When it comes to renewing your PMI credentials it can sometimes be a challenge to find the full complement of Professional Development Units (PDUs) you need. Now the PMI Talent Triangle has been introduced, PMP credential holders need 8 PDUs from each of the skill areas. I often hear of people mention that finding 8 PDUs in the “Strategic and Business Management” area at the base of the triangle seems the most difficult.
This might be because some training providers struggle to generate content for this category. There are mountains of existing material for “Technical Project Management” and “Leadership”, but “Strategic and Business Management” seems a little more specialized.
However, once you dig into what it contains, not only is it relatively easy to get the minimum requirement of 8 PDUs, but it is also a fertile source for collecting the maximum 19 PDUs in this category. This article examines the “Strategic and Business Management” area and provides some examples and suggestions for work and study that qualifies here.
Let’s start by getting a better understanding of what “Strategic and Business Management” actually means. Put into other words, it means all the business and industry interactions on the boundary of your project. I like to think of it as the zone immediately surrounding the project you are managing.
Before your project became a project in your organization there was (hopefully) an idea, discussions around opportunities, feasibility, ROI, and maybe competitive analysis. All these models, interactions with sponsors and advisors fall within the PMI realm of “Strategic and Business Management”.
Then, as the project progresses, anything you do to track performance against these models (financial analysis, benefits analysis, competitor product tracking) and all the interactions with the people in your organization (or client) that are involved with this information also fits into this category. During execution, anything to do with regulatory compliance, legal or market place interactions like trade fairs or journals also fall under “Strategic and Business Management”.
A critical principle for maximizing your PDU eligibility in this area is understanding that any training you undertake to learn more about how your industry interacts with strategy or benefits management fits the “industry knowledge” criteria. So, if you are in the medical profession, medical courses that link to strategy and benefits management count towards this category. If you work in the automotive sector, then training that relates to market share and competitive analysis qualifies towards “Industry knowledge”.
Projects deliver benefits to customers so anything relating to customer relationship and customer satisfaction either during or after the project fit right in. So too does benefits management and benefits realization during and after the project. Once you appreciate that this category spans all the “Why?” we undertake projects and “How?” we assess their viability, performance and benefits, you begin to realize it’s a treasure-trove of PDU opportunities rather than slim-pickings.
Here are some categories of work, published by the PMI as elements of the “Strategic and Business Management” talent triangle, along with suggestions for how to translate them to claiming PDUs:
- Benefits management and realization – Training courses, reading and discussions around how we identify, categorize, and measure project benefits. This could include financial benefits, regulatory compliance needs, market share growth, and industry reputation.
- Business acumen – Any courses, reading, discussions, listening to podcasts, etc (here after called “Learning”) about financial or strategic elements of your business or industry.
- Business models and structures – Learning about how to assess, select, prioritize and track projects in your industry, company or business unit.
- Competitive analysis – Learning about feature comparisons, products and services, pricing structures, market shares, sales volumes, growth rates, profit ratios. - Perhaps you can get PDUs for attending those monthly sales meetings!
- Customer relationship and satisfaction – Learning about customer surveys, satisfaction scores, kano analysis, prototype feedback reviews, Niko-Niko charts, etc.
- Industry knowledge and standards – Learning by attending industry conferences with strategy content. Site visits, and field work also improve your industry knowledge and exposure to standards.
- Operational functions (finance, marketing) – Learning about interacting with these business units and functions in your company. Taking internal courses about them and expanding your skills.
- Strategic planning, analysis, alignment – Learning about these processes and tools in your company and industry.
- Market awareness and conditions – Learning about trends, markets, new technologies and opportunities.
When you tap into industry knowledge and market awareness you soon realize that training does not have to be about just project management. How projects add value and contribute to a company’s success and strategic vision also counts. You become more useful and valuable as a project manager when you better understand your industry. The PMI knows this and recognizes many forms of professional development in your domain of work.
This is the key to unlocking the base of the talent triangle, the “Strategic and Business Management” component. You just need to connect your training for work with the “Industry Knowledge” and “Market Awareness” hooks in the base of the talent triangle.
Everyone with a PMI credential (except CAPM) must maintain their credential through participation in the Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) program. Now you know that the “Strategic and Business Management” portion of the talent triangle allows for a wide range of learning opportunities the whole process should get much easier.
(I first published this article on projectmanagement.com here)