There’s a new credential available from PMI: the Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)SM. With the pilot due to finish this February it will soon be available for everyone and could be a great way to demonstrate your skills and experience in managing organizational portfolios.
It’s aimed at people who are responsible for the portfolio management solution in their companies and who align and prioritize projects and programs with corporate strategy. Portfolio management spans a lot of strategic work and decision-making. Regardless of job title, whether you are actively managing IT investment for business value or maximizing your return on R&D investment, you are involved in balancing portfolios. Does that sound like you? Then this could be a qualification to pursue.
As with all of PMI’s credentials, there are some pre-requisites before you can apply. The PfMP credential requires you to have a high school diploma or equivalent with at least 7 years of portfolio management experience in the last 15 years. Alternatively, you can cut the experience requirement to 4 years if you have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
On top of that you also need 8 years of professional business experience. This is because the qualification focuses on strategic investments and high level organizational decisions and it’s expected that candidates will have been operating in a senior roles. In short, it’s aimed at people who are responsible for making sure that the company is doing the right work and prioritizing the most appropriate investments.
The assessment itself is in two parts. First, a panel of experts will review your application and check that your experience demonstrates that you have been responsible for managing a portfolio with limited supervision. Second, there’s an exam. Like the other PMI exams, this is also multiple choice and there are 170 questions to complete in 4 hours as a computer-based test.
What does the exam cover?
If you meet the experience requirement and pass the panel review you’ll be eligible to take the exam. This covers strategic alignment and portfolio performance (which together make up 50% of the questions), governance, risk and also managing communications. It aims to cover everything from balancing the requirements of the portfolio with strategic goals and creating a portfolio roadmap to authorizing projects and continuous improvement. There is also a focus on benefits planning and realization, and cost management and financial analysis.
As well as the ‘hard’ technical skills of managing a portfolio, the credential also aims to test the softer skills of stakeholder management, developing a communications strategy, conflict resolution and coaching techniques. In fact, the list of topics covered is extensive so it’s worth checking out the PMI website to satisfy yourself that you have the right experience and knowledge before making an application.
The good news is that the exam is tool-agnostic, so it’s compatible with whatever enterprise project portfolio management system you are using at the moment, or planning to introduce.
Is it worth it?
Ultimately, only you can decide if it’s worth pursuing a new qualification, but there are some benefits to being certified with this exam or another similar qualification. Having a portfolio management credential demonstrates that you have the skills and knowledge to be able to successfully manage a portfolio and align the company’s work with organizational strategy. This can be a valuable message to send to employers and it can increase your chances of securing another role in the future by bolstering your résumé.
However, you should weigh that up against the need to find time to study and the investment you (or your firm) will make in taking the exam. From the information we have about the credential at this stage it looks as if it assesses your existing skills and experience and would not be suitable for someone aiming to take their first steps into portfolio management as a new career. In that respect, it ratifies what you currently do instead of preparing you for a future role.
Portfolio management is such an important part of getting a business to function at an optimum level these days that it really is worth taking the time to get it right. If you are responsible for the portfolio management function in your company, or are setting one up, it would definitely be worth looking out for skilled candidates to join the team who have portfolio management qualifications like this one or, of course, considering the exam for yourself.