21 August 2009

Turf Wars: Is Project Management a Profession?

If the post on whether project management is a profession piqued your interest read this paper;
The upside for professionalisation is that the name "project manager' gets protected and people can't just use the label willy nilly.   That shuld correlate into better pay for project managers as the true professionals in the community are able to stand out through their use of a reserved title and of course due to the supply/demand factor that comes with profesisonalism.

The downsid is that you end up with a higher duty of care to your clients, so no more budget and schedule blow-outs than you very much.

When you reduce the arguements to these summary points it seems it is in the best interests of 'professional' project managers nd cients to have the role become a profession.

But with such a huge demand for project managers the need to materialise them out of somewhere would mean a numebr of low grade trainng and certification operators would probably end up in the industry also.  Just like with lawyers, clents would check out where you got your credentials andthis feedback loop of privelede and class would infiltrate the industry.

Is there a better way?

Picture by Steve Punter cc at Flickrand graphic from the paper referenced above.


  1. If you email me privately, pauldgphd@gmail.com, I will email you my full PhD dissertation answering the question "Is project management a profession? And if not, what is it?" which was cited in the Jones/Young paper.

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta

  2. I have another approach in the discussion whether PM is a profession. My take is "who cares?"

    Really, why should it be important to call project manager a profession? Because otherwise one wouldn't be able to put the name on his business card?

    How jobs of project managers would be different if someone just forced as to consider it as a profession? And how would it change if this guy would say it isn't?

    The answer is it wouldn't. Our jobs won't change no matter how we label our role. So why bother?

  3. Hi Pawel,
    Actually, you represent one of three groups of stakeholders, which I do cover in my PhD dissertation.

    Essentially, it SHOULDN'T matter, as you pointed out. However, if you look at the PMI Code of Conduct/Ethics, the word "Profession" or "Professional" appears 20+ times. Same with IPMA.
    And APM right now is in the process of petitioning the UK Privy Council to create a Royal Chartered Institute of Project Managers, making project management, at least in the UK, into a profession with equal standing with the Accountants, Lawyers and Engineers.

    Now, the real question is this a good thing? With recognition as a profession, comes the LIABILITY that goes with professional negligence. Now, would you be willing to put your house and other assets on the line for the next project you do?

    No, I didn't think so.....

    Bottom line- we need to be very careful what we wish for..... As the wish may very well come true...

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta

  4. A fascinating discussion should unfold from this post. Whether or not our field becomes a recognised profession, the movement afoot to proclaim project management as a profession in the UK seems easier to ignore for the longer APM's application is delayed.

    We've followed this issue, even conducted a survey on it with PMs:

    IF you wish to read more about project management becoming a profession, check us out at How to Manage a Camel (http://projectcentric.co.uk/how_to_manage_a_camel/?cat=27) or at the Arras People web site (http://www.arraspeople.co.uk/project_management_chartered_status.html).

  5. Check out this earlier discussion on the topic too. Dr. Paul, you are at it again! :-)

    pmStudent.com - PM a profession?