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How Much do You Know about the Top 10 Project Management Organizations?

How Much do You Know about the Top 10 Project Management Organizations?

There are many Project Management Organizations – and many reasons to engage with them. And most of us have heard of several – and know a little about some. Some of us are members of one or two – perhaps more.

But how much do you know about the top Project Management organizations? In this article, I have selected what I think of as the top 10, and offer some basic facts about each of them.

Published the day after St Valentine’s Day, this is my (non-slushy) love letter to the organizations that represent and support us, as Project managers.

Here’s what we will look at…

Types of Project Management Organization

How Much do You Know about the Top 10 Project Management Organizations?

Even with just ten organizations, it helps to classify them. And the main way we can do this is by their purpose. Project Management organizations may exist to do one or more of these things:

  • Represent members
    These are membership organizations with a range of benefits for their members
  • Develop, disseminate, and promote Project Management knowledge
    Some of these Project Management organizations create standards: others just set out their preferred approach.
  • Training
    A common activity is to provide training in their approach to project management – or to provide a syllabus against which third parties can offer training. This links closely with…
  • Certification
    These organizations offer formally accredited certificates that attest competence against their training syllabus and standards

Estimated reading time: 16 minutes

Grouping the Top 10 Project Management Organizations

All of our Top 10 Project Management organizations do one or more of those things. But most do more than one. So, this makes those categories poor for grouping them in an article like this.

So, we’ll be looking attire groups:

  1. Primary Project Management Member Organizations
    1. APM: Association for Project Management
    2. IAPM: International Association of Project Managers
    3. IPMA: International Project Management Association
    4. PMI: Project Management Institute
  2. Agile Project Management Organizations
    1. The Agile Alliance
    2. Agile Business Consortium
    3. Scrum Alliance
    4. Scrum.org
  3. Project Management Accreditation Organizations
    1. APMG International
    2. Axelos

Primary Project Management Member Organizations

The primary Project management organizations are the big beasts of the Project Management world. Although many countries have their own national project management organization, most of these are affiliated to the IPMA (which we cover below). The notable exception is the PMI (see below) which sees itself as international, rather than a US project management organization.

I have chosen to list the:

  • Two explicitly international organizations, IAPM and IPMA,
  • Largest single organization (which is also international in scope), the PMI
  • UK-based APM because of the exceptional role it is playing in creating and dissemination Project Management knowledge

The Benefits of Joining one of the Primary Project Management Organizations

There are many reasons for joining a membership organization. It is for each of us to determine which are compelling and therefore the best organization for us. I’d also note that, as far as I know, none places a bar on multiple memberships. So, if you cannot decide and, big your budget allow, why not double-down!

Here are the reasons that strike me (in no particular order):

  1. A professional membership is a badge of your commitment to your profession
  2. Grades of membership are a way to chart your progress
  3. The organizations often advocate for their members’ interests in the commercial, social, and political spheres
  4. You can access professional development and learning opportunities like seminars, training, and conferences
  5. …and also certification (or perhaps reduced rates for accessing materials and sitting exams)
  6. Many produce journals, magazines, or newsletters
  7. Attendance at events offers fellowship as well as professional development
  8. They offer opportunities to contribute to the profession in a number of ways, including training, speaking, mentoring, or methodology development

So, let’s look at the four biggest beasts in the Professional Project Management Organization jungle…

APM: Association for Project Management

Represent membersYes
Develop, disseminate, and promote Project Management knowledgeYes
Provide TrainingYes
Offer CertificationYes
Number of Individual Members30,000+
Number of Organizational/Corporate Members500+

Preamble

The APM is highly active in the UK with a commendably forward looking approach to advocating for the role of Project management in society. If you are an active project manager in the UK, joining the APM is a compelling proposition.

Membership Activities

APM has 12 UK branches (plus one in Hong Kong) and 14 Special Interests Groups (SIGs). This, in addition to the active and exciting conference program, provides plenty of activities for members to engage with. And that also means loads of opportunities to meet, support, and learn from fellow professionals.

Project Management Knowledge

I have already written about how excellent the APM’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (APMBoK) is. In addition, its SIGs are responsible for a wide range of exciting pulications.

But there is more… APM is a significant publishing house, with many excellent short guides and now a new program of publishing primary Project management reference books, that began with ‘Engaging stakeholders on projects’ by OnlinePMCourses friend, Elizabeth Harrin. I interviewed Elizabeth about her excellent book for our YouTube Channel.

