The De-valued Professional Project Manager

I have seen a very upsetting trend in the United States over the last three years – organizations have stopped valuing experienced, professional Project Managers.  Don’t tell me you haven’t seen it – companies put out a call for a position such as a business analyst, developer or technical specialist, and when you read the competencies for the job, it has project management all though it.  So, do they really want a business analyst, or have they asked for a business analyst with a PMP because they don’t want to pay for a professional project manager? In how many of these situations do they really need a professional Project Manager because the project is complex or mission critical?

I will admit that even I have questioned certifications in our industry, such as the Project Management Professional (PMP).  What does it really mean today? And does it help to filter out people who don’t have real and deep experience in project management?  I have met more non-experienced PMs with a PMP certification in the last 2 years than ever before.  I wonder – has PMI sold out? Are they no longer enforcing the experience requirements for obtaining the PMP?  Can anyone earn a PMP?

So, as more and more companies post job openings where they want project management as one skill among many, will the project management profession become obsolete? The biggest problem with this trend is the de-valuing of thousands of professional project managers who have years of experience managing projects and applying project management principles to complex projects.  I am not saying every project manager has to be a certified or professional – not all projects are the same or require full time project management.  But many of the new projects we are seeing, which were delayed due to the recession, are strategic, with high visibility and should require a professional project manager.

If you have devoted your career to being a professional PM, like I have, you are frustrated watching companies put individuals into project manager positions who do not have the experience nor the skills to do the job.  And why does our profession end up as a just a skill on another job position?  Would a company do this with any other professional, certified position? For example, would they hire a telecommunications engineer and require that they have a CPA?  Probably not, even though the engineer might need to know accounting. To do so would de-value the career associated with the CPA. By the same token, the skills set of a Project Management Professional (PMP) is not the same as someone who just needs to understand project management as a part of their job.

Well, now I will step down from my soap box!  But really, this is a main concern of mine for 2012.  In this cost-cutting, post recession environment, how many of my PMP peers are seeing this disturbing trend as companies try to “do more with fewer people?”

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