Project management is not a simple field to work in. There are constant changes occurring within this sector, from new technologies to different ways of planning and structuring projects.
Because of this, project managers need to keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date in order to be successful.
Imagine a doctor who doesn’t keep up-to-date with the latest medical advancements and is still using outdated techniques from the 1980s to treat their patients. They will undoubtedly fail and cause their clientele much harm.
The same situation can apply to a project manager who doesn’t keep up with the latest trends and changes in their industry. They will be left behind by their competitors and won’t be able to function in the ever more competitive international market.
A PDU, or professional development unit, is one way in which a project manager can do this.
In this article, we will take a closer look at what a PDU is, how one is earned and why it is are important.
Let’s get going!
What Is A PDU?
A PDU is a unit of measurement that represents the amount of time a project manager spends learning and developing their skills.
One PDU is equal to one hour of learning.
There are two different types of PDUs: formal and informal.
PDUs can be used to maintain existing certifications or to earn new ones. They can also be used to meet the requirements of various organizations, such as the Project Management Institute (PMI). The exact requirements for specific organisations are discussed in further detail below.
How is a PDU Earned?
As mentioned, there are two different types of PDUs: formal and informal.
Formal PDUs are earned through accredited courses, such as university degrees or certificates. These courses usually have a set number of PDUs that can be earned and tend to be more structured and serious than their informal counterparts.
These sort of courses can obviously be on the expensive side, so it is on you as a firm or an employee to decide which specific course to take — so you can get the most out of your investment.
Informal PDUs are earned through other activities, such as reading books or articles, attending conferences, or participating in online forums. The number of PDUs that can be earned through these activities is usually not set and can vary depending on the activity.
Earning informal PDUs is a lot more ‘fun’ than formal PDUs, so make the most out of it!
The Most Effective Way to Earn PDUs
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The most effective way to earn PDUs will vary depending on the individual project manager and their specific needs.
However, many experts recommend a mix of both formal and informal PDUs in order to get the most benefit.
Formal PDUs can provide project managers with the structure and discipline that is often lacking in the more informal activities.
It can give you the underlying knowledge that you need to succeed in project management, and also increase your credibility within the industry in a way informal PDUs simply cannot.
Meanwhile, informal PDUs can be more flexible and allow project managers to focus on the topics that are most relevant to them.
5 Reasons Why PDUs Are Important
PDUs are important for a number of reasons. Let’s take a look at 5 of the top reasons why managers and companies should take some time out to invest in their learning.
They Help Project Managers Keep Their Knowledge Up-To-Date
PDUs are important because they help project managers keep their skills and understanding of the project management field as current as possible.
With the constant changes occurring in the field of project management, it is essential for project managers to stay abreast of these changes. Otherwise, they run the risk of becoming outdated and less effective in their role.
They Provide Opportunities for Networking
Another reason PDUs are important is that they offer an opportunity for employees to learn from the best.
As a project manager, it is essential to have a strong network of contacts who you can rely on for advice and support. Attending PDU events is a great way to meet other project managers and build up your network accordingly.
They can be Used to Earn Re-certification Points
If you are a certified project manager, then you will need to complete a certain number of PDUs in order to maintain your certification. These PDUs can be earned through a number of ways as discussed in further detail above.
In terms of the exact number of PDUs required to maintain your certification, this is as follows:
- PMP: 60 PDUs every 3 years
- CAPM: 30 PDUs every 3 years
- PMI-ACP: 30 PDUs every 3 years
- PMI-RMP: 30 PDUs every 3 years
- PfMP: 30 PDUs every 3 years
They Help Project Managers Stay Motivated
Attending PDU events can also help project managers stay motivated in their role. It can be easy to become bogged down in the day-to-day tasks of project management, and attending PDU events can provide a much-needed break from this.
In addition to this, hearing about the latest developments in the field can help to reignite your passion for project management. This can be especially useful to seasoned project managers who have been there and done that.
They can use PDU events to expand their horizons and understand that there is always more to learn, irrespective of how experienced they may be.
They Can be Used to Build up Your CV
Finally, PDUs can also be used to build up your CV. In today’s competitive job market, employers are increasingly looking for candidates with strong CVs.
Therefore, if you can list PDU events that you have attended on your CV, this will make you more attractive to potential employers.
On the other hand, as a firm with employees who often attend PDU events — you will have a selection of talent with excellent qualifications which can be a contributing factor to keeping your best clientele.
As one of the most prestigious project management organizations, the Project Management Institute (PMI) offers a way for project managers to stay current through their PDU program. The program is designed to help members “maintain and improve their professional competence”.
There are two different types of PDUs: education and giving back.
Education PDUs are obtained through “courses, seminars, conferences, e-Learning, or distance learning”.
Giving back PDUs are earned through “teaching activities, writing articles or books, and volunteering”.
Each type of PDU has different requirements. For education PDUs, a project manager must complete at least 10 contact hours of training. For giving back PDUs, a project manager must volunteer for at least 20 hours or teach for at least 10 hours.
The PMI is not the only organization that offers PDUs. There are other project management organizations, such as the International Project Management Association (IPMA) and the American Society for Quality (ASQ), that also offer PDUs.
Best Project Management Learning Materials
When it comes to finding the best learning materials for PDUs, there are a wide range of options available.
Some of the most popular choices include:
A quick search on Amazon will reveal a huge selection of books on project management, ranging from the basics to more advanced topics.
There are also many books available for specific project management methodologies, such as Agile or PRINCE2.
2. Online Courses
There are numerous online courses available on project management, from beginner to expert level. These can be found on sites such as Coursera, Udemy and Lynda.com.
These can be much more accessible than in-person alternatives, especially now with the constantly changing working environment where so many of us are working from home.
These are often more current to the world’s situation, as can be seen through the greater number of virtual leadership courses available.
There are many project management blogs available, written by both experts and practitioners. These can be a great source of information and inspiration for project managers.
Some popular project management blogs include The Project Management Hut and ProjectManagement.com.
Attending conferences is a great way to network with other project managers and learn about the latest trends and developments in the field.
There are many conferences held throughout the year, both large and small, so there is sure to be one near you.
5. Online Forums
Online forums dedicated to project management have been growing in popularity in recent years. In these forums, users can ask questions, share experiences and learn from each other.
Some popular project management forums include PMI’s Project Management Community, Reddit’s /r/projectmanagement and ProjectManagement.com’s forums.
The Bottom Line
PDUs are a great way for project managers to stay current in their field. By taking courses and seminars, or volunteering and teaching, project managers can earn PDUs that will help them to impProject management is not a simple field to work in.rove their skills.
Now that you understand the benefits of PDUs, what they are, and why they are important for any project manager — it’s time to get started with your own learning journey and crack on with fulfilling your own specific PDU requirements.
Best of luck!