PMI Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) Program Changes Coming – Part 1

The Project Management Institute (PMI) has announced that it is changing the Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) program in December of this year. In this Part 1 of a 3 part series, I explore why the PMI is making the change, and consider what impact this might have on you?

As this is a 3-part series, I am not going to delve into the changes in this 1st part. But for details, you can go to the PMI web site at .

Here is why I think the PMI is making the change:

  • Reason #1 - Compliance with standards: Being in compliance with international standards is a key differentiator and strategic advantage for the PMI. In order to maintain the adherence to standards, the PMI needs to review certification programs every few years. This change is the result of that process. The PMI sees this adherence to rigorous standards as a strategic advantage to its certifications.
  • Reason #2 - Keeping ahead of the competition - other PM certifications: The competition among PM certifications is hot, and the PMI is in the lead. One strategy to maintain and build on that lead is to make changes, plain and simple. The changes certainly need to make sense...but simply the strategy of making changes puts the competition into a follower status, it's hard to keep up, and within the community of PM certified professionals the PMI will get a lot of attention. The PMI has by far the largest following, in terms of certified professionals, than any other PM certification, and all will be paying attention to the changes the PMI makes.
  • Reason #3 - Keeping requirements aligned with job content: The PMI's recent Role Delineation Study of the project management profession provides a formal approach to ensure the PMI's certifications remain relevant. While project management is not changing as rapidly as technology, it is subject to evolving changes in the types of projects people manage, and the changes in the types of challenges that people face.
  • Reason #4 - Keeping requirements statistically relevant: This is a fine-tuning aspect that allows the PMI to adjust the emphasis on topics to match job content, but also to break a pattern of complacency that can befall the profession if change is not introduced at reasonable intervals. Requiring more training, and focusing on key areas of competence, as verified by validated studies, is a way to raise the bar on the profession.

What impact could all of this have on you? For starters, it can help you to maintain fresh skills and a little more relevance in the workplace, at a minimum.

But I will explore this in detail in the next two parts of this series. For this introductory part, I will give you three things to think about. In short, this change brings three related things to mind for me:

  1. SAT testing for college: This is a touchy topic. We have seen scores rise over time. We have seen the exams change over time. Many have complained about a cultural bias on the SAT exams. And finally, we have seen the rise of a whole industry of tutoring and related exam prep to help students to succeed. There are two important takeaways out of all of this: a. it is necessary to break up the establishment of means to "game" the system which can create conditions that could favor one group of people over another, and b. the SAT exams are graded, in part, based not only on how you do, but how you do relative to everyone else taking the exam.
  2. Mandatory testing for schools: This is a hot topic right now. Testing in schools is a popular but controversial approach. Many think it is a way to ensure objectively that students are being taught to a rigorous and measurable standard. Others, however, think it hurts and distracts the process of learning because it changes the focus to passing tests.
  3. Corporate testing as part of the hiring process: You may have given or taken one or more tests as part of the hiring process. Some argue, and may have statistical data for backup, that successful hiring is very predictable and that these tests can isolate and leverage key success factors to provide accurate predictions of the future success of candidates. First, I don't know that there is ever enough data to prove this, and it also probably varies across tests. Second, it is hard to isolate all factors, and I am reminded of a financial services sales manager who told me that they largely ignore the tests, and use their own judgement, since they "pretty much know whether a person will succeed or not."

In summary, projects and project management have been around for a long time. The PMI and others are looking to raise the bar in performance and effectiveness within the profession. As expected, there is debate as to how effective these efforts have been. Undoubtedly, the devil is in the details, and you, as a professional, need to take responsibility for your own development by doing what YOU think will help you raise your skills and professionalism, using requirements as a guide and even a tool.

My conclusion is that, in the final analysis, your life as a PMP will not change all that much with these changes. That being said, try to be open-minded, as the changes that come may actually work in your favor! Stay tuned for more details in Port 2.
John Reiling, PMP

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