Process Improvement Certifications for Project Management Exposure

It’s the first day of class and the professor is going around the room for introductions. When asked if we had any project management experience, the majority trend of the class was “No, I have not had any formal project management experience, BUT I have led…”. What this revealed was that everyone has led some project or team in their career that has exposed them to some level of project management experience. I myself was among those that didn’t think we could claim having project management experience due to the lack of certification or title.The holy grail of all project management certifications is the PMP (Project Management Professional) Certification. For those seeking a career in Project Management, this is definitely a certification you would want under your belt. But what about those individuals who are either interested or have led projects as a part of their job and simply want minimal exposure to managing projects without devoting the time and resource of a PMP certification? Aside from the list of certifications recognized by the Project Management Institute, ( there are alternative certifications and methodologies that can provide you with the exposure needed to lead and manage projects.

Lean Six Sigma

Last year, I decided to pursue my Lean Six Sigma certification through an opportunity provided to me by my employer. Lean Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology that works to improve performance by eliminating waste.  Certifications are structured in belts, similar to that of martial arts.

I started with my Green Belt which practices the methodologies of the process improvement application such as the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) process. In an improvement project, Green Belts help with the details, data analysis, and data collection for the team leader or Black Belt. Much like our current field project, green belts are similar to the team members that help organize the fundraiser/charity event. After my Green Belt certification, I went on to pursue my Black Belt certification. Comparable to a Project Manager, Black Belts lead the process improvement project. In my role as a certified black belt, I have led a few projects that improved the business processes of our agency. What’s great is that these projects do not limit team members to only those certified by Lean Six Sigma. My team involved all individuals whose work played a role in the process being improved, from front line staff to senior executives.

Although not officially being titled as a Project Manager, it was empowering to be given the exposure and opportunity to lead projects. Like many of my classmates, I initially thought that the role of a Project Manager was limited to a certification and specific prior work experience. Process improvement has been increasingly popular among businesses in the recent years and will continue to grow as resources become limited. There are so many types of certifications out there that will provide you with project management experience and I encourage everyone to research the opportunities out there.





9 thoughts on “Process Improvement Certifications for Project Management Exposure

  1. Great post Jessica! I agree there are many avenues to travel down in order to garner more project management experience — without pursuing a formal PMP certification. Depending on your interests, LSS certifications (among others) provide exceptional, relevant certifications that can certainly build your project management expertise.

    1. Thanks! Until I did some research, I never knew how many certifications are out there that can expose you to PM skills.

  2. It looks like every industry has a couple of certifications. I was thinking what type of certification to get for my career. I am in HR. There are SPHR, IPMA for HRM certification at U.S. Actually, we want a certification that is not only the holy grail like you mentioned. We do want to some real skills and benefits that can be applied to our job, like the one you did: lean six sigma.
    I feel like project management is an art and requires people that are really mult-skilled. They need to know time management, interpersonal skill especially leadership and communication skill, operation management etc. Everyone practices project management to some degree. Since the little thing like launching a meeting to jobs like building a new office. We do need to improve every single part or skill in project management. I am excited to get more knowledge and ideas from this quarters class.

    1. Definitely do some research, I am sure there are many options for you. Our HR manager actually has his LSS certification as well.

  3. Jessica,
    Thanks so much for sharing your story. This is really eye-opening and has expanded the way I think about the future of my career and project management in general. I especially liked how you talked about incorporating individuals in the company who do not necessarily have experience with six sigma and how these processes were also effective for them. I’d love to hear from others about how certifications have bolstered their PM experience in the real world!

    1. Thanks Jacky! I never knew there were so many types of certifications available especially now with the advancement in technology, I believe Google has a few certifications themselves.

  4. I have never heard of the six sigma! that was cool to read. I think process improvement definitely relates to project management. I think that the project management field is growing an expanding so it can not be limited to a group of people. Just as Jing wrote, I am also in HR, and certifications are preferred for some roles but not necessary. My coworker just received her PHR, she studied for a few weeks, stressed over it, but after the test is over she jokes that she barely retained any of the knowledge. Just enough to pass. I’m sure that’ wrong, she has more knowledge in her head somewhere than those who haven’t studied for the exam do! And now she can show her dedication to the field but nonetheless it is interesting to see how well respected certifications are.

  5. Jessica I’m you blogged on this subject and congrats on earning your black belt! I plan on pursuing a green belt once I finish with the MBA. In manufacturing everyone is always looking for lean initiatives to improve the bottom line for operating income. I agree with you six sigma I a good alternative to have if you don’t have the PMP. Process improvements are always high priorities for most firms. I know DePaul offers a six sigma certification and my employer is encourage us in operations to pursue six signam certs. It is avai valued cerification.

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