Have you ever wondered about the PMI Audit? What is it all about? When and why it’s done? How audits happens?
Many applicants for PMI certification exams have these questions in addition to other related questions about the PMI audit. So we have prepared this article to provide you with relevant information and answers to popular questions about PMI audits. Also, we have created a five-step plan for passing audits smoothly which will allow you to be efficient and effective in terms of answering PMI.
In this article, we are going to explore in detail everything you need to know about this type of audit, when, why and how it’s done. First of all, we will explore the reasons behind PMI Audit, why PMI does it and for what purpose, without further details, let us move forward.
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Why Does PMI Audit Applications?
So the key benefit of PMI Audit is to review the applicant’s eligibility for PMP prerequisites and to ensure these prerequisites are met properly. Thus, making sure only the right candidates are sitting for the certification exams like PMP, CAPM, PMI-ACP, etc. Accordingly, PMI uses it as a tool for ensuring that PMI certifications meet its preset quality standards.
In conclusion, PMI conducts application audits to confirm the experience and/or education documented on certification applications. The purpose of the audit is to enhance the credibility of the certification program and of the certification holders. For each certification, a specified percentage of applications are randomly selected for audit. So what certificates are subjected to PMI Audit? Well, the answer is simple all PMI related certificates are subjected to audit. Accordingly, this includes the following certificates:
- Project Management Professional (PMP)®
- Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)®
- Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®
- Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®
- Program Management Professional (PgMP)®
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®
- Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)®
- Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)®
PMI Certifications Subjected to PMI Audit
Due to the huge number of certifications that PMI provides, we will only discuss PMI Audit for three certifications only. Thus we will choose to discuss, Project Management Professional (PMP)®, Agile Certified Practitioner and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®. These three certifications took the three spots, due to their popularity, these certifications.
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PMP Application – PMI Audit
Now let us talk about PMP Application – Audit. Since PMP certification has certain prerequisites, the PMI audit process focuses on verifying these eligibility criteria. There are two connected prerequisites which are education degree and working hours. In light of these prerequisites, the applicant must fulfill an educational level in addition to a complementary number of project working hours. Subsequently, the applicant should have a secondary degree plus 7,500 hours leading and directing projects. The secondary school degree includes (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent).
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Alternatively, he or she can have a four-year degree plus 4,500 hours leading and directing projects. In addition to the earlier two prerequisites, the applicant should also study 35 hours of project management education OR obtain CAPM certification prior to applying to the PMP exam.
Accordingly, you should expect an audit to involve investigation of the validity of the information you provided in reference to these prerequisites. Also, 35 hours of PMP training should be sufficient to achieve the 35 hours of project management education requirement.
PMI-ACP Application – PMI Audit
Moving forward to audit for PMI-ACP application, PMI sets PMI ACP requirements similar to PMP prerequisites in concept. However, these ACP prerequisites are different in terms of nature with one prerequisite focuses on Agile experience. Accordingly, You should expect the PMI audit to investigate the accuracy of the information you provided for the following prerequisites. The first prerequisite is to have 1,500 hours working on Agile project teams or with Agile methodologies. In addition to working on Agile project teams or with Agile methodologies prerequisite, you should also have 21 contact hours of PMI ACP training. Moreover, you need to have 2,000 hours of general project experience working on teams. Alternatively, for the last prerequisite, a current PMP® or PgMP® satisfies this requirement without needing to report his general project management experience.
CAPM Application – PMI Audit
Finally, we are discussing the PMI audit for the CAPM application, which has a small combination of certification exam prerequisites. PMI requires CAPM applicants to have at least a secondary degree which includes high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent. In addition to attending 23 hours of project management education completed by the time you sit for the exam. Noting that CAPM training from a trusted provider should be sufficient to achieve the contact hour requirement. Accordingly, you should expect the PMI audit process to investigate basically the validity of the project management education prerequisite.
What Should You Do If PMI Audits Your Application?
Note that PMI audit selection happens after application completeness review. Your application may hit regardless of the comprehensiveness of your application. It is completely random process. Depending on the certification you are applying for, they only select a small percentage of applications for PMI Audit. Thus, you should only concern yourself with PMI Audit if your application is selected for PMI Audit.
Also, you need to follow a structured way of reporting back to PMI within the 90 days deadline stated in the PMI audit notification email and certifications handbook. Now that you know what and when the audit is done, let us move to how to respond to PMI Audit. There are 5 steps to respond to a PMI audit.
