Author: Olivier Lazar, Msc., MBA, PfMP, PgMP, PMP, PBA, RMP, SP, ACP: Just a reminder for those looking to find a preparation course for a PMI credential (PMP and al.). The market is saturated with courses, providers, and institutions, and it becomes more and more difficult to get your way through all of that. But the credentials are still highly in demand and it becomes key to find the right way for you to obtain the desired credential.
Here are some basic criteria:
A/ Is it a serious and honest organization or just a gang of thieves?
Keep in mind that for PMI credentials, there are two ways an organization can deliver a preparation course:
- 1/ They are part of the PMI REP program (Registered Education Provider). If so, it means their course contents are inspected by PMI on a regular basis, and that they pay to PMI a license fee allowing them to use PMI's IP, in other words, to use the content of the standards (to a certain extent...). There are other benefits which you can find here, but basically that's it and you can move to the next set of criteria.
- 2/ If the provider is NOT a REP everything is not totally lost, but anyway PMI's IP is not public domain, then they have to declare each course to PMI and pay an individual license fee allowing them to use the content of the standards.
The very first thing to check is this one, are they either a REP or do they benefit from an individual license from PMI. If not, RUN AWAY!!! If they're not either REP of under an individual license, it means they STEAL PMI's IP. Providing a copy of the PMBOK Guide(r) to each participant DOES NOT ALLOW TO USE IT IN A COURSE AND COPY/PASTE it's CONTENT ON A SLIDE DECK!!! And of course, providing a copy of the trainer's own personal copy is definitely not allowed. If they claim they don't use the standards, ask them how they pretend to prepare you to pass an exam addressing specific standards without using a single extract from these standards...
No certified trainer is supposed to ignore these rules, if they do, it means they intentionally infringe the PMI Code of Ethics... Do you want someone like that instructing you about how to respect that Code? not sure...
B/ Who is the trainer?
There are plenty of excellent trainers everywhere. But is the one who will teach the class certified (and an active one)? And not only PMP. If you're aiming at a PgMP course, ask if the trainer is a PgMP. If you're aiming at a PMI-PBA certification, is the trainer a certified PMI-PBA, etc.? How someone who has not been through the exam, can pretend to prepare you for what you'll be facing? So many times I have seen people pretending running certification prep courses without holding the related certification and without even being themselves eligible for that certification... If your trainer is not an active certified with the credential you're aiming at, RUN AWAY!!!
Being certified doesn't mean that the trainer can actually train... a second verification on that aspects should be a quick background check. Every trainer appreciated by the participants of her/his sessions will have it reflected in the LinkedIn recommendations at least.
Then, if the training provider doesn't tell you who the trainer will be, RUN AWAY!!!
C/ What type of certification course do you want to have?
There are basically two ways to see it:
1/ The classic one which you will find within most of the providers, that consists in so-called "Boot-camps", aimed at filling your head with 10'000 exam-like questions to learn by heart and that, in the case of a PMP prep course, follow the PMBOK Guide to the letter in the order of the chapters...
That's good if you're a confident well-seasoned project manager who is just in need of that exam aimed thing. Usually, there's one or two days face to face, the rest being fully online, or even fully online for all of it. If that's what you're looking for, there's plenty of these offers for a usually low cost all over the Internet. Just check the first point about the usage of PMI's IP of course. You indeed just have to be conscious that this type of Bootcamp has nothing to do with Project Management education. It will tell you what is in the standard, but it will not give you the understanding on how to use it properly... You might get a good score at your exam, but that won't tell you anything about project management or the PMI framework of project management. The risk is to be certified for something you won't be able to apply, which is bad.
2/ Another option is to attend a course that will be aimed at developing your project management competencies. Usually harder to find, and more expensive, this type, of course, is not centered around the sole exam. It's aimed at understanding not only the framework but also its applicability in a given context. Often these courses require to be taken face to face for a duration between one full week to several weeks. Providers of these courses usually use competency development models such as the Kirkpatrick one (look here or certainly in the comments below where I'm sure my distinguished former teacher Paul has most likely already put aaaallllll the necessary details and extensively advertised for his own training... Hi Paul! ;-) yes, I made a bet he will.). These more in-depth courses will take you through a learning journey, with case studies and concrete applications of the addressed knowledge and principles. Often, to make sure you got it right, there are 1to1 coaching sessions available, and in terms of certification prep, the aim is to prepare you to respond to any kind of question you might face in the exam itself, without necessarily having to go through a Bootcamp. By the way, taking a Bootcamp after that kind of competency-driven course is not forbidden, as the aim is radically different, but often playing with an exam simulator after that is good enough.
If you choose this approach (more beneficial indeed), make sure that on the top of the active certification criteria and the IP related one, the trainer is someone who doesn't do only teaching, but is also in touch with the actual operational world. Someone just teaching might in this case lack of actual operational grounding, and someone purely operational might lack pedagogy...
C/ Reliability, Accessibility.
Aim at a provider that is responsive, and accessible through different channels.
RUNAWAY from providers who claim to have 100% success. That doesn't exist. They can't guarantee success. Eventually, they can commit to reimbursing you if you fail, but that's tricky as the success at a certification exam is on you; but sometimes they will allow you to resit for the course as many times as needed (reasonably of course...).
All other criteria, such as language (PMI certification are usually better taken in English...), the budget, of course, location and other aspects are up to each and every single person.
Be just aware and conscious that a certification, whatever certification, is not the end of the journey, but only a milestone, before the next one. Make sure you don't confuse knowledge and competency development with a pursuit of certifications, they are means, not aims. That being said by someone who got all of the PMI ones.
And more important, have fun!
Some additional information can be found here.