PMI from not for profit to a money making machine

To be clear from the start, this article is critical of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and its practices.

I also know some will jump and say “you have a hidden agenda”; therefore before anyone jump,

  1. I ask you to visit my personal website and you see a history of volunteerism to Project Management and PMI, including global leadership positions.
  2. In term of a hidden agenda, I have NONE, since I am coming out in the open and critiquing – even criticizing PMI practices – so my agenda is in the open.

What is my agenda?

Explaining to the general community some of the issues so they can understand – why we will not renew our PMP, or Registered Education Provider status, or join the Consultant Registry … or … or

This topic is quite extensive so we might end up with a few articles on this subject. Today we will address an issue related to the REP (Registered Education Provider Program).

What is the Registered Education Provider (REP) program?

PMI REP LogoThe REP program is a program launched by PMI in 1999 to review and register education providers that offer project management training. It is supposed to be a “stamp” of quality that PMI assigns to those organizations who agree to adhere to certain standards of education services. The program has evolved since then to more than 1000 providers around the world today.

Are all REP quality providers?

Sadly – NO. I recognize this is an opinion and it might be a biased one. I will not say much here except the following:

Visit the REP Site – select REP from your city or country – read their information – visit the activities that they post on the REP page – visit their websites … what will you find? A good percent of them, project management is not even a feature. In that case would you trust these organizations for your project management learning? If not, then a question would be: how did PMI accept them as REP?

On the other hands, a good percent of REP are highly qualified and are led by subject matter experts and thought leaders – not business people.

Why do I raise the above? I raise it as a background for the following sections. The primary issue is that there are problems with the REP program, the quality of the program, and project management education can be significantly improved.

I, the author of this article – was on the REP Advisory Group from 2005 to 2007 and during the period of time, the advisory group raised many suggestions for improvement but not were applied – this is another topic.

What is the issue with REP today – more background?

Under the headline “improving the REP program” PMI raised our fees 20% last year. The majority of REP (if not most) who commented on this issue were critical of PMI. The main challenge for most of us was: where is the value? What did PMI specifically do to improve the quality of the program or PM education to justify an increase. No outcome and most of us just accept and we consider this a “Tax” to pay.

PMI did not stop with the above increase.

We can guess that one of the most popular courses REP offer is a PMP exam prep course. Most, if not all REP, offer such a course. The ethical providers when we teach a PMP course we realize we have to use PMBOK content … therefore, to respect copyrights guidelines, we buy the PMBOK and give to our class participants. Although, the PMBOK is written and updated by volunteers – PMI does not pay for the content – they only cover some expenses associated with volunteers meetings, etc. So the content is free to PMI but PMI sell it – some of us can accept this – other do not … but this is not the issue today.

More money – $1000 per REP

The issue today – is PMI saying: [i am paraphrasing :)] If a provider is teaching a PMP prep class you must be using the PMBOK as a reference … and you must be either copy pasting from the PMBOK or “paraphrasing”. Therefore, each REP that teaches a PMP class must pay $1000 US for the right to “paraphrase” the PMBOK!

We do not violate the copyrights … and as I said before, we buy and give out the PMBOK guide.So PMI is earning money from when we conduct classes … But PMI knows that no one can teach a PMP class without mentioning topics from the PMBOK Guide – therefore this is a money making opportunity.

The issues are:

  1. A non-REP (or some un-ethical REP) around the world can possibly copy-paste the PMBOK and PMI cannot do anything about, even if they know
  2. An ethical REP who use PMBOK content – give the participants a copy of the PMBOK
  3. Most of the PMBOK content comes from volunteers for free
  4. Most of the PMBOK content comes from practice and standards and not invented by PMI … concepts like Project Life Cycle, Earned Value Management, Stakeholders Management, Critical Path, Parametric Estimating, Cost Budgeting, Risk Identification and Analysis … are all topics covered in hundreds of books — the PMBOK summarize of these concepts and re-package them!

PMI is making millions of dollars from REP, members, and certificate holders … yet they are always looking for another money-making opportunity.

