TL; DR: Project Management Institute (PMI) provides its global community with access to valuable industry knowledge, networking opportunities, and professional development resources. The association’s certifications and courses, which lie at the core of its strategic efforts, are designed to help professionals advance in their current position or take on new roles. With PMI’s Citizen Developer courses, handbook, and interactive community, members can acquire the skills they need to fundamentally transform their businesses through the power of technology — whether they’re learning to build no-code applications as a practitioner or support server environments as an architect.
Time has a way of transforming buzzwords into well-established best practices. At least that’s the case with digital transformation — described as any IT modernization effort that fundamentally changes how a business delivers value.
The pandemic made it brutally clear that leaders who fail to embrace technical change risk the continuity of their businesses. Even under normal circumstances, research shows that the adoption of digital technologies accelerates progress toward financial gains, workplace diversity, and sustainability goals by 22%.
Regardless, many businesses can’t evolve their technical foundations without adequate tech talent. According to Dave Garrett, Chief Strategy and Growth Officer at Project Management Institute (PMI), 86% of IT decision-makers report that the most significant barrier to their digital business transformation efforts is a lack of software developers.
That’s where citizen development comes in.
“The idea behind citizen development is that anyone can build applications without software experience through low-code and no-code platforms,” Dave told us. “Not only that — but it can be done significantly faster and at a fraction of the cost.”
PMI is spearheading this emerging business trend with a training approach designed to accelerate citizen development while eliminating organizational risk.
“Our Citizen Developer product line allows individuals, teams, and organizations to learn the foundations and best practices of citizen development so they can maximize its benefits in a secure and scalable way across an entire organization,” Dave said. “This suite is our latest offering that allows project managers and their teams to work smarter and turn ideas into reality.”
PMI’s Citizen Developer initiative is just one part of the association’s larger mission to help members advance their careers, boost organizational strength, and further the project management profession. Other benefits include a range of thought leadership, networking opportunities, and professional development resources.
Growing Community of Project Professionals and Changemakers
In 1969 Jim Snyder, of Smith, Kline & French Laboratories, and Gordon Davis, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, were having dinner in Philadelphia and decided there was a need for an organization that offered project managers a forum to share information and discuss their industry. Articles of incorporation were filed in Pennsylvania that same year. The organization is well-known for its Project Management Professional® certification, which was launched in 1984 and has since become a standard in project management.
Dave told us that PMI’s founders created the group’s early goals in response to a growing need for professional talent dedicated to bringing ideas to life. They formed the association to establish project management as a profession. Today, PMI serves as the world’s leading community of those involved in project, program, or portfolio management. More than 600,000 members, 300 local chapters, and 14,000 volunteers worldwide currently make up the group.
“Project Management Institute recently celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019, and although decades have passed, the mission and vision behind its initial founding have remained,” Dave said. “We prepare project managers, changemakers, and thought leaders to work smarter, advance their careers, improve organizational success, and further mature the project management profession.”
PMI serves as a home for a broad membership base of those in the project, product, and portfolio management space.
“From PMI’s initial founding, we have built upon and responded to the adapting needs of project, product, and portfolio management to serve an expanded base of ‘changemakers’ — people who don’t have a formal project manager title but find themselves managing significant initiatives,” Dave said. “These changemakers desire change in the world and gather the knowledge and resources to make that change happen.”
Facilitating a More Agile Project Management Discipline
PMI has played a defining role in project management for more than a half-century as the business landscape evolved. Most recently, that role has included helping ease the transition to a pandemic-era workforce.
“One of the biggest shifts nearly everyone has been forced to adjust to is the impact of COVID-19,” Dave said. “From the very beginning of the pandemic, it was clear that the world as we knew it would be altered in drastic ways.”
To accommodate changing standards, PMI quickly embraced a digital-first approach. This subsequently led the association to make its offerings and organizational structure more virtually driven, Dave said.
“PMI recognized this need well before the majority of the world’s governments and organizations shut down, effectively leading to us guiding organizational leaders and project and product managers through the uncharted waters they were navigating,” he said.
Over the years, PMI has honed in on the fact that project management is a dynamic, rather than static, career. As such, project managers must be ready and willing to adapt to the changing needs of their industries, projects, and teams. Dave told us that PMI has focused many of its offerings around this concept, particularly as it relates to agile methodologies.
“Project managers have begun experimenting with agile frameworks more regularly over the past five years,” he said. “In response, PMI updated the exam content in our flagship certification — the Project Management Professional (PMP) — to incorporate agility. PMI has also debuted products like Basics of Disciplined Agile, an online course that introduces the Disciplined Agile Tool Kit. This tool kit allows you to tailor agile frameworks to your needs.”
Dedicated to Advocacy, Collaboration, and Education
Over the years, PMI has compiled a wide-ranging list of member benefits — from certifications and professional development opportunities to a standards framework and talent management solutions. These products and services provide the structure to help advance what PMI refers to as The Project Economy.
“If I had to choose what connects our offerings and proves our commitment to advancing project management careers, it would be our dedication to global advocacy, collaboration, and education,” Dave said. “We aim to prepare professionals for The Project Economy: the economy in which work — and individuals — are organized around projects and furthering the vision of their work.”
Part of that mission involves educating changemakers on how to turn ideas into reality. In March, PMI launched Organizational Transformation: Foundation, an online course designed to teach these changemakers to support business transformation.
The new course is the first in a series of educational opportunities centered on this subject. PMI is also focused on turning the concept of changemakers into a broader industry movement.
“There are tangible benefits PMI delivers to its members — such as certifications, education, networking, and community — but beyond that, PMI empowers project and product professionals, as well as organizational leaders, to position themselves as changemakers in their organizations,” Dave said.
As an organization, PMI has championed advocacy for the project, program, and portfolio management community through its Future 50 and Most Influential Projects initiatives. These efforts underscore the value these changemakers bring to the table through contributions to their respective industries.
Easing the Transition to New Working Environments
As for what’s next, Dave told us PMI will provide the industry knowledge, networking opportunities, and professional development resources members need to navigate a changing business landscape.
“Even before recent events, the workplace was already undergoing rapid, disruptive change that was reshaping the very nature of work,” he said. “What is happening now (by force) is likely to have a long-lasting impact. Teams are coming together in new ways to deliver value, applying new ways of working toward a shared goal in a series of transformative projects.”
Moving forward, PMI will continue to offer members innovative products, solutions, and initiatives designed to make the transition to new workplace standards easier. The goal is to do so while still providing opportunities to deliver the best results for clients and customers.
“We will continue to launch additional resources in our Citizen Developer suite throughout 2021, including additional e-courses, as well as other digital offerings that we are very excited about,” Dave said.