Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Number of PMPs: India Vs China–Why Does China Score So High?

I get these questions frequently.

How many PMPs are there in India? 

Aren’t there too many of them in India?

This is primarily with respect to the sectors, which are export driven, though over years I’ve seen many other organizations have the same impression. 

Adding to the growing claims that many managers are PMPs in India, there are also quite a few I’ve come across who say their friends are PMPs. Hence, they know this certification has no value as such. 

Notice the catch – they themselves are not PMPs, but have “friends”, who are PMPs! 

The most suprising part is every provider in India claims to be creating thousands of PMPs or at least in hundreds. In reality, this is not the case. Let's see how.

We will start with a simple analysis on the number of PMPs in India.

Analysis: Number of PMPs in India
Consider India has just 100 PMP providers (ones who conduct PMP training or provide PMP preparatory courses) - a very conservative estimate. In Bangalore itself, where I currently reside, there are at least a dozen registered education providers (REP). 

Important Note: It’s not needed to be a REP to provide PMP training, there are many other avenues such as employer sponsored programs, training companies, consultants, distance learning companies etc. You can check this link from PMI under the section of 'PMP Application & Payment'.

So, considering various cities and towns across India, you can say there are around 100 providers (at least). I'm just taking the least possible one. In reality, the number will be much more.

It’s also pertinent to note that many business schools from India provide these 35 contact hours PMP training - on-demand, online, or otherwise. Here is a snippet from IIM-Ahmedabad (link).

A Calculation of PMPs in India
Let's say each provider created 1,000 PMPs in 5 years. 

Read the previous line again - not one year, but in five years! This is also a conservative one, because the providers claim to have created a number of PMPs. 

Now, considering just 1,000 PMPs by 100 providers in 5 years, the numbers will be: 

Number of providers * PMPs by each provider * Number of years

= (100 providers) * (1,000 PMPs) * 5 years 

= (100) * (1,000) * 5

= (1,00,000) * 5

= 500,000. 

So, we get 500,000 PMPs or 0.5 million PMPs only in India, going by the providers' claims of creating thousands of PMPs. 

But, is it really the case?

No. In fact, it’s impossible. Let’s see how.

Total number of PMPs worldwide = 1,000,000+ 

=> 500,000 PMPs in PMP in India = around 50% of worldwide PMPs

This snapshot is from PMI and it shows as of February, 2020, there are around 1.04 million PMPs.

So, the entire world has around 1,000,000 (1M) PMPs. And based on the simple calculation that we just had, India has 500,000 or 50% of the PMPs!

Does India really have 50% of world's PMPs?

Forget 50%, India doesn’t have 25% of worldwide PMPs, not even 10%. Not even 5%! 

To give you a perspective, China with an almost equal population number and economic history and growth (till recently) has over 30% PMPs, worldwide.

This leads to the next question.

How Many PMPs are there in India?
Again, let’s go by data. Who can provide better data than PMI itself?

As per PMI, India has around 40,000 (total) as of 2018. The link is below. 

I’ve quoted this snippet below. You can read the details in the above link.

I expect little growth in two years (in 2019 and 2020). Possibly, few thousands would have been added. Data doesn't lie, though can be manipulated. However, in this case, there is nothing to change – it’s just raw data.  

So, overall, India will be having around 45,000 to 47,000 PMPs as of February 2020.  I really doubt it will be more than 50,000.

Remember we calculated, based on the “strong claims” of the providers, there are 500,000 PMPs, which is 10 times more! The fact is India has around 4 to 4.5% PMPs worldwide. (40,000/880,000 in percentage terms). As of mid-2018, there were around 880,000 PMPs around the world. And India has around 40,000 PMPs. 

So, why providers are saying they have created thousands of PMPs in India?

I find these possible reasons.
  • A lot of money is flowing into marketing, advertisements, social media posts where everyone claims to be a PMP (in turn, fooling the prospective customers), but very little effort into creating genuine PMPs.

