There are not a lot of things that can be seen as positive with COVID-19 and the impact it has on our lives, but I have found one thing to cheer about: PMI has speed tracked the release of the online proctored PMP exam format. A little bit of comfort in these upside-down times. Yes, you can now do your exam in the comfort of your basement in your pajamas.
There is not one person that I know that has not felt the impact and effect of the quarantine imposed on us by the arrival of COVID-19. To various levels of degree, this has impacted all of us and made us rethink for years to come some of the basic liberties and activities that we have grown accustomed to. There is even talk now of a four-day week… This will change a lot of things in a great number of ways by the time it settles down.
During this, several changes at PMI were also taking shape, a lot of movement in different sectors of the now 50-year organization. We welcomed a new CEO, Mr. Sunil Prashara. Under his guidance, the flow of changes started last November with a large rebranding effort, which was closely followed by news of a new PMP exam as well as a new model for the now old REP program. The exam provider, which had been Prometric for years, was also changed to Pearson VUE. A lot of core PMI activities and day to day processes are being revisited and are bringing about change to the 50-year organization, which has seen in the past ten years, at least, a great degree of growth.
Several educational providers around the globe this winter were tackling a large number of individuals wanting to sit for the last exam (or so we thought) based on the sixth edition of the PMBOK Guide when COVID-19 made PMI have to declare a bit of a slow down in its efforts towards change. The exam, which was slated to migrate to a new model, was postponed from the end of June 2020 to January 2nd, 2021. A major issue is that the exam centers, where you cannot help but have contact with people, were shut down because of the pandemic, and the demand was far too large not to postpone.
That is where I find a bright little cloud of optimism. PMI, with its move to Pearson VUE, had already tested the waters with the migration of the CAPM and PMI-ACP exams to having an option of the use of an online monitored or proctored format. So, with some fast-tracking, came the news that April 14th, 2020, would see the PMP exam also move to this platform to accommodate the people who were anxiously waiting to take their exams.
Why do I think this is a great thing? Well, after years of teaching the PMP examination preparation as one of my classes, I finally can see one thing that will bring some comfort to a lot of very nervous participants. For most, this exam is quite the nail bitter. For others, it is simply one of the most frightening things they are about to undertake. You need to look at some of the demographics to realize that a lot of participants have not taken a formal exam in several years. In most cases, the nerves take over.
I see it every class, the people whose nerves tell them that “I can’t do this.” Well, this will not make it totally go away, but at least now, the formality of having to go to a test center and taking the test in this manner has been lifted.
I was in the middle of teaching a class when COVID-19 hit. We started, and each week we wondered when we would get shut down, and we did. We moved quite nicely to an online delivery with the tools that my institution provided for the participants. Having prepared them in this context allowed us to have our students be a bit more on-board with taking the exam online as well.
I can say that the first few were a bit nervous, and I did not know what to tell them to expect from the experience, but now we are starting to have some data come out of the experience, which paints it in quite a positive way.
Some of the things that people have said so far make me applaud this move. The ability to provide people with an experience out of their home or office is key to toning down the nerves. There are still some rules, basic requirements, and a process to respect, but it is not meant to hinder it is meant to support the participants. Technology, for some, might be an issue, but again, we have greatly improved for most in this area.
As with anything new, I am sure that we will see improvements and the ability to do more and more in providing participants with this option. In these days of uncertainty, it is nice to see something that has worked out for the best. This might be the brightest and most individual-oriented change that PMI has done in 2020.
Sylvie Edwards, PMP, MCPM, STDC, CMP has 25 years of project management experience spanning various industries and is the owner of SRE Solutions, catering to clients in need of project management course development, education, project risk management, PMO setup/evaluation or recovery services. She has worked with one of the top five consulting firm, where she led projects in the information technology, banking, government, and securities sectors as well as being a manager in the risk management practice. Sylvie writes about risk management, communication, and PMO.