Leaning toward PM certs

Hello all, after being a technician for many years, I have been involved in more and more projects, and it turns out that as much as I love being a tech, I'm loving project management even more. Therefore, I want to start steering my career in the IT PM direction. Aside from the obvious PMP and ITIL (both WAY down the road for me), what others would you recommend? I found the MCITP - Project management cert, is that a good one for PMs? I'm trolling a great IT PM site as well for advice, but you guys are my first stop! Thanks!

Comments

  • LarryDaManLarryDaMan Member Posts: 797
    I can recommend the PMP. It requires experience and it wasn't an easy exam, but the principles you learn can be applied to IT, a hospital, or even a construction site. I'm not sure if I completely agree, but they say a good project manager can work on any project because the techniques are universal. Good luck, it is definetely a hot field right now.

    edit: www.pmhut.com is a decent site to check out.
  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    LarryDaMan wrote:
    I'm not sure if I completely agree, but they say a good project manager can work on any project because the techniques are universal.

    I'm with you on this one...I think that is PMI hype. People who do construction or engineering project work are often specifically trained in those areas, and might even have a college degrees specific to that work. I know a person who does engineering project management...she has a specific degree in this field from UT, but is not a PMP.
    LarryDaMan wrote:
    It requires experience and it wasn't an easy exam..

    I partially agree. You can't even register for the PMP exam without the required experience/education. However, the exam was among the easiest that I have ever done. This might be because I have many years of experience doing project management, or because I prepared adequately.

    IMO, the hardest thing about the PMP was that the exam so long (200 questions).

    My scale for cert difficulty is something like this:

    PMP - 4 of 10
    ITIL Foundation v2.0 - 4 of 10
    MCSA - 7 of 10 (primarily 70-291)
    ITIL Manager - 9 of 10
    ITIL Expert - 9 of 10
    ISO 20k Consultant - 11 of 10

    Back to the original topic.

    The general PMI/PMP stance is that project management is not about being able to use Microsoft Project. However, the reality is that perception is a bit different, and we all know how reality and perception mix!

    If you ever want to piss off a hardcore PMP, get them started on Microsoft project and Gantt Charts...sometimes you can see the smoke coming out of their ears.

    Regarding the MCITP: EPM, I think you will find that this is more of a technically focused certification about how to use Project/Project Server to accomplish specific tasks that can be part of project management. It's a fine line, but this isn't a cert about overall project management knowledge. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, just that if you go for it make sure that your expectations are in line with what you really get out of it.

    According to http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/certified.mspx , there are currently only 211 MCITP: EPM's in the world. From that standpoint alone it's probably worth pursuing. I can tell you this, I am frequently receiving requests for delivering training in support of this cert, so I would say it is hot right now.

    Personally, the MCITP: EPM is on my short list of certifications to complete....perhaps by late September this year.

    Another thing to consider is the CAPM certification from PMI. This is their entry level project management certification, with lower requirements than the PMP. I don't know the value of this one because I don't know anyone that has it or is planning to get it.

    http://www.pmi.org/CareerDevelopment/Pages/Our-Credentials.aspx#capm
    Aside from the obvious PMP and ITIL (both WAY down the road for me)

    ITIL certifications are not an obvious choice for someone interested in being a project manager.

    ITIL is a body of knowledge comprised of best practices for delivering IT services in concert with business goals. ITIL certifications at all levels state the extent of the holder's knowledge of and/or ability to apply that body of knowledge.

    Earning an ITIL certification does not equal ability or a credential as a project manager.

    However, something you might take a look at is PRINCE2 http://www.prince2.org.uk/home/home.asp . PRINCE2 is specifically a method for managing projects. PRINCE2, like ITIL, is also brought to us by the UK OGC. I found that being in the US, it was next to impossible to find a way to complete any of the PRINCE2 exams.

    Again, if ITIL is something that you're interested in, by all means pursue it. I will provide whatever assistance I can.

    MS
  • LarryDaManLarryDaMan Member Posts: 797
    You would be in the minority of people who think the PMP is "easy", although it wasn't super difficult, but maybe you're just that awesome.

    The toughest part IMO is learning the terminology and the "language" of PMI. The idea that any individual project will even come close to going through all 44 processes is unrealistic. I think it's okay promote an organization (PMI) and a certain way of doing things because that will help standardize industry practices (and benefit the cert), but there is a real project and a PMBOK project... and they are only distant cousins.
  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    LarryDaMan wrote:
    You would be in the minority of people who think the PMP is "easy", although it wasn't super difficult, but maybe you're just that awesome.

