PRINCE2, SCRUM, CPLP – certifications, oh my!

As a Project Management Professional – PMP® – I am curious about the other certifications for project management recognized worldwide.  I have gathered a few of the materials for PRINCE2 and CompTia Project+.  Both seem fairly close to the PMBOK® (which I was a contributor for) and the PMP Exam items.  Although, I am not too surprised, since they are all based on generally accepted practices.

Naturally in job searches and in presenting myself/courseware, the more verification via certification the better.  Although, I am pondering whether or not gathering more certification revolving around the same basic concept is worth pursuing.  Does more = better?  Diversity valued?  Overload?  Extensive  knowledge about all approaches better than one (or none) with track record of work experience?

I am leaning on the side of “knowledge is power”.  Although, this verification of knowledge is costly.  Counting the THOUSANDS of dollars spent on acquiring PMP and 6 ITIL certifications, do I really need to cough up more?  Haven’t I spent enough?

Yes, it is a costly game played.  Alas, so is formal education.  I certainly spent a great deal more in my undergraduate and Masters degrees.  I spent many more thousands just in my first quarter of my Doctoral work at Seattle Pacific University than I spent achieving various certifications.  Maybe that is something to be said for certifications – cheaper, faster, and often more relative.  Certainly more cost effective.  I enjoyed pursing my Doctorate.  But the sticker shock was too great.  No student loans.  No short term pay back period.  No reason for me to continue my formal studies.

Consequently, that brings me back to my original point – do I pile on the certifications?  Potentially adding the proverbial alphabet soup after my name.  Adding related certifications is a lot like learning a new language.  The first one is the most difficult.  The ensuing one gets assimilated  faster and with more ease.  And the pattern continues; save for occasionally interchanging a wrong term or syntax from time-to-time.

Once I claim my ITIL v3 Expert designation – as soon as I clear the MACL capstone exam – I plan to tackle more certs.  The practice CompTia Project+ exam I took was a breeze.  It was so similar to the PMP.  The PRINCE2 does not seem much of a stretch.  Especially considering the language comparisons with ITIL.  Add on the M_o_R – seemingly another reasonable certification with my production and research of Risk Management topics.  Hm, but where from there?  SCRUM?  CBAP? PMP-Risk? 6 Sigma? COBIT? MOF?  CPLP? Doesn’t matter.  There are certainly enough to keep me busy!  I’ll do my best to document my travels.

Getting APMG Accreditation for ITIL V3 Foundations Course

After many months of development, testing, designing, editing, and more editing, my ITIL v3 Foundations course is nearing accreditation!  For those seeking out an ITIL course, I am seeing the value of attending one that holds the official stamp-of-approval.

With ITIL certification exam courses, there are actually a few accreditation organizations out there.  Project Management Professional (PMP) is controlled exclusively by the Project Management Institute (PMI).  They own the certification.  They control the accreditation – which the lucky HUNDREDS have paid to get (called Registered Education Provider (REP)).  They control the exam and publications.

ITIL is a little different.  For better or worse – that is your decision.

ITIL as a brand name is owned and monitored by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) in the UK.  The exams and certification paperwork is created and handled by various organizations worldwide.  There is EXIN, CSME, and APMG to name a few.  (Full List Here)

On the good side, it provides competition; unlike PMI’s monopoly.  (Even though PMI is listed as “non-profit” they are surely making a killing.  $555 exam fee is only the start of people pay to be associated with them)

On the bad side, it provides some ambiguity and non-consistent standards.

In my quest to get accreditation and proper recognition, I have investigated the various accreditation organizations.  And I must say that APMG-US is the better choice.  Unfortunately for me, they are most expensive.  Alas, you get what you pay for.

APMG-US has been wonderful to work with.  They have guided us thru the process.  Been very responsive to our inquires and needs.  And most importantly, are making certain that the material is the best representation.  Having evaluated some of the ITIL Foundation programs out there, I had the impression that it only took some of them to copy the books onto presentation slides and call it good.  Glad APMG is being a little more thorough.  I have gone to great lengths to make certain my materials were not boring slides “telling” the learner what they are to know.  But to make it more dynamic, yet concrete; simple, yet complete.

The material should be thru complete review and approval within a month.  At that point I will be able to offer my coursework officially to all that wish to take on the IT Service Management certification schema known as ITIL v3!

The Strategy for Getting Ready for Strategy

One month ago, I started my trek into the world of ITIL Intermediate exams. First up: Service Strategy, a.k.a. SS.

Being a month elapsed, I may not recall every detail. But I hope to share with you some insight to this and the other exams.

January 13. Sunny skies in Seattle. Stars aligned? Best day to take my first exam? You bet!

Now many of you may purchase a packaged deal – requisite training and proctored exam bundled in. I choose a different path. A cheaper path. Many classroom based trainings are upwards of $2000 to $3000. Each! And with 5 to do, that is costly. I found it easier to purchase online training, get the core publications, and purchase the exams individually from APMG.

My cost breakdown:
Online course: $550
ITIL books: $80 (online only- 1 yr subscription) for all 5; about $16 each
APMG exam: $400
Being certified: Priceless – haha just kidding

Total: $966
That is a cheaper path than sitting in a class. Especially since most prep classes are not in the Seattle area. Requiring travel costs, hotel, food, and other expenditures.

Although, there is a lot to be said about being in a class. Being fully immersed in the session. Immediate feedback and clarification. Discussion with like-minded colleagues. And most importantly – blocks on distractions. If the class is being held on-site at your workplace, that advantage is typically wiped away. Unless you have a very disciplined workplace that respects your training time.

When taking online sessions, there is only you to decide the start/end times. Only your inner voice telling you to pay attention and ignore the call of the fridge, email, or TV. Ergo, online courses are not for everyone. You must be disciplined. You must schedule blocks of time as if you were IN-CLASS. Your email must remind people that you are in training and that their little needs are of no concerns to you – for the next few hours at least. It is too easy to procrastinate or get distracted online. You must treat it like an in person class. Even if it is a class of one.

Working from home, diving into an online class was easier for me. I have an environment that supported “lock-down” study sessions.

In the end, I saved approximately $1,000 (give or take; probably more give). And remember, this is just the 1st of 5!

Next post: About the actual exam that sunny morning in January.