What's a project management qualification good for?

To Prince2 or not to Prince2

March 9, 2016

I have no official project management qualifications. I have been working with the job title of 'project manager’ for over three years, and running projects in other roles for over five years. In that time I've always delivered on my projects. Very occasionally they have been late, or over budget; these things sometimes happen. Still, somehow I’ve managed to not just get by, but actually progress to more senior project manager roles, all without a printed certificate framed on my desk.

But here's the thing: I'm sure I would have done better if I had done some kind of project management qualification at the beginning of my career.

I don't even think it matters what qualification or certification you gain. Prince2, Agile, Scrum; they all teach something that otherwise takes a long time to develop naturally: discipline.

Over time I've learned discipline through experiencing the pain that comes when that vital skill is lacking. This pain usually manifests itself as stress, as you react to situations for which you had not adequately planned.

You can learn how to do Scrum, or any of the other brands of PM, without being a certified practitioner.  Let's face it: It's not that hard!

But having the discipline to enforce the rules and ceremonies that make Scrum or Prince2 effective frameworks is not something that comes naturally to many people. Investing time in studying and learning, and having that knowledge tested, enshrines that core element of discipline as a central tenet of your practice.

A note for employers

A PM QUALIFICATION SHOULD NOT BE A REQUIREMENT FOR GETTING A PM JOB.

Not an entry level one anyway. Discipline is just one of my four pillars of good project management*.  Whilst discipline is something that can be enforced with training and checklists — open-mindedness, communication skills and people management skills are much harder to develop from scratch. My advice to employers would be to find someone with these traits, then send them to do qualifications if necessary. You'll very likely find that this investment in an employees future will generate a sense of loyalty towards your organisation, resulting in retention of talented and skilled staff.


* My four pillars of good project management are:

More about these in a future post.

project management