    Agreed. I was very surprised about all of postings across the Internet about how "difficult" this exam is. What was even more surprising to me is that given the amount of PM experience one has to prove to take this exam, that anyone ever fails it.

    It really has nothing to do with being "awesome", and I don't appreciate the back-handed compliment.

    In another post on this board related to the PMP I pretty clearly state that I am no expert at multiple-choice exams. In fact, I will take an essay or practical exam over multiple choice any day. Knowing this about myself, and that this holds true for any other multiple choice exam that I have taken allows me to come to the conclusion that IMO the PMP, in the grand scheme of industry certifications, is on the low-end of the difficulty scale.

    "Difficult" and "easy" are both relative terms. One's experience, education, and preparation contribute heavily to making this type of determination. There are many people who've stated that exams like 70-291 are "easy". In fact I know of at least one highly respected person on this board that recently completed the MCSA in 11 days. These people are in the minority, but their posts indicate exactly what I've said; success is related to experience, education, and preparation and not innate awesomeness.
    LarryDaMan wrote:
    The toughest part IMO is learning the terminology and the "language" of PMI. The idea that any individual project will even come close to going through all 44 processes is unrealistic. I think it's okay promote an organization (PMI) and a certain way of doing things because that will help standardize industry practices (and benefit the cert), but there is a real project and a PMBOK project... and they are only distant cousins.

    Agree completely. An industry standard approach is best. One problem that I have with things like PMBOK, ITIL, SOA, Six Sigma, etc.. is that often in organizations people tend to think that everything has to be done exactly like the book says. I was involved in one implementation once where people were doing things simply because they were in the book, and not because they added any value or achieved any result.

    What people miss is that you can pick and chose from any and all of these what works best, and avoid the things that offer no value.

    As you've stated there are real projects and PMBOK projects, and I agree completely, I'm just not sure that the people at PMI would since their reason for being centers around the high failure rate of projects that aren't managed according to the PMBOK.

    MS
  • LarryDaManLarryDaMan Member Posts: 797
    I agree, and great response. I meant for the "awesome" comment to be in jest, not as a backhanded compliment. Your post was right on the money, especially concerning the different perceptions regarding exam difficulty. There are just so many variables (experience, education, test taking aptitude, reading comprehension, guessing ability...etc) that it is difficult to generalize.
  • learningtofly22learningtofly22 Member Posts: 159
    eMeS wrote:
    [

    ITIL certifications are not an obvious choice for someone interested in being a project manager.

    ITIL is a body of knowledge comprised of best practices for delivering IT services in concert with business goals. ITIL certifications at all levels state the extent of the holder's knowledge of and/or ability to apply that body of knowledge.

    Earning an ITIL certification does not equal ability or a credential as a project manager.

    However, something you might take a look at is PRINCE2 http://www.prince2.org.uk/home/home.asp . PRINCE2 is specifically a method for managing projects. PRINCE2, like ITIL, is also brought to us by the UK OGC. I found that being in the US, it was next to impossible to find a way to complete any of the PRINCE2 exams.

    Again, if ITIL is something that you're interested in, by all means pursue it. I will provide whatever assistance I can.

    MS

    Thanks for the insight. I admittedly know next to nothing about ITIL, except for the fact that, like you said, it brings "IT services in concert with business goals". I would like to spend some time managing projects, and then get into consulting, swerving back and forth between the two throughout my career. Would that not be a good idea in that capacity? As I said, I do still have a lot to learn about ITIL and other certs and how they will benefit my career and personal gratification..
  • cnfuzzdcnfuzzd Member Posts: 208
    Does no one like Project+?

    Seems like it might be a decent start for this situation


    john
    __________________________________________

    Work In Progress: BSCI, Sharepoint
  • candycorncandycorn Member Posts: 42 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I picked up the PEMBOK guide off amazon, but it feels like I'm reading Chinese. The PMP must be one hell of an exam.
  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    LarryDaMan wrote:
    I agree, and great response. I meant for the "awesome" comment to be in jest, not as a backhanded compliment. Your post was right on the money, especially concerning the different perceptions regarding exam difficulty. There are just so many variables (experience, education, test taking aptitude, reading comprehension, guessing ability...etc) that it is difficult to generalize.

    No worries...I took it wrong. My apologies.

    MS
  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    candycorn wrote:
    I picked up the PEMBOK guide off amazon, but it feels like I'm reading Chinese. The PMP must be one hell of an exam.

