Axelos) how many exams were written and passed since the program started in the 1970’s. PRINCE2 certification is much easier to obtain than PMP but comes with a corresponding decrease in authority.
- Project Management Tutorial
- Project Management 101
- Overview of Project Management Certifications
- PMP Certification
- Project Management, PMBOK-style