PMD Pro: a common language

After evaluating several training options, in 2011 Mercy Corps chose PMD Pro as the foundation of a new approach to project management. In a new, organization-wide initiative (Project Management @ Mercy Corps), all staff with responsibility for management or oversight of projects would be required to achieve certification in PMD Pro1 and PMD Pro2.

A training course was designed to introduce team members to the basics of project management, after which they were encouraged to apply what they had learned through self-study for PMD Pro certification. Over the next 2/3 years, over 600 staff completed Mercy Corps internal training program, and a further 450 team members, from 40 countries, achieved PMD Pro 1 certification.

“Project management matters to Mercy Corps because it is the foundation of all that we do,” says Beth deHamel, Chief Financial Officer. “Our passion, moral commitment to do the right thing, and deep desire to bring innovation to the world’s toughest problems can only succeed if we have strong program management and can deliver results to our beneficiaries.”

An internal evaluation of the impact of PMD Pro, and Mercy Corps’ wider project management training (PM@MC), demonstrated marked improvements in program quality as a result of team members achieving PMD Pro certification:

  • 43% of course participants said that they had made great or significant changes to their practice after PMD Pro certification.
  • 72% of surveyed field leaders reported an improvement in the PM skills of team members who had achieved PMD Pro 1.

For PM@MC to work effectively, Mercy Corps realized that it was important to take time to embed project management processes as part of the organizational culture. This deep and concerted effort resulted in staff acquiring new project management skills outside of the actual delivery of their projects. Once these skills were learned, they became an integral way of working, enabling project staff to confidently draw from their toolkit, in a supportive culture, and improve their projects and programs over time.

“Project management represents a fundamental set of skills,” says Craig Redmond, Senior Vice President of Programs. “If we don’t do project management right, nothing else is possible. PMD Pro and PM@MC are finally giving us a common language that has been missing for many years.”