A challenge to PM professional associations, professionals, and executives

The Title

Why a “challenge to professional associations” in the title?

Because we want:

  • to challenge these professional associations, and
  • challenge the professionals in project management, and
  • challenge executives with roles influencing project management practices in their organizations …

… not to follow the crowd but rather think of project management and project management certifications in a strategic way; due to the strategic value of project management.

The Trigger

We think that project management associations, in particularly one, have done a great job in promoting project management … in the past … but now is playing a role in hurting this domain through certain certifications. Due to the degrading value, some jokingly use terms like “Paper Certificates” … and “you have a ___ certificate holder that memorizes the standard but do not know how to manage a hot dog stand”. Recently, even a Dilbert Cartoon shows a restaurant waiter presenting himself as “their project manager” for serving dinner. Project Management is too valuable for organizations and nations to allow the ongoing practices to destroy it. Something is breaking and we need to interfere. Time for alternative action.

Our Opinion

We do believe that project management certifications is valuable but we also stress that some are more valuable than others, and some are and will continue to degrade in value even though they remain popular.

In some situations and certain certifications are becoming a commodity with an increasing numbers of professionals earning them yet these professionals do not have what it takes to manage projects, assuming they really understand project management key principles.

The unfortunate thing about the situation is that some NOT-FOR-PROFIT associations and their associated chapters and providers are treating certification as a business – as a commodity – focusing on increasing numbers and generating revenues instead of these certifications and their holders becoming agent of change in enhancing organizational performance through projects.

Yes some say “PM is a core capability” but on the other hand we treat certification like we are selling vegetables with ads like “$9 per PDU” and “0 to PMP in 5-days” and “master project management in a 3-day course”, etc.

What are the possible answers for this situation?

Change from within the organizations

Basically, work as a volunteer and volunteers’ leaders in these associations to drive change from within. Been there – done that – invested 10 years trying but all we saw is we are moving in a downward spiral direction instead of upward. Of course this is in our humble but professional opinion.

The author is one of the people who tried to encourage change from within the association and we know many others who tried and many of us have reached the conclusion that things are getting worse and more commercialized than before. This is at least in one association. So change from within is extremely difficult and the benefits do not outweigh the time investment.


One alternate is to work within the system, accept what we have, and do our best to raise the awareness among our friends, associates, and clients about what each certification represent and the true value to the organization from their staff obtaining these certifications. However, PM Certifications is still largely driven by individuals who want the certificates in order for them to get through the Recruiters filters and maybe get a better job; or negotiate for better position.

At SUKAD, we always talk to the client about the value of an applied learning project management class versus a certification and it is up to the client to decide. We just completed a class where the client initially asked for PMP certification class but then preferred our alternative course that combines the SUKAD Model (CAM2P) blended with the processes of the PMBOK Guide.

Mounir-Ajam-SUKAD-Co-FounderOffer an Alternative

If we offer an alternative that follows the same model that exist today, then we just added yet another certification with questionable value. If money is a factor, success is linked to money instead of value and we have done nothing. So the challenge is: how to offer an alternative certification or certification model where money (revenues) is not at the core?

We have published a white paper and a presentation on a certification model where we advocate government and decent size private organizations to take the charge and develop their own certification model based on something like what we propose in the white paper.

Another thing – that I did is to launch a LinkedIn Group (it has been dormant since I launched it) under the name Protecting Project Management. I invite professional who care about project management – truly care … to join and share their stories.

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About Mounir Ajam

A Project Management thought leader, who believes that project management touches all people, in all aspects of life; personal and professional.Initiated and led the formation of SUKAD Corp to develop the Uruk PPM Platform.An advocate of real-world, practical and applied project management.Champion of adaptive project management, tailored methods, and organizational project management.Available anywhere in the world to advise executives and organizations on the strategic value of project management. Ready to help organizations build and sustain the Project Management Function and the capacity to lead projects successfully.