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Cornelius Fichtner, PMP: What if you get audited on your PMP Exam Application?

By applying to take the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam you also automatically agree to comply with the Project Management Institute’s (PMI)® audit terms. The PMI writes about this in the PMP credentials handbook as follows:

“To ensure that only qualified individuals attain credentials from PMI, we routinely conduct audits of candidate applications. The audit process is primarily random however, PMI reserves the right to audit any candidate or PMI credentialed individual at any time.”

Here is what you can do in order to make a possible audit go smoothly and what to expect.

First of all, start out by reading the PMP Credentials Handbook to gain a basic understanding of the audit process. You can find this handbook on the PMI website in the Career Development section. While it doesn’t list all the details of the audit process it is the only official information that PMI has published about it.

Now it’s time to proactively avoid any possible issues should your PMP Exam application be selected for an audit: As you fill in your application for the PMP certification exam simply answer all questions truthfully. The intention of the application is to show that you fulfill PMI’s eligibility requirements. The intention of an audit is to ensure that only viable candidates apply. Consequentially, if you fill in your PMP application truthfully, then you will have nothing to fear from the audit. This audit process is one of the reasons that the PMP credential retains its high regard.

The audits are completely random and you will be informed via email that you have been selected. This email is usually sent to you the moment that you submit your application. Along with the statement that you have been selected for an audit, the email also contains detailed audit instructions for you.

At this point, it is important to realize that once you are being audited the “clock stops”. By this I mean that you have 1 year following the submission of your application to take the PMP exam. But during the audit, this “clock stops” and does not continue until after your audit has been processed. So if your audit takes 6 weeks, then you have 1 year and 6 weeks to take the exam from the moment that you submitted the application.

After informing you that you are audited, the PMI will prepare the “audit package” for you. Log on to your account at PMI to find it. This package contains the details that you have submitted for each of your projects on your application. It also contains further instructions. You will now have to do the following:

In your application you named a primary contact person for each of the projects that you had worked on. Forward the appropriate section of the package to each of your primary contacts. They now have to verify that the information listed is correct, print and sign the document, put it into a sealed envelope and then put another signature across the sealed flap of the envelope. And yes, the PMI is very serious about this last one.

You will also have to make photocopies of the certificates you received from your training courses, to show that you have received 35 Contact Hours of training related to the 9 PMBOK® Guide Knowledge Areas.

Once you have gathered all this information you have to send the sealed envelopes and your certificate copies to PMI for review. I recommend that you send everything as one package and request a delivery receipt from the postal service.

PMI will inform you about their decision via email. Should you fail the audit, then PMI will refund the money that you paid minus an administrative fee of $100.

It is important to realize, that you have the power to expedite the audit process. The sooner you respond, the sooner it is processed. PMI is usually rather quick in processing your audit documents after you send them in. In some cases it can take as little as 4 days.

To make an audit go as smooth as possible I always recommend that PMP exam aspirants take one more step to resolve any possible issues should they get audited. After all PMI advocates that we project managers must be proactive, so let’s apply this concept here as well. My recommendation is that once you are ready to submit your application to PMI, submit it first to your primary contacts. Allow your primary contacts to review your application and confirm that they agree with the information that you have listed. If they don’t agree then you can make changes before you send it off.

Many of my students have been audited by PMI. And they tell me that if you are prepared and if you know what’s coming then being audited is simply a formality and nothing to be worried about.

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About the Author:
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP is a noted PMP expert. He is the host of The PM Podcast at http://www.thepmpodcast.com where you can hear his free interviews with PM experts from around the world. His PM PrepCast at http://www.pm-prepcast.com has helped over 6,500 project managers to study for the PMP exam.

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