Is the PMP = Project Management?

Today – I am a bit frustrated with the unethical behaviors from some organizations, especially not for profit organizations that promote certifications as the holy grail of project management and “without a PMP there is no project management“.

Project management certifications, including the PMP, are valuable and do add value! However, they are not enough for the success of the project managers or for managing projects successfully. 

Today, I was talking with two of my project management students, who are smart and experienced engineers. They do not have enough project management experience and their English Skills are quite weak. They cannot read and understand the questions properly. Yet they are being pushed to achieve their PMP. They are planning to spend a year of studying in their attempt to pass the PMP.

What a waste – yes WASTE! This is thousands of dollars and huge number of preparation time and which may not lead to success – due to language barrier!


Cannot they say No?

Of course they can say no but when the PMP is being promoted heavily as the holy grail and their management is being told that they have to have PMP. Then it is not much of a choice.

In my perspective, there is a dual responsibility – the individuals and management. However, there is another side – the training providers and not-for-profit organizations.

What is it with some organizations pushing the PMP certification at any cost? When not-for-profit organizations push certificates to people who might not be able to achieve it; for a variety of reasons, it is on the border of being unethical and deceptive.

We are seeing a lot of promotions and money spent on certifications – specifically the PMP using terms like “there is no Project Management without the PMP” this is not only unethical – it is a LIE!

The PMP is a good certificate – personally I have been a PMP for close to 2 decades and it did help me in my career. However, the PMP is NOT – repeat – NOT project management. It is not the best PM certification either. So it is good to have but to oversell it is another thing!

I close with asking individuals and organizations – what do you want? Do you want to become a better project manager and achieve higher performance – do not put some much investment into one basket!

PMI Certifications


Follow up to original article

In the past we had written about the PMP and PM Training. We had discussed the unethical behaviors of some providers – or to be nice the false and misleading practices of these providers.

Well just yesterday we received one of those emails promoting the PMP and we will include part of that announcement here.

The Subject of the Email

The subject of the email announcement was:

“Investment of 4 weekends and you can become PMP Certified”

No comment

First Paragraph

“When you earn Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification through the Project Management Institute (PMI®), you’ll position yourself for the best and most lucrative job opportunities. No matter what industry you choose to work in, PMP® certification will be a huge asset as you move forward in your career. Not only does the credential itself carry prestige, but the skills and knowledge that you develop as you work towards attaining it will help you consistently deliver superior performance.

The highlighted section is our emphasis. I would love to see ONE study that shows those who obtain the PMP are actually delivering “good performance” before we talk about “superior”

Second Paragraph

“PMP® certification is a must for Project Managers. However, PMP certification can also benefit other professionals at all levels of an organization, including process engineers and team leaders, Six Sigma and other quality-control specialists, business analysts, product consultants, IS/IT professionals and C-level executives.” 

Wow! even “C-level executives” … The corporate world must be stupid not requiring the PMP as a pre-requisite before moving someone into the top positions of the company. How did Jack Welch missed this when he was at GE?

More from the Email

“A PMP® – certified project management team can deliver the results that client’s seek” – they can? This is news to me since I keep seeing studies after studies, including those published in collaboration with PMI the high failure rates of projects. OOPS – these must be the projects managed by non-PMP.

“Companies can demonstrate that they recognize and appreciate the dedication and contributions of their employees – which helps them to attract and retain the best in the field.” 

I will close with NO MORE COMMENTS!



4 thoughts on “Is the PMP = Project Management?

  1. Darya Duma

    Hello, Mounir! I will add 2 cents of a scary trend I am seeing in some organizations, particularly government. People with IT backgrounds are obtaining their PMP and running the PMO’s. Then there is a mandate that all projects have to be managed by the process developed by the PMO. So capital infrastructure projects and engineering projects now have to be managed through a process developed by IT people with PMP’s. And the rate of failure of IT projects is… Construction/engineering projects have their issues of course, but if our projects overran our budgets and timelines like IT projects, we’d be fired.

    1. Mounir Ajam Post author

      Hello Darya

      Totally agree – in one case a colleague from software development who never understand engineering and construction projects was assigned in charge of building the processes for construction company.


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  3. Brian

    The problem with the PMP qualifications are several, uppermost of which it does not include law. This leads to a discussion about competencies to manage very large projects. These mega projects frequently suffer cost overruns. Does the PMP Certificate confer competency to manage a very large project? No of course not! Which is why I advocate the “Three C’s” of additional competencies to distinguish those with competency to manage larger projects:
    1. Contract Law, so the PM knows who is contracted to do what and when.
    2. Compliance. It is best not to fall foul of statutory obligations including financial reporting.
    3. Critical Thinking because all projects are prototypes and we must explore and promote innovations.

    Kind Regards



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