Conclusions and Recommendations
It should be clear to everyone that this preliminary model is an experiment designed to:
- See if it was feasible to produce a meaningful ratio scale against which to rank order and compare the relative standings of the various credentials from published information by each professional organization, readily available from their respective websites, and;
- Generate sufficient interest for others to carry this research forward in a more academically sound and rigorous manner.
The model created, while admittedly containing anomalies, establishes that the right information published by the various professional organizations could be used as the basis for meaningful comparison. Our results from this model suggest a reasonable degree of reliability at least in the context of the four variables: experience, education, testing and assessment. That is to say, while further research is clearly needed as indicated earlier, the model does show the relative standing of the various credentials examined.
That brings up the second question - has this study attracted enough attention and generated sufficient interest for researchers to be willing to invest the time and effort in further investigation? And are the professional organizations willing to fund such research and open their testing and assessment processes to independent analysis?
We believe that project management practitioners and those who hire their skills and services have the reasonable expectation to be able to evaluate the various credentials, based not on marketing hype or urban legends, but based on sound, academically rigorous comparison. For that reason, we are issuing a challenge to other practitioners and academics to join us in pressuring the professional organizations to open up their credentialing processes to enable evaluation of what a credential actually tests for and what it represents in terms of producing competent practitioners.
The recommendations that we have derived from this study are:
- For those organizations or individuals who feel uncomfortable with the results of this research, then by all means establish better data, or create a better model, or take steps to increase the PSCORE of the organization by increasing the requirements of WEXP, BDEG, MDEG, ARTH, EXAM and ATCA.
- Taking the cue from the US Supreme Court findings in North Dakota and Florida, that all professional organizations should seriously consider dropping the "experience in lieu of a degree" at least for their mid and top-level credentials. In today's highly competitive, global environment, nearly all "professional" positions require a four-year degree at a minimum.
- Consistent with the professionalization of other occupations such as nursing, civil engineering and social work, all professional organizations should start to consider requiring a Masters Degree for their top-level credentials. This would be consistent with organizations such as the World Bank, UN Projects Office and NGO's such as USAID, AUSAID, etc in the hiring of their professional consultants.
- Given that some of the credentials are used as requirements for screening potential employees, in effect de facto licenses, such organizations should be willing to open their exam databases to qualified researchers to assess what they actually measure. That information should then be publicly available. Equivalency, transportability and reciprocity are important global issues today and an independent and meaningful comparison is needed.
- Evidence is growing that at least some of the more mature organizations are moving away from knowledge-based credentials and towards competency-based credentials. All professional organizations that are interested in seeing the credibility and market acceptance of their certifications growing, need to take steps to see that work experience is properly validated.
- If practitioners want to improve the professional image of the practice of project management, they should lobby for the incorporation of a formal internship/mentorship program into appropriate qualifications.
If anyone is interested in this topic for their Masters or PhD dissertation, the author would be willing to serve as an advisor or supervisor in conducting a more rigorous, academically defendable study.