January 18, 2018


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Are you a Professional Project Manager?

By Linky van der Merwe

professional project manager

What does a professional project manager really mean? Defined simply it means the level of excellence or competence that is expected of a professional.

Next you want to know what are the characteristics of a professional project manager.

Characteristics of a Professional

In a profession, people would be expected to have characteristics like:

  • Advanced education and expertise
  • Membership to professional bodies
  • Implicit adoption of that organisation’s ethics
  • Commitment to continual professional development and learning
  • Sense of responsibility to the wider public
  • Consistent exercise of discretion and judgement

Qualified or not

Professionals would have a qualification, an accreditation and/or certification. Let’s look at the definitions to be clear:

Qualification – A learning outcome as a result of formal tuition. Diplomas, Degrees and post-graduate degrees in Project Management are available from Training Institutions or at Universities and Business Schools nationally in your country or even internationally.

Accreditation – Recognition provided to a candidate in accordance with the criteria of a specific organisation or institution typically based on a combination of knowledge and demonstrated ability.

Certification – Certification is often needed to work in some trades. It usually means an individual has passed a trade test administered by a recognised authority. Possessing a certificate of completion of a course is typically not the same as being certified.  Examples of popular certifications are PMP, Prince2 and Agile Practitioner.

Registration – A Professional Registration gives a license to operate and to practice within a scope of operation and to take responsibility for the work. It provides authority to perform a certain scope of work without supervision. The registration is typically a statutory requirement.

Designation – In some countries a designation is a job title. It’s the title conferred by a recognised professional body that could be statutory or non-statutory, based on certain criteria defined by the professional body.

What are the benefits of achieving a qualification or certification?

Both an individual and the organisation they work for should benefit from an individual achieving a project management qualification or certification. Dependent upon the nature of the organisation and its business, some of the key potential benefits are as follows:

Benefits to the organisation:

  • Best-practice knowledge, skills, tools and techniques acquired through the training necessary to achieve a qualification are deployed back in the work place.
  • Improved capability and competence to deliver an organisation’s programmes or projects, resulting in increasing customer satisfaction and reputation, saving costs, utilising resources more effectively and positively impacting morale.
  • Supports individuals with their personal and career development planning. This in turn can result in increased appreciation of, and commitment to the organisation, by the individual.
  • Catalyses improvements to an organisation’s own project or programme management methods and processes through gaining an understanding of best-practice.
  • Enhances the credibility of the organisation to own clients and customers through having project or programme staff that have achieved externally recognised certification or qualification.
  • External recognition of an individual’s project management knowledge and capabilities indicating a core level of embedded understanding, which is then likely to be applied back in the work place.

Benefits to the individual:

  • Provides the individual with additional and portable knowledge, skills, tools and techniques in order to be more successful in managing and delivering projects or programmes.
  • Enhances career development prospects through having achieved an externally recognized qualification or certification.
  • Demonstrates to the employer, the individual’s desire, commitment and capabilities to learn and improve themselves, and thus improving an individual’s reputation within the organisation.
  • Provides an external industry-wide benchmark of an individual’s project management knowledge and competence.


One of the biggest compliments a professional project manager can receive, is when stakeholders (customers) call you back by name to do additional projects for them.

It is my belief that you are only as good as your last project; therefore project managers should always strive to be professional and competent on every project, since you never know if it is your last…

Please comment and share if you have had good experiences with ‘last’ projects.

Project Manager – The Value of Certification

project management certificationThe demand for skilled project managers is at an all-time high as organisations continue to focus on higher productivity and greater customer satisfaction with minimum resources. Project management is a booming profession that is only going to get bigger in the years ahead.

Once you decide that you want to become a professional project manager, or you’re already doing the work and you want to formalise your credentials in order to be acknowledged as a project manager, you have a few choices. You can pursue a degree or diploma in project management, offered at multiple universities and institutions, and/or you can become certified by becoming a Project Management Professional (PMP), a title awarded by the Project Management Institute (PMI).

