An interview with Dr. Hans Stromeyer

An interview with Dr. Hans Stromeyer 28.04.2014 - Michael Frahm, Director of the non-profit KBPM research initiative, requested an interview from Dr. Hans Stromeyer, President of the IAPM International Association of Project Managers. Michael Frahm has over 10 years of experience as construction project manager and received the renowned Project Management Award for his work in 2010. In the interview, he talks to Dr. Hans Stromeyer about the IAPM’s certifications, how they differ to the certifications offered by other project management associations and about the IAPM’s mission and vision for the next few years.

In what ways is the IAPM fundamentally different to the GPM/IPMA or PMI?

There are many differences. I’ll talk you through the most important ones:
  • The IAPM is an association for project managers, while the GPM, IPMA and PMI are project management associations.
    Let me give you an example - The amount that you would pay for membership in another association is around the same amount that you’d pay to convert an existing certificate (even an expired one) into an IAPM certificate with life-long validity. This certificate then provides you with access to higher-level certifications - or Certified International Project Manager (IAPM) certification. And you can attend all the IAPM events around the world.

  • The IAPM’s mission is to provide anyone who is interested with ‘no strings attached‘ access to project management knowledge. For example, the IAPM’s guides can be downloaded free of charge from the website. The IAPM network events (which are organised by the Network Officials in each Metropolitan Area and listed on the IAPM website) can be attended by any IAPM certificate holder. They are only required to pay a small contribution to costs at some events. Let me give you an example. We recently had an event in Zurich that included a guided tour of the St. Gotthard Tunnel. Anyone who was interested could register on XING to see one of the currently most exciting construction projects in its development phase. In other words: the IAPM is open to everyone.

  • The IAPM certificates and examinations are based on two fundamental principles. They confirm the holder’s project management competence and they are people-focused. In addition to being able to use project management methods effectively, project managers need social skills and communication skills. That’s why one of the leading project management textbooks says “Project management is 90 % communication“. Our Project Management Guides and our certification examinations focus on the project manager as a person. Hence our name, the “International Association of Project Managers“.

  • The IAPM examinations are online, so the candidates can choose where and when to sit the examination. It’s a fair and transparent examination procedure. All certification candidates can check whether they are ready for the examination before taking it with the self-test. The self-test results provide precise information about the topics that need more revision in order to pass the certification examination.

  • IAPM certificates are valid indefinitely. Once you are certified, you don’t need to obtain recertification like you do at the other project management organisations.

  • The examination fees are based on the GDP of the candidate’s native country. This provides project managers in poorer countries with the opportunity to take project management courses and document their project management competence in a lifelong certificate.

Are certified project managers better project managers?

A certification examination is like any other examination. To pass it, the candidate has to have a detailed knowledge of the subject. A project management certificate documents this knowledge in the same way that other certificates and diplomas document knowledge in other subjects. It is proof of the person’s interest in the subject and his level of knowledge at the time of the examination. No more - but no less.

The second aspect is a person’s professional experience. So a certificate alone doesn’t make the project manager better, but it does get him off to a better start in the project than somebody with no theoretical knowledge would have. And, having a certificate in your curriculum vitae is an undisputed advantage. It proves that you were willing to invest time and money in professional advancement.

The PM Guide 2.0 only has 54 pages. Is that enough as the basis for certification?

The PM Guide 2.0 isn‘t just a text book, it also includes action plans and checklists for various project stages and information about which tools to use in which stage of the project (Project Atlas). It has templates for preparing a project file and for conducting meetings and reviews efficiently. I’d say that the PM Guide 2.0 helps a certification candidate to answer a good number of questions, but not all of them. For thorough preparation, you can additionally use other textbooks such as “The Naked Project Manager” by Roland Ottmann, “Project Manager“ by Ottmann/Schelle/Pfeiffer or any other project management textbook. We always recommend project management newcomers to prepare thoroughly for certification, for example, by taking part in a course that is given by an IAPM-certified trainer. This gives them the opportunity to go into some topics in more depth and discuss them in a group situation.

If an experienced project manager wants to obtain IAPM certification, what approach do you advise him to take?
Certified Senior Project Manager (IAPM) is geared to project managers with at least five years of experience in the field of project management, three of which in a senior position or a position with major responsibilities. The “PM Guide 2.0” forms the basis for the knowledge questions. The examination covers both the hard and soft factors of project management.
All information about projects provided by the applicant is checked by the IAPM. The individual stages in the certification process are explained on the IAPM’s website.

The IAPM differs from other associations in this respect, too. People who have project management certification and want to obtain higher-level certification after several years of project experience don’t have to retake the examination. They simply have to provide proof of their experience!

How many certified project managers do you have and how has your organisation developed since 2010?

A board resolution prevents me from telling you exactly how many certificates we have issued to date. However, I can tell you that project managers in 31 different countries have taken our certification examination. And the IAPM has developed at a much faster pace than we had originally hoped, which proves that we are on the right track with our concept.

What is your mission and vision? Where will the IAPM be in 10 years’ time?

Mission: The IAPM aims to play a central role in supporting project managers in all disciplines, from traditional to agile and international. Its public relations activities raise awareness for project managers and the incredible challenges that they face, and it is committed to providing free access to project management literature to anyone who is interested. As an independent association without an umbrella organisation, it can respond promptly and flexibly to new developments.
We believe strongly in the importance of people in projects, particularly to ensuring that project management personnel have the necessary competencies. The IAPM’s competence centres promote project management know-how exchange and project manager networking. They cater to project managers, scrum masters, product owners in agile projects and new project management functions and competencies that haven’t yet emerged. The IAPM is an independent certification body which examines the knowledge and competence of the certification candidates with a comprehensive, fair and neutral online examination system. The certification system is therefore tailored to the challenging world of young, innovative and high-powered project managers in the 21st century.

Vision in 10 years‘ time: In 2024 the IAPM’s competence network will span all the Metropolitan Areas in the European Union. There will be additional competence networks in South-East Asia, North America, South America and Africa. We will also be extending our Network University in the majority of these regions so that we can promote academic exchange between the next generation of project managers.

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