The Road to Project Management: Why Becoming a PM is No Walk in the Park

by Kristin Bent

May 11, 2010

Over the past week, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with several SAP project managers, peruse the Project Management Institute’s (lengthy) list of project standards, and read up a bit on PDU accreditation.

The result? It’s becoming more and more clear to me that the role of a project manager can be a tricky one – and the road to get there can be, too. Before chatting with past Managing your SAP Projects speakers, or digging around online, I admittedly had a pretty inaccurate idea of what it meant to be a project manager. I pictured somebody sort of just lurking in the background of a project, clipboard in hand, always watching – but not necessarily doing.

Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I stumbled upon a blog by Josh Nankivel, called the, offering resources, advice and lessons learned for aspiring PMs. Just glancing through the blog categories on Josh’s site – certification, communication, and project methodologies (to name a few) – made me realize that becoming a certified project manager is a lot more strenuous than I thought.

Between passing the PMP exam (and possibly the PgMP, if moving toward program management), and receiving at least 60 PDU credits every three years, it seems certified PMs, during their off time, must always have their noses buried in a text book. Plus, a PM needs to master the “softer” skills of project management, such as communication and motivating team members, before calling it a wrap.

I would love to hear from any certified project managers on the Insider Learning Network. What were your experiences while earning accreditation? How do you stay up-to-speed with emerging project management methodologies or required skill sets? Any best practices you could share? I’m curious to learn some real-world PM experiences…

Until next time!

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Sven Ringling

9/25/2013 8:43:34 PM

Hi Kristin,

an insightful post.
And whilst is shows how hard PMs have to work to earn their accreditation, it also demonstrates the shortcomings of those formal certificates: when pushed too much into the focus (possibly not only earning and keeping certificates issued by PMI, but adding others as may be required by various employers), PMs may really have their noses buried in text books a bit too much.
Excellent PMs in my experience do not see themselves as managing projects very much - they manage people in a bespoke project context.
Average PMs focus on the text book elements and only pay lip services to the people element - lacking the excellent social skills to engage them, encourage open and pro-active communication, ...

I'm not arguing against clear project management methodologies and the formal elements they bring in. It's just that I consider them to be the foundation to build on rather than the final building.

I would be very interested in certified and not certified PMs thoughts on this: have you seen the risk where dealing formalities keeps you from doing the important work with the people in your project?