1-) Understand What PMI Audit Is
As we mentioned before, PMI conducts application audits to confirm the experience and/or education documented on certification applications. PMI aims to enhance its certification credibility and the credibility of certification holders. Accordingly, each certification has a certain percentage of applications PMI randomly selected for audit.
At the same time, PMI may audit all prerequisites of the certification or just select one prerequisite. Thus, you should understand clearly what PMI is auditing and what they are asking you to prove. Some applicants rush into sending all prerequisites documents to PMI, don’t do that. You should only send relevant information. E.g. if PMI is asking about your PM experience, you should gather reference letters from your supervisors or employers; if they are auditing your education, you should provide an attendance letter, certificate of completion, invoices from training organization. And if they are asking your education level, you should send a transcript and diploma from university/college, etc.
2-) Collect What PMI Asks
PMI will ask you for specific requirements training prove, work experience prove, etc. Accordingly, once you understand what PMI asks you to provide, start contacting the right contacts and only the right contacts to collect the required documents in the right format.
For example, if PMI asks you to provide proof of completing certification relevant contact hours training, contact your training provider. While you should contact your employer, supervisors, etc for work experience proof and arrange with them the relevant documents. Going for the right contacts will allow you to reduce the time and effort you take to complete the audit requirements. Also, you need to set timelines with different contacts to collect the required documents/ forms so time won’t slip.
3-) Prepare Your PMI Audit Folder/ Package
You should prepare a folder to contains all documents relevant to PMI audit requested requirements. Also, you need to prepare a checklist with all requirements, relevant documentation and collection due dates making sure that nothing slips. Once you collect all audit documentation, complete the folder and compare it to your audit requirements checklist. Now with the checklist is all done, and folder/ package complete, you can move forward to the fourth step.
4-) Send Your PMI Audit Documents
PMI has some rules and restrictions related to sending PMI audit documentation. Mainly, you can send your completed audit forms, depending on where you live, by regular postal mail or express courier service to PMI audit address. Also, PMI only accepts original physical forms of audit documentation and does not accept faxed or emailed audits documents.
Thus, you need to make sure to carefully plan your documentation collection time and consider the time documents delivery will take. Even if your manager or supervisor is across the world, PMI won’t accept audit materials to be faxed. Since PMI requires the original audit forms to be submitted in the sealed and signed envelopes, PMI will not accept faxed copies. Also, you need to make sure to follow the previous steps carefully through sending all documents one time and in one envelope. Thus, benefit from audit expedite in the processing time.
5-) Wait for PMI to Review
PMI takes from 5 to 7 business days to fully review audit documentation accordingly, you should wait for a response from PMI after this period. So what do you expect as a response from the PMI audit process? The answer is PMI will review the files and respond with one of three responses:
1) Approve the application,
2) Ask you for more details,
3) Reject the application.
So what happens in the case of a failed PMI audit? In that case, the Certification Department will address further actions on a case-by-case basis. Also, the case is similar if you decide not to proceed with replying to the audit process. Because your application will be considered as a failed audit due to non-conformance. You may reapply after one year. At that time, you must submit a new certification application and payment, and the application will be subject to a re-audit.
Can I Avoid PMI Audit?
There’s no way you can avoid PMI audit since PMI selects applications subjected to audit randomly. The random selection does not consider whether the application is missing information or has complete information. Regardless of the comprehensiveness of your application, your application can hit the PMI audit. The whole concept of audit is about meeting quality standards accordingly, there is no purposely selection for applications.
Make sure to do the following to pass PMI Audit in case your application hits
So what should you do so that you can guarantee an easy passage for your exam application if it is selected for PMI audit? There are some general guidelines to follow in order to make sure your application’s audit goes smoothly. These guidelines include:
Do not provide false info
Providing false information will put you in immediate risk of a failed audit, make sure all the information you provided within your application is accurate. Some applicants may think that it’s OK to provide inaccurate or false information. They are wrong, it may lead to more complications than they have estimated and may result in their application rejection. Do not provide false or inaccurate information, it may lead to scenarios worst than you ever can imagine.
Follow best practices while filling in your application
There are numerous content and material that explains how to fill in your certification application correctly. You can refer to a trusted material to follow the lead of its author, you can refer to an example for such material through our blog article PMP application
Make sure you attend a valid and legitimate training program (PMP, PMI-ACP or CAPM), etc.
It is not mandatory to attend project management contact hours offered by a PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.). Neither, PMI will contact them for your certificate of completion validation. Still, a valid and legitimate PM training program from a reputable provider will save you the risk of not being able to get a certification of completion copy.
