Professional Development Units

Also known as PDU’s, Professional Development Units are a concept made popular by the Project Management Institute. They are from my perspective one of the most interest concepts well-crafted by this worldwide professional association. In a world strongly ruled by the discourse of rights and by the imperative of what I can get from my profession; emphasizing on values such as professional responsibility and accountability is in some sense refreshing. It provides a framework to shift the focus into the more important question of what can I do for my professional field.

This shift in perspective is ruled from the ground up as it is defined in the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. This code adhered to by any member of the PMI, any person volunteering with the PMI or any person holding or pursuing a PMI certification, ties Project Management reputation as a professional field, and its subsequent advancement, directly to the practice of every individual practitioner. 

In this sense, a three year cycle starts as soon as a Project Manager approves the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. In that time frame a minimum of 60 PDU’s must be gained and reported to the Institute, in order to renew the certification and PMP status. These PDU’s are gained by performing different sorts of activities previously categorized by the Institute. All of them aim to give back to the profession. They vary from training other colleagues for taking the PMP exam, publishing articles on the field of Project Management, volunteering Project Management duties with NGO’s, participating in conferences and forums – either as a speaker or participant – or even working in Projects on a daily basis. 

This triggers an interesting dynamic in which for one hand the institution secures a very interesting cash flow in an ongoing basis once the professionals achieve the certified status. Several of the development options and events available are offered by third parties having the Project Management discipline and training as a business. Some of those are sponsored or held by PMI itself, others are credited through an independent process for Project Management consulting and training firms. On the other hand, these chained businesses promote the professional progress. In a relatively recent field like that of Project Management, looking in the past few decades to consolidate itself as a professional practice with true and intrinsic business value, this is a very desirable objective. From my perspective and judging by the results, the overall strategy has been very successful. 

At the end of the day this approach has paid significant benefits both to Project Managers and to the companies which have taken the not always easy decision to invest in Project Management. For willing businesses, Project Management has demonstrated to be a discipline capable of achieving value and ultimate financial results if practiced in an appropriate manner. For practitioners around the world, an increasing demand and renown for Project Managers has been a constant for some years now. 

As long as we continue to show commitment and contribution to our professional field, to our everyday duties as Project Managers, and to the progress of both of them, this virtuous circle will continue; both for our professional good and for the good of our companies. No question it would be also for the good of the Project Management Institute. From my perspective that’s just fair enough. Its value resides precisely in the fact that as an institution they crafted, formalized and put to work these principles. As a practitioner of the discipline it is rewarding to be part of a professional association like this one. 

- Sergio Calvo.

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