    I read through it once and I thought I was going to die at the end of it.

    If you are serious about the exam, read Rita Mulcahey's PMP exam prep guide.

    MS
  • TalicTalic Member Posts: 423
    cnfuzzd wrote:
    Does no one like Project+?

    Seems like it might be a decent start for this situation


    john

    Yeah why nothing on Project+? I would think Comptia would always have a good entry level certs for just about everything.

    Even more so with people saying the others are hard.
  • candycorncandycorn Member Posts: 42 ■■□□□□□□□□
    MS,

    What kind of advice can you provide to a young adult wanting to get his green belt? It seems as if it would be harder to gain the experience you need for the test. Don't you have to put in so many hours to even take the test? I've heard keeping the certification is hard as well.

    I'm probably better off with the PMP first, no? icon_confused.gif
  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    I would like to spend some time managing projects, and then get into consulting, swerving back and forth between the two throughout my career. Would that not be a good idea in that capacity? As I said, I do still have a lot to learn about ITIL and other certs and how they will benefit my career and personal gratification..

    It's going to all depend on what interests you the most and what is in demand. It's possible to consult in a plethora of topics. I haven't ever known someone that was solely a project management consultant (that doesn't mean that they don't exist). One angle you might take here is program management, which PMI has a new certification for called the PgMp. If you're not familiar, program management is about controlling groups of related projects. Still, if it were me I would want to have some subject matter expertise to fall back on other than project or program management.

    Someone mentioned Project+ earlier. I really don't know anything about this cert, other than it is intended to be entry-level. I really wish CompTIA would release information about how many people hold their certifications. I suspect that the number of people who hold Project+ is low. I also would bet that with PMI introducing the CAPM that the market for Project+ is drying up.

    I'd say that both CAPM and Project+ are reasonable starting points, however, for general project management people are going to be looking for the PMP. Both of these things are really just stepping stones.

    If I were looking at this and I saw that the Project+ voucher was $232, and the CAPM test fee was $225, all other things being held equal, I would probably go for the CAPM, since PMI is very focused on project management and CompTIA isn't.

    MS
  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    candycorn wrote:
    MS,

    What kind of advice can you provide to a young adult wanting to get his green belt? It seems as if it would be harder to gain the experience you need for the test. Don't you have to put in so many hours to even take the test? I've heard keeping the certification is hard as well.

    I'm probably better off with the PMP first, no? icon_confused.gif

    I don't see the PMP and any Six Sigma certification as being necessarily related. These are two different bodies of knowledge that share some commonality.

    In a general sense, Six Sigma is about statistical process control and reducing errors/waste, whereas project management (what a PMP or PRINCE2 certificate holder does) is about a methodical approach to chartering, defining, and managing projects.

    I would recommend being very careful about any Six Sigma certification. This is probably the largest market for scams and worthless certs out there, because there is no one governing body. Anyone is free to setup their own Six Sigma certification program. They are of varying quality.

    My advice about Six Sigma is to do the following:

    1. Get a job at Motorola or GE. Complete their programs.

    or

    2. Get your Six Sigma experience under qualified black belts at another company, then go through the American Society for Quality for the actual certification. Other than the two above (plus a handful of other companies), ASQ IMO is the only other legitimate Six Sigma credentialing program in existence.

    Here is the link to the ASQ Green Belt information: http://www.asq.org/certification/six-sigma-green-belt/index.html

    Basically, you have to have a certain amount of experience in Six Sigma projects to qualify for the green belt, then you have to pass a test.

    #2 is probably the more realistic option.

    =======================

    My Six Sigma Black Belt is from the American Society for Quality. I did my required project work with a financial services company under other black belts and then took the exam. The exam was a 4 hour multiple-choice exam. You are allowed to bring any book into the exam that you want. However, there are so many questions and so little time that you have almost no time to look up the answers. It was a tough exam, but not impossible.

    The thing on this exam that gives people the most trouble is statistics. I didn't have that problem as I had a ton of stats at different levels of college.

    As far as maintaining the black belt is concerned, it's actually pretty easy. You have to earn a certain number of "credits" doing various things like working, attending classes, earning certifications, etc... within a 3-year period, and then submit proof.

    As an aside, and Larrydaman can back me up on this, on receiving the results for both the PMP and the Six Sigma Black Belt you have no idea what percentage of the questions you got correct. As I recall on the PMP you are simply told your level of proficiency in certain areas. On the Black Belt exam all I remember seeing was an email that said I passed and then a certificate came in the mail. Although I've joked in the Microsoft forums about preferring Pass/Fail grades, I would really rather see an indication of where I fall in the overall grading scheme.

