Microsoft Project Certifications – Is it worth it for the Employer? (1 of 3)
BY: Collin Quiring
I noticed that Microsoft is retiring a couple Project certifications in October of this year:
Exam 74-131: Designing a Microsoft Office Enterprise Project Management (EPM) Solution
Exam 70-281: Planning, Deploying, and Managing an Enterprise Project Management Solutions
It is common for Microsoft to discontinue tests over time as the software or original purpose of the test becomes out of date. Unless the technology has been discontinued or the original purpose no longer exists, there is usually a replacement exam that is created. With Project 2010 coming out, it makes sense for the older tests to be phased out and new ones to be created.
I have one of those certifications and fully expect to have to take the “new” version – I have been fortunate to help with the beta testing in the past and hope to do so again (see Part Three for the test creation process). That said, I started thinking about a few questions and ended up with three separate articles. First, “Is certification worth anything for the Employer?” The second one is “Is it worth it for the Individual?” And, part three is about the normal process that Microsoft goes through to produce a test.
According to Microsoft, one of the benefits to the employer is that “when you hire a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), your company benefits from a technically proficient professional who has hands-on experience and in-depth knowledge.” Microsoft has a 10 page paper based on an IDC survey that explains more benefits of hiring a certified individual. Go to http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/cert-benefits-emp.aspx and find the link titled “Read the “Value of Certification,” IDC white paper”.
I have two main points of view for the Employer. The first one is about hiring somebody that already has a certification and the second is in paying for certifications for current employees. In the case of hiring an individual that already has the certification the employer can be confident that they are getting somebody that can begin contributing immediately and the learning curve for a new hire will be more about the organization’s culture and “how we do it here” rather than learning the technology.
(I know that the risk to an employer is that a person goes to a boot camp or is just inherently good at passing a test and that some “certified” individuals aren’t worth the paper their certification is written on. But, I do think that this is getting to be a smaller set of individuals over time as the tests become harder and more specific. And, the person’s ability is easily tested during the interview process with a simple practical application assessment.)
My second point of view is when an employer provides the opportunity to become certified (or maintain) to an existing employee. Not everybody cares about or desires certification but for those that do, having a certificate is more than just a pride item – it can be an intrinsic benefit that demonstrates their hard work in learning the latest technology and that their employer recognizes this as well. Depending on the certification, it is possible that no extra training expense be incurred as the individual just has to make sure they understand what the test is covering and brush up on their skills in their weak areas. In other cases, some training expense may be incurred. I understand how companies cut training expenses in lean times – but this is still less expensive than trying to replace an employee. The benefits to an organization aren’t easily quantified on a spreadsheet when they invest in their employees in this manner.