Let's start with the good aspects.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Image Credit: Flickr / Joxin