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TOPIC: Do I Qualify?

Do I Qualify? 3 months 1 week ago #20745

  • Kristen
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I am seriously considering applying for the PMP exam but I’m worried they won’t accept my work experience. I have a BA and I worked for four years as a Project Manager with a testing company. I managed the hiring/testing processes for police and fire departments. I would essentially have an initial meeting with the department, develop the project timeline, create and post the application they planned to use, vet the applications to determine eligibility, administer an exam to eligible candidates, provide the department with the exam scores, and then bill the department. I know a project needs to be a temporary endeavor with a clear start and end date. My projects did have this with their timelines - we started and ended on specific dates. I’m wondering if the unique product/service/result could be seen as that particular department’s eligibility or hiring list, which was the end result of each process. The list created by the specific exam results that were generated for that particular department that resulted in their own, unique hiring list of certain individuals?

Do you think this work actually counts towards PMP experience or would PMI consider these tasks to be operational?

Do I Qualify? 3 months 1 week ago #20746

  • Harry Elston
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Kristen,

The worst thing that they can tell you is "no," so why not try? If you believe that you've led or managed projects professionally, there's no reason not to see if your experience counts.

The key to having your application in order is for you to be able to fill out your time/hours identifying what you did in each of the five process groups and do it in less than 500 characters (not words). For each project, you will need clear statements on Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring/Controlling and Closing.

Good luck!

Harry
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Do I Qualify? 3 months 1 week ago #20808

  • Andreas
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Hi,
I do have a similar question.
I signed up highly motivated for the PMP Prepcast course and begun. Only later I started to write down my experience and now question, if I would qualify and if I have fulfilled my 4500 hrs.

Whenever I read about the 5 Phases of Project Management and the processes, it is written out of the perspective of the organization starting and initiating the project. E. g. a producer of soft drinks would like to install a new filling line, then they might undergo all these steps. My experience on the other hand is more on the side of the company receiving the million dollar contract and I struggle a bit with correctly evaluating my project management experience and also the allocation of hours.

I could consider two different jobs and employers from the last consecutive 7 years for my experience. First job was with a manufacturer of equipment for a specific industry where I was working in the projects department. We would realize turnkey projects for national and international companies. The second company is a consulting/engineering company and we help our national and international clients realize their projects as well.
In both companies, and in general in my profession, it is quite common that the project manager is also the executing engineer. Basically, I delegated most of the tasks to myself. I would create the schedule and the WBS and then I would also work most of the tasks. At the same time I would monitor costs, schedule, deliverables, scope and manage communication with co-workers, vendors and the client. Certain tasks would go to the drawing department (or some PM's/engineers do also the drawings themselves), procurement, mechanical or electrical/automation department. All that is usually not done with great formality, only by emails, meetings or talks at the coffee machine.

The work at the two companies is little bit different though. Since the first company is a supplier, we usually received tender documents and quoted against it. I would not initiate a project per se. What I would do on the other hand, is spending many hours on proposal work. I would read the tender documents, fly to a meeting with the client, conduct a site survey, prepare minutes, clarify the scope, prepare preliminary drawings, inquire at external vendors, discuss the project with other departments, calculate the costs, write the proposal, discuss the proposal and technical details with the client and so on and so forth. After approval from sales, director and whoever, I would even send out the proposal worth sometimes millions of Dollars. Would that somehow count as project management work. Would it be considered a project in itself and how would I break it down. There is no project charter, schedule WBS, lessons learned etc. Would this then more considered as a task, even if it was a unique endeavour, took several weeks and I would have spent more hours than on some projects I worked on?
While the first company was ISO 9000 certified etc., formal project management was not done at its best level. E.g., I actually needed to google how a project charter looks like. I cannot remember having seen one in 3.5 years. Usually the assignment process to projects was quite informal, maybe with an email or just with the team leader showing up at the desk. Formal communication plans, procurement plans, RACI charts or any other those documents, I have never created and at that time I didn’t really know that this could be part of a project. I haven’t had any formal PM training and frankly speaking, I don’t think one of my supervisors had. It was basically working based on experience.

