Project managers play one of the most critical roles in web development. I’ve been in web development for nearly 20 years and I’ve seen first hand the impact and influence project managers can have on the success of a project.

The project manager is the one keeping all the moving parts (and people) of a project together. They are “in charge” of the project and they’re the one that takes responsibility for the project as the leader.

Earlier this year Travis Ketler completed his PMP exam with flying colours and his name changed to Travis Ketler, PMP. Okay, his name didn’t really change, but Travis is now a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

Q&A With a certified PMP

Travis and I sat down for some Q&A about his role, the PMP certification process and what he’s learned from the experience.

There are a couple of sets of prerequisites for the PMP certification. Excluding the exam, what did you have to do in terms of substantiating your prerequisite qualifications?

In order to be eligible to write the exam, the Project Management Institute (PMI) requires an application which contains criteria for: a) minimum number of years in PM experience and b) minimum number of hours leading and directing projects. Since I did not have a particular post-secondary degree, my requirements were longer experience: 5+ years project management experience and at least 7500 hours leading and directing projects, and you’re not allowed to submit concurrent, or overlapping project experience on the application.

For each project history that I submitted on the application, I had to include the project name, start and end dates, company it was for, a brief description (500 characters max) as well as cite a reference that could substantiate my experience (ie. Supervisor, project sponsor, etc.). I submitted my application online, and received a notification of approval status within minutes. This was great because I was able to schedule my exam right away.

The exam is multiple choice and you have up to 4 hours to complete it. Was there a structure to the exam in terms of the areas, or topics it covered?

Each of the 200 multiple choice questions would fall under a particular Process Group and there seemed to be somewhat of a correlation between the ratio of the number of questions related to each process group in relation to the percentage of how those process groups comprise that of project management, however none of the questions are categorized and they are presented randomly across all Process Groups so anyone could easily receive a question about Risk Management at the start, for instance.

Part of being a certified PMP is that you have to maintain your certifications by earning 60 professional development units (PDU) every 3 years. Can you explain what that means, in terms of our industry and maybe talk about how you plan to earn those PDUs?

PDUs can be earned in two primary areas: Education and Giving Back. For Education, you need to participate in PMI-accredited learning activities specifically related to each side of the PMI Talent Triangle: Technical, Leadership, Strategic & Business. Examples would be; taking additional courses, attending seminars and webinars, attending industry events and networking.

In the area of Giving Back, you would be required to share and apply your knowledge and skills in activities that support helping and building the profession. Examples include; working as a practitioner in your certified role, publishing new content to share with other professionals and students, giving a presentation, or volunteering.

I plan to continue researching additional courses and webinars that I can attend to further my education as well as look for any local events that I can attend and engage with other professionals.

PMs play a role that has a wide range of responsibilities such as Planning & Defining Scope, Cost Estimating, and Controlling Quality just to mention a few. You primarily deal with existing clients that have a monthly service agreement with ImageX. When you’re managing these types of projects how does the process differ from projects that have a definite start and end date?

Under a service agreement model, there are specific services that are scheduled as recurring such as security patches and modular updates that don’t generally go through the process of defining scope for each instance. Also, if the monthly budget under the service agreement is quite limited, then the Controlling Quality process group might not be utilized for smaller updates. In situation like this the development team will run a light QA, but the task may not run through an in-sprint or regression QA cycle like it would during a project.

You had a significant amount of PM experience before the PMP designation. Is there a story where your professional training and experience as a project manager saved a project, or uncovered a risk, something you can share with a junior PM for edification?

A recent example of this would be taking into consideration the importance of planning Quality Assurance and User Acceptance testing for a client on a repeat project due to some unforeseen risk factors experienced during the previous project that proved to be challenging for the project budget and delivery timeline. Documenting the issues and resolutions including lessons learned, as well as conducting a project retrospective, served as invaluable activities for future planning including estimation, scheduling and risk mitigation.

Conclusion

The PMP is the most important certifications for a project manager. The PMP is the gold standard in project management and it is recognized around the world and in virtually every industry. The prerequisites and qualification exam are no minor undertaking and PMP professionals have to continue to work at ongoing professional development to maintain their designation.

Thank you Travis for sharing with us and congratulations on your well-deserved PMP designation.

You can connect with Travis Ketler, PMP on LinkedIn.