PMI PMP audit is probably the most feared part of PMP Certification. Most fears are uncalled for and probably stem from the confusion around the audit process. If you understand the process well, it will take away some anxiety and help you concentrate on the exam.
So let’s step back and understand the PMP application process first and then see where the audit fits in.
PMP Application and Audit Selection Process: Step-by-step
- You submit your PMP certification application to PMI.
- PMI reviews your application. If your application is approved, you receive an application approval email from PMI. Your one-year eligibility clock starts ticking from the day of approval.
- You may pay the exam fee anytime within your one-year eligibility window. Ideally, you should make the payment soon after application approval in order to give yourself ample time to schedule and take the exam. You should also consider the possibility for re-examination (just in case you don't clear in the first attempt). Note: You can take the exam up to 3 times within your one-year eligibility window.
- After you pay the exam fee, PMI will send you "one" of the following two emails:
- If your application is not selected for an audit, you will get an email with examination scheduling instructions to help you schedule your exam.
- If your application is selected for a PMI audit, you will get an email with instructions to comply with the audit.
Why does PMI conduct application audits?
The purpose of the audit is to maintain the credibility and value of the PMP certification program as well as of the certification holders. Through the audit process, PMI confirms the experience and/or education documented on certification applications.
I personally think that audit is extremely important. I don’t want every proverbial Tom, Dick and Harry to be PMP certified. Only experienced and qualified project managers should be allowed to take the exam and earn the PMP credential.
What is the PMP Audit Process?
If your application gets selected for an audit, your one-year PMP exam eligibility clock stops until the audit process is complete. The email that you will receive from PMI will also have instructions to comply with the audit. The steps to comply with the audit are:
- Download the "audit package" from PMI Online Certification System.
- Print the PMI audit forms in the audit package.
- Get signatures from your manager(s) / supervisor(s) on the Experience Verification form.
- For each project listed on the experience verification section of your application, you need to get physical (not electronic) signatures from the respective manager(s) / supervisor(s) on those projects. Each manager/supervisor should sign a separate copy of the form. For example, if you have different managers on two projects, you need to get two forms signed, one from each manager. But if you had the same manager on more than one project, he/she can sign against multiple projects on the same form.
- After signing the form, the manager/supervisor needs to put the form in an envelope, seal it, sign at the back of the envelope across the sealed portion of the flap, and return it to you. Note: Make sure that they return the form to you, and not send it to PMI directly.
- Make photocopies of your diploma/degree certificates.
- Make photocopies of the certificates or letters from the training provider(s) for the 35 Contact Hours of Project Management education.
- Put all the documents and photocopies in a large envelope and send it to PMI, either through regular postal mail or courier service, at the following address:
Attn.: Certification Audit
14 Campus Blvd.
Newtown Square, PA 19073-3299 USA
Note: PMI will not accept faxed or e-mailed audits documents. Send all the material together, in one envelope, to expedite the processing.
Which Documents do I need to submit for PMP Audit?
To comply with PMP application audit, you would be asked to submit the following documents to PMI via postal mail.
Please refer to Documents required to comply with PMP Audit for details.
How much time does it take to complete the PMP Audit?
The PMP Audit time primarily depends on how fast the applicant mails back the requested information to PMI. Once PMI receives your documents, they usually takes about 5 business days to complete the audit. If you clear the audit, PMI will give you a go ahead for scheduling the exam and your eligibility clock will start ticking again.
Here’s a break-up of the PMP Audit processing time:
- The time you take to complete the audit package - The sooner you complete the package, the shorter the overall processing time is.
- The shipping time for the package (to PMI). You can expedite the process by using a good courier service.
- The time PMI takes to process your audit package. PMI takes about 5 business days to process your audit documents after it receives them.
In summary, the audit processing time mainly depends on you because you have control over the first two components.
Tips to ensure a smooth PMP Audit
To ensure that your audit goes smoothly, the best practice is to establish contact with all the people whose name you intend to list as your managers/supervisors on your PMP application BEFORE you submit your PMP application.
Let them know that you are applying for PMP certification and you want to list their name on the application form as your manager/supervisor. Remind them of the projects, which you did under their supervision, and intend to include on your application. Tell them about the audit process and the possibility that you might need their help to verify your experience, in case your application gets audited. Request their current contact details such as contact number and office address. Also tell them that PMI might contact them through phone or email to verify your experience.
If you are unable to contact them, or get their concurrence on your application due to any reason, look for alternatives even before you file your application. If you follow this practice, and fill your application truthfully, you don’t have anything to fear from the audit. It will also take away lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety, and help you prepare better.
Additional Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the PMP Audit process
Is there a way to avoid PMP Application Audit?You cannot. However, you can follow the best practices outlined above to prepare yourself to face the audit and ensure that the audit goes through smoothly, in case your application gets audited.
What percentage of PMP applications get Audited?f you want an authentic answer, then it is "we do not know". PMI does not disclose the number of applications that get audited, or the basis on which applications are audited. According to Project Management training institutes, which train PMP exam candidates in hundreds every year, roughly 10% of the applications get audited. However, in my personal experience, the number is even lower.
When do I know my PMP Application has been Selected for an Audit?As explained in the step-by-step process above, you'll know whether your application is selected for an audit immediately after you pay the PMP exam fee.
If my PMP application is selected for an audit, does PMI extend my 1-year eligibility window?Normally, PMP application approval is valid for 1 year only. That means, you must take the exam within 1-year from your application approval date. However, if your application is selected for an audit, your eligibility clock stops. The clock will start ticking again after you pass the audit. In summary, the time it takes for audit is not taken from your one-year eligibility window and your eligibility period will be extended by the number of days it takes to complete the audit.
How much time do I have to submit my documents to PMI?Your completed audit package should reach PMI within 90 days.
What does the experience verification form look like?Following is a copy of the experience verification form for your reference only. In case your application is selected for an audit, PMI would provide you a link to download the latest version of the form from their website. You should use that link to download the form. You would need to submit one form per project (mentioned in your PMP application).
If a supervising manager of the project listed on my PMP application, is not available due to any reason, what options do I have?You can have a colleague on that project or the current manager/supervisor who has good knowledge of that project, sign your experience verification form.
What happens if I fail the audit?If you fail to meet the PMP Audit requirements, PMI will refund your exam fee, minus $100 administration fee for the audit. Now you know why they ask you to pay first :) In addition, and more importantly, your application approval would stand canceled. Moreover, PMI has clearly mentioned in the PMP Handbook that they reserve the right to audit any candidate any time i.e. even after they achieve the PMP credentials. If you fail to meet the audit requirements after you achieve your PMP certification, you will not be eligible for any refund.
If I fail the audit, how soon can I re-apply for the PMP Exam?If you fail the audit, you can re-apply after a one-year suspension period.
What if I submit incomplete documents to PMI?Submitting incomplete documents is automatically considered a "failed" audit.
Where can I get more information about the audit process?PMI provides a very informative list of 30+ audit FAQs, which very few people are aware of. Here's the link to the page: PMI Certification FAQs (scroll down to "Audit" section).
If you have additional questions, let me know and I’ll try to address them.
Image credit: Flick / jakerust