Sunday, January 8, 2017

CCM vs. PMP - What do you want to be when you grow up?

 A castle in the clouds design concept by artist Raphael Lacoste.

Recently in my network I have become point person for what I affectionately term: "PMP-iatry." At least once a week colleagues or acquaintances contact me wondering about requirements or the experience of certifying as a PMP.

This past week, a colleague invited me to coffee to asking what is necessary in order to start working on certification requirements. On the way to coffee, I asked him what I always ask at the outset of this conversation: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Requirements Management

Without much prompting, he mentioned his desire to continue the family construction business, and certification would be his key to success. I countered this assertion saying he could easily succeed in business by focusing on processes he already knew and hiring someone with a CCM. The idea that multiple styles of project management certifications exist was foreign to him. So, I began to explain what I learned from having spent the last few years inside a construction PMO, interacting with CCMs, reviewing materials from both exams and passing the PMP.

Both exams share essential parallels. Understandings of the critical project management functions: scope, resources, schedule, risk, contract and stakeholder management all match up. Safety management, for example, is not an implicit PMP requirement. However, these items a PM could - either with a mentorship component or subject matter expert utilization, - absorb quickly along with taking the OSHA training. During training, a crossover PM could easily begin responsibilities in the CM world, and once properly trained and assessed, venture out on their own.

The 'responsible-in-charge' requirement is a frequent point of contention, but profitable management of projects is common between both certifications. Pivoting towards profitability, discovering efficiencies, eliminating wasteful practices, and change management are defined areas of study under the PMP. 

It is also true that, of the nearly 650,000 PMPs compared to 3,400 CCMs, a good chunk are not in RIC roles. Many are though, and have direct responsibility with projects of a scope complexity, scale and budget comparable to construction projects.

Change Management

So what's the point David? 
JFK revamp plans
Rendering of  Governor Cuomo's
proposed JFK renovation

It is the following: Capital dollars spent by all three sectors vary widely annually. If the $1.0 Trillion infrastructure program ever materializes, the project backlog will be outrageous. Just now in New York, Governor Cuomo announced $10 Billion for JFK Airport renovations before the $3.0 Billion LaGuardia renovation is finished. Neither of those amounts take into account the commercial and residential construction that should kick off this year.

When all of those projects go live, there won't just be a labor supply gap. There will be an inescapable vacuum that irrevocably stalls on time and budget project delivery. Surveying industry openings just inside of LinkedIn a deficit of sufficient CCM supply already exists, while a veritable plethora of PMPs is available, many of whom are actively looking for strong opportunities.


This represents a chance for the construction industry to pivot towards profitability. Creating mentorship and talent attraction/retention programs will pay dividends off into the out years. PMI and CMAA should develop inter-agency cooperation, and practitioners from both certifications need to be involved in the cross walk. However, the end product should be a freshly minted Construction PM able to glide seamlessly from one environment to the next and back again. Enough CM firms of sufficient size and heft exist that such a thing ought to easily spontaneously generate, and be standardizable across organizations. Feel free to contact me for some ideas.

So, what do you want to be when you grow up?

The EkranoYacht. A design concept winner from Australia, powered by Hydrogen. What's in your future?