If there's one area in IT that blurs the boundaries between so-called "soft skills" and hard-boiled technical skills, it's got to be project management. That's because while project management isn't exactly an IT discipline, it's essential to many job roles in IT, and actually involves a fairly meaty body of knowledge, along with a penchant for using sophisticated planning and tracking tools (such as MS Project, Intuit Quickbase, SAS, and so forth). That's why I think of project management as both a hard and a soft skill, and essential for anyone who works in IT who aspires to a team leadership or a management role in the field.
All this said, there's a profound division in the kinds of certifications available under the general heading of project management into two major areas -- namely, what I'll identify as software development projects and general IT projects for the purposes of this article. On the one hand, development projects are those that have specifically to do with software development, often involving agile methods or a specific form of agile methodology known as scrum. On the other hand, most other project management certifications take a broader view when it comes to interpreting the word "project," so that while it's certainly possible to include software development as one kind of project that might be managed following the principles and best practices associated with various "other projects" credentials, it's also more likely that they’d be run by somebody with a development project certification (or background) nowadays.
My project arrangement certification survey was conducted during the second and third weeks of September, 2013, during which period I uncovered a total of 53 project management credentials from 18 different certification sponsors. This dovetails nicely with a similar survey conducted by Mirjek Burnejko in late 2012, wherein he counted 69 credentials from 19 vendors (some of which I learned don't really touch on conventional IT project management disciplines at all). I dropped 3 sponsors and 16 credentials from that survey, and added 2 new vendors and 3 new certifications to this overall mix. If I read his last survey correctly, some of his numbers resulted from double-attribution of some of the agile credentials, particularly those attributed to both APMG and DSDM plus ICAgile (I attributed the DSDM items only to APMG and dropped the ICAgile items altogether). He also includes Six Sigma credentials, which I omit.
Because of the software development vs. general IT distinction that informs my survey, I present my results and provide discussion and recommendations in two sections, each with its own table and discussion section, starting with Software Development Project Management certifications, and continuing onto General IT Project Management certifications.
Ed Tittel is a 30-year-plus veteran of the computing industry, who’s worked as a programmer, a technical manager, a classroom instructor, a network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written and blogged for numerous publications, including Tom's Hardware, and is the author of over 140 computing books with a special emphasis on information security, Web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.
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