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PMI India
Project Management
Conference 2010



Exposure draft period approaches for The Practice Standard for Estimating

Manage India presents an abstract of the project report on the Impact of Credentials on Success of IT Projects, a study undertaken by PMI India and Symbiosis Centre for Information Technology (SCIT).

The maturity of the Indian IT industry can be gauged from the numerous IT projects it plans, manages and executes worldwide. Project management has been a driving force behind this maturity. This research assesses the effectiveness of certified project management professionals in successfully completing IT projects, from the perspectives of on-time delivery, client satisfaction and project cost.

The research, carried out by a team of core faculty members of SCIT in collaboration with PMI India, aimed to study the impact of credentials on the success of projects.

The study covered both service and product development projects in large, medium and small companies in the IT sector in India.

In a globalized world with increasing inter-dependencies, projects are changing in both  complexity and size, thus making project management an area of specialization with strategic imperatives. This has led to standardization of project management processes, besides increasing the need for project management skill-sets and credentials.

Capabilities and competencies in managing projects efficiently are the key differentiators for organizations in this sector.

 The role of a project manager is significant as he/she has to constantly juggle time, effort and cost. The success or failure of projects largely depends on the symbiotic relationship of people, process, organization and technology.

PM skills critical factor for project success

Software development or maintenance requires close coordination within the project team. In addition, in the case of IT outsourcing, project managers also interface with the client. In many instances, IT project teams are distributed geographically (onsite and offshore), making coordination a greater challenge. A project manager is expected to (i) provide technical and domain leadership, (ii) manage geographically and organizationally distributed teams, (iii) interact with clients, and (iv) coordinate with all the stake-holders. Hence, he/she needs to possess a judicious mix of hard and soft skills.

As projects become larger and more complex, their effective management becomes proportionally more significant. The assignment of the right project manager is important for both the vendor and the client. For the client, having the right person in charge ensures better project outcome. For the vendor, better project management reduces the risk of project failure and translates to favorable project outcome.

Conversely, the lack of effective project management can lead to failed projects. Poor project management can not only impact a firm strategically, economically, or culturally, but may also jeopardize client relationships, result in project cost overruns, and dampen the project team’s spirit.

Does certification help in improving project management skills?

Our survey found that the majority of project managers lack soft skills as they do not have formal training in project management. They are expected to learn project management while on the job. Only about half the respondents had project managers who had undergone management training before taking up management responsibilities.

A well known competency model is the Project Management Institute’s Project Manager Competency Development (PMCD) Framework provides guidance to improve performance. The PMCD Framework has a direct effect on performance. It identifies the three main areas of competencies required of project managers as knowledge, performance, and personal. The PMCD Framework is based on the nine knowledge areas from  A Guide to the Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)-Fourth Edition as well as core personality issues, and factors in the workplace that apply to managing projects and organizational awareness. A project manager development program at an organization should consider both formal training and experience.

Methodology and sample

The main method of data-gathering was survey, consisting mainly of semi-structured interviews. The team created an initial draft of interview guidelines. They interpreted the data pre-dominantly with a qualitative approach (wherein theories are developed inductively and generalizations could be built from the ground up, and various interpretive schemes are tried and hypothesis are created and reformulated during the course of study).

The sample studied comprised project managers in large, medium and small IT companies from both product and services background. The team interviewed a total of 21 project managers and collected information on 42 projects. Project managers with experience ranging from three to 15 years were considered for interviews.

  Yes No
Successful projects 17 10
Less successful projects 6 9
Total 23 19
The team categorized the projects according to service and product development projects. They prepared a list of service and product development projects done by PMPs and non-PMPs.

Service Product
PMP Non-PMP Total
Successful 16 5 1 5 27
Less successful 4 4 2 6 16
20 9 3 10 42
The main observations were: more successful service projects are handled by PMPs, and more product development projects are handled by non-PMPs. 

The data led to the following interpretations:
  • The IT industry employs PMP-certified project managers on service projects; and.
  • Very few certified project managers lead product development projects.

Project managers mentioned correct requirement identification, communication, team-building and motivation, and risk management as factors responsible for project success.


The project manager must balance competing stake-holder interest against the constraints of limited resources and time, ever-changing technologies, and unachievable demands from unreasonable people. Project management involves people management, technology management, business management, risk management, and expectation management.

A good combination of technical capabilities and soft skills can help a project manager to carry out projects effectively and achieve high performance. In order to develop such multi-dimensional skills, project managers require formal training in project management. Certification of managers’ skill ensures credibility and quality. Unfortunately many project managers receive little training on how to do this job.

On the effect of credentials on project success, it was observed that most project managers are of the view that credentials help. New project managers said they prefer to earn credentials as it provides them with a concrete framework from where to take off. Some of the more experienced project managers said that while they could manage projects quite well without credentials, project management practices helped them to run projects more effectively. Credential-holders handle more of service projects probably because these are customer-facing. A PMP-certified project manager is much better equipped to manage such projects. This study shows that service projects have higher success rates when managed by credential-holders.

In the current scenario, possessing PMI credentials is becoming mandatory from the client side as well as the organization perspective. In the event, PMP training and certification  helps both less experienced as well as expert project managers to further enhance their skills in project management.
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