May 19, 2015 - Author: Mike Griffiths

You may have heard that the PDU Category Structure is changing in December, but are you clear on what it changes from and to? This article illustrates those changes, contrasting the current structure to the new structure and discussing some of the implications.

Effective December 1, 2015, the allocation of PDUs that can be claimed in the categories of Education and Giving Back are changing. Previously, for people requiring 60 PDUs per renewal cycle, 45 could be from the Giving Back category that included things like volunteering at local PMI chapters, writing articles and working as a professional in project management. This limit is being cut from 45 to 25.


Clearly this is a big reduction in the number of PDUs available for Giving Back to the Profession. At a recent PMI Leadership event, I heard it summarized as: “In the most extreme case, people could be getting a lot of their PDUs from stacking chairs at local PMI events, which is in nobody’s best interest. The changes help ensure a better balance of education and giving back.” True enough, many people get the majority of their PDUs per cycle from the Giving Back category. I do not know any chair stackers, but there did seem to be some “soft” or easy PDU opportunities there.

Continuing with the Giving Back category, limits are being (re)introduced. In the future, only eight (down from 15) PDUS can be claimed for “Working as a professional in PM” and the remaining 17 coming from Volunteering and Creating Knowledge.


The current allowance of 15 PDUs for “Working as a professional in project management” includes activities such as talking to peers about project management topics. Cutting this back to eight will direct project managers to more proactive and deliberate sources for PDUs.

If as you read this you are thinking “Stacking chairs? Talking to peers? I have been earning my PDUs all wrong from training courses and chapter meetings!”, you obviously missed my “Money for Nothing PDUs for Free” article, but you still have until December to get those PDUs recorded.

On the Education side, the 35 PDUs required (up from no maximum limit previously) now have sub-categories and counts to obtain. For instance, if you are collecting 60 PDUs in a three-year renewal cycle, then a minimum of eight PDUs must be from the Technical sub-category, at least eight from the Leadership sub-category and at least another eight from Strategic and Business Management.

These categories come from PMI’s Talent Triangle that is being referenced more these days to explain how companies need more than just technically competent PMs--they also need people skilled in leadership and strategic and business management.

The PMI Talent Triangle

The PMI Talent Triangle icon

The breakdown is shown below. Of the minimum 25 Education PDUs, eight PDUs must come from Technical, eight from Leadership and eight from Strategic and Business Management.


The remaining 11 PDUs can come from any of those topics; so 20 Technical, 10 Leadership and eight Strategic and Business would be okay, but 25 Technical, 15 Leadership and 7 Strategic and Business would not because it fails the “at least 8 from the Strategic and Business” sub-category requirement.

The impacts of these changes will likely be large and further reaching than we can imagine right now. Chapters will have to categorize their dinner meeting talks to indicate the PDU categories they cover and manage a balanced offering throughout the year. Education providers will have to do the same, cataloguing and advertising their PDU categories for each course. Likely new courses will be offered for people to “top-up” categories they might be low on.

It is also worth remembering that categories and sub-categories have been used before. The current scheme that focussed on Education and Giving Back was only introduced in March 2011, in part to simplify the complexity of the previous PDU structure that had 18 sub-categories.

I think the focus on the Talent Triangle is a good move for project managers in general. It helps move them into more strategic roles in organization and with that upward migration they will help bring a better appreciation for project management as a profession. However, that’s just my view; please share your thoughts on the new PDU structure below!

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