    To me 792 of 1000 with differing levels of black bars means more than seeing a sheet that says "Congratulations on Passing" with something like "very proficient" in 4 or 5 different areas.

    MS
  • learningtofly22learningtofly22 Member Posts: 159
    eMeS wrote:
    snip..... I haven't ever known someone that was solely a project management consultant (that doesn't mean that they don't exist). ...snip
    MS

    I didn't provide enough info about my goals, which i believe lead you to that statement. I don't want to be a project management consultant, rather an IT consultant, so to reword, I would swerve between IT PM and IT consulting...... sorry for the lack of detail.
  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    eMeS wrote:
    snip..... I haven't ever known someone that was solely a project management consultant (that doesn't mean that they don't exist). ...snip
    MS

    I didn't provide enough info about my goals, which i believe lead you to that statement. I don't want to be a project management consultant, rather an IT consultant, so to reword, I would swerve between IT PM and IT consulting...... sorry for the lack of detail.

    Not everyone will agree, but I see the PMP as supplementary, rather than a career unto itself.

    Back to your original post, I think the MCITP: EPM is a good goal to have, but, you'll be learning things specific to Project and Project Server, and not project management in general.

    If you go for the PMP it will give you a solid grounding in what is the defacto method of managing projects. According to PMI, a project in IT can be managed with the same methodology as a construction project. Obviously not everyone agrees, including 100% of the PMPs that posted in this thread. Despite that, it's still a useful cert and you will learn solid project management process.

    As far as consulting, my strategy is to focus on the results that customers want to achieve, rather than any specific technology. It's impossible to know everything or understand every technical solution, but remaining flexible is important.

    For example, simply because I'm qualified in ITIL doesn't mean that I think ITIL is the answer to all of my customers problems. On the contrary, it means that I'm qualified to determine if a solution to the customer's problem is contained within ITIL, and competent enough to implement it should that be the chosen course. Considering this, much of the value in being a consultant, especially in IT, is understanding a vast amount of knowledge from different theoretical and technical specialities and disciplines. Furthermore, being able to apply that knowledge to achieve results is what sets an outstanding consultant apart from the crowd.

    If you haven't already done so, or have plans to do so, one of the first things that I would recommend is getting yourself into a graduate program at a respected school. Go for Ivy League if you can. I'd pick a field that you enjoy and that has some credibility in the business world (e.g., an MBA vs. an MA in English). Although many do it, it's tough to be a consultant without a graduate education. I'd recommend checking this box early and often.

    MS
  • learningtofly22learningtofly22 Member Posts: 159
    Actually, that's part of the master plan. I'm finishing my BS in Business Admin this year, then will be going straight into my Master's thereafter. Ivy League is, well, a bit out of reach, but I've been going to an online school that I'm very satisfied with, and plan to continue. Right now I'm torn between the MBA - IT Management, and the MSIT - Project Management. Sort of leaning towards the latter, as it has courses that interest me more, but the power of an MBA is undeniable. I still have a few months to figure it out. Funny how I didn't give a [email protected] about school when I was younger, but now it's all I think about.
  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    the power of an MBA is undeniable

    I agree, if it is from a school regularly in the top 20. Otherwise it's another MBA.

    My intent isn't to minimize your effort. Basically everyone gets out of an educational program exactly what they put into it. I say this because I want to clearly state that good learning and hard work does occur outside of top-tier schools. Many of these program are rigorous. Although I have some top-tier names in my past/on my resume, I have nothing specifically against any school that is not top-tier, Ivy League, etc...

    Unfortunately, no matter how hard you work or how rigorous the program at school that is not top-tier, it will never match the name/program recognition ability of a degree from a top-tier school.

    I personally know someone who earned a bachelors degree from Harvard, then an MBA from Harvard Business School in 2005. She had never worked a day in her life. Upon graduating from HBS, she had about 10 job offers, all in the 200k-300k range.

    Remember, this was a person with absolutely no work experience in her early 20's. She declined all of these offers and chose instead to be an entrepreneur.

    My thought is that it is best to work hard, learn alot, and get good grades wherever you go. It is also best to have as many silent partners, like simply the name of your school, working in your favor at all times.
    Right now I'm torn between the MBA - IT Management, and the MSIT - Project Management.

