Getting PMP certification is only half the job done. It’s a nice milestone to reach for one’s career growth, but there is more to it. Application of PMP concepts at work is certainly one of them, which is what the PMP questions train you for.
Continuous improvement is as much a required aspect of one’s career-growth as it is for Kaizen projects.
For many the very thought of getting PDUs can be a painful one. I receive a lot of ‘how to earn PDUs for PMP renewal‘ emails. I fret over it for many months before coming up with a plan. But with this article you can have it like a breeze. Almost. You’ll have to put in some hours to get them, but this planning exercise can make it seem like a breeze.
In this article, we will look at the exercise of earning PDUs from career-growth perspective.
What is PDU?
PDU stands for Professional Development Units and is a unit of measurement of our efforts at upgrading our job related knowledge. This unit of measurement is defined by PMI, and on a time scale, this translates to the number of hours of efforts you put in to upgrade your knowledge.
For instance, one hour of studying a project management practices related book, or attending a webinar, or preparing presentation on a project management topic, or a creating project management knowledge (writing a blog post such as this one, book, whitepaper) earns you one PDU. 2 hours of effort earns you 2 PDUs, and so on.
To keep your PMP certification in force you need to earn 60 PDUs in a 3-year period from the date of passing your PMP exam – known as certification cycle. You earn PDUs as per Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) guidelines defined by PMI and file them under a separate account at the CCRS portal, ccrs.pmi.org.
As per CCR guidelines, all PMI certification holders – except CAPM – must earn PDUs to keep their certification in force. This exercise actually helps one stay updated with latest developments in Project Management field and equip oneself to handle changes.
Let us first understand the ways you can earn PDU.
This is important because you can plan for earning PDUs according to your interest area and career plan. You’ll understand this better when we look at Talent Triangle in a bit.
PMI allows you to earn PDUs under two broad categories –
- Education – learn and enhance your technical, leadership, or strategic and business management skills.
- Giving Back to the Profession – help other project managers learn by sharing your skills and knowledge.
Further, PMI defines sub-categories under each of these categories to earn your PDUs. What you need to understand is that for PMP certification, you’ll need a minimum 35 PDUs under Education category and can earn a maximum of 25 PDUs under Giving Back to the Profession category. PDU restriction is a little more complicated than this, and as you read ahead in this guide, it will become easy to understand.
At this point, I highly recommend that you fire up your favorite word processing program (or take a paper and pencil) before you go ahead. You can as well get your PDUs planned by investing few more minutes of time.
Here’s a quick look at various sub-categories that you can plan to get your PDUs under.
Figure 1: Sub-categories available to earn your PDUs
Are you able to identify few familiar ones that you already can claim PDUs under? Excellent! Let’s go right ahead and put that in a plan.
Note – If your 3-yr certification cycle ends prior to 1 December 2017, there is a slight change to this requirement. We will look at this special case in the last section of this guide.
This PDU guide assumes that you have only PMP credential to earn PDUs for, and not multiple PMI certificates.
5-step Exercise to Earn Your PDUs
Here’s a simple 5-step process to earn and report PDUs –
- Understand PMI’s Talent Triangle: you’ll need to plan your PDUs to fall into these buckets
- Create your PDU plan: how many from each of the 3 Talent Triangle sections, and how many from Giving Back category
- Create a PDU schedule: based on how much time remains in your 3-yr certification cycle, you’ll need a custom plan
- Earn PDUs: only planned action gets easy and quick results
- Update in PMI’s CCRS: as soon as you earn them enter them in CCRS portal. PMI may reject few PDUs too! So, avoid any last-minute surprises.
Let us look at these in detail.
Step 1. Understand PMI’s Talent Triangle: you’ll need to plan your PDUs to fall into these buckets
You now know that you need a minimum of 35 PDUs from Education category, and a maximum of 25 PDUs from Giving Back category.
Technically, this means that you can aim for all of 60 PDUs in Education category alone. PMI also states that earning PDUs under Giving Back category is optional. But you will want to plan to spread PDUs between these two categories for multiple reasons.
First, if you are working as a project manager you can simply claim 8 PDUs! Second, scroll up to the image above and take a look at other sub-categories under Giving Back category. They provide you with a golden opportunity to build your network and increase your sphere of influence. This sure can come handy when you have some outside dependency in one of your projects, or you need some help with your next role, or you simply want to move to a different organization.
PMI constantly surveys evolving project management practices and understands how current practices are faring across industries. It discovered that it takes more than just technical skills in project and program management to stay competitive in today’s complex marketplace. Many organizations seek additional qualities such as leadership skills and business intelligence in project managers. And PMI wanted to make changes to the self-development platform so that project managers can up-skill themselves in each of these segment and stay competitve.
This sure is a good reason to plan for PDUs. CCR it’s no more a requirement to maintain PMP credential now, this is an journey to keep ourselves constantly up-skilled in order to excel at our profession. Who knows, this may just prepare you for that new position opening up at your organization!
Hence PMI introduced The Talent Triangle.