Training Activities

APM accredits individual training organizations and academic institutions to train to its syllabus.

They also offer an online learning platform, ‘APM Learning’ to ifee paying individual members and Honorary Fellows of APM. This gives members with access to:

  • interactive modules
  • guides
  • reports
  • other digital learning resources

Project Management Certification

APM supports both its own set of certifications and the IPMA’s (it is a member association – see more about the IPMA, below).

APM has a three-tier basic certification set:

  1. PFQ: APM Project Fundamentals Qualification)
  2. PMQ: APM Project Management Qualification 
  3. PPQ: APM Project Professional Qualification

They also have qualifications in:

  • Project Risk Management Single Subject Certificate
  • Earned Value Management Certification
  • Project Planning & Control™

Other activities

APM offers its members careers advice and it has an active Job Board too. Its blog is active and its quarterly journal is excellent (declaration: I have written for both, in the past).

But, most interesting is its small-c campaigning. At time of writing, recent campaigns and research reports have covered such important and diverse topics as:

  • Women in Project Management
  • Mental health for PM professionals
  • Modern-day slavery
  • Value-oriented stakeholder influence
  • The Macro-economics of projects
  • Sustainable project management
  • innovation in Mega-projects

Learn More from the APM website: https://www.apm.org.uk

IAPM: International Association of Project Managers

Represent membersYes
Develop, disseminate, and promote Project Management knowledgeNo
Provide TrainingPartial
Offer CertificationYes
Number of Individual Members30,000+
Number of Organizational/Corporate Members

Preamble

The International Association of Project Managers (IAPM) is a global member association and certification body for project managers. It has its headquarters in Liechtenstein and has members in 148 nations.

Membership Activities

IAPM’s main focus is on knowledge and certification. However, it does organise network meeting – both live and online – for its members.

Project Management Knowledge

IAPM takes a light touch approach to Project management knowledge. It has few publications. And these, while useful, are thin and at an overview level. They say: ‘The IAPM deliberately does not prescribe how to acquire the necessary knowledge.’

Training Activities

IAPM does not offer direct training. But it has created the IAPM Network University. This is a virtual network on Facebook that helps students contact other students, share information about their dissertations and theses, and discuss issues and project management in general.

IAPM also puts students in contact with experienced IAPM project managers to help them find work experience placements.

Project Management Certification

IAPM offers a tiered set of 7 certifications, against its PM Guide 2.0, International PM Guide 2.0, and Agile PM Guide 2.0. These are all free to download, by the way.

Learn more: We have a detailed article about the IAPM, written by two of its representatives, called: ‘What is the IAPM, and Why Should You Care?’

Website: https://www.iapm.net/en/

IPMA: International Project Management Association

Represent membersYes
Develop, disseminate, and promote Project Management knowledgeYes
Provide TrainingYes
Offer CertificationYes
Number of Individual MembersN/A
Number of Organizational/Corporate Members
Project Management organizations and certification bodies around the world.
70+

Preamble

The IPMA is a federation of the leading Project Management associations in each nation – particularly in most European countries, because that is where they started. But they also have a strong in Australia, Asia, and the Americas.

Membership Activities

IPMA focuses its membership activities on young project managers (under the age of 35). Young Crew is IPMA’s vehicle for growing and developing the tomorrow’s project leaders.

It is an international network for young professionals, enthusiastic about project management. As well as offering a platform for young project management professionals and students up to the age of 35, it also provides conferences and training events. (Declaration: I am speaking at a Young Crew event in Spring 2021)

Project Management Knowledge

IPMA’s four Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are tackling globally important, forward focused topics. And they are based in four very different locations:

  1. Smart Rural SIG influences how technology and agriculture are shaping the modern industrial-agro business. (Mexico)
  2. Megaprojects SIG investigates tools, techniques, and technologies for improving large-scale projects. (Croatia)
  3. AI SIG is involved with projects that look at machine learning, AI, robotics, and more (Turkey)
  4. Smart Cities SIG seeks to create sustainable models for project management in the development of smart cities. (South Korea)

Training Activities

Aside from its Young Crew training work, IPMA mainly devolves training to its member organizations. But it does offer a list of registered courses and programs.

Project Management Certification

IPMA has four levels of qualification, innovatively labled Levels A, B, C, and D. A is the highest level, and D the most junior:

  • D: Project Management Associate
  • C: Certified Project Manager
  • B: Certified Senior Project Manager, Certified Senior Programme Manager and Certified Senior Portfolio Manager
  • A: Certified Project Director, Certified Programme Director and Certified Portfolio Director

These qualifications are available as Project, Programme, and Portfolio Management for Levels A and B only, and as Project Management for levels C and D only.

