As a PM, should I look at ITIL certification or PMI cursus?

7 12 2009

Well, the answer could be depending on the career path you are looking at. From my experience, most of the time people and organizations in IT are looking at certifications and trainings from a very different angle. People would look at certifications as a mean to increase their value on the market (and subsequently their salaries), whereas organizations have a tendency to view it as an additional insurance, as if having Highly Certified Gurus part of the project would garantee it will not fail. Consulting organizations amusingly consider both aspects: a certified engineer brings additional value to the project (costs more…) and should enforce a better management (less risks…). There are other reasons but they are usually related.

So we need to get certified, right ? Now in the vast market of project management tools, how can you choose the most appropriate track? As in “if I’m coordinating resources and driving operations, do I need to know about governance?” Not quite. There are hundres (if not thousands) of centers offering ITIL, COBIT, PMP, ISO… trainings and certification preps. But ITIL is not equivalent to COBIT nor it has equivalent requirements to PMP.

  • What ITIL aims at is improving IT efficiency and effectiveness (v3 goes a little beyond and seeks budgets tuning). Getting certified essentially requires 2-3 days training, personal rehersal, critical thinking and MCQ with approx. 100 cases. Fast and very well adapted to operations & production run.
  • PMP requires that you demonstrate past experience in project management (36 months within the last 6 years), take 35hours+ courses on PM and pass the 4-hour/200 questions exam from the PMBoK Guide, general knowledge of management and the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. Thus it is truly designed for people in charge of implementation & delivery, therfore involved into tactical decisions.
  • COBIT is in effect a framework, a set of best practices that helps auditing an organization in 4 domains: Plan and Organize , Acquire and Implement, Deliver and Support, Monitor and Evaluate. Its scope is therefore much wider and helps aligning the IT with the company governance and planification.

So depending on what you would like to do next, you cannot assume that taking one or the other track will lead you to all type of projects, and, as an experience project manager, you will need to raise this point to your management 😉  On a final note: successful project management is usually more (always?) about finding the right Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for aligning to business objectives as described by the tools we discussed (ITIL, COBIT, etc) .

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