Validate information with other people who interact with you
This is another a nice-to-have step but it will be very beneficial having someone else to verify what you wrote will allow you to see if you exaggerate or underestimate your reported experience, training or education.
Review your application before submission
Also, you need to review your application before you submit it for processing. In addition to your personal review, you can ask a more experienced project management professional or a peer to review it as well. This way you can ensure you won’t put misleading or misinterpreted information.
Although PMI audit may seem an easy task, there are many cases where applicants fall in minor mistakes that ruin their audit. Or in some other cases, the applicant suffers damages due to sending important documents or confidential information for the sake of the audit. Thus, we have prepared some important notes for you to consider while you are responding to the PMI audit process.
Only send all complete audit documents once
All documents should be sent out in one time, in one-shot, so no partial sending. This will make you avoid any issues with your audit process. Although PMI doesn’t penalize an audit candidate for this, it’s important that if it happens, the candidate should make to inform PMI. The candidate can make PMI aware of the situation so that they can flag the piece of mail in anticipation of the remaining audit materials.
Send all complete audit documents to PMI yourself
Don’t ask someone else employer, supervisor or a manager to send some of your documents on your behalf. This may lead to the issue we mentioned in the previous point. Although PMI does not mind receiving documents from other people, PMI prefers that the candidate mail all documents in one parcel.
Send all complete audit documents by mail
PMI does not accept electronic copies, faxed copies, electronic signatures or e-mail signature. So you need to send documents signed, sealed through courier. Don’t waste your time trying to explain to PMI how hard it’s to send documents by courier, PMI will just ask you to make it happen. Also, the requested forms and documents are not that hard to obtain. All documents forms are downloadable and you only need to download them, fill them with the required information and sign them by the right people. Then seal them and send them to PMI.
Don’t send your original certificates
You don’t need to translate your non-English certificate to send them
In case you have a non-English certificate, you don’t need to translate it and get it stamped. Instead, candidates are required to send a copy of the original and a letter outlining a general translation.
Align with your employer, manager, supervisor
PMI does reserve the right to contact your employer if there is a specific question related to verification. Thus you need to align with every contact relevant to the audit questions to make sure that they are aware of the verification. This will allow you to avoid any misunderstand or misinterpretations. Also, it will help your employer understand the context of what they’re being asked, so they won’t be reserved to answer.
Don’t send confidential information
PMI is very sensitive to this situation and encourages candidates to have the information verified in a way that is consistent with company practices and policies. Candidates may black out any proprietary information so as long as there are no changes or omissions to the original information provided to PMI. PMI may also provide a letter of intent to any managers or supervisors upon request.
PMI audit materials are confidential
Audit materials are strictly confidential and are not shared with any external organization unless required through legal action involving PMI. So in case that any organization you belong to wants to check them, it won’t possible unless there’s a legal complication that exists. Only when it comes to legal action involving PMI, PMI will respond with these documents.
Education certification verification
You completed a course at a PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.)
PMI audit requires candidates to contact the PMI R.E.P. directly for the necessary verification. PMI does not contact the education providers even if they’re a Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.). Don’t assume that just because you completed your course at an R.E.P., PMI will do the verification for you. If PMI asks you to verify your PM education, just contact your education provider, even if it was an R.E.P..
How to verify an in-house course where you did not get a certificate
PMI accepts a letter of completion from the course administrator, HR department, or manager on company letterhead to verify that the course was completed. So similar to experience forms, all you need to do is to provide a formally signed letter from your company and send it alongside the other documents.
PMI accepts a school transcript to meet the degree requirement
If you forget to sign the back of the envelope
It is preferred that your experience verification forms are returned to PMI in a signed and sealed envelope, however, PMI understands that this may not be possible in some cases due to internal business regulations, customs inspections, etc. Still, it is better to make a note on the back of the envelope in question that the signature was omitted.
PMI randomly selects candidates for audit, there’s no escape and no application can avoid audit regardless of its completion. However, the process can be an easy journey or painful one depending on how well you and your application are prepared.
Also, following the right structured steps allows you to navigate successfully through the audit process. We have provided five key steps that can help you with passing the PMI audit smoothly. In addition to these five key steps, we have discussed some extremely important tips to help you understand what you should and what you should not do.
With these steps and tips, you are now ready for passing your PMI audit with minimal effort and great confidence. Finally, the key factor for these steps and tips effectiveness is your commitment to timelines, guidelines, and rules.