In order to obtain the certification, you need to complete a log book as evidence of your experience and you need to pass an exam. To study for an exam while working full-time can be a challenge.

Here are three excellent resources from Cornelius Fichtner to help you prepare and pass the PMP exam the first time (there are people who have to sit more than once before they pass).

#1 PM StudyCoach

The PM StudyCoach™ is a 10-week long self-study coaching course in which you will receive and learn what it is exactly that you have to study week after week.

The benefits of this course are that it helps you to stay focused, to apply best practices, to make studying a routine. It also keeps up your study morale and it guides you to a proven plan. The coaching sessions are in MP3 format and it provides activity checklists.

#2 PMP Exam eFlashCards

Now that people can surf the net with the use of their phones, laptops, androids and other gadgets that fit their lifestyle, you no longer require thick sets of paper for flashcards. With eFlashCards™ you can do reviews while in the elevator, during your break time, or waiting for the bus. They run on your iPod®, BlackBerry® and most other smartphones.

The benefits of the FlashCards are that they make repetitive learning fun and fast. More of your senses are engaged in the learning process. You can study anytime and anywhere .The digital flashcards can be downloaded for your iPod, Blackberry, Windows mobile device or smartphone and they include all the chapters of the PMBOK® Guide 4th Edition.

#3 The PM Exam Simulator

This offers you the opportunity to take 9 computer-based sample PMP® Exams before heading out for the real thing.

The benefits are that you practice under test conditions, learn to manage your exam time effectively, to gain confidence and most importantly that you are ready to take the exam. With 1800 realistic PMP exam questions and detailed explanations for all answers, you can make certain that you pass the exam!

If you have more questions about following a career in project management, you are welcome to email me at:


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5 Reasons To Become a Certified Project Manager

You may be an aspiring or existing project manager. If you are new to this profession you are perhaps considering certification to become a professional project manager. If you are an existing Project Management Professional (PMP), you may be in doubt about your on-going training requirements. This article should give you clarity about the purpose and motivation for becoming a certified project manager and the benefits for staying certified. In this context certification refers to the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.
Project Management Professional

To be Certified or not

Project management certifications matter. Especially given the current unpredictable market in which companies must operate and succeed.  Project management certification makes for better project managers and reduces risk of project failure in an organisation.

After the first best practice project management standard was founded, it became apparent that following best practice and hiring certified project managers are crucial to successful project management and, hence, business success.

5 Reasons to become a Certified Project Mangager

1.       Research is showing that today’s marketplace is demanding an increase in project management certification. Holding a certification and having the letters PMP, CAPM, PgMP, PMI-RMP or PMI-SP behind your name gives candidates access to greater job prospects and thereby places them in a higher salary bracket.

2.       Project management, however, still remains a business skill that is acquired through experience combined with an internationally recognised project management certification, such as Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute. (PMI). The PMI certification currently has the largest footprint and is represented in 238 countries.

3.       The Standish Group International, publisher of the CHAOS Report says that two-thirds of CIOs surveyed regard a PMI certification as valuable and the number of CIOs who require their project managers to be certified grew from 21% in 2005 to 31% by 2009.

4.       Certifications such as the PMP and Prince 2 help unify teams as each member speaks the same language and uses identical processes when executing projects.  This contributes to greater project performance.

5.       Project management certification is also important from a governance perspective as certified members sign a code of professional conduct.  This automatically provides the employer with confidence that the certified professional acts with integrity and executes tasks with soundness of judgment. This minimises risk within an organisation and enhances the chance of project success.

What comes after certification?

Project management certification is an on-going process and every three years certified professionals must recertify and maintain their professional status through on-going development and enhancing the project management profession by attending conferences, writing- and presenting papers, as well as transferring their skills. This on-going learning means that certified project managers stay informed about latest project, programme and portfolio management best practices earning professional development units (PDUs).

Project management professionals stay up-to-date, through the use of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), which assists project managers globally to apply certain standards in project management in order to meet business goals and business intent.


