Maksym Loiko, Delivery Manager at Parimatch Tech
Before we begin: my name is Maksym Loiko, and I am the Delivery Manager at Parimatch Tech. I have over six years in IT project management, both in outsourcing and product IT, with PMP and SAFe 5 Agilist certification.
After Scrum, Project Management Professional (PMP) is likely one of the most frequently mentioned IT project management certifications. I got PMP almost two years ago, and with this article, I want to help find the answer to the most crucial question—do you really need it?
I highlighted this topic not as an expert but as a certification enthusiast:
- shared my expectations and path to getting certified;
- pointed out the benefits of certification;
- and added my opinion on its relevance for different career paths.
So, let's move on to the story itself.
My expectations and path to certification
I tried to approach PMP several times. The first attempt was at the middle level. Back then, it seemed that PMP certification was a fortress: if you captured it, you could get worldwide recognition and the treasure.
I knew my attitude toward certification was not unique when I wrote this article. My colleagues had a similar perception of PMP as something unattainable because they’d heard from more experienced people in the industry that "certification is tough", "it takes you several years to prepare", "I started preparing with the second edition, and now the sixth edition is out."
I didn't hear these comments; it was enough just to look at the requirements for certification to get demotivated. I realized it wasn't all rainbows and butterflies; I needed to work hard and still lacked basic knowledge. I didn't even try to start preparing. The fortress remained impregnable, and I took a course in project management to get the necessary knowledge base.
The courses ended, and time passed. My work brought more and more new challenges that required constant training. I didn't notice how the grade changed, and the final decision to get PMP came to me.
During the second attempt, certification was already perceived as an opportunity to systematize knowledge and experience and acquire a tool for future advancement in my career. This attitude allowed me to take the bull by the horns and sit down to prepare.
I'm not going to dwell on the preparation because the exam has already changed, and this information may no longer be relevant. Suffice it to say the preparation took quite a long time, and at that moment, my life consisted of only two parts: work and preparation for PMP certification.
The benefits of PMP certification
The first and the most important is systematizing and deepening project management knowledge. The sixth edition of PMBok (the one I passed with) is a reasonably systematic book with plenty of tables and diagrams. It forms a systematic vision of the entire field of the project management knowledge base, including the following:
what a manager should do and in what order;
- which artefacts to use;
- what to pay attention to when working with a team, and more.
The second benefit is boosting the personal brand. The PMP exam is complex, and cheating is impossible. Therefore, certification is prestigious and appreciated.
I would describe the impact of certification on income in the following way: a few companies in the Ukrainian market value this certification and are ready to pay extra for it. For most companies, their offer is not affected by whether or not the candidate is certified. However, it should be noted that a candidate’s level of skills will influence a company’s offer. For PMP-certified candidates, the higher the project management level, the higher the income.
The third benefit (potentially theoretical) is a new "window of opportunity." There is a war in my country, but all wars end. Our fight for freedom will definitely end with the victory of Ukraine. After the victory, rebuilding and new international projects will be launched. Under this scenario, PMP certification will benefit those wishing to take part in these international projects because PMP is not about IT but any area involving projects: construction, the humanitarian sphere, research, and more.
So, do you really need certification?
As with any complex question, there will be no definite answer. I would not advise everyone to get certified because the effort required is high, but the benefits are not guaranteed to be relevant to you. In addition, you need to consider the specifics of your work:
- Do you work with a product or projects?
- Can you implement the PMI algorithms in your work? Will your organization be able to adapt to them?
- Code of ethics: can you follow it at your work?
I will provide more context on each point so that you understand the importance of these questions.
- The answer to whether you work with a product or project will show to what extent out-of-the-box PMI methodology will work for you. It is entirely suitable for projects, but only certain practices allow you to work on a product.
- Implementing PMI methodology also has its pitfalls. Although PMI does not point out some mandatory elements (as Scrum does), and all its components are of recommendation character, managers must be able to implement changes in the organization's processes. These changes may affect work with stakeholders, financial operations, hiring procedures, etc. And here, it is crucial to understand whether you will really influence these processes. Or maybe your company vision can be summed up as: "We already have the processes established in the organization, just let the manager use them"? Without having a tangible impact on the processes, this new knowledge will only demotivate you.
- And an essential point is the code of ethics (publicly available on the Internet), which describes fairly stringent requirements for people to become PMI certified. It also describes the sanctions for its violation. Examples of violations of the code of ethics include any false information in contracts (for example, information on the level of seniority of specialists) and any manifestations of discrimination against candidates (by location, language, etc.). Managers do not work for themselves and must fulfil their employers' vision. Unfortunately, sometimes this vision does not match with the code of ethics.
Thus, for anyone who plans to get certified, I would strongly advise you to find the answers to the questions above. This is easy to do: read the code of ethics and then answer yourself if you can follow it.
If so, buy a membership on the PMI website and read PMBok diagonally (take the sixth edition and look at the diagrams, at least). Should you choose not to get certified, you would still have access to excellent learning materials from PMI that will be practical when working on projects.