IPMA has also developed a new competence standard for individuals, providing consulting, coaching or training services in the field of project management: IPMA ICB4CCT®.

Other activities

Each year, IPMA recognises outstanding project management individuals, organizations and projects.

Website: https://www.ipma.world

PMI: Project Management Institute

Represent membersYes
Develop, disseminate, and promote Project Management knowledgeYes
Provide TrainingYes
Offer CertificationYes
Number of Individual Members600,000+
Number of Organizational/Corporate Members?

Preamble

There is no doubt about it: PMI is the biggest of the big PM beasts. A ‘Johnny-come-lately’ to the world of Agile, PMI is rapidly catching up. And 2021 is a big year for PMI, with a new version of its principal professional exam (PMP) starting in January, and publication of its primary document, the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) 7th edition due late Q1 or early Q2.

Membership Activities

Membership activities are mainly co-ordinated through the PMI’s 300+ chapters around the world. These offer fellowship, support, and learning. Many host large conferences.

You also get access to a vast and growing wealth of online resources, and discounts for publications and certification applications.

Project Management Knowledge

The PMI’s Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) is loved and loathed around the globe. The current (at time of writing) 6th edition is a vast 750+ page compendium of project management knowledge. Yet it hardly touches on Agile or Hybrid methods, which PMI discusses in its Agile Practice Guide.

The coming PMBOK Guide 7th edition is likely to be slimmer, more Agile-inclusive, and radically different in approach. Most of the 6th edition content will move to an online repository.

PMI also has an extensive collection of:

Training Activities

PMI has stepped in to play a greater role in training in recent years. As well as offering its own training, it has a network of Authorised Training Partners (ATPs) and ATP Instructors. These replace the recent, but now defunct) Registered education Providers (REPs).

Project Management Certification

PMI offers a range of certifications. These include its two principal general certifications:

  1. CAPM: Certified Associate in Project Management
  2. PMP: Project Management Professional

And also specific PM topic certifications in:

  • Disciplined Agile
  • PMI-PBA® Professional in Business Analysis
  • PMI-SP® PMI Scheduling Professional
  • PMI-RMP® PMI Risk Management Professional
  • PgMP® Program Management Professional
  • PfMP® Portfolio Management Professional

Other activities

PMI has recently signalled a big commitment to Agile and hybrid project management with the acquisition of Disciplined Agile.

It is a very commercially-minded organization. This, coupled with its sheer scale, means it is slow to innovate, and often seems to put its commercial interests ahead of the needs of members.

Website: https://www.pmi.org

Notable Honourable Mentions

National Project Management Membership Organizations

Most countries have their own national PM Membership organization. And most of these are member associations of the IPMA (above). And, those which don’t often have a local IPMA branch. There is a full list of member associations on the IPMA website.

Major Projects Association

The Major Projects Association in the UK is a membership organization for corporate and organizational members who engage in major projects. Contact them at https://majorprojects.org.

Agile Project Management Organizations

It can seem as if Project Management organizations that promote Agile or agile methodologies spring up like mushrooms in a damp basement. So, we’ll look at four that are clearly pre-eminent.

Like the four above, some of these are member organizations. But, unlike them, their focus is on Agile methodologies, rather than on broadly traditional, predictive project management.

I have gathered the bulk of our Agile Project management resources into a roadmap and resource guide: I Want to Study Agile Project Management.

Agile Alliance

Agile Alliance is a not-for-profit membership organization that promotes the concepts of Agile Software Development as outlined in the Agile Manifesto. We have supported and served the Agile community since 2001.

Membership and Community

Agile Alliance offers personal and corporate memberships – as well as a free ‘subscriber’ tier. The claim around 72,000 members.

Members can access their huge library of Agile resources, as well as conferences and participation in initiatives. And they also provide support to their member community with things like a speakers’ directory, sponsorship, and learning forums.

Methodology, Research, and Publications

Agile Alliance does not develop methodology. But it does publish a number of research papers and articles.

Training

Agile Alliance organizes conferences and webcasts. But, for true training, it only curates courses available from its members.

Certifications

Agile Alliance does not offer certifications.

Other

There is a lot of great free content around the basics of Agile, in the Agile Essential section of the website.

