How a PMP – certified professional can help your start-up succeed

Boris Cumboby:


Start-ups are delicate creatures and require more attention and dedicated resources than businesses in any other phase. Entrepreneurs who battle all odds to see their start-up succeed know this and work day and night to ensure their start-up both survives and thrives. Yet, many start-ups fail. Whilst there are a number of reasons for this, financial and resourcing issues are amongst the top culprits along with scoping issues including pivoting gone bad and failed models.

Start-ups need a wide and deep skillset at their disposal in order to succeed. It is no secret that entrepreneurs will undertake most, if not all tasks themselves in the very early stages for a variety of reasons. Minimizing cost is one, passion in another. Entrepreneurs tend to be well-rounded individuals, and this helps them move forward; yet, the data shows that start-ups continue to fail.

Looking at the failure rate of start-ups, one can conclude that there seems to be a lack of a specific skillset available in the entrepreneur’s toolbox, and this article will argue that having a PMP-certified project manager is one of them.

A project is a well-defined endeavor that has a clear beginning and a clear end. A number of things need to be managed in that time-span in order for a project to be successful and in this article, we will look at how start-ups and projects are of a similar nature and how having a PMP certification training can help start-ups thrive and become a success.

What is PMP?

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PMP is a Project Manager Professional certification issued by PMI – the Project Management Institute. It offers a comprehensive, structured, and practical framework that can be used in projects of all sizes across virtually any industry all over the world. The certification is based on the PMBoK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) which holds the syllabus on which the PMP certification is based.

The PMBoK is currently in its sixth edition and includes the latest industry practices encompassing the entire gamut of approaches used in several sectors thus ensuring that it is relevant as it is applicable regardless of your industry, scope and operations model. Courses are available in classroom, eLearning and online formats by institutions such as Knowledgehut who have the expertise required to help you succeed.

One common misconception about projects is that by managing scope, resources, and cost, a project will be on its way to success. Unfortunately, as anyone who has managed a project will tell you, this is a far cry from the truth. Projects require more than three areas of focus as do start-ups. In managing start-ups, like in managing projects, the extent of the management process is as diverse as it is deep and this is how PMP shines and adds indispensable value to entrepreneurs in those early stages of their venture.

PMP provides a framework that is split into Performance Domains, which identify the phases of the project’s life, and Knowledge Areas, which identify the areas that need to be managed for a project to succeed. What having a framework does is it outlays those activities that need to be taken care of, thus ensuring no oversight which can derail the endeavor at a later stage. Missing key activities at the right time can quickly contribute to the failure of a project and start-ups, which are delicate by their very nature are even more susceptible to failure because of this.

Mapping PMP processes to start-up operations

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The PMBoK specifies five performance domains which are the process groups a project goes through throughout its lifetime. These five domains are listed as follows;

  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and Controlling
  • Closing

We can now start to understand how beneficial this kind of structure truly is. Planning always comes before execution and once we are executing, monitoring and controlling kicks in to ensure the execution goes according to plan. Sounds obvious? Yes, but without a framework, it is very easy to miss the obvious, more so when trying to get a start-up off the ground.

The Knowledge Areas, of which there are 10, define the areas of attention and this is where most start-ups tend to struggle. The Knowledge Areas deal with a number of different things from Risk and Quality Management to Scope and Cost management.  There are the areas that start-ups would do well to manage properly and this is exactly what is provided through this certification.

The full list of knowledge areas includes;

  • Integration Management
  • Scope Management
  • Schedule Management
  • Cost Management
  • Quality Management
  • Resource Management
  • Communication Management
  • Risk Management
  • Procurement Management
  • Stakeholder Management

Whilst not all knowledge areas might apply to all start-ups, the beauty of having such a framework at your disposal is that it can be customized to the specific endeavor that is being undertaken. Do not, however, underestimate the value of the knowledge areas that might not have a direct correlation to your start-up; crossover skills are a very important toolset for entrepreneurs and as Steve Jobs himself once said, you can only connect the dots looking backward.

Project Manager skills

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Project Managers tend to acquire a deep skill set that spans across many domains. As projects involve the interaction with most departments in an organization, project managers, in the course of their career, acquire a deep understanding of the different departments that contribute to a project. This helps them understand the importance of different departments and the roles they play in the success of any endeavor. This can facilitate both communication and operations to ensure that the target defined in the initial phases are reached to the success of your start-up.

Project management can be done in a variety of ways, and it is no secret that most projects fail. By having a certified professional on your team, you can tilt the odds in your favor knowing that the structure provided in the PMP certification is as strong as it is extensive and that is why it is so highly regarded across the globe.

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