The Project Management Profession (Read "Discipline")
Once called the "accidental profession" project management is emerging
as a distinct management discipline. Increasingly, government and private companies
are turning to project management approaches to encourage innovation, improve
efficiency, solve problems and manage scarce resources.
Lew Ireland, PMI past president, has written that the "project management
professional certification continues to be one of PMI's major services to individuals".
He has asked that the concept of professionalism be examined and light be shed
on how PMP Certification can truly epitomize professionalism.
Project management is a sub set of general management. Some believe that it
is the unrecognized engine of economic improvement! But is it a profession? It
is not at all clear that project management is a profession, when judged against
The noun "professional", in the sense of a professional person, is
defined as: "a person engaged in one of the learned professions". Or,
used as an adjective also in a professional sense: "[an activity] engaged
in by members of a profession [where] professional occupations include medicine,
the law, and teaching". We can become quickly bogged down if we search for
a clear and present project management profession. Is project management
simply a way to conduct business or is it something higher in the service of
social good? The answer is not clear, nor will it be for some time. The issue
is one of both definition and behavior.
There are two definitions of "what is a profession?". One, espoused
by many, that a profession is extant if people practice the precepts of a particular
body of knowledge and code of ethics. The other is that a profession requires
certification both in knowledge, competency to a body of knowledge, and a licensing
body that is legally responsible to public welfare, and not a lobby for a particular
skill or discipline.
Currently we have people lumping the PMI's Project Management Professional
(PMP) certification with that of doctors, lawyers, engineers and accountants.
This is nonsense and will do no good in the long run. The project management
discipline has a long way to go before it can be judged a "profession"
in that sense within any national, legal, and social framework.