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Is Project Management a Profession?

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  • #5010 Reply
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    Paul Giammalvo, who researched the topic for his doctorate, recently composed a provocative article exploring whether or not project managers should consider themselves as belonging to a profession. (Read that here)  Here’s your chance to weigh in on the topic…
    #6495 Reply
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    Sorry, but I had to laugh a little bit – towards the end of the article, Paul defines the process of Project Management as: “;initiating, planning, executing, controlling, losing.”
    #6502 Reply
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    OK – cracked the code – do a reply to any of the posts apparently.  So Dr. Paul – where is the PMP in your credential string?  Apparently it is of no value.  Really irritates me to relegate the community to nothing more than a collection of what ever – stable hands – cleaning out the barn – that’s a project isn’t it.  We in the community need to promote project management as a profession.  If we won’t recognize ourselves as professionals – who will.

    #6503 Reply
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    The author definitely has written a provocative article…one that attempts to continue an outdated (almost 12th century) way of thinking.  I personally have been struggling with this in my profession for over 30 years.
    I find it interesting the author claims he looked at “all existing professions from the legal, socio-economic, and semantic perspectives,…”  How on earth did he review ALL professions from 400 surveys?  Does that mean that there are only 400 professions in the entire world?
    While I agree with his premise that project management is a process, it is mastery of that process – AND – the ability to apply that process in any industry which makes it a profession.  Tiger Woods has mastered the process of golfing – at many different golf courses and in many different countries.  (I wish my golf game was on the same planet as his once was.)  Open heart surgery or psychological therapy is a process, so using the author’s facet of this definition means that being a heart surgeon or a psychologists is not a profession.
    I find it funny that he mentions P.E. as a profession (by earning their license) and many P.E.’s have not the foggiest clue how to be PM’s.  I can barely spell IT, but as a professional project manager, I could go tomorrow and manage an IT project – on time, on budget, and within scope.  Project management is not a title (the author states in his article) it is a process…but my title is Senior Project Manager and it is what I do, uniquely on each project.
    In conclusion, I want to point out two things:
    1. After reading the thesis, I find it unusual that the author has not yet been conferred his doctorate and the thesis was written over 3 years ago?
    2. Continuing down a path of thinking project management is not a profession and project managers are not professionals at what they do is dangerous for most any organization.  Failing to embrace project management in a project-based industry (and trying to do it without professional project managers) is a recipe for failure.
    Proudly as a Professional Project Manager,
    Gregg D. Richie, CNP, PMP, MCTS
    #6500 Reply
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    Fair question, George….
    Around 2003 or so, because PMI no longer represented the values I subscribe to as a life long (as opposed to accidental) project manager, I didn’t bother to renew my PMP (#740)
    First, I do not believe that any legitimate "not-for-profit" professional organization should have 100+ million USD in liquid assets and secondly, I find it incredible that the organization actively competes against their own member/owners who do training.
    Lastly, when PMI started to encourage companies such as "Rita, Cheetah and PMP Exam for Dummies" to produce books of sample questions designed not to teach better project management, but simply to enable people to pass the exam, it was the final straw for me.
    BR,
    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia
    #6508 Reply
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    Paul,
    I have to agree with Gregg. Here is how I look at it..
    Using your own example, (For an accountant, the project might be doing a client’s taxes) in a different perspective, ..just because I can do my own taxes, does not make me an accountant. Accounting is a process that we all involve ourselves in our day-to-day life.whether we do our weekly budget, taxes and so on.but an Accountant is a person who MASTERED the process. We all could be involved in project management on a day-to-day basis, but we may not have a clue about how manage a tricky situation in a project. A project manager who specifically gets trained to do that is the professional there.
     
    As for, the concepts being same as general management; The general foundation of the medical profession is the same, but people ‘specialize’ in various areas.. just because a cardiologist and a gynaecologist both check blood pressure does not make either one of them ‘lesser’ ‘professions’.
     
