Is Earning the PMP Credential an S.M.A.R.T. Goal for You?
Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT
An S.M.A.R.T. goal is defined as one that is specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound. The S.M.A.R.T. acronym for goals has been around since 1981 – where it first appeared in the Management Review written by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham.
Let’s look at each element of an S.M.A.R.T. Goal –
Specific: If you’re being S.M.A.R.T – make sure you are specific with your goal. For earning your PMP credential, you want to PASS the PMP exam to earn the credential, not just prepare for the PMP exam. We at Cheetah Learning have seen far too many students that have wasted several years in preparation for earning the PMP because they missed this one simple aspect of setting their PMP goal. The goal is not just to prepare to pass the PMP exam – it is to PASS the PMP exam. Cheetah’s Accelerated PMP Exam Prep program aligns itself with the very specific goal of helping you PASS the PMP exam. Cheetah students are required to have their PMP exam date scheduled for the day after they complete Cheetah’s program, BEFORE they start the PMP exam prep process. When your goal is to PASS the PMP exam and not just merely prep for the PMP exam, you need to go with Cheetah Learning.
Measurable: Passing the PMP exam is tangible evidence you have achieved your goal of becoming PMP certified. There are short term measurements built into the goal on the path to becoming PMP certified:
1. Experience – you must have accumulated the requisite hours of leading projects and doing the work of a project manager BEFORE you can become a PMP. If you have a college degree, you will need to demonstrate you have at least 4500 hours of non-overlapping PM experience over a five year period. If you do not have a college degree, you will need to demonstrate you have at least 7500 hours of non-overlapping PM experience over a seven year period. Cheetah Learning is adept at helping you position your experience in the project management context.
2. Education – you must show you have taken at least 35 hours of basic project management education. If you do not have 35 hours of basic PM education, Cheetah Learning includes a PMI approved 35 hour basic PM education as part of it’s online pre-course for their accelerated PMP exam prep program.
3. Eligibility – you must clearly exhibit you meet the criteria to become PMP certification on PMI’s eligibility application. We have seen many qualified people be deemed ineligible by PMI for becoming PMP certified because they did not fill out the PMI PMP Eligibility application correctly. At Cheetah Learning we review EVERY student’s PMI Eligibility application BEFORE they submit it to ensure they have filled it out in the way PMI will most likely accept their PM experience.
4. Passing the PMP Certification Exam – you must pass PMI’s PMP exam to earn the PMP credential. This is a four hour long exam with 200 very difficult questions that test both your working knowledge of being a practicing project manager and your fundamental understanding of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). A group of volunteers working with the Project Management Institute (PMI) updates the PMBOK every three years. So make sure you are using the most current version when preparing for the PMP exam. Forty percent of everyone who attempts the PMP exam fails the first time. Unless you go through Cheetah Learning, then you increase your chances of passing the PMP exam to 98%.
Achievable: Your goal to becoming PMP certified should be achievable. We find there are three schools of people who pursue the PMP:
1. Over Confident Karl (or Karla) – this is the project manager who has been practicing project management for years and feels they know everything there is to know about project management. They may do a cursory read of the PMBOK, take a couple of practice exams on line and then go for it. Universally they are humbled. Then they register for a Cheetah Learning Accelerated PMP Exam Prep program and after four days, they go in and pass the PMP exam.
2. Insecure Sam (or Samantha) – this is the project manager who typically has had the responsibility for project performance for years in a variety of positions, but may have never formerly had the title “project manager.” They aren’t sure they really even know enough about project management to consider becoming a PMP, but may be being pushed into from an employer or feel they need to earn this credential to upgrade their career and get paid what they are worth. Without this external push, they may never go for it. They typically will get every PMP prep resource they can get their hand on, may take a six month weekend prep class at their local college, and may even participate in a PMP study group at work. They go in all nervous to take the PMP exam, and end up being in the 40% who do not pass. Unless they register for Cheetah Learning where they learn exactly what they need to know to pass the PMP exam, master how to integrate it with their vast experience base, and become adept at reducing their exam anxiety. This helps them be successful the PMP exam – despite their fears.
3. Realistic Rachel (or Raul) – this is the project manager who knows this is a very tough exam, and regardless of their PM experience, they need some expert guidance and coaching to quickly pass the PMP exam and get on with building their career. They may have already heard of Cheetah Learning from a friend, family member of co-worker and realize this really is their best chance for passing the PMP exam, with the least amount of effort. They aren’t swayed by the GRQ copycats that claim to be just like Cheetah and have look alike programs – but are rather vague about their guarantee, how they calculate their pass rate, or if in fact the hundreds of classroom courses they have listed on their websites will even be held. They are grounded in the reality of the immensity of the task before them and know to significantly increase their chances of passing the PMP exam, they have to take Cheetah’s four day accelerated exam prep approach to passing the PMP exam.
Passing the PMP exam after only four days of Cheetah’s Accelerated PMP Exam prep is achievable for 98% of people – it most likely will even be achievable for you.
Results-focused: Passing the PMP exam is based on how well you do preparing to pass the PMP exam. Make sure your PMP exam prep efforts are results focused. Let’s look at two project managers:
1. Project Manager One – lets call him Anxious Alan. Alan sets out a detailed project plan for how he will prepare for the PMP exam. He purchases numerous PMP exam prep resources on the web. He takes a PMP Prep course another PMP in his company created from 5 – 8 PM on Mondays and Wednesday for June, July and August. He joins an online study group. He forfeits his participation in his favorite summer golf league because he needs to help take care of the children and he can’t do it all. He way over plans and his study efforts are not that effective because he doesn’t have any experience with what is really required to pass the PMP exam. His low confidence level in the task of preparing for the PMP exam is countered by way more prep and way more time than is actually required. He waits to schedule his PMP exam until he feels like he is ready to take the PMP exam. Instead of becoming more confident with his preparations, the more he gets into this, the more he realizes he may never feel prepared to take the PMP exam.
2. Project Manager Two – lets call her Pragmatic Patty. Patty realizes there is a very efficient way to pass the PMP exam. She does a cost benefit analysis and sees that it literally pays to take Cheetah’s Accelerated PMP Exam Prep approach. She follows their expert, time tested, extensively verified, proven approach to passing the PMP exam and is a PMP literally two weeks after she started the whole process – from registering. to having her PMI PMP application accepted, to preparing and passing the PMP exam.
Think about it – if you had the choice of hiring a project manager for getting results with your projects – would you prefer to hire Anxious Alan or Pragmatic Patty? Results driven Project Managers show up that way for all their projects – including how they pursue earning the PMP credential.
Time-bound: Pursuing a goal of earning the prestigious, globally recognized project management credential – the PMP, is a significantly prominent goal for most people who realize at least a $20,000 pay raise and move into a different career track with more opportunities for advancement. The more tension you can create with your current reality and the vision of your goal of becoming a PMP, the more likely you will be in becoming a PMP. If you say – “well someday when X, Y, Z is happening, I will start doing what is required to become a PMP,” we can pretty much assure you, you may never become a PMP. But when you say, “I need and want to become a PMP before PMI changes the PMP exam again – so I need to get this done within the next three months. What is the most efficient way for me to achieve this goal?” – you can dramatically increase your chances of earning the PMP credential.
Be S.M.A.R.T. goal oriented – register for Cheetah’s Accelerated PMP Exam Prep program today to ensure you become PMP certified before the PMP exam changes in 2018.