Situation: You Like to Get Your Head Around the "Big Questions" in Project Management.
Hey PM Thought Leaders >> Take a look at the list below and let me know if one of the topics could really help you tackle the challenges you face every day.
Earlier this week I attended PMI's Research & Education Conference 2010. The event has asubtitle - "Defining the Future of Project Management". While I'm not sure that anyone can "Define the future" of anything, I think there were some interesting presentations. I plan to interview some of the researchers, but I was hoping to get some feedback (either here as a comment or via email, whichever is easier) on what you might find interesting. During each interview I'll be attempting to identify who the research findings might be interesting to and what practical actions you can take based on their findings.
Topics presented at the conference
Anything jump out as just what you were looking for? Let me know and I'll drill down deeper for you.
Situation: You’re looking for new and interesting ways to earn PDUs
PMI has created a new type of learning module that helps you learn about very specific areas within Project Management, testing your understanding of the material with a short quiz at the end of the exercise. Here are some examples of topics addressed.
PMI Publication Quizzes are based on PMI-published articles and papers available at the PMI.org Marketplace. Customers purchase the quiz together with one or two related articles and papers. Credential holders will read the article(s) and then complete a short quiz to earn PDUs. PMI volunteers work in conjunction with the PMI Professional Development Group to create the quizzes. Recently we spoke with Brian Weiss, Vice President of Product Management at PMI to get a better understanding of what these quizzes are and how you can best use them as a part of your continuing PM education efforts.
Q. Who came up with the idea to create this offering? What was the impetus behind it?
This idea, like many of the ideas that become products or services at PMI®, was introduced by one of our staff members. We encourage our employees to be diligent about creating opportunities that support our members and credential holders. Because we have nearly 500,000 members and credential holders in more than 185 countries around the world, we are always looking for new and creative ways to reach out to these individuals and support their continuing education.
The Publications Quizzes program was designed to provide a convenient and affordable way for credential holders to earn the last few remaining Professional Development Units (PDUs) that are needed to maintain their credential.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about where this fits within the spectrum of options that PMPs have to maintain their certification? When and how are these quizzes best utilized?
The Publication Quizzes program complements our other PDU-generating programs. They can be used to augment the total PDUs needed to attain a credential – for PMP®, a total of 60 PDUs is needed and for our other credentials (excluding CAPM), a total of 30 PDUs is needed. If, for example, a credential holder realizes he needs a few more credits to reach his target PDUs, the PMI® Publication Quizzes provide him with an opportunity to conveniently earn those remaining credits.
We also recognize there are members and credential holders in regions of the world without an abundance of Registered Education Providers from which they can earn PDUs. The PMI® Publications Quizzes program offers these individuals an easily accessible way to earn some of their required PDUs.
Q. Does the availability of this offering change how PDUs will be recognized for self study? In other words, a PMP has historically been able to just invest time reading articles and earn PDUs that way (versus reading, then taking a quiz as they do here). Will that option continue to exist?
Yes, the option to earn PDUs by reading a book or article will continue to exist. For those activities, the PDUs are recorded as Category 2 – Self Directed Learning (2-SDL). In this category, a maximum of 15 PDUs that can be earned per cycle. PDUs earned from Publication Quizzes are recorded as Category 3. In this category, no more than one third of the total credential requirements may be earned per cycle through Publication Quizzes. For example, PMP® credential holders can earn a maximum of 20 PDUs from PMI Publication Quizzes, while other credential holders can earn a maximum of 10 PDUs.
Q. Does PMI plan to do the same thing with other media (beyond articles), such as webinars or podasts?
We are always seeking opportunities to provide the best tools to our members and credential holders, and this program was designed with the ability to expand content and platforms used for the quizzes. We can include webinars and podcasts, but can also look to books, such as those in the PMI® Bookstore and content found on the PMI® Virtual Communities’ web pages.
Q. According to the web site, just about anyone can take the quizzes (PMI members, non-member credential holders and non-credential holders). How do you envision non-credential holders using the quizzes?
The over-arching purpose of the program is to provide an educational opportunity for practitioners to increase their knowledge of project management. As with any sound educational program, a testing of what was learned serves to reinforce learning and build confidence for the learner. Non-credential holders or those interested in obtaining their credentials are also permitted to use the quizzes to test and increase their knowledge.
Q. Tell us a little about what’s next for PMI in terms of new offerings.
As mentioned earlier, we continue to expand our offerings and provide additional member value. One major area of focus has been on developing our virtual learning offerings – ranging from beginners to advanced practitioners. In that vein, we recently launched the Virtual Communities Project (VCP) initiative, which provides an opportunity for members, and the greater project management community, to network and exchange knowledge and ideas. PMI’s virtual communities have search capability across PMI.org and feature blogs, forums and wikis, which are updated on a regular basis, to create the ultimate project management collaborative community. We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback about this initiative and will continue to enrich and expand content within these communities.