Website: https://www.agilealliance.org

Agile Business Consortium

Agile Business Consortium is the non-profit professional body for business agility. They aim to lead, promote, and enable business agility worldwide. It has evolved from the former DSDM consortium.

Membership and Community

The Agile Business Consortium invites individual members, though they don’t say how many members they have. What they do say is that they have members in over 30 countries and have certified more than 100,000 agile Project Managers.

Serving their members is one of the three pillars of what they do.

Methodology, Research, and Publications

The second and third pillars of the Agile Business Consortium’s objects are:

  • developing insights and business information
  • creating resources, tools, training products and publications
  • Their site gives access to a huge wealth of white papers, case studies, videos, ebooks, and tools and templates.

Training

Agile Business Consortium hosts a major conference every year. In addition there are typically several member events each month.

Certifications

Agile Business consortium offers a program of 12 certifications across 5 levels. Their preferred training partner for these is APMG International (below). However, through one of our partners, we offer a course to prepare for their most popular certification Agile Project Management (AgilePM) Foundation.

Website: https://www.agilebusiness.org/

Scrum Alliance

Scrum Alliance focuses on community and certification. They are a member-driven non-profit certifying body and trade association. they provide education, advocacy, research, community, and networking.

Membership and Community

Oddly, on their home page, Scrum Alliance tells us they serve their members. I can only assume they offer membership only to people who achieve a certification (below) as I can find no membership information.

Methodology, Research, and Publications

Scrum Alliance has a strong resource library. And they support research through their Scrum Alliance Labs initiative, which creates and shares not-yet-polished projects, programs, and materials, to get feedback from members.

Training

Scrum Alliance is not a course provider, but it does have a full register with strong search facilities on its site.

Certifications

Scrum Alliance offers 8 certifications in 5 tracks:

  1. Scrum Master track (3 levels)
  2. Product Owner track (3 levels)
  3. Developer track (2 levels)
  4. Agile Leadership (2 levels)
  5. Scrum guide and Coach (3 levels)

Website: https://www.scrumalliance.org/

Scrum.org

Scrum.org was founded by Ken Schwaber, the co-creator of Scrum. It aims to provide training, resources, assessments, and certifications. Their community includes 340 Professional Scrum Trainers, teaching consistent content.

Membership and Community

Membership of the community seems to be a matter of a free sign-up.

Methodology, Research, and Publications

Scrum.org is mainly a training and certification organization. It focuses its development activity on its training courses and certification syllabuses. But the site – like others, contains a real wealth of scrum and agile resources

Training

Scrum.org offers 10 training programs covering all aspects of the Scrum methodology, along with Agile Leadership and Scrum with Kanban. These are led by their own expert trainers.

Certifications

Scrum.org offer 8 certification tracks – some of which have multiple levels. Through one of our partners, we offer courses to prepare for two of their most popular certifications:

Website: https://www.scrum.org/

Project Management Accreditation Organizations

Our last category is the two large accreditation organizations who exist to provide Project Management accreditations. But they are very different in nature…

APMG International is a global accreditation and examination institute. They offer training and accredit exams in a huge array of other people’s certifications. And these go way beyond Project Management.

Axelos develops Project Management and related methodologies. For each of these, it also creates a training and examination syllabus, and certifications at different levels.

APMG International

APMG International is a business with a portfolio of services:

  • Accrediting organizations to deliver training courses and consultancy services for a broad range of professional certification schemes.
  • Authenticating accreditations from a wide range of organizations
  • Producing exam materials
  • Proctoring online examinations
  • Publishing and selling their own textbooks (and re-selling others)

Website: https://apmg-international.com/

Axelos

Axelos is best-known as the developer and owner of PRINCE2. However, their set of methodologies and associated certifications is deep;

  • PRINCE2
  • PRINCE2 Agile
  • AgileSHIFT
  • MSP (Managing Successful Programmes)
  • M_o_R (Management of Risk)
  • P3O (Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices)
  • MoP (Management of Portfolios)
  • MOV (Management of Value)
  • Resilia (Cyber Resilience)

Each of these represents a certification (or more than one at different levels). And each is supported by publications and other best practice resources.

Rather than a membership, there is a subscription service that allows certification holders to access publications, tools and resources to apply best practice. You can also sign-up to their community, for more limited resources, at no cost.

Website: https://www.axelos.com/

What Project Management Organizations have I Missed?

If you think I’ve missed any from my top 10, or should add some honourable mentions, please do tell me below – and add a link, so I can research them. I will respond to any suggestions and acknowledge any I add in.

About the Author Mike Clayton

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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