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Blog post 01 Sep 2014

Comparing Project Management Certifications

Comparing Project Management Certifications

Organisation managers and learning and development specialists are looking for a global certification that has a firm foundation in the factors that lead to project and business success.

Our experience is that very often there is a distinct lack of understanding by those hiring as to the relative merits of the credentials that are most commonly considered project management certification.

The main products in the market-place, and how they compare based on three specific criteria, are shown in figure1.

The three criteria for comparison are:

  • Prerequisites
  • Breadth of Coverage
  • Rigour of Assessment

When trying to determine which certification is best for your requirements, talk to a reputable organisation that understands the difference between the options available - Invest wisely!

Prerequisites

Prerequisites help assure that a certification is targeted at the right person. For this criterion, we apply the work of Dr Paul D. Giammalvo who has written extensively on the topic. Paul based his analysis on two key information points:

  • A Professional Engineer (PE in the USA) credential using it as a standard for comparison, and
  • Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour threshold for mastery

Breadth of Coverage

What practice base does the certification cover? Is it a

  • Knowledge Taxonomy like PMBOK®V5  (PMI)
  • Competence Framework like IPMA Competence Baseline

Rigour of Assessment  

Many people can prepare for an exam, take it within two weeks, and pass. Better evidence of true grasp is to present a portfolio of evidence that documents that you have delivered results in each item or element under assessment.

Using these criteria to define the three faces of “Certification Effectiveness” we represent the results as shown in Table 1 by cross-multiplying:

Prerequisites% x Breadth of Coverage% x Rigor of Assessment%;

Certification

Prerequisite

Score

Breadth

Score

Rigor

Score

Certification Effectiveness

IPMA Level A®

78

98

84

64

IPMA Level B®

77

98

84

63

IPMA Level C®

57

98

90

50

IPMA Level D®

31

98

35

11

PMI PMP®

49

70

28

10

PMI  CAPM®

34

70

28

7

PRINCE2® Practitioner

4

92

30

n/a

PRINCE2® Foundation

2

92

20

n/a

The Institute of Project Management offers numerous certifications of different levels and a variety of courses for different project management areas.

This article is a synopsis of a paper published by Stacy Goff, president of ASAPM (American Society for the Advancement of Project Management) www.asapm.org