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What Makes IPMA's Certifications Stand Out?

To help you decide which project and program management certifications are best for you, and to show why ours stand out, we recently researched and published an article on the subject. This page is an introduction to the article; see the full article download link below.

This fresh new analysis helps to balance misinformed impressions seen elsewhere on the web. As credited in the article, we based the analysis is on three independent studies and reports. 

The full article, in Adobe Acrobat pdf format, is available here on the IPMA-USA website: Comparing PM Certifications. Below are a few of the highlights from the article.

nw-2013-eff-cube-lgEverywhere you look, on the web, in magazine ads and articles, and in some training companies' marketing materials, you see a wide range of assertions about the value of a variety of project and program management certifications. What is a decision-maker to think? Are there rational ways to evaluate and compare the myriad offerings?

To explore the differences between the many PM certifications, we evaluated the factors that make a difference in their effectiveness. The result: the Certification Effectiveness Cube, a representation of three factors that are important in evaluating any certification:

A. Prerequisites
B. Breadth of Coverage
C. Rigor of Assessment

The full article explores those three factors, or criteria, and acknowledges that popularity is also an important consideration; the article also reveals an interesting relationship between popularity and effectiveness.

A. Prerequisites

Prerequisites are important. They help assure that a certification is targeted at the right qualified persons. See below a comparison of a selection of PM-related certification program prerequisites, based on a study by Dr. Paul Giammalvo (see the full paper for the explanation of the abbreviations).

Certification Prerequisites

B. Breadth

The second factor considered in the article is the Breadth of Coverage. The diagram below compares the coverage of a variety of project management standards, based on an analysis done by the Global Alliance for Project Performance Standards (GAPPS). As other organizations have come to understand that the “triple constraint” has been long-dead, and that business savvy and leadership & interpersonal skills have great impact on project success, the chart shows Who Is Ready Now!

Certification Breadth

C. Rigor

The Rigor of Assessment is the third factor considered in the article. This factor is also based on a GAPPS analysis and includes degree programs and other comparisons. Why is Rigor important? Because knowledge alone is merely a starting point. And if it is only acquired for the purposes of passing a multiple-choice exam, it soon decays: the half-life of knowledge acquired-but-not-applied is said to be two weeks.

Knowledge must be applied and adapted in multiple settings (practical experience) to get needed business results. Certifications with higher Rigor scores assess more of the full life-cycle of that knowledge, from short-term acquisition to business results.

Certification Rigor

Which Certifications Win?

There are several ways of answering this question, depending on your requirements. What is most interesting about analyzing the outcomes of these three independent studies is what happens when we cross-multiply the three studies’ results. Chart 4 below shows the results of cross-multiplying the volume of the Certification Effectiveness Cube. But your requirements may show a different result. We leave the decision up to you.

Regardless of your outcome, you are the winner when PPM certification candidates—and their managers and executives—can see the relative strengths of today’s leading PPM certifications. And, when you win, the practice of effective project and program management wins.

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After all, that is the purpose of our Certification Effectiveness Cube: We are not looking for a single point of evaluation such as prerequisites, but rather at all the factors (prerequisites, breadth, and rigor) needed to assess the volume of certification effectiveness.

See the full article, Comparing PM Certifications, for “The Cube’s” descriptions of the PM certification effectiveness factors of popular global offerings. The article also has more details and links for each of the studies, so you can draw your own conclusions.