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  • Writer's pictureJosh Atkinson

PMP Enhances MCPP and MDMP!!

Updated: May 22, 2023

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification greatly enhances the Marine Corps Planning Process (MCPP) and the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) by incorporating industry best practices in planning, resource management, communication, stakeholder management, quality assurance, change management and team development across a variety of missions (projects).

As a Marine Corps Logistics Officer I am a very familiar with the Marine Corps Planning Process (MCPP) and its application. It was the foundation I/we used in order to prepare for exercises and deployments and even conduct wargames and simulations. Later in my career I got introduced to Project Management when my unit funded a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification course and I learned additional tools that made my foundation even better.

Everything I was using in MCPP (or MDMP for our Soldiers out there) nested directly within the PMP framework, but PMP gave me a myriad of additional tools to use. Especially as I was managing projects that didn't align with "Big Blue Arrows" and operational planning. Things like Maintenance inspections, technology implementation, and readiness inspections. Heck, even the Birthday Ball.

Why does the industry process compliment so well? Industry cares about speed and tempo as much as the military does, but they also care about a few other key element: Customer satisfaction, quality and profitability.

So where to start. At first glance the two processes are very similar. Both MCPP and PMP follow a logical flow in which to plan. MCPP actually does a better job in assessing different plans and comparing them through the COA comparison and COA wargaming process (this actually looks more like Agile, and understanding Agile processes would greatly benefit here).

Further analysis though reveals that the entire military planning process is summed up in the first two steps of the civilian PMP process which is initiation and planning. Once the orders have been issues the military planning process stops as highlighted in the graphic below. This isn't to say that the mission stops but that the structure in which to assess project performance and continued planning has ended. Things like Earned Value Management, and Change Management are missing.

Where PMP builds upon military planning is in the execution to close phase. This is also why veteran leadership is a great value in civilian project management. (Even without formal PM training and certifications, veterans understand the planning and mission execution piece, and understand the leadership responsibility to develop and manage a team through project execution. They just lack the knowledge and processes needed in the civilian world). More appropriately depicted, the PMP process isn't 5 sequential steps, but rather for steps, embodies in a 5th which is monitor and control. The monitor and control process wrap around all the others and play a crucial piece in the successful execution of a project (on time, on budget, in scope).

So what does PMP teach that military planning does not? This could be an article in and of itself but I have listed a few key elements below:

• Stakeholder Management

• Conflict Resolution

• Communications planning: Message, medium, frequency

• Earned Value Management (Planned vs actual performance both schedule and resource consumption)

• Change Management (within scope or not & Impact to scope/cost/schedule)

• Agile framework

The key takeaway that I want to highlight is that PMP is not just a civilian certification but a benefit while on active duty. Getting PMP trained and certified while on active duty gives leaders tools that expand beyond military planning and directly translate as a civilian. The other key benefit to pursuing certifications like PMP while in uniform is that there are funding resources available to you that stop being available the closer you get to transition.

Army: Army IgnitED or Army Credential Assistance ($4k per FY for all soldiers with no ADSO)

Coast Guard: USCG Credential Assistance ($4500 for all active duty with no ADSO)

Air Force: AF COOL ($4500 for all active duty enlisted Airmen)

Any DoD/Federal Employee: Unit Funding (any federal employee up to $25k)

Veteran/Family: GI BILL ($2k for any approved veteran or family member to pay for cert prep)

Disabled Vet: VR&E ($$2k for any approved veteran) Article coming soon.

We would love to continue this discussion with anyone interested in Project Management, how to use benefits while active duty, or transition in general. If you want to get a class scheduled for your unit or attend one yourself I would love to help there too.

Thank you for all you do, its an honor to serve you.

Please email or connect with and follow me on linkedin at

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1 Comment

Sep 21, 2022

One of the most intensive certifications available is the PMP® (Project Management Professional) certification. The PMP® demonstrates advanced knowledge of and experience with Project Management concepts. When it comes to finding internet resources and practice exams, it is also one of the most difficult and obscure certifications. As a result of several emails asking for this information, and quite a bit of research, here are the best places to find information on the PMP cert.

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