At FELD, one of my first tasks was to put together a formal life-cycle for off-the-shelf applications. FELD is not the kind of organization that will ever be ISO-9000/ISO-9001/CMM certified, they exist solely because of heroics. Fred charged me with building a requirements analysis and project management process that was structured enough to be (somewhat) repeatable yet still flexible enough not to cripple the gypsies that worked on the circus.
To get everything sorted out, I looked at some of the better methodologies out there to pick and choose the best pieces from each. I studied up on the Rational Unified Process (the RUP), Carnegie Mellon's Capability Maturity Model (CMM), the SDLC, and the methodology that Fred put together while he was working for Xerox. Since we were dealing with COTS software and not software development, the rules were a little different.
Requirements and system selection were our two worst areas, but closely following was project management. FELD didn't really have anyone internally who understood formal project management, and frankly I wasn't that person. While I had done it informally many times and had a higher success rate that the people who were already there, that didn't make me a better project manager. As part of this initiative to formalize our methods, my Application Analyst and I would follow the Project Management Institute's "Project Management Professional" track and try to become certified PMPs. The majority of my required PMP training took place in 2003 and 2004, and I registered for the exam on June 14th, 2005.
Backing up, you can't just sit for the exam, you have to apply and meet PMI's requirements. Since I didn't have a Bachelors degree, I needed be a member of the Institute, to prove that I had "7,500 hours in a position of responsibility leading and directing specific tasks and 60 months of project management experience" in addition to 35 hours of Project Management Education. Once my application was accepted, I had to pay $400 for me to sit for the exam anytime within the next year.
I left FELD and came to George Mason last October, and decided on June 7th, 2006 to study and pass the PMP exam this summer while I'm off from school. I did some research and discovered that my membership at the Project Management Institute lapsed in March, and that I had to take my exam by June 14th, 2006 or I'd lose my time ticket and have to reapply. I made my appointment and started cramming.
Apparently whatever I did worked, because I passed the 200 question exam this morning. I'm trying to get my membership issue straightened out to be sure my certificate will arrive from the Institute, but by all rights I am a PMP.