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Project Management Ideas, Fashion or Need? #PMIdeas

March the 24th, 2014

This article is part of the Project Management Ideas #PMIdeas online event promoted by Carlos J. Pampliega.

His proposal for this event is discussing if Project Management is only a temporary fashion or if it is really a need. In my opinion this is a very interesting topic for an online discussion.

When I studied Telecommunications Engineering, in my last course there was a subject on Project Management. At that time in Spain there was no PMI, but Project Management already existed in Engineering. Technically, engineers were supposed to have people reporting to them and driving innovative projects. I studied everything related to Project Management: scope definition, planning, risk management, and so forth and so on.

Some years later, once having worked as a consulting engineer in my company, Project Management became the latest fashion for switching from a consultant role to a managerial position. So, I got my PMP (Project Management Professional) from the PMI (Project Management Institute).

The perspective of the PMI was different from the previous one I had learnt at the University based on developing Project Management “skills”. They presented Project Management as a “profession” in itself, not only as a subject or set of skills within other careers (engineer, architect, etc). This was the essence of a career as a Project Manager wherein the focus was not on the purpose of the project (i.e. what was required to build), but instead on applying universal Project Management knowledge to any kind of project.

In the last 5 years, the college where I studied engineering only produced a total of 200 engineers. In the same period of time, solely in the company where I work, they have reached nearly 600 PMP certified professionals (just imagine the total worldwide number of new PMPs). My university cares for their Alumni professionals more than PMI for finding better jobs (as opposed to PMI selling you more PDUs). In fact they have clearly devaluated the profession by making it more and more easy to become PMP (it was supposed to require experience, but in practice there are many PMP without real experience).

It’s clear that PMI has made and laid a plethora of golden eggs from Project Management; you only need to multiply the $555 exam fee by the number of people that become PMP certified every year, in order to have an idea of how large profit this non-profit association makes every year. It’s up to them, but their model is not sustainable. So, with regards to this point of view, this is a fashion that runs the risk of burning the profession.

PMP-Credential-Holders
Source: http://www.pmi.org/professional-development/~/media/PDF/Professional-Development/Become%20a%20REP_email.ashx

But if we return to the root of the matter, Project Management is in fact a need. I studied it at the university because it really is a requirement for many professions. I am also a strong believer that Project Management is really a career in and of itself. It is true that the principles, methods, and tools for Managing Projects are universal. It is also true that every time shareholders invest their money, they want highly-qualified professionals leading profitable projects. In fact, there is an eternal need for Project Management based on the fact that many projects have failed in the past and will keep failing in the future (unless Project Management can help).

So, in conclusion, there is a bit of truth in both views. There is a temporary fashion attached to PM. But, in the long run, there is also an underlying and everlasting need for Project Management. So, if you are thinking about starting a Project Manager career, you will not be wrong. Being a Project Manager is one of the most amazing and highly demanded professions, and it will remain so in the coming years.

Happy projects!

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