IPMA International Project Management Association
4 November 2020 / 11:00

True Value of Certification

The attached picture about a PMP just came across my social media channels today.
I don’t want to miss to congratulate to the successful pass of the PMP exam. When you go into the picture you can read ’success guaranteed’.
Of course, this is just a bad marketing gag where many learners just trap in.
But what is the value of a certification where success is guaranteed?
I would argue not more than the paper it is printed on.

A PMP certification proves exactly what has printed on the certificate: the successful pass of the exam. Learn, try, repeat if required, learn more, pass. It does not say a single word about what competences the certificate holder really holds. You may exactly know what to do in a specific situation, but this does not mean you have ever done it, nor that you would do it the way you have learned. Therefore, the successful pass of a PMP exam demonstrates your knowledge, in this case about project management.
Not more, not less.

The IPMA certification, levels C to A, demonstrates something completely different. A successful
candidate has demonstrated his or her competences: knowledge, skills and abilities. In an elaborated
process, the candidate has to demonstrate what he or she has done, why, why not differently, with what results, and what learning he or she took with. With the whole spectrum of competences, being
practice, people and perspective.

The IPMA Global Best Practice Week last week has shown one key message: project managers
urgently need significantly more leadership competences. But demonstrate leadership in a multiple-choice exam? Hard to believe!
IPMA in contrast checks 10 leadership competences with subject matter experts. First in an evaluated, self-reflecting part in writing, second in an extended interview with two experts. Face-to-face or today rather virtually.
We urgently need a healthier, more equitable, more sustainable and more reliable world. To achieve
this, we need competences, not just knowledge. Therefore, first, get to know the business of project
management. Second, apply this knowledge in real life, in real projects. Learn from others, succeed or fail, but learn, improve, do your job in an improved way again.

The IPMA certification is an excellent tool to measure your progress in competence development. First, when you know your stuff, become Level D. Then apply your knowledge in a project with limited complexity. When you have got enough competences, verify it on level C. Then, in a complex project on Level B. And maybe finally, years later, on programme or portfolio level A.
And of course, you may fail in the IPMA certification.
But also if this happens: although you might be disappointed, the certification offers a great learning opportunity.

My simple advice: do not just pass an exam with guaranteed success.
Get out of your comfort zone, expose yourself to the needs of the future, measure your competences and improve.
Go for an IPMA certification.
Yes, you may fail. But I am convinced you are more satisfied with a certification others may not get.

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Author of this post

With more than 35 years of professional experience, Martin Sedlmayer leads successfully complex change programmes. During his career, he has worked in the domain of project management as a project manager, programme leader, portfolio manager, and manager of project organisations. His industry experience includes finance, manufacturing, logistics and not-for-profit organisations.

His special interest is the challenge of competence development. He was lead editor and project manager for the new ICB4® (global competence standard for individuals working in project, programme and portfolio management). Currently, he serves as Vice President of IPMA’s Executive Board for Products and Services, as board member of both the Swiss national project management association spm and the Swiss certification body VZPM.

Martin is IPMA Level A® certified, acts as an assessor for fifteen years in various countries and holds a MBA in International Management from the University of Applied Sciences in Berne Switzerland, the University of Freiburg Germany, the State Polytechnical University of St., Petersburg Russia, the Babson College of Boston USA and Jiao Tong University of Shanghai China. He publishes regularly, speaks at conferences and events worldwide.

He can be contacted at martin.sedlmayer@ipma.world

His LinkedIn profile https://www.linkedin.com/in/sedlmayermartin