Identifying the project manager competencies and certifications that lead to higher project success rates.
For many people, the project management profession is strongly associated with the professional certifications: PRINCE2 and PMP. However, there have been three independent studies that have found these project management certifications do NOT lead to higher success rates –. As educators, this is extremely disappointing and led us to try again to find out if anything we are teaching leads to higher success rates.
We conducted a survey using LinkedIn and WenJuanXing to find out which certifications if any, correlated with project management success (on-time on-budget) and project success (realisation of business benefits). We obtained 200 valid responses from over 22 countries, with the majority coming from China (109) and Australia (57). 136 respondents had project management certifications and 64 respondents had no project management certification (Figure 1). The responses were evenly distributed across a wide range of industries: Transport, Retail, Other, Manufacturing, IT, Government, Energy, Consulting, Construction, Banking.
The results found the 136 respondents with project management certifications are not statistically different to the 64 respondents with no project management certification in terms of cost and time. This should be interpreted to mean certification was not found to have any impact on project management success and this survey replicates the earlier studies –.
However, we found the 136 respondents with project management certifications are statistically different to the 64 respondents with no project management certification in terms of delivery of business benefits. Specifically, we found IPMA-A and ChPP (Chartered Project Professional) were correlated with higher project success rates. (PMP and PRINCE2 were not found to correlate with project success). This is very meaningful and our study  may be the first to empirically find that some certifications are of value in the more important criterion of success (ref Figure 2).
However, our findings are not completely satisfying because IMPA-A and ChPP are the highest levels of certification possible and it is not practical for younger project managers to achieve the highest levels of certification without years of experience. Is there anything we can teach project managers as they are gaining their experience that will help them to be more successful earlier in their careers?
Guided by IPMA’s Individual Competence Baseline (ICB4.0) we asked respondents about their level of people skills and their level of organisational skills. The results are shown below in Table 1. Values ranged from 3.75 to 4.31 on a scale of 1-5.
We then performed a number of statistical tests (Cronbach’s Alpha, Exploratory Factor Analysis, Principal Component Analysis, Regression Analysis) and we found strong statistical evidence that Organisational Skills and Experience is correlated with project management success (on-time on-budget) but only People Skills is correlated with the more important criterion: project success (delivery of benefits)(Figure 3). This is a major finding and suggests that our project education must include the development of people skills like emotional intelligence, communication, teamwork, leadership and stakeholder management. It also suggests younger project managers should focus on the development of these people skills if they want to be more successful.
Now we need to know for sure if this result is right? Help us by completing a more rigorous survey (click here). It will take roughly 15 minutes of your time and your reward, apart from helping advance our state of knowledge, is you get to see a profile of how you compare against the competencies needed to be successful (Figure 4).
 J. A. Starkweather and D. H. Stevenson, “PMP® Certification as a Core Competency: Necessary but Not Sufficient,” Project Management Journal, vol. 42, no. 1, pp. 31–41, Feb. 2011, doi: 10.1002/pmj.20174.
 J. T. Catanio, G. Armstrong, and J. Tucker, “The effects of project management certification on the triple constraint,” International Journal of Information Technology Project Management (IJITPM), vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 93–111, 2013.
 N. Joseph and C. Marnewick, “Investing in project management certification: Do organisations get their money’s worth?,” Information Technology and Management, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 51–74, 2018, doi: 10.1007/s10799-017-0275-y.
 R. Young, Y. Wei, and Z. Lu, “Which project management certification is best ? Identifying the project manager competencies and certifications that lead to higher project success rates.,” Suzhou, 2021.