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  The Good, Bad and Ugly of PMI Component Chapters

If you have read my article 10 Benefits of PMI Membership, you know that as a PMI member, you can sign up for the membership of PMI component chapters. These component chapters provide an excellent opportunity to meet face-to-face and network with professionals in your area or region, and hone your project management skills. While these component chapters provide a good value for money, there are a few things that PMI won't tell you, but you need to be aware of when signing up for the membership. The terms and conditions of membership are probably not as transparent as you would expect. This article covers the good as well as the not-so-good aspects of these component chapters that you should be aware of while signing up for the membership.

Let's start with the good aspects.

Good
  1. If you are an aspiring PMP, you can attend PMP Exam Prep workshops organized by the component chapters. Usually, the workshop fee is quite reasonable and members enjoy a discount. It's also a great opportunity to meet other PMP aspirants in your area and form study groups.
  2. If you are a certified PMP, you can earn PDUs by participating and contributing in professional events organized by component chapters. You can also earn PDUs by serving as a committee member of component chapters. Of course, you get to learn a lot and network with fellow practitioners.
  3. The membership to component chapters often comes with freebies. In my case, PMI waived the complete membership fee for the first year. Since they extended the offer only after 3 months of signing up with PMI, I could not avail the benefits for a whole year (I explain more on this, later in this post). But since it was free, I didn't mind too much. The second year membership came with a free watch. Though it's not something I'll be sporting around, but hey, it's free!
Bad
  1. The membership for these component chapters is not free. It costs anywhere from $2 to $40, above the $119 you pay for PMI membership. Though it's a subjective matter, IMHO, PMI membership fee ($119) should cover the cost of at least one component chapter, to make it a good value for money.
  2. The component chapter membership fee as such doesn't buy you much. You need to shell out additional money for most events organized by the component chapters. However, I'm not suggesting that it's necessarily "bad". I had been a member of Singapore PMI (SPMI) Chapter for 2 years until Oct 31, 2009. The membership costs USD 40 and they charge SGD 15 to 25 (1 USD = 1.40 SGD) for each event. They have two types of events - Professional Events and Focus Group Meetings - among others. From my experience, the "Professional Events" are well organized, the speakers are good, the food is great, and overall they are a good value for money. However, the focus of the "Focus Group Meetings" eluded me, and I didn't find much value in attending them (other than for the PDUs).

    Some personal rant: Of late, the fee for SPMI events is headed in one direction only - upward. Until early 2008, many events used to be free. Then gradually they increased the fee to SGD 10 for each event. By early 2009, the average fee moved to SGD 16, and now it ranges from SGD 16-25. I sent an email to SPMI on this issue, but did not get any response. So, as a mute "protest" to this unrestrained fee hike, I've decided not to renew my membership of SPMI this year. I hope someone in their committee reads this message and looks at this aspect.
Ugly
  1. An important aspect you need to be aware of is that the component chapter membership expires the same day as your PMI membership. What does this mean to you? Let's understand with an example. Let's say that your PMI membership begins on Jan 1, 2010 and expires on Dec 31, 2010. Say you sign up for a component chapter (like Singapore PMI Chapter) on Oct 1, 2010. Now you would think that your component chapter membership would expire on Sep 30, 2011. But, this would be incorrect. Your component chapter membership will also expire on Dec 31, 2010. It means that you get the benefits of component chapter membership only for 3 months, eventhough you paid for 12 months.

    Why is this so? Do not ask me because it doesn't seem logical to me. Either PMI should charge us a pro-rated membership fee for the component chapter, or they should make component chapter membership independent of the PMI membership. I had been on the receiving end of this policy and thought I should spread the word and let my fellow Project Managers be aware of this.
  2. You cannot join the component chapters without being a PMI member. Why so? I can think of two reasons for this. First, a percentage of your PMI membership is channeled to the component chapters, to subsidize the fee for component chapters. Second, and I hate to say this, somebody's got to pay the salaries of PMI Board of Directors and Executive Committee members.
In summary, I still believe PMI Component chapters provide a good value. But, the membership terms leave room for improvement. If you have additional information to share on this topic, I would love to hear from you. Do not hesitate to drop a comment irrespective of whether you agree with me.