    Creating real PMPs requires a lot of hard work, involvement and sincerity - not easy things to do. It's the exact opposite of endless marketing,  poor quality courses and gimmicky.
  • The providers are lying through their teeth. I've not seen many genuine success stories at any provider's portal! If there are a few, very likely because of bribes – but told as “prizes” to win in terms of iPad or a smartphone or something like that! You can make a search and see how such “prizes” are given.
  • The trainers themselves are not PMPs and even though one, they don’t understand the content well! I've seen such cases personally at two providers in Bangalore. You can compensate if you are keen on project management. But, it's obviously not the case when you lie being a PMP.

    On the other hand, being a PMP doesn’t mean you really know project management. That takes years of real world practice, writings, publications, hands-on involvement and other contributions. These are also not easy things to do.
  • Very few have genuine interest in your success.  It’s all about making money quickly by saying all kinds of things, not about your success in any way. Of course, to be a PMP, you have to put in the needed effort (it's a demanding and high-quality certification), but the material/course has to be good and the provider should have interest in your success. 

With this let’s see how many PMPs are in China. 

How Many PMPs in China? 
China has nearly 3o% of the PMPs now in the world. I’m taking this snippet from PMI’s executives, where the PMI informed this about China. (Check this link)

In fact, it has gone further as per a recent PMI publication in December 2019. Below is the quote:
"From 1999 to 2019, the number of Project Management Professional (PMP) certification holders in China skyrocketed from zero to nearly 330,000, accounting for one-third of the globe, said Bob Chen, managing director of PMI China at the opening ceremony. He also shared valuable statistics from a recently conducted survey with a sample size of nearly 1,000 PMP certification holders in China."

Three things stand out here.
  • China introduced the PMBOK guide and PMP exam in 1999. Just 20 years ago. 
  • China as of 1999, didn’t have a single PMP. India then had quite a few. 
  • In fact, in 2016, China had just 150,000 PMPs whereas India had 30,000. In last few years Chin has more than doubled it number of PMPs to 300,000+. (link)

Why Does China Score High?
In my classes I’ve had Chinese students. As I interacted with them, I came to know on few areas and reasons why China scores so high. 
Reason – 1: Critical Thinking 
I believe this is the most important part of the PMP exam. You have to think critically on the questions and from all possible angles. The questions are predominantly situational and the coverage area is vast. Critical thinking helps you answer these questions. I find PMP aspirants from China quite good in this aspect. 

When you prepare, critical thinking also helps you to understand the content in a better way. You self-evaluate your learning and understanding as you proceed with a high quality preparatory course, along with the PMBOK Guide. 
Reason – 2: Mathematical Proficiency
I’ve noticed participants from China can quickly solve some of the most difficult mathematical questions, whenever I asked. In fact, their turn-around time is in seconds.

It is NOT that the PMP exam is always dominated by mathematical questions. In many instances, I've seen there are just a few mathematical questions (one recent success story informs so) and sometimes there may be none! But, when you can answer such questions quickly, then the time saved can be applied in other questions. 
Reason – 3: Analytical and Logical Reasoning
These are the other critical areas in the PMP exam. The exam coverage area as I had earlier mentioned is vast. It's very easy to get lost with a huge coverage area: 5 process groups, 10 knowledge areas, 49 processes, and 100s of inputs, tools and techniques and outputs (ITTOs). There are nearly 1,500 ITTOs.
However, if you can correlate your understanding in one area with another (there is a lot of interlinks and interplay among the processes), you can quickly focus on the important ones.
Analytical thinking and logical reasoning helps you further to pin-point on a choice. This is important where in many questions more two choices will be left out for you and both the choices look to be correct! I found participants from China to be very quick on this aspect.

Reason – 4: Language
The PMP exam in China is available in Chinese languages. The exam can actually be given in 15 languages. As shown below, other than English, there are options for Chinese (Simplified) and Chinese (Traditional). 

When you read the content and can give the exam in your own language, you have advantages. But, it's not a major one. Hence, I've moved it down the order. With basic English proficiency, I've seen many clearing the exam. 

As noted earlier, data doesn’t lie. In reality, India doesn’t have the PMPs matching the outlandish claims by various providers. We have a long way to go and a lot to learn. 

As there are a lot of claims, advertisements, and media reports that there are many PMPs, I intended to put this in an article. This was also requested by the subscribers of my courses, who wanted to tell the real picture of PMPs in India, in their respective circles. I believe this article will put an end to these false stories and will tell the real number of PMPs in India as of 2019/2020.

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