Many Project Management Professionals (PMPs) seem to find it challenging to earn
the 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) required of them every 3 years. This
does not have to be so challenging or daunting as many think! It is actually quite easy,
and it can (and should!) fit into the regular routine as well as professional and
personal goals that most professionals have. Here are some ideas on how PMPs can
easily gain the required 60 PDUs in the natural course of business.
Having Personal & Professional Goals Is the Key
First, think about the goals of a Project Manager or Program Manager who needs to
earn the PDUs. He or she has many responsibilities that require varied skills, much
akin to the skills of a General Manager. In fact, many PMs aspire to become General
Managers some day. So, really, the first step toward incorporating PDUs into the
normal course of business is to determine personal and professional goals!
Setting Up an Implementation Plan
With those goals in mind, the next question is "How will I achieve those goals over,
say, a 3 year horizon?" Presumably those goals entail building skills, working on
certain types of projects, gaining experience with certain types of problems and
situations, building a professional network, and honing all-important soft skills. Given
that a Project Manager must be a strong communicator and a leader, a big-picture
strategic thinker, and inspirational team builder, a great approach is to design a
personal program for achieving this while earning PDUs at the same time.
It's About Planning
First, it is good to not leave this type of personal goal-setting and personal strategic
thinking to the last minute. This is actually Project Management 101! Professional
goals are usually medium to long term in nature, so some planning is in order. The
PMI recently changed the rules on dates for earning PDUs, all in favor of each and
every individual PMP. In the past, there has been a "race" near the end of each year to
earn required PDUs for re-certification. However, at least that has become balanced as
the PMI has changed that, and each PMP must re-certify by earning those 60 PDUs by
their anniversary date, allowing more time, at least for this current 3 year cycle.
And It's About Execution
So, what are the PMI's requirements, and how can PMPs leverage those best toward
achieving their personal and professional goals? First, the authoritative source for
PMP re-certification is the PMI's Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR)
Handbook in the PMI Career Development area. It outlines the five categories within
which PMPs can earn PDUs, which are reviewed below in the spirit of making it easy
and as a matter of the normal course of business.
Category 1: Formal Academic Education. This refers to education and training at
accredited universities. Classes on project and/or program management qualify, as
they need to map to the project management processes and knowledge areas in the
PMBOK. PMPs need to speak with the university and PMI to clarify the number for
PDUs that each course will earn.
Category 2: Professional Activities and Self-Directed Learning. This category fits
nicely into the time and goal scheme for many PMPs, but there are some limitations
on how many PDUs can be claimed in some cases. Here are some examples:
a. Author a book - up to 40 PDUs
b. Day to day project management work (i.e. any PMP's job, if it includes 1,500 hours
per year as a project manager) - 5 PDUs per year.
c. Teach a project management course - up to 10 PDUs
d. Speak at a local PMI chapter dinner meeting - 5 PDUs.
e. Self Directed Learning (i.e. read a project management book, listen to a project
management oriented podcast) - up to 15 PDUs per 3 year cycle, and requires 'proof'
Category 3: PMI Registered Education Providers (REPs). This includes relatively
expensive on classroom courses, or less expensive online project management
training courses (1 PDU per course hour as per PMI rules). Other options, with
networking as a side benefit, include PMI monthly chapter dinner meetings (1-2
PDUs) or special seminars and PMI Specific Interest Groups (SIGs) meetings.
Category 4: Other Providers. Project management related training by non PMI REPs
also qualifies, a fact that is commonly misunderstood among PMPs. This can include
training seminars, in-house project management training, and non-REP online courses
where the content maps to the PM Knowledge areas and Processes. Just like REP
training, non-REP training qualifies for 1 PDU per course hour as per PMI rules. The
PMI requires course descriptions and receipts or transcripts in case of audit.
Category 5: Volunteer Service. Service can be for a PMI Chapter or another volunteer
organization where project management is clearly exercised. Elected officials earn 10
PDUs, and regular volunteer 5 PDUs per year. PDUs earned can easily total less than
the hours spent, but other benefits include networking with peers, PM community
involvement, and the personal growth that comes with volunteering.
A Call for Action for PMPs
The purpose of PDUs is to keep PMPs engaged and growing professionally. The
simple call for action is for Project Management Professionals to assess their PDU
needs and map them to their personal and career goals. Then it is a matter of finding
the preferred methods, as outlined above and authoritatively listed in the PMI's "PMP
Credential Handbook" at http://www.pmi.org/PDF/pdc_pmphandbook.pdf, and get
into action on a regular basis toward achieving goals - and earning PDUs.