    However, I do agree with you that the certification does not necessarily mean that a person is the expert, especially with PMP. The belt definitely needs to be tightened there.
    #6509 Reply
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    It’s even a challenge to have project management recognized as an occupation.
    It can be a tough sell to persuade a government agency, one that is responsible for maintaining a National Occupational Classification system, to add project management to their Standard Occupational Classification. My PMI Chapter has tried lobbying officials in the past without success. We are planning to conduct a PM Sector Study so as to gather evidence-based data required by government analysts.
    In Canada, in order to create a new NOC code there needs to be enough data available. As a result researchers need to do a complete and thorough review of all the data, statistics and qualitative findings. Sources of information could include data gathered from occupational experts, employers, educators, associations, etc.. In Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada-HRSDC also makes use of statistics from Statistics Canada’s Census. The classification structure does not evolve through lobbying for specific or desired goals of individuals or groups. All of the changes that are made are evidence-based and must be an accurate reflection of occupations in the pan-Canadian labour market so that the occupational code rests on a solid and reliable foundation.
    A possible success story?
    UK Study – Project Manager – Revision of the Standard Occupational Classification
    Project Management occupations are listed in the following PDF.
    The revision of the Standard Occupational Classification 2000 by Peter Elias and Margaret Birch, Published: 24 June 2010
    In Canada we have the National Occupational Classification 2006
    The NOC 2006 is the authoritative resource on occupational information in Canada. It is used daily by thousands of people to understand the jobs found throughout Canada’s labour market.
    U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics | Division of Occupational Employment Statistics:
    The 2010 Standard Occupational Classification System – Contains links to major groups, the complete hierarchical structure, broad occupational definitions, and detailed occupational definitions.
    #6792 Reply
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    I have to agree with Paul on some points and disagree on others.  PMI has indeed significantly watered down the PMP title by making it far too dependent on the exam – which can somewhat be bought by going to a boot camp.  This needs to be corrected.  There needs to be more documented proof of apprentiship in Proj Mgt and references from already seasoned PMs.  I was one of the first 2000 PMPs certified (1993) and I had to know my stuff because there weren’t any exam questions, boot camps or such.  It saddened me to see how easy it became to get certified.  Now when I hire aspiring PMs I find many who have their PMPs and don’t really know how to lead a project (so they are not professionals in the true sense).

    On the other hand, companies are making their statement about PMs as a profession – they state emphatically that you must have a PMP (but like me when I hire that’s just the base level) and they demand a successful project.  A contractor building a home better be a professional or 1) the home will be a disaster, 2) the city will condem it because permits and processes weren’t followed, 3) any of several dozen/hundred or more other reasons.  A PM is the same sort of professional in leading a high value project – permits and procedures must be followed (many of which are not commonly known to the non-professional) and there are inspections and tests that must be passed for the project to be deemed finished and successful.  many projects have 5000 and more tasks to coordinate.  Not just any ole Joe could do it successfully.  Most companies would go out of business if (most of) their PMs were not true professionals.

    So, yes Paul is right – having a PMP from PMI does not qualify you as a true professional.  On the other hand, not just anybody can step in and lead a complex project to a successful completion.  So who is the true professional?  I say that once you have been in the profession for a number of years and honed your skilled, learned the processes and procedures and proven that you can deliver proejcts – then you are a true professional – a person that companies can rely on to deliver their needed projects successfully.

    Roy Pool   PMP (but much more than that)

