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 saw a better process and was provided additional tools that were extremely beneficial.
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.
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)
• 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. Primarily Unit funding and ArmyIginted (armyignited.com).
I 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 me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with and follow me on linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshuajatkinson/