Is Yours a PM Certification or a Certificate?

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff

We have noticed a significant recent increase in advertisements for “PM Certifications”, resulting in “Certified Project Managers”, that are really Certificates in a pm-related training. It would seem that some fail to understand the difference.

The increase in “certification” promotions makes sense, in part, because, the competition in the training industry is stiff. And as we frequently note, Billions of $USD spent in various project management-related training has led to little-to-no improvement in organizational project and program performance. Thus, organizations ranging from educational institutions to training companies are adding new certifications in project management. Or are they?

Most of these offerings are certificates, not certifications. And while I believe the offerers to be misguided, rather than intentionally misleading, these misstatements damage us all while they continue. Why? Because Executives funding these programs are expecting PM performance results they are not receiving.

An Early Certificate in PM
In 1985 my company (Goff Associates, Inc., the ProjectExperts®) instituted a PM Certificate for learning participants in organizations that engaged key portions of my curriculum. A few Aerospace companies, Insurance companies, and Government Agencies embraced this approach, because they valued some evidence of grasp of the key practices in project management. The curriculum included:

  • Small Project Management, a 2-day workshop
  • Early Project Estimating, a 2-day workshop
  • Project Management Tools ‘N Techniques® a 3-day workshop
  • Leading and Managing a Project Team, a 2-day workshop

The Certificate program included a six-week post-course follow-up for each workshop, where Managers of the learners worked with their staff to assess their application of the workshop’s Learning Objectives. To earn the Certificate, participants were evaluated in two ways:

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