The PMBOK Guide presents a set of standard terminology, guidelines and tools and techniques for project management. It is non-industry specific and provides project managers with a basis from which to work and can be tweaked to suit each project manager’s project. Now in its fourth edition, it was first published by the PMI in 1987 as a white paper to document and standardise generally accepted project management information and practices.


It is important to remember that although a certified professional has dedicated thousands of hours and numerous years to pass the exam, exceptional project managers are those who combine that knowledge with passion and strong leadership abilities. The real test for being an excellent project manager, is in the constant application and enhancement of this knowledge.

Resources to consider for aspiring and existing project managers:
Want to do the PMP exam and become certified, I recommend the PM Prepcast:

For an existing PMP who need PDU’s, I recommend the PDU Podcast, an affordable and convenient subscription to earn PDU’s in your own time:



Presents project management tips:

1.   What is a project? 

A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. It has a clear start and finish, a set of defined goals and objectives and a  sequence of activities.

2.   What is a good project definition? 

A project has a beginning and an end and is unique; unlike operations that are ongoing. It is about managing team priorities to deliver within time, cost and quality constraints.

3.   Why do we need projects? 

Some reasons why we need projects in business today are tighter budgets, diminishing resources, more time constraints, more competition and to achieve service excellence.

4.   What are examples of projects?

Examples of projects are:

  • developing a new product or service
  • implementation of strategic objectives 
  • restructuring your business organization
  • constructing a new facility
  • office move or re-arranging the office
  • planning a special event

5.   What is project management?

The application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to projects to meet project requirements and deliver projects successfully within budget, on time and with desired quality.

6.   What does project management comprise of?

Project management comprise of a set of skills. Also required is:

  • Specialist knowledge, skills and experience are required to reduce the level of risk within a project and thereby enhance its likelihood of success.
  • A suite of tools for example document templates.
  • A series of processes. In professional project management various management techniques and processes are required to monitor and control time, cost, quality and scope on projects.

7.   What is a project methodology? 

A methodology is a set of methods, processes and practices that are repeatedly carried out as part of a project life cycle to deliver projects. The key concept is that you repeat the same steps for every project you undertake, and by doing that, you will gain efficiencies in your approach.

8.   What is the power of project management? 

The power of project management is that it makes it possible to focus on priorities, measure and track performance.

9.   What are the industries that use project management?

Project management is used in industries like online publishing, banking, software development, information technology and manufacturing.

10.       What skills do project managers need? 

Project managers need to be very skilled in leadership, communications, human resources-, quality-, time-, cost management and integration.

11.       What are the benefits of project management?

Some benefits of having project management in your business are:

  • it helps to meet or exceed customer expectations 
  • it maximizes the use of resources (time, people, money, space)
  • it brings projects to successful conclusion within budget, on time and with desired quality
  • it documents what was done for future reference
  • it builds confidence in your team for future projects.

12.       How is project management different from management?

In project management work is managed towards a single objective for a unique endeavor with a definite beginning and an end. In general management it is about multiple related objectives to manage the workload in an operations environment where work is done continuously.

13.       How are projects different from standard business operational activities?

  • Projects are unique and do not involve repetitive processes
  • Projects have a defined timescale. They have a clearly specified start and end date within which the deliverables must be produced to meet a specified customer requirement
  • A project have an approved budget
  • Projects have limited resources like labour, equipment, material
  • Projects achieve beneficial change. The purpose of a project, typically, is to improve an organization through the implementation of business change. 

14.       Who is the governing body for project management?

The Project Management Institute, or known as the PMI. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is prescribed as their project management handbook.

15.       Is there a special qualification for Project Managers?

The Project Management certification is called the Project Management Professional (PMP). The the title of a PMP certification is known and acknowledged worldwide.

Your VirtualPM


PS: For related Project Management articles, read here.

PPS: To use a Project Management Toolkit in your business, have a look at the Solid as a Rock here.

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