The Talent Triangle consists of three segments –
- Technical Project Management
- Strategic and Business Management
As you would have figured by now, you’ll need to distribute your PDUs under these 3 segments of the Talent Triangle. And yes, you guessed it right – there are restrictions on how many PDUs you can earn in each segment as far as PMP certification is concerned.
Figure 2: PDUs distributed under 3 sections of Talent Triangle for Education category
You could take an online course from PMI, or with any REPs, or an instructor-led course, or participate in organizational meetings related to project management, or read relevant books (from PMI store or projectmanagement.com) or watch a webinar to earn your PDUs (ref Figure 1). You need a minimum of 8 PDUs under each of 3 sections of Talent Triangle, and then you’ll need to distribute at least 11 more PDUs under one or more of these sections.
CCR states that you need to limit PDUs from meetings (organizational, PMI local chapter or third parties – discussing project management related topics) to 1-2 PDU but there is no clarity on how many PDUs can go under this sub-category.
A word of caution – when you choose an activity to get PDUs under, first find out the Talent Triangle segment that the PDU you earn goes under. This can save you a lot of time. The planning spreadsheet in the next section should help you organize your activities.
PMI has many study material that you can use to earn PDUs and if you are a member, you’ll get a discount on them.
Talent Triangle section 1: Technical Project Management
This is the knowledge and skills required to manage a project, program or portfolio.
If you took an Agile project management course like this one, for instance, although it would look to give you PDUs under this section alone, you’ll get PDUs under all the three segments of Talent Triangle.
Therefore, from a skill enhancement perspective, unless you already are certified in Agile project management methodology, it would be useful to include an agile course as part of your PDU planning. This Agile project management course gives you 37 PDUs straight away.
Some of the topics you can learn to get PDUs are –
- Agile project management methodologies (XP, Scrum and so on)
- Risk management and best practices
- Estimation methods (cost, budget and schedule)
- Scope management
- Requirement management and Traceability
- Data modeling techniques
- Earned value management
- Agile estimation
- Agile release planning
- Product backlog management
- Business analysis and planning
- Requirement verification techniques
- Product evaluation
Here are few courses from PMI that you can take to earn PDUs under Technical Project Management segment of the Talent Triangle.
Talent Triangle section 2: Leadership
Few topics under which you can learn (books, webinars, courses etc) and earn PDUs under Leadership segment are –
- Change management
- Communication strategies
- Conflict resolution skills
- Customer focus related topics
- Innovation at work place
- Emotional intelligence and importance in recruitment
- Morale and motivation related topics
- Team management best practices
- Dispute resolution skills
- Negotiation skills
Here are some of the courses from PMI that you can take to earn PDUs under Leadership segment of the Talent Triangle.
Talent Triangle section 3: Strategic and Business Management
Some of the topics under which you can earn PDUs under this section are –
- Aligning Project management to Organizational strategy and goals
- Application of Project Management to a specific domain niche
- Business models, structures and improvements
- Tracking and measurement of certain organizational level metrics
- Best practices of management of cross-cultural project teams
- Regulatory and legal compliance for projects in a specific domain
- Strategies in recruiting and retaining talent
- Analyzing Financial statements as applicable to projects
- Market study and strategies to manage changes
- Business strategy and implementation specific to people and processes
- Organization building
Here are few courses from PMI that you can take to earn PDUs under Strategic and Business Management segment of the Talent Triangle.
Under Giving Back category you can also claim PDUs for creating project management knowledge. If blogging is something that interests you, write to me (Shiv-at-PMExamSmartnotes-dot-com) and I’ll help you by setting up a professional blog at my cost.
Step 2. Create your PDU plan: how many from Talent Triangle, and how many from Giving Back category
Out of 60 PDUs needed to keep the PMP certification in force, you’ll need to plan your PDUs in specific categories keeping in mind your professional goals.
Working as a project management professional is most likely the first of PDUs you can claim. CCRS allows you to claim 8 PDUs under ‘Working as a practitioner’ section, and this goes under Giving Back category.
A good practice is to create a planning spreadsheet based on where you want to grow in your career.
Plan for more PDUs in,
- ..Technical project management segment if you’d like to get into program, portfolio management or PMO organization
- ..Leadership segment if you’d like to move into leadership positions in delivery organization
- ..Strategic & Business Management segment if you’d like to move to the business side of (customer facing) middle/senior management role in your company.
Here’s how your PMP PDU planner may look like –
Figure 3: Sample PDU planning spreadsheet
I have created a template for you. In this planner you simply add the name of PDU activity and number of PDUs you’ll get from it, and the sheet will calculate the total PDUs in that category as well as overall total against the target of 60 PDUs.
Download Your PMP PDU Planner now by simply sharing this page using this button >
[Note from Shiv: This is a beta feature, in case you face any issue simply write to me shiv-at-pmexamsmartnotes-dot-com and I’ll send you the PDU planner by return mail. Thanks!]
