TL;DR: Yesterday I achieved APMP® Bid and Proposal Management Foundation 2021 certification.
This post explains what APMP Foundation certification is, why I pursued the certification, the difference between APMP and APMG, and when I will (and will not) use my shiny new “CF APMP” designation.
What is APMP Foundation certification?
First, for those not familiar with the acronym, “APMP” stands for the Association of Proposal Management Professionals, an organization that I re-rejoined back in July. APMP membership provides many benefits, including improved service to Bredemarket clients because of my access to the APMP Body of Knowledge.
It also provides a mechanism for proposal professionals to certify their mastery of the proposal field. And, as APMP itself notes, certification conveys the following:
Demonstrates a personal commitment to a career and profession.
Improves business development capabilities.
Creates a focus on best team practices.
Gains the respect and credibility of peers, clients and organizational leaders and, in some cases, additional compensation.
Reinforces bid/proposal management as an important role within an organization and not as an ad hoc function that anyone can perform.
Frankly, most of these won’t matter to YOU, but the process required to achieve certification does improve business development capabilities for Bredemarket’s clients. You can ignore the rest, unless you’re suddenly eager to shower additional compensation on me. I won’t argue.
There are multiple levels of APMP certification, and the very first level is “Foundation” certification. There is an eligibility requirement to pursue this certification, however:
Candidates should have at least one year of experience in a bid and proposals environment; this experience does not have to be continuous. Time spent working or supporting sales and marketing also counts.
So I was eligible to pursue Foundation certification years ago…but I never did.
Why did I pursue APMP Foundation certification?
I already wrote about this on LinkedIn a week ago, but if you missed that explanation here’s an abbreviated version.
Over the years I kept on joining APMP while in a proposals position, then letting my APMP membership lapse when I transferred to a non-proposals position. So by the time I ever thought about seriously pursuing APMP Foundation certification, I was already out of proposals.
This time, I said to myself when I re-rejoined in July, it will be different.
I finally made the move after attending SMA’s weekly town hall and hearing Heather Kirkpatrick present on the various APMP certification levels.
But I acknowledged that certification is not universally desirable:
Yes, I know the debates about whether certifications (or, for that matter, formal education in general) are truly worthwhile, but there are times when checking off that box on that checklist truly matters.
And therefore I began reading the two documents that I had just purchased, including a study guide and a glossary of terms.
Why is the APMG involved in APMP stuff?
However, to actually achieve the certification, I didn’t go to the APMP itself, but to an organization called the APMG.
And no, the APMG was NOT established to confuse proposal practitioners by using a similar acronym. (Seriously; when I saw others’ announcements of proposal certification, I couldn’t figure out why they kept getting the APMP acronym wrong.)
The APM Group is actually a completely separate organization that provides certifications and other services for a number of disciplines. It serves aerospace, business, information technology, cybersecurity, and other disciplines.
In my case, once I had studied and taken a practice exam, I proceeded to sit for the real exam itself…after paying another fee.
(This is why some people oppose certifications; they think they’re a racket just to charge fees all over the place. But I had already determined that in this case, the return on investment would be positive.)
Well…I passed, and therefore can direct interested parties to my shiny new badge.
By the way, I was never asked to provide a reference to verify my experience, but I could have provided dozens of references if asked.
What about the shiny new designation that comes with the shiny new badge?
Oh, and there’s one more thing.
Certified people (as opposed to people who are certifiable) have the option of appending their certification to their name. In the business world, you often see this used by people who have achieved Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. In some countries, MBAs and even BAs append the appropriate designation to their names.
In the same manner, those who have achieved one of the APMP certifications can append the appropriate certification. In the case of APMP Foundation certification, that means that I can style myself as “John E. Bredehoft, CF APMP.” (Or “John E. Bredehoft, MBA, CF APMP, RSBC” if I want to be thorough. But I probably won’t, since “RSBC” stands for “Radio Shack Battery Club.”)
However, the “CF APMP” designation only makes sense if the person reading the designation knows what it means. And it’s a fairly safe bet that if I were to walk into a coffee shop, or even into the main office of a marketing firm, the people there would have no idea what “CF APMP” meant. In fact, it might strike some of them as pretentious.
But it DOES make a difference in some (not all) proposal circles.
Including the attendees at the APMP Western Chapter Training Day next month.
Which I really should attend if possible. After all, I need to maintain my Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to keep my certification up to date.