The Project Management Institute (PMI)® Talent Triangle™ sets out three different types of professional development areas that project managers are expected to focus on to maintain their certification. Two of those areas are Leadership, and Strategic and Business Management. The third side of the Triangle is Technical Project Management.
If you aren’t familiar with the Talent Triangle, it’s a way of describing what skills, behaviors, and competencies a project manager needs to work successfully in the role. Project management is such a broad discipline, and what you need in one organization can be different from the same job (with the same job title) in another organization. The Talent Triangle is a straightforward way of categorizing the different skills a project manager needs.
The Triangle also forms the basis of assessing your professional development, and PMI requires you to undertake regular education in each of the Triangle areas. For many PMP certified individuals, earning the Technical PDUs seems to come naturally. Between going to PMI Chapter events, taking e-learning courses, or attending conferences, there are plenty of opportunities to refresh and develop your technical skills.
But how do you earn Leadership PDUs? What kind of activities count towards Strategic and Business PDU credits? As project managers, do we even have the opportunity to earn those? (Yes, you do, by the way.)
In this article, we’ll do a deep dive into the trickier two sides of the Talent Triangle: Leadership and Strategic and Business Management skills. We won’t be covering Technical Project Management development activities. If you want more information about those, you can read the complete PMI guidelines in the CCR Handbook.
Let’s start with Leadership.
Leadership is defined in the CCR Handbook as:
Knowledge, skills, and behaviors specific to leadership-oriented, cross-cutting activities that help an organization achieve its business goals.
As a project manager, you need to use leadership skills to run a successful project. You should be able to lead your team and keep them motivated even when life working on the project is challenging.
You also need to understand various leadership models and approaches, so you can switch up your style to be the leader your team needs at different points in the project lifecycle and your career overall.
Some of the training and professional development you do as a project manager will fall into the PMI Leadership side of the Triangle. However, sometimes it is difficult to see how your online course or other learning experience relates directly to a leadership competency.
Strategic and Business Management skills are described CCR Handbook as:
Knowledge of and expertise in the industry or organization that enhances performance and better delivers business outcomes.
When you develop these skills, you will understand more about your industry, your marketplace, and the contribution of your colleagues in different departments. You are better equipped to make a positive difference through your project because you understand your business better.
While you might not go on an accountancy course, you can develop your skills in these areas by spending time with your colleagues, being mentored on these topics, listening to podcasts and webinars about your industry, attending industry-specific events and reading books about business management. When you start thinking about it, you’ll find plenty of ways to show that you are developing your management skills over time.
There are lots of ways to earn PDUs and plenty of opportunities to do so if you go looking for them, and we’ve already mentioned several.
The CCR program considers PDUs based on the activity you perform. There are many activities available to you where you can earn PDUs, such as attending PMI Global Congress events, where there are often speakers covering leadership and strategic topics. Often conference organizers will flag which area of the Triangle is covered by each talk, so you can plan your day to get the PDUs you need.
However, there is a definite trend towards earning PDUs online using your mobile phone or tablet. This is an easy and cost-effective way to pick up PDU credits. There is a wide range of webinars and podcasts available to help you earn PDUs in the relevant Talent Triangle areas.
In the CCRS, online learning falls under the Education category, and you want to look for the ‘Online or Digital Media’ category. This is where you should record your online learning.
Many providers offer online courses for PMP PDUs. Search for courses, podcasts, and webinars that come from a reliable source – look for the PMI Registered Education Provider logo. Then you can be sure that the provider is following PMI mandatory criteria for ensuring quality, and you will have learning goals and an assessment of these goals at the end.
Most importantly, the PDUs offered by PMI R.E.P.’s are pre-approved by PMI. You will never have a problem claiming or justifying your PDUs if you use Registered Education Providers to deliver your PDU activities.
There is normally a cost associated with PMI R.E.P.’s materials. However, if you choose not to use a Registered Education Provider, for example, watching a TED talk on YouTube about Leadership, then it is not pre-approved. It may still qualify as a Leadership PDU, but PMI may audit your claim or (at worst) reject it. If that happens, you will have to find other ways to make up your PDU total. You watched an interesting video and probably learned from it, but in PDU terms, that investment of your time was wasted.
One recommendation to gain pre-approved is our very own PDU Podcast at www.pducast.com. This is a video-based tool that allows you to download all webinars directly to your phone and earn at least 1 PDU every month. And it covers all the different Talent Triangle domains.
As a PMP credential holder, you need a minimum of 8 Technical, 8 Leadership, and 8 Strategic and Business Management PDUs.
These all fall into the Education category in the CCRS. Overall, you need a minimum of 35 in the Education category. Once you have got 8 in each domain, you will have 24 in total, after which you can make up the remaining 11 from any Talent Triangle side. For example, if you take a one-and-a-half-day long course on project scheduling, that’s another 12 Technical PDUs that you can claim, and you hit your target of 35. Or you can earn Strategic PDUs by being mentored by a leader in your business on general management techniques, for example.
You can claim all 60 PDUs required over the 3-year cycle in the Education category. Once you have hit the 8/8/8 minimum, keep going! You can take courses, listen to podcasts and watch webinars without being concerned about what side of the Talent Triangle the activity falls under. Do keep a record of what you have done though so that you can record it accurately in the CCRS.
It’s best to focus on working out how to earn Leadership PDUs and Strategic and Business Management PDUs first because typically, project managers find it more of a challenge to identify activities that count in these areas. Get those covered off first, and you’ll have more time to focus on filling the gaps with additional activities.
You can look at earning PMP PDUs like a project that lasts three years. You have to plan your professional development activity over that time. If you don’t, you’ll find it difficult to try to squash 60 PDUs in the last few months before your PMP renewal!
Make life easier for yourself and create a plan to schedule when and how you want to earn PDUs. Add the dates to your calendar, and once you have earned them, quickly transfer them to the CCRS and store your evidence in a single folder, so you can refer back to it if needed.
An even easier option is to sign up for a product that delivers PDUs to you regularly, like The PDU Podcast.
Download the CCR Handbook and review the Leadership and Strategic and Business Management areas of the Talent Triangle to take your next steps to earning your PMP PDUs.
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