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For many certified Project Management Professionals (PMPs), the quest for professional development units (PDUs) is something between an unwelcome task and a dreadful obligation.

Of course, it’s not that PMPs are anti-learning. Rather, it’s that they’re so busy doing their jobs, that the deadline to obtain the required amount of PDUs to renew their certification sneaks up on them. This typically leads to a frenetic scavenger hunt across the digital landscape for qualifying learning events — and yet another promise not to put themselves through this for the next 3-year cycle. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that in the last few years the Project Management Institute (PMI) has made some significant changes — and if you ask many veteran PMPs, key improvements — to their continuing certification requirement (CCR) program. Here are five things that all PMPs should know to avoid having to dance the last-minute PDU tango ever again:

  • Watch Live and On-Demand Webinars

 

A few years ago, the PMI recognized that the learning landscape had greatly expanded to include thousands of relevant, topical and expert-led (and free!) webinars: everything from bringing order to the chaos of professional services delivery, to managing projects in a business agile environment, and the list goes on. Each hour learning equals one PDU within prescribed CCR program limits. Just remember to file supporting documents in case the PMI asks to see them (e.g. email confirming your attendance, screen capture, etc.). Click here for a list of Clarizen’s live and on-demand webinars, and boost your wisdom and PDUs at the same time.

 

  • Read Books

 

The next time your flight is delayed — and we all know this is going to happen sooner than later — reach for a good project management book (here’s a list of Amazon’s best sellers). Each hour of reading equals one PDU, up to a maximum of 30.  

 

  • Pat Yourself on the Back

 

It’s safe to assume that if you’re on the road to certification renewal, then you’ve been working in a project management role (even if your job title is something else). Well, take a bow and pat yourself on the back, because you’re entitled to claim a nice haul of 15 PDUs each cycle for working in the profession. Since you need 60 PDUs to renew, this will take you a quarter of the way home. Surprisingly, many PMPs aren’t aware of this.

Increase your business agility with Clarizen’s project management software

 

 

      • Share Your Wisdom

 

The PMI has always encouraged PMPs to create new project management knowledge. In the past, this typically meant putting together a formal article (or book or workshop, etc.), which wasn’t a practical option for most PMPs. However, similar to its enlightened perspective on webinars, the PMI now recognizes that blogging is a credible and legitimate way for PMPs to share their wisdom with the community. Each hour of work in this area — researching, writing, editing, revising, etc. — translates into one PDU. Just keep track of all the relevant details for reporting and audit purposes.

      • Volunteer

 

Many PMPs believe that the only ways they can earn PDUs through volunteering are by serving as an elected volunteer officer for a PMI Chapter, or for a project management association. However, the PMI also supports providing volunteer project management-related services to community groups, charitable groups or students. One PDU can be claimed for each hour of volunteer service, and the PMI has listened to the PMP community by raising the cap from a maximum of 20 PDUs for giving back to the profession (formerly called category 5), to 45 PDUs (current categories D, E and F).

The Bottom Line  

Nothing above suggests that PMPs should make it a habit to wait until the end of their cycle (or up to a year after their cycle ends, during which time their PMP designation status is suspended), and race to get a whole bunch of PDUs in as little time as possible. After all, the PD in PDU stands for professional development, and the purpose is for project managers to cultivate their knowledge.

As such, PMPs should map out their knowledge path so they not only maximize the learning opportunity, but position themselves to renew their certification with zero stress — and ideally have an excess of PDUs that can roll over and give them a head-start for the next CCR cycle.