I am now working for a consultant/engineering company and there it is the same thing. Most of the time it is project management and engineering in one person. Projects are much smaller (5k-50k vs 150k-5000k at my previous employer). I even don't know, if it is feasible to count any project less than 10000, the formality is even further reduced. E.g. a replacement and change of location of a centrifugal pump came with a kick-off meeting with the contractor at the clients site. I would then prepare a design sketch showing the pump and the surrounding equipment. I would give this to my colleague, who will prepare a nice AutoCAD drawing, then I sent it together with some instructions regarding installation, quotes from vendors etc. to the client. He would give it to the mechanical, electrical and automation contractor. When everything is installed, I would do a check of the installation (not always) and if required support commissioning. Then instruct the accountant to invoice and close the project. That's it. No sign-off or lessons learned meeting. Nevertheless I would consider this as a project, since it is unique, specific, finite and produces and observable, measurable outcome under preset requirements. While this is an example for a small project, it wouldn't be much different for larger projects. I am not quite sure how to break things down. If I read that requirement that one would need to led projects and drive cross functional teams for 4500 hours, then this sounds much bigger than the work I have done before, even though I was in charge of multimillion dollar projects.

I work also on feasibility studies. While a feasibiliy study might be part of the initiation phase for the client and often doesn't move any further, for my company it is a project and sometimes several 100 hours are invested in site survey, discussions with clients and vendors, planning, writing reports etc.

It also happened in my life that I took over projects from people, who left the company. The project was in the middle of execution and I needed to take over. This would include getting familiar with the scope, having meetings with the client, performing site visit, evaluate the current situation, update the plan and or draft a new one and proceed with the construction. I suppose in such a case initiation would entirely be skipped and part of the work would be then planning, executing and then monitoring and controlling. At the end, the project management get usually much lesser time allocated, if you also have to perform a lot of tasks of your own schedule. Time is sometimes simply not there. Especially, if you have to take over a project and the only thing you do is getting swamped and trouble shooting becomes your only task.

As a PM, on one project I also spent a significant amount of time on site, managing the construction. I would discuss with the mechanical supervisor where to put equipment, where to install pipes, signing permits etc. etc. At the same time I was still the PM and process engineer. I would also lead commissioning afterwards.
As one can see, I have lot of questions. Especially the duality of the job makes me wonder how things can be broken down and can count towards the 5 phases. If I read about Project Management, it all looks tidy and nicely organized, but that’s so far not my work experience. Things are often not handled that close to the book. I cannot say that this is right and that’s why I want to become much better at it.

I hope someone understands my concern and as some advise.

Do I Qualify? 3 months 1 week ago #20817

  • Harry Elston
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Andreas,

None of us on the Forum can speak for PMI. They seem very consistent when reviewing applications for the exam.

My previous advice remains: The worst thing they can say is "no."

Harry
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Harry J. Elston, Ph.D., CIH, PMP

Do I Qualify? 3 months 1 week ago #20818

  • Andreas
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Hi Harry,
thanks for your reply. That is certainly true. I hope that someone has a similar job or similar experience and would be able to share a bit of insight.

I still don't entirely get what all qualifies as project work and how it can be allocated to the different phases. As mentioned, can I count any of the 100's of hours I spent on working out proposals for complex installations in an industrial manufacturing environment. Or if I delegate tasks to myself. Does the time working on the tasks count as project management. Technically I have to constantly monitor my own doings, since I am responsible for costs, deliverables and deadlines. Does that count than as executing or M&C or a mix thereof. I think at the end, there is a lot of room for interpretation and it needs to be plausible overall.

Do I Qualify? 3 months 1 week ago #20819

  • Harry Elston
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Andreas

I would try this approach:

If you can shoehorn a part of a project into one of the five groups (Initiating, Planning, etc.) claim it. The challenge is to very briefly summarize each of the five areas for the project in 500 characters or less. (Not words, characters!) You will need obvious abbreviations such as "INIT" and "PLAN" to help you conserve space.

I am an independent consultant, so my resources are "me" and whomever I subcontract to. I never mentioned delegating to myself, I phrased it as "managed _____."

Good luck.

Harry
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Harry J. Elston, Ph.D., CIH, PMP
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