In my long practice as a project management professional and project doctor, I have had this discussion many times. And (not only in IT) all too often had to get projects back on track in which the managers responsible for the projects have given priority to a specialist over a real, experienced project manager when filling the project manager position, often even putting the fee over the quality of the PM as a staffing criterion. In all cases, they have paid a high price in the end!
But what should you go for if you’re looking for a good PM? For certificates? I have seen some excellent PMs without a certificate, and also many with a certificate, who truly had no idea about project management and leadership. So you’d rather go for experience? This is always good, but only a quality criterion if it has been acquired from good teachers. If you only have experience with bad projects, your own practice won’t be any better, will it?
Therefore, the combination of both seems to me to be the most expedient: Certifications offer at least once a good opportunity to reflect one’s own practice on “Best Practices“, to reflect on one’s own actions and thus to continuously improve them. For this purpose, the certifications of the major PM associations IPMA, PMI, AXELOS (Prince2) are recommended, but also HERMES (in Switzerland) or, for agile approaches, SCRUM Alliance and SCRUM.org. In my experience, this is the most effective way to learn and develop personal skills. In my opinion, anyone who only strives for the certificate “quick and dirty” has not understood his job and the opportunity he is wasting!
If, in the search for a good project manager, you consider a certificate as a “by-product” of a good education and the demonstrable successes achieved with it (= quality) as a yardstick, while first putting the amount of fees to the back in the evaluation criteria, then you are on the right track. If you want to give yourself or your employees a chance for real development, then send them on a good project management course and to a PM professional for coaching (Learning Best Practices by Doing)!
And what’s in it for the certified project managers? Many years ago, I conducted a survey with our graduates about this. The results can be found at https://eobz.de/?p=843. They are likely to still be up-to-date today, but acceptance fortunately is now much higher. Project Management, Certification, Benefits, Quality, Best Practice