Through our global program SeminarsWorld®, we also provide an opportunity for our members to gain real-world experiences via live workshops. We will continue to add new programs in that arena, as well as create new courses for our eSeminarsWorld program. In the future, we will expand our offerings to include courses that feature simulation exercises and discussion threads, which offer yet another way to engage participants and increase learning and retention.
| Situation: You're on the hunt for great PM learning deals.|
The bright spots in this economy are coming in the form of great deals from leading providers. Two weeks ago, I told you about ESI’s awesome $500K scholarship program for unemployed PMs where they are giving away enough training to get hundreds of folks certified at zero cost.
This week I’d like to call your attention to the MS Project Conference
Think of it this way. If you are planning to upgrade your MS Project software anyway, you might as well buy it here and improve your skills for free. However you think about it, it’s a great deal.
In the interest of disclosure, Microsoft is one of our advertisers and we are sponsoring this conference. However, this is (of course) something I’d write about either way.
| Situation: You want to turn your jobless stretch into a huge gain.|
I'm always skeptical about training 'scholarships'. So when the folks at ESI brought their program to my attention, I was thinking "here we go again...". After closer examination however, I think this program is pretty cool - and very generous.
Here are the basics of the program:
“Despite the current economy, project management as a profession is expected to grow substantially in the next few years with an increasing demand worldwide in such project-intensive industries as manufacturing, pharmaceutical, construction and IT,” said John Elsey, President & CEO, ESI. “This program will allow professionals to keep up their skills in the industry to take advantage of these leading economic opportunities.”
There are a few questions we thought you would want answers to right away. John was kind enough to answer them below...
Q. Are the candidates selected based on any criteria other than being unemployed? Or is it first come first served for people who are jobless? (if there are additional criteria, what’s the best way to get selected?)
John: We wanted to help as many people as possible with ESI’s $500,000 Stand Out Scholarship; keeping the qualification and application process easy was vital in achieving that objective. So as long as someone is unemployed, can show proof of unemployment, and is a US citizen or permanent resident, they are qualified for the scholarship. Awards are issued on a first come, first served basis when the completed application and backup documentation (found at www.esi-intl.com/scholarship <http://www.esi-intl.com/scholarship> ) is emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to (703) 558-2261. The only other consideration is that there is space available in the class they’ve selected; if a class is full we’ll work with them to try to find an alternative.
Q. What are the most popular classes in the project management curriculum? In the business analysis curriculum?
John: We offer more than 30 courses in our Project Management and Business Analysis. curricula, from entry level to advanced training. These are all eligible under the ESI SOS program. While our program’s core courses are generally the most popular, the relevancy of the course based on the individual’s experience and skill gap is the most important factor to consider when selecting an appropriate course or program. Many of our courses are offered in the public classroom, e-Training and instructor-led Virtual Classroom formats.
Q. How many more courses beyond the three would someone have to take to get an Associates or Masters through the program?
John: With just three courses total someone can earn an Associate’s Certificate in Project Management from ESI and our academic partner The George Washington University. Since people can apply for and take up to three courses with SOS funds, they have the opportunity to quickly and inexpensively earn an impressive certificate which they can add to their resume. Students can earn a Professional Certificate in Business Analysis with a total of just five classes. Or a Master’s Certificate in Project Management with a total of seven courses. Plus, GW will award advanced standing toward its Master of Science in Project Management to those who earn a GW/ESI project management Master’s Certificate and meet other requirements. Our Course Counselors are available to help students determine the best courses to achieve their learning and career objectives.
| Situation: You need a way to measure the competency of Project Managers – or your own.|
Recently, I was trying to answer a question from a member who needed a way to measure competencies of the PMs that reported to him. The first approach that came to mind was the PMI Project Manager Competency Framework. I happened to have the Second Edition (2007) on my bookshelf. I also remembered a serious and ongoing effort to create a sort of open Source competency framework, undertaken by the Global Alliance for Project Performance Standards. The latter is a free, somewhat simpler framework than the PMI version. I think that either is better than nothing. However, competency rating is such a tricky thing to start with – such measures should be viewed within the context of other performance measures in place. In other words, I wouldn’t consider them as a fair way to select a bottom 10% to lay off. These are better used as a way to identify potential areas of improvement so that people can work on “sharpening the saw”.
Here are a few quick observations I made about the two approaches. Please feel free to comment or add your experiences with either.
PMI Framework = Comprehensive, but Critical Measures May Be Soft
As you might expect, the PMI framework is aligned with the PMBOK. I really like the more granular focus on personal abilities, but I also know these are likely the most difficult to accurately assess.
GAAP Framework = Easier to Measure Metrics, No Skills Coverage
The GAAP framework is a simpler structure and seems to focus more on ending projects well.
All in all, I think that the GAAP approach focuses on the things that are easier to measure. I think that gives you a more accurate view of “what happened”. The PMI approach is more ambitious, covering those critical skills that truly great PMs need to be successful. For example, under professionalism there are performance criteria for “Demonstrates commitment to the project”. The Performance Criteria cover very important issues like “Understands and actively supports the project’s and organization’s mission and goals”. The types of evidence are examples of when the PM has taken positive steps toward meeting the criteria. This is a great way to gather proof points, but proof that you did good things doesn’t mean that there weren’t as many bad things done on your watch on that same project.