Few Free Resources
I will periodically update this list as I find good resources –
Apart from these,
Step 3. Create a PDU schedule: based on how much time remains in your 3-yr certification cycle, you’ll need a custom plan
Getting 60 PDUs will take at least 60 hours – theoretically, that is. Practically, if you are going over a 1-hr webinar, you’ll spend at least 10-15 minutes more, and even more, if you are pausing and taking notes. So, overall you may spend about 80-100 hours to earn 60 PDUs.
It is easier to make this a regular routine task and so more manageable.
Let us take an example.
Let us say you have 15 months for your current certification cycle to end, so you may want to make a 14-month plan. That is about 5 PDUs per month to get. Not bad, eh?
If you work in the role of project manager you can claim up to 8 PDUs under Giving Back category for ‘Working as a practitioner’. So you have 52 PDUs to aim for. That’s roughly 4 PDUs per month.
Then you’ll be left with 31 PDUs (52 – 21) or 15 PDUs (52 – 37) to earn in remaining 12 months. That is like 1-2 PDUs a month. You can squeeze in about 4 hours to study time per month, with ease, right?
You can even add a column to the spreadsheet downloaded in the previous section and add due-dates to get those PDUs.
The mere exercise of planning for PDUs and preparing this schedule sheet should take quite a heavy load off your shoulder.
Step 4. Earn PDUs: only planned action gets results
Well, this is merely a step in this exercise. Once you have the plan and schedule sheet in place, you’ll simply work as per that and keep claiming your PDUs in PMI’s CCR website.
The smallest PDU increment you can report is 0.25 (corresponding to 15 minutes of an activity).
Step 5. Report PDUs in PMI’s CCRS Portal
Make it a practice to claim your PDUs in CCR website as soon as you earn them, even if it is one PDU. You’ll get a congratulatory email from PMI for each approved PDU submission.
Note – if the product owner of the course, webinar, or book you choose can confirm that the content can be used towards claiming PDUs then you may find the study resource already registered with PMI. If this is the case, PMI will populate all required fields as you start the PDU claim process.
Reporting PDUs in CCRS portal is quite simple. Here’s how I claimed PDUs for one of the submissions (for an Agile course) –
Step 1: Log into PMI’s CCRS portal ccrs.pmi.org
Step 2: Navigate to ‘Report PDU’ section from the sidebar choose the right sub-category under Education or Giving Back category. In this case I had to take the ‘Course or Training’ option under Education.
Figure 4: Report PDU screen in CCRS
Step 3: Enter the name of source of PDU
If the source (course, webinar, book etc) is already registered with PMI, you’ll find the name in the dropdown list as you start typing.
In my case, as I started typing ‘Simplilearn’ the appropriate provider option came up.
If your source is not listed, no issues – you’ll just have to fill in few fields such as contact person, email an such.
Step 4: In the Activity text box type in the type of activity such as the name of training, webinar etc
Again, if your provider is registered with PMI, your activity name will likely show up. Choose the right one if there are multiple options.
Step 5: If your activity is not registered with PMI you’ll have to choose appropriate Talent Triangle section (for Education category).
In my case, since it was Simplilearn Agile course, the application automatically splits 21 PDUs into Technical, Leadership and Strategic sections of PMI’s Talent Triangle.
Click on the ‘I agree this claim is accurate.’ checkbox and click on Submit button.
That’s it! If you checked ‘Claim History’ sidebar option, you’ll see that the PDUs are automatically approved and applied for an PMI-approved activity. For the rest, you’ll receive an email from PMI about the status in a day or two as it takes manual intervention from PMI support team to validate PDU claim.
Once you have 60 PDUs claimed, you will be invited by PMI to complete renewal application process, pay fee ($60 for PMI member, $150 for non-PMI member) and renew your PMP certification. Post this step, as you roll into next 3-yr certification cycle.
A certification holder can be subjected to audit by PMI. In case of an audit, the certification renewal is allowed after successful completion of the audit process.
If you have earned in excess of 60 PDUs in a 3-yr certification cycle, PMI allows you to carry forward up to 20 PDUs earned in the final year of certification cycle into the next 3-yr certification cycle.
How Do I Claim PDUs if My 3-yr Certification Ends On or Before 30 Nov 2017?
This is an important question for many of you. Before the Talent Triangle was introduced by PMI we had to look at alphabetically titled categories (A to F) to earn PDUs. Now PMI has simplified that as well.
You’ll still need to classify the PDUs under the respective categories, including the Talent Triangle. The constraint on minimum number of PDUs under Education category is not applicable to you. Also, the maximum limit on Giving Back category is not applicable.
That’s about there is to getting PMP PDUs and keeping your certification valid for another 3 years. If you planned along with me while reading this guide, hopefully you have your PDU plan all chalked out.
Thank you for your time, and for taking action!
- CCRS handbook
- CCRS portal
- Other sites as linked
Shiv loves to help start-ups build software products, PMP aspirants ace the exam and shine at work, and help individuals and SMEs get most out of their internet presence (read 'earn massive money' 🙂 ).
Shiv lives on the picturesque suburban Bangalore with his wife and two lovely kids and in his spare time he plays flute and paints.
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