The Science of Project Management

Project management has been around for centuries if not millennium. From the building of the pyramids to the construction of the great buildings of 19th century London, people have developed ways to breakdown large projects into smaller more manageable chunks, scheduled the work and obtain the materials needed for the project. During that time, many tools were developed to manage projects. However, it was not until the large, highly complex defense projects undertaken by the United States during the 1950s drove a push for a more scientific and data-driven, management approach to projects and was the beginning of the science of modern day project management.

Project Management Institute

The Project Management Institute started in 1969 as an effort to share best practices; those Today, it is a It is a non-for-profit organization with over 500,000 members. PMI has chapters throughout the world, each offered additional benefits in the form of professional development and networking opportunities.

Project Management Body of Knowledge

PMI has codified the standards for project management in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) guide. The PMBOK is best used as a reference guide, it is not recommend for cover to cover reading. The PMBOK Guide has been recognized as a Standard by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The PMBOK guide is organized into nine knowledge domains:

  • Project Integration Management
  • Project Scope Management
  • Project Time Management
  • Project Cost Management
  • Project Quality Management
  • Project Human Resource Management
  • Project Communications Management
  • Project Risk Management
  • Project Procurement Management
  • Project Stakeholder Management

Project Management Certifications

PMI offered several project management certifications. These credentials demonstrate the holders mastery of the concepts in the PMBOK and experience in the field.

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

The CAPM is an entry level certificate that is an excellent way for students to show that they understand how and will be an effective project team member. The CAPM certification requirement are listed in the table above. Please note that the 23 hours of project management education is not credit hours, but contact hours. Most students taking a semester long project management course will easily meet this education requirement.

Project Management Professional (PMP)

The PMP is the most popular of the certifications that PMI offers and requires a significant amount of experience managing projects before taking the certification exam. This experience has to be documented; Information for each each of the projects on which a potential PMP worked must be provided including the role they played in the project and contact information for third party verification. This part of the application is subject to auditing by PMI. PMI randomly audits applications to take the PMP exam, as well as a small number of existing PMPs. This do this to make sure that they requirements are being met and the credential reflects a high level of expertise in the project management field.

The number of PMP’s continues to increase each year (see the figure below, and PMP’s continue to be in demand as companies try to develop better ways to manage their projects. One area of substantial growth in the past years in demand for PMPs is in the value of a PMP is health informatics.

Each year PMI releases a salary survey of PMI credential holders, which shows that those project managers who have gone through the process of certification are compensated better than their non-certified colleagues.

Both certifications require a rigorous test. For more details visit PMI’s web site at:

Note: this is an excerpt from the new “Project Management Fundamentals” textbook published by Great River Learning. Click here for more information.