Closing remarks

The issue with the $1000 is creating a great deal of critique on the PMI REP site … which is not open to the public – only to REP. After a few weeks of critique PMI finally officially responder yesterday and all responses since then are critical of the PMI response. Some REP are considering withdrawing from the program. After 10 years in the program, SUKAD is one of the first in West Asia, we will not renew when our license expire later this year.

The following is from a discussion on LinkedIn – PMI REP Official Group … I am sharing the post as is. This is not my statement, it is by another REP leader Mr. Kevin Archbold, PMP, PMI-SP.

Mr. Archbold shared the following statement, which is on the Notice page of the PMBOK Guide.

“While PMI administers the process and establishes rules to promote fairness in the development of consensus, it does not write the document, and it does not independently test, evaluate, or verify the accuracy or completeness of any information or the soundness of any judgments contained in its standards and guideline publications”

The following is what Mr. Archbold added: “If PMI wants to own the PMBOK content, then they should step up and own it, and answer basic interpretation questions for instance. PMI profits immensely from the PMBOK, but this statement basically says they will not stand behind it, at least from a project management perspective.”

 

There will be future articles on this theme!

About Mounir Ajam

Mounir Ajam is eager to awaken the giant of project management within individuals, organizations, and nations! He is an experienced executives with global experience working on projects from the United States to Japan and in between. He has been privileged to work on multiple small projects and mega projects. Mounir is an author, volunteer leader, speaker, consultant, executive coach, and entrepreneur who is open for further learning and sharing.
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16 Responses to PMI from not for profit to a money making machine

  1. Ali says:

    Mr. Mounir, Thanks for sharing this post. I didn’t know that PMI doesn’t own the PMBoK content!! How does your decision to withdraw from PMI REP affect SUKAD business?

    • Mounir Ajam says:

      Dear Mr. Ali

      I think one point is not clear – PMI owns the PMBOK.

      What I mentioned is that a great deal of the content of the PMBOK was there before the PMBOK was written, concepts like Earned Value Management, Project Life Cycle, Quality Management, Cost Engineering, Critical Path … all of these topics has existed since the 1940s and 1950s but PMI was not established until 1969 and first PMBOK published in 1996.

      Also other content was donated by the volunteers but PMI practice is that before anyone submit a single idea – PMI make them sign release of the right to the content and giving PMI ownership.

      Further, PMI as an organization is mostly employees and most of them are not in project management – so PMI as an organization does not have employees that generate the content and standards —- all standards and IP content comes from the volunteers but as I said before – PMI take the ownership.

      Regards

  2. WY says:

    Thanks Mounir for sharing your view.
    I am not in PMI Leadership so don’t think I am in any position to agree or disagree some of your points.
    But as an “outsider’s” view, the issues you mentioned resonates with me.
    The general awareness of PMP is higher than that of R.E.P. in the industry… to the practitioners, and organizations. While we can see PMI is doing great job in promoting PMP (and other PMI credentials), we hope they can do likewise for law-abiding R.E.P.s (see, even we state R.E.P. as per their specifications :))
    The PMI model has been so successful that other non-profits professional bodies started to follow their business model in contents and credential administration. Maybe it’s time for PMI to self reflect on it’s purpose and back to its root why the organization exists.
    All I can say is to quote Google’s motto: “Don’t Be Evil”…

    • Mounir Ajam says:

      Thanks Wee Yang
      I agree that PMI is doing a great job in promoting the PMP but we might have a different opinion on “great” for what🙂 ?
      In my view, PMI has promoted the PMP to the point where the PMP is losing respect but that is a topic for another blog!

  3. Homam Alkhateeb says:

    Dear Mounir,
    such an article will demonstrate the truth, it is a shame that PMI did and continue doing such things , we did not renew our licence last year due to these reasons.
    after all we trust our selves and need no more than our names to win trust of our customers so do Sukkad, i believe if PMI continued with current strategy PMP will lose respect as you said and REP program will be only for those new entrances…

  4. ahmed says:

    I do believe strongly that PMP certification is only intending for American people & citizens and purely for united state population or the holders of Citizenship of United state due to many factors , It is connecting to Congress, it profitable organizations , there is no integrity at all , and there is no marking score!!!, there is no measure and cretira to pass/or Fail , and profit oriented , I shocked some Americans work with me as project engineers and they don’t have basic rules or ground rules of basic project management skill, it is fake certificate , US gove use it by utilizing their certifications to reduce American un-employment to send them overseas after the recession , it is not For emerging country or arabic wotrd even if you are hard-working and holding Phd .American with Vocational School or who served on army can get the the certifications while PhD holders from arab countries can not achieve it !!!!! it is a big joke with fake definations .