    #10565 Reply
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    Gregg, the literature review covered all major professions which is how I arrived at the 22 intrinsic and extrinsic attributes or criteria.
    The 400 respondents were testing project management against those 22 criteria.
    And I never said that there are no professional project managers.  What I said was that just because there are many of us who are good enough to make a living as project managers does not mean that project management is a profession.  I would urge you to re-read my article more carefully.
    Not sure where or how you got the idea I didn’t get awarded my PhD?
    One last comment- Given the fact that "Organized Project Management" have been around since the 1960’s (PMI, OGC/APM, AACE) and that we have what, 500,000 PMP’s globally, how is it project management has not demonstrated a SIGNIFICANT success rate in the past 50 years?  ESPECIALLY in the world of IT project management, which is the group of people who dominate PMI?
    Bottom line on all this, I stand by my conclusion, which is if we want to EARN the respect of the consuming public, and raise the professional image of ourselves as professionals, then the only way to do that is by consistently delivering projects on time, within budget, in substantial conformance to the technical requirements and actually delivering whatever it was the project was undertaken to achieve in the first place.  Anything less is just so much BS.
    BR,
    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia
    #10566 Reply
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    Hi Prasannna,
    I tried to make it clear that I was talking about the person who was offering professional services for a fee.  Not an "amateur".  We are in total agreement that while you may in fact be VERY good at doing your own taxes, does not make you an accountant.
    If you read over the article carefully, you will see I was specifically addressing those individuals who hold themselves out to be professionals and earn a living doing what they are doing. Hence the analogy with Tiger Woods.
    BR,
    Dr. PDG, Jakarta
    #10567 Reply
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    PS Prasanna,
    I tried also to be very clear in stating that IMPO, while there is little difference between general management and project management (which is consistent with Peter Drucker’s perspectives) that project management is VERY MUCH context/application specific, which addresses your comparison between the Cardiologist and the Gynecologist……
    BR,
    Dr. PDG, Jakarta
    #10568 Reply
    CommunityCommunity
    Keymaster

    `

    Mark et al,

    Didyou see the Nov 22 Dilbert cartoon of the day…… ?  

    http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2011-11-22/

    THISis what happens when we allow organizations such as PMI (and/or APM or anyother organization) to produce credentials which make expressed orimplied claims that the holder is a "professional" anything, afterpassing only a multiple guess exam. 

    Weshould all be OUTRAGED at this and start to demand that organizations such asPMI make a full and complete disclosure “truth in advertising”as to what their credentials do and do NOTstand as valid evidence for.

    BR,
    Dr. PDG, Jakarta

    #10569 Reply
    CommunityCommunity
    Keymaster

    It is as much as a “Accounting” is a profession, CPA no CPA, PMP no PMP – a function of effort bound by responsibility and any boudaries and guidlines followed.

    #10570 Reply
    CommunityCommunity
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     we need to accept the fact that project management processes are context- or application-specific, meaning generic certifications such as the PMP or PRINCE2 are largely meaningless unless adapted for a specific application.

    Definitely agree on that, and there’s differences even within a discipline, for example IT infrastructure project management, and IT software development project management.

    I think our “community”, as it were, might benefit from an “IT Project Manager” Certification. It could supplement PMP, or replace it.

    Would like to hear what others think about this?

     

    #10571 Reply
    CommunityCommunity
    Keymaster

    I have to agree with Paul on some points and disagree on others.  PMI has indeed significantly watered down the PMP title by making it far too dependent on the exam – which can somewhat be bought by going to a boot camp.  This needs to be corrected.  There needs to be more documented proof of apprentiship in Proj Mgt and references from already seasoned PMs.  I was one of the first 2000 PMPs certified (1993) and I had to know my stuff because there weren’t any exam questions, boot camps or such.  It saddened me to see how easy it became to get certified.  Now when I hire aspiring PMs I find many who have their PMPs and don’t really know how to lead a project (so they are not professionals in the true sense).

    On the other hand, companies are making their statement about PMs as a profession – they state emphatically that you must have a PMP (but like me when I hire that’s just the base level) and they demand a successful project.  A contractor building a home better be a professional or 1) the home will be a disaster, 2) the city will condem it because permits and processes weren’t followed, 3) any of several dozen/hundred or more other reasons.  A PM is the same sort of professional in leading a high value project – permits and procedures must be followed (many of which are not commonly known to the non-professional) and there are inspections and tests that must be passed for the project to be deemed finished and successful.  many projects have 5000 and more tasks to coordinate.  Not just any ole Joe could do it successfully.  Most companies would go out of business if (most of) their PMs were not true professionals.

    So, yes Paul is right – having a PMP from PMI does not qualify you as a true professional.  On the other hand, not just anybody can step in and lead a complex project to a successful completion.  So who is the true professional?  I say that once you have been in the profession for a number of years and honed your skilled, learned the processes and procedures and proven that you can deliver proejcts – then you are a true professional – a person that companies can rely on to deliver their needed projects successfully.

    Roy Pool   PMP (but much more than that)

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