Image Credit: Flickr / Joxin

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8 comments:

  1. Wow Harwinder,
    You've missed a lot of the "dirt" that is going on in PMI...

    First, PMI is above all else, a BUSINESS and there are no decisions the organization makes which do not benefit HQ staff first. So get rid of any thoughts of PMI being interested in doing "good things" for either the Chapters or the SIGS.

    Secondly, for at least 10 years or more, PMI has been slowly cutting their components loose.

    Back around 2000 or so they forced the chapters and sigs to incorporate separately from PMI. (Heaven help HQ if they were to be sued for something a chapter or sig did)

    Then slowly but surely, they have tried to isolate HQ from the membership-

    They disbanded the Council of Chapter Presidents, because we started to get too organized and were making demands (such as dues linked to purchasing power parity) and replaced them with MAGS- member advisory groups. Now I understand they are disbanding the MAGS???

    Apparently, (I don't have first hand knowledge of this) but PMI has been working towards eliminating all chapters and sigs and going virtual?

    Bottom line- If you dig a little bit under the surface, (check with some of our colleagues in Australia especially) I think you will find an organization that is moving more and more away from being a true professional organization and beginning to look more and more like a for profit business. And one that really doesn't care much about the "member/owners".

    My suggestion, especially to those coming from outside of North America? Take a serious look at what the International Project Management Association (IPMA) offers. Very credible alternative to PMI.

    BR,
    Dr. PDG, Jakarta
    http://www.getpmcertified.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're right, the same is for Colleges and SIGs

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello Dr. PDG,

    As I was posting this article, I was pretty sure that you would have some good insight to share on this subject. And indeed I was right :)

    Thanks for sharing your experience and voicing your opinion. Very few people can provide this level of detail.

    I deliberately restricted the article to my actual experience rather than expressing my opinion. I would let the readers make whatever they want to make of it.

    I do however encourage everyone to express their opinion and substantiate it with actual facts, like you did.

    At this moment, I'm a bit neutral on what you said, but it really provides some food for thought.

    Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Harwinder,

    Not a bad piece, and I find most of your topics interesting and thoughtful. I agree with everything you said but I think you missed one good aspect. The opportunity to network for jobs.

    I belong to the WDC Chapter and have for more than a year. I never view the costs of membership or the $40 dinner fees as a nuisance- merely the cost of doing business.

    I've been offered dozens of jobs and have helped others find new opportunities as well. I also volunteer which keeps me in the loop.

    Certainly there is a downside but I maximize my membership to provide me with opportunities in this tumultuous economy. Anyone who isn't getting every dollar's worth out of their membership is doing themselves a disservice regardless of what PMI does.

    Bob Mahler, PMP
    (loyal reader)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dear Harwinder,

    Not a bad piece, and I find most of your topics interesting and thoughtful. I agree with everything you said but I think you missed one good aspect. The opportunity to network for jobs.

    I belong to the WDC Chapter and have for more than a year. I never view the costs of membership or the $40 dinner fees as a nuisance- merely the cost of doing business.

    I've been offered dozens of jobs and have helped others find new opportunities as well. I also volunteer which keeps me in the loop.

    Certainly there is a downside but I maximize my membership to provide me with opportunities in this tumultuous economy. Anyone who isn't getting every dollar's worth out of their membership is doing themselves a disservice regardless of what PMI does.

    Bob Mahler, PMP
    (loyal reader)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mr President... I am a PMP aspirant.. After a long time i am visiting your site, wow.. its cool man.. Well, its time for me to jump into your blog from now..

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello Bob,

    You highlighted an excellent point that I obviously overlooked. I completely agree with you.

    How much value we extract from the membership depends upon us. Benefits of networking are invaluable and I cannot put a dollar value on it.

    Thanks for your insightful comments. You have added real value to this post. I'm not always right and I really appreciate constructive feedback like these.

    I'm looking forward to learning more from you ...

    Thanks !

    ReplyDelete
  8. @ Anonymous,

    You didn't leave your name, but from the way you addressed me, it's obvious that you are a member of my Toastmasters club. I think I can guess who you are :)

    Thanks for your 'cool' comments. When are you taking the exam?

    ReplyDelete

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