  5. AJ says:

    Great Article, I also would like to add the following:
    1. People with no PM experience can get certified as PMP because only about 10% being audited.
    2. Those who get audited, requires to contact their managers or coworkers from the past to sign proof that candidate worked on those project. In reality each candidate can sign himself.
    3. If PMI truly professional, shouldn’t they do the experience verification themselves? It’s like hiring a pilot and not running work experience background. When we’re getting hired for work, HR department does verify your previous work experience. With PMI you pay them, and yet you the one who is obligated to do that in case of audit.

  6. ahmed says:

    I do believe strongly that PMP certification is only intending for American people & citizens and purely for united state population or the holders of Citizenship of United state due to many factors , It is connecting to Congress, it profitable organizations , there is no integrity at all , and there is no marking score!!!, there is no measure and cretira to pass/or Fail even if you read the PMP book 100 times and rita maculahy books ( spending thousands of dollars to get methodlogies ) like I did and the Exam was tricky in such silly situation , I could make sure 172 answers among 200 are correct , I have appealed to the Score and their reponse is not professional enough , I have shocked some Americans work with me as project engineers and Iam better than them 100 times by implementing the methodlogies correctly as per their PMbook and they don’t have basic rules or ground rules of basic project management skill, it is fake certificate ( it depends on your race and your root , this is discrimnating institute), US gove use it by utilizing their certifications to reduce American un-employment to send them overseas after the recession on Sept-2008, it is not For emerging country or arabic Professional even if you are hard-working and holding Phd you can not pass .Americans with Vocational School or who served on army can get the the certifications while PhD holders from arab countries can not achieve it . Can somebody justify why it is happening on the arabic world ( why few ceritfied Arabs among the holders ( only educational providers they got certified easily to generate money of them , I think this is the problem of globalization effects on our countries .

    • Mounir Ajam says:

      Dear Ahmed,

      I am not sure we agree on all of your points but you do raise something we keep telling our clients and unfortunately, many do not understand our position and this that we are criticizing PMI. There are numerous issues with the certification.

      What we would love to have and see is a government in the region that is willing to develop our own standards and certifications – using global leading practices but with understanding of our local and regional factors. We can have something better!

      • Sri R says:

        Dear All,

        I am getting little disappointed to see this blog and article. I just completed my PMP certification recently, hoping that it would add value for one’s career growth. Are you all trying to say that, in coming near future PMI will loose its credibility and value? In similar lines other project management education providers like Scrum Alliance or Safe Agile, does also fall into same category in future? Myself being in project management for the last more than 10+ years, found PMP useful and gives any one basic understanding and broader framework for suggesting best industry standard practices. I only personally feel that it lacks demonstration of real time practical implementation techniques. Though PMBOK may be containing distilled information from all of the various knowledge areas and contribution from volunteers, I personally feel that the content is well organized and neatly presented.
        Please let me know your thoughts on this.

        Thanks
        Sri/-

        • Mounir Ajam says:

          Dear Sir

          I think in your message you are answering yourselves.

          “… found PMP useful and gives any one basic understanding and broader framework for suggesting best industry standard practices. I only personally feel that it lacks demonstration of real time practical implementation techniques.”

          Notice what you said – in one sentence you are talking about best practices and in another you are talking about lacking techniques.

          In our view – PMI is hurting its own brand and certification with the PMI current practices. But this is our opinion

  7. DaCheeze says:

    Mark Langley EVP and COO of PMI
    $1,519,656 annual compensation as of 12/31/11
    $68,572 deferred
    $35,243 benefits

    • Mounir Ajam says:

      DaCheeze
      What is the source of this information?
      I am not surprised and I do wonder what it is now 5 years later and as CEO not COO.
      By the way; PMI as a not for profit, are not they supposed to disclose to the public the salaries of their staff? total salaries and the top gang?

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