Does IT Project Success Correlate to PMP Certification?

by Josh

Does IT Project Success Correlate to PMP Certification?

Gary and Joseph from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania reached out to me about a research survey they are conducting. Please take a few moments to fill out their short survey to the best of your ability.

This research study survey investigates key information technology (IT) project management activities in terms of project scope, time, and cost management, namely the triple constraints.

The authors contend that the ability to properly manage and execute these activities are the quintessential components that oftentimes drives whether scope, time and cost goals are met.

The literature shows that IT projects have a dismal success rate but successful projects have been on the rise.

This study attempts to determine if the increase of successful projects correlates to the increase in the number of PMP® certificated project managers.

Take this short questionnaire now Does IT Project Success Correlate to PMP Certification?”.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joel Bancroft-Connors August 5, 2011 at 5:41 pm


Took the survey and have some feedback for Gary and Joseph.

- Why did you get your certification: There should be a category for “formal education” or related. Especially now, with BA degrees in PM being very common, people are getting formal training more and more. I did the same thing, but as a result of being an accidental PM who wanted to more formal training.

- Page 4: Not all PMs have any control (or even insight) into their budgets. An N/A could be helpful. I’ll be blowing the curve by entering a made up number.


DrPDG August 6, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Sorry Gary and Joseph, while I applaud you taking on this very interesting topic, your survey is seriously flawed because you have not established any cause > effect relationship between having ANY certification and whether the project came in on/ahead of schedule and/or within budget. (and what about quality or whether the project fulfilled the purpose for which it was undertaken?) At very least, you need to do more basic research on defining what a “successful” project is.

I believe the only valid way to assess this would be a double blind study where you found examples of “successful”, “average” and “failed” projects then worked backwards to see:
1) Did the person/team have control over the budget, schedule, quality of the project deliverable’s?
2) Did the person/team have any control over the PRODUCT the project produced?
3) Was or did their decisions (or influence) result in positive (or negative) outcomes?
4) Were there outside influences beyond their control which led to the success/failure?
5) Was their success (or failure) a “one off” event or were they consistently “successful” (or failures) in delivering projects?
6) Were the people certified or not and if so, what certification(s) did they have? (As many of us hold more than one certification, how can you parse out WHICH one of them made the difference?

Only then could you possibly attempt to correlate outcomes with credentials and I strongly suspect you will find no meaningful correlation.

You may find some research I have done on a related topic to be of interest, where I took project managers considered to be consistently “successful” over a period of time and then did a behavioral assessment of them. I was also the supervisor to two graduate students from SKEMA (Joel Friedman, PMP, CCE, EVP, PSP and Karsten Isenbek, PMP, CCE, EVP) who did similar behavioral profiling on successful project SPONSORS, which should be published before the end of this year. That research would be a good place to start if you wish to pursue your topic further.

Bottom line- explained simply, Ted Williams, who was one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, had a batting average of only 0.409. Meaning that 60% of the time he was at bat, he “failed”. I suspect you will find that to be the case with project managers as well. Or to quote from Old Joe Sheehan, who was one of my respected mentors when I was in the trades, “sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you”.

And so it goes in project management and it has absolutely nothing to do with ANY credential.

Dr. PDG, Jakarta


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