24 August, 2023

Project Management CPD and PDUs: How to Stay Up-to-date and Get Ahead

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is essential to get to the top of your profession and stay there. Many professional bodies require their members to formally earn and record their CPD points – or what PMI calls Professional Development Units (PDUs)

So, what can you do to manage your own Continuing Professional Development?

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Different Ways to Pursue Continuint Professional Development

Every professional body has its own continuing professional development requirements. They vary in how much, how often, and what they require you to show, so I shan’t go into the CPD or PDU requirements of any particular organization. They all put their own standards onto their websites.

Instead, I want to focus on the different ways that you, as a Project Manager, can pursue your own Continuing Professional Development. 

What choices you make, and how it reflects the needs of your own chosen professional body, I will leave to you.

In broad terms, there are two ways to pursue CPD:

  1. Learning things, and
  2. Doing things.

And, of course, there are plenty of activities that combine the two!

Learning Things for CPD

The most obvious way to learn (or to gain what PMI calls ‘Education PDUs) is through a training program, which can be live in person, live on-line, self-paced, or any form of hybrid. Training can be accredited and lead to a formal certification or qualification. Or it may be equally good, but with no formal recognition beyond a completion certificate.

Of course you can also learn online through videos (like this channel, podcasts, or blogs). Social media forums like LinkedIn or Facebook groups also offer valuable sources of learning – although not always formally recognized as CPD by professional bodies.

The more traditional way to learn from peers is at seminars, webinars, conferences, chapter or branch events, Special Interest Groups (SIGs), or other live or online events.

Learning can also be one-on-one, through briefings, mentoring, or coaching.

And let’s not forget reading: books, professional magazines and journals, websites, and blogs.

Doing Things for CPD

I guess the best way we learn is by ‘doing the job’. However, to turn this into CPD, you will need a process of deliberate reflection, which is best when accompanied by some form of journaling to record the lessons you have learned from your experience.

Learning on the job is at its best when your manager sets you new tasks and offers new responsibilities that stretch you beyond the capabilities you have already used.

And in the overlap between learning and doing are things like job shadowing and observing, or, even better, internships and secondments.

But there are plenty of other ways to learn by doing.

We teach best what we most need to learn. So, take opportunities to mentor, coach, train, present, or write about Project Management or related disciplines.

Creation is also a powerful route to learning, whether you are writing an article (or a book), making a video, or crafting a presentation or training module.

And, finally, volunteering to work on projects or to contribute to the profession through your professional body, or at work, are excellent ways to develop yourself.

Keeping a CPD or PDU Log

Whatever CPD you do, keep a record of it. Use a CPD Log (or, for PMI, a PDU Log) to document:

  • The activity: What you did to learn
  • What you learned
  • Where and when you did it
  • The time you spent (CPD hours or PDUs)
  • Who (if anyone) can witness your CPD
  • Any formal evidence (like certificates)

Better still, from time to time, quietly develop a CPD plan with:

  • What you want to learn in the next period
  • How you will gain that learning
  • How much time you will spend

My free CPD kit

CPD Resources

Carefully curated video recommendations for you:

What Kit does a Project Manager Need?

I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own. 

Check out the Kit a Project Manager needs

Note that the links are affiliated.

Learn Still More

For more great Project Management videos, please subscribe to the OnlinePMCourses YouTube channel.

If you want basic Management Courses – free training hosted on YouTube, with 2 new management lessons a week, check out our sister channel, Management Courses.

For more of our Project Management videos in themed collections, join our Free Academy of Project Management.

For more of our videos in themed collections, join our Free Academy of Project Management

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Mike Clayton

About the Author...

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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