How to maintain your PMP certification cost-effectively?

A cost-effective way to maintain PMP certification

If you have successfully passed the PMP exam, the question arises: how much do you need to spend to maintain it? Maintenance can be a significant cost, but with a minimum of planning and attention, it can be done for less than HUF 50,000 per 3-year cycle.
Before considering these options, it's important to know that there is one cost item you cannot save on - the renewal fee. The administrative cost of renewing a PMP is currently 60 USD for PMI members (membership 139 USD per year), and 150 USD for non-members. So this 150 USD is the amount we should expect to pay at least every 3 years.

PDU collection sources

The renewal can be achieved by collecting 60 Professional Development Units (PDU). There are several possible sources for PDU collection, we have already written about. One of the PMI's Source called "Education"in which the project management training, participation in professional events and the processing of textbooks (up to 30 PDUs). This branch requires a minimum of 35 PDUs per cycle, of which 8-8 PDUs should be related to strategic business management, leadership and technical skills. Of course, the question always arises: who determines which skills are targeted by a given training or development? The answer is simple: in the case of training, these are defined by the training organisation (the trainer in the case of internal training), and in the case of processing textbooks, they are defined by ourselves.

The other source is the "Giving back the profession", which includes knowledge transfer, holding project management trainings, with a maximum of 25 PDUs. An important limitation is that 8 PDUs per cycle can be counted for project management work.

The easiest, but most expensive way to collect PDUs is attending training courses. This is not capped, so with 60 hours of structured project management training, our certification is good for another 3 years after administration. However, not everyone can afford to spend hundreds of thousands of forints on renewal, for them the solution described below may be useful.

The optimisation

In general, practising project managers should use the option of 8 PDUs per cycle after completing a project management task. In order to take advantage of the "Giving back" resource, 17 PDUs can be easily completed in 3 years through project management workshops, possibly by giving internal, in-work presentations. In practice, this means 17 hours of lectures, informal knowledge transfer or mentoring. Think of the amount of time we spend in our workplace supporting young, early career project managers, there is a good chance that this number of hours exceeds 6 hours per year. With this solution, 25 PDUs can be obtained at practically no cost. 

There is also a cost-effective way to collect the remaining 35 PDUs. 30 PDUs can be certified through individual learning, which can come from reading books on project management (see tips at the end of this post), or even free podcasts from listening to. You don't need to justify the purchase of books, you can borrow them or use your workplace's book collection for this purpose.

Based on the above, the optimal case is to collect 5 PDUs, which could be a "paid" training, participation in a professional event, or a training session given by an internal staff member.

This allows PDUs to be collected without incurring any costs. However, this requires planning, and the most common mistake is to realise your obligations a few months before your certification expires.

How can we verify the PDUs declared?

Although in our experience PMI places much more emphasis on checking the prerequisites for the audit, it may be that our PDU collection will also need to be verified upon audit request. In this case, the following should be sent:

  • Trainings - registration/application form, attendance sheet, certificate of attendance
  • Books, podcasts - link, notes and activities
  • Project manager job - job description, employer's certificate
  • Presentation, publication - sending a document, topic, agenda
  • Knowledge sharing - coaching, mentoring, knowledge transfer agreement
Recommended books

Finally, we can recommend the following list of books, which, depending on your professional experience, may be useful:

  1. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: PMBOK® Guide (Fifth Edition) - PMI
  2. The Deadline: A Novel About Project Management - Tom DeMarco
  3. The project management answer book - Jeff Furman, PMP
  4. Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management - Scott Berkun
  5. Project Management Lite: Just Enough to Get the Job Done...Nothing More - Juana Clark Craig, PMP
  6. (+1) Business Analysis Techniques: 99 Essential Tools for Success - Cadle, Paul, Turner