    All other things held equal, an MBA is a broad (yet specialized, if that makes sense) degree that will likely be more useful to you than an MSIT - Project Management degree in the long-term. In other words, I don't see the point earning in a degree in project management when you can add this credential to your portfolio by documenting your experience and taking an exam (the PMP). Earning the MBA and adding the PMP allows you to cover more ground than the MSIT - PM + the PMP.

    MS
  • learningtofly22learningtofly22 Member Posts: 159
    Right now I'm torn between the MBA - IT Management, and the MSIT - Project Management.

    All other things held equal, an MBA is a broad (yet specialized, if that makes sense) degree that will likely be more useful to you than an MSIT - Project Management degree in the long-term. In other words, I don't see the point earning in a degree in project management when you can add this credential to your portfolio by documenting your experience and taking an exam (the PMP). Earning the MBA and adding the PMP allows you to cover more ground than the MSIT - PM + the PMP.

    MS[/quote]

    That's exactly what I was thinking. Although I'm getting tired of taking business classes and would like to have a more IT based education for my Master's, deep down I think the MBA would be better as I can get PM skillsets through certification. That said, and since you have a rough idea of my goals, do you think an MBA - IT management would be more beneficial, or MBA - Project Management? I'd like to say I'm in IT for life, but who knows? As I stated in my OP, I love IT, but am really enjoying the PM side of my job more. I see myself managing IT-specific projects in the future. I would think that if I went for the MBA-IT management and got my PMP/several years of PM experience under my belt, I could pretty much do PM, IT consulting, or IT management in the future. I'm looking for the degree that will allow me the most flexibility, no matter which of the aforementioned 3 I decide to do.
  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    That said, and since you have a rough idea of my goals, do you think an MBA - IT management would be more beneficial, or MBA - Project Management? I'd like to say I'm in IT for life, but who knows?

    I wouldn't worry about the qualifier. If you've already picked the school then I would recommend just getting something called an "MBA". This sounds a little harsh, but ultimately the only person that will care about the specific qualifier will be you.

    One possibility to consider is if your school is one of the ones accredited by PMI. If you have no other way to complete the required training for the PMP, then it is possible that your MBA-PM classwork could be applied towards that requirement. In this case doing that PM coursework makes more sense.

    MS
  • learningtofly22learningtofly22 Member Posts: 159
    Thanks for all the insight! I'll have to get with the college on the PMI accreditation, it's confusing as to if they are accredited with them or not. The PMI website doesn't show them (there are only about 20), but take a look at this link, I know it's for the MSIT- PM, but it's more in detail than the MBA - Project Management description:

    http://www.capella.edu/schools_programs/business_technology/masters/project_management.aspx

    If they're not, I may have to consider a school switch, as getting 1500 hours knocked off is pretty attractive.... I always like to kill 2 birds with one stone when I can. Only caveat is that I have to go online, as my life doesn't afford me the luxury of attending school in person.
  • learningtofly22learningtofly22 Member Posts: 159
    How did you get to that page? All the links on it are broken, and it's a bit strange that it's not a pmi.org address.
  • eMeSeMeS Member Posts: 1,875
    How did you get to that page? All the links on it are broken, and it's a bit strange that it's not a pmi.org address.

    I think PMI owns that domain.

    I went to the search page for registered education providers on PMI.org and typed in 'Capella'.

    MS
  • learningtofly22learningtofly22 Member Posts: 159
    Oh, ok thanks!
  • learningtofly22learningtofly22 Member Posts: 159
    Ivy League is, well, a bit out of reach, but I've been going to an online school that I'm very satisfied with, and plan to continue.

    Well, what a difference 2 days can make! Looks like it may be in reach after all:

    http://www.gibill.va.gov/S22/Post_911_Factsheet.pdf
  • KaminskyKaminsky Member Posts: 1,235
    One question.

    As a PM. how do you deal with the day to day stress of it all espcially factoring in incompetance and "ohh for gods sake.. is that really necessary ?" situations ?

    Surely PM is just a good way to grow grey hair fast ? Being the central focus for all that grief with not much to show for it but a "well it's about time you got that done ... now go get this one done" from the boss seems like sadism to me. I've been on dealings with awful PMs (where I knew I would do a better job seeing as I was doing all the work anyway) and very good PMs (where because they are good, they have an inbox that they are constantly asking for email file space extensions) ...

    How can you ever get anything done ?

    And, a more important question, as a succesfull PM, what is the effect on your home/family/socialising life ? Tell the real truth to us PM wannabes?
    Kam.
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