The PMI Audit process has a reputation on a notorious process.
I admit that being audited is not the most enjoyable process, but as someone who have passed the audit myself, I can assure you, you have nothing to worry about.
Simply follow the steps laid out in the audit, and explained in this post, and you should be able to pass the PMI audit swiftly.

First thing first. Let me start with brief explanation of what the PMI audit really is.
The PMI audit is simply a process where the PMI organization requests you to formally verify that the project management experience and formal education you supplied while submitting your application is accurate.

Why the audit is a good thing?

I know I’m probably in minority saying that, but when I got selected for the audit, I said to myself that this is actually a good thing.
Why? Simply because passing the audit puts your qualification to the exam beyond any doubt.
I thought that passing the audit, is simply another way of getting formal approval for all the hard work and experienced I obtained so far in my career, and never gave it a second thought.

My opinion: This spirit and way of thinking also motivate you, and help you complete the audit quickly.

Is it possible to prepare for the audit?

You may be surprised to know that it is actually possible to prepare in advance for the audit.
As described in my post Applying for PMP Certification and Registering for the Exam and further down this post, the audit process requires you to submit the following:

  1. Stakeholders signatures on the projects your included in your application.
  2. Certification of formal education (B.A or any high degree, if you mentioned them in your application).
  3. Certification of PMP exam preparation workshop completion.

So your way of preparing to the audit, is to make sure you have the last two items in hand, or at least clear knowledge of where they are stored 🙂

As for the first item, please read the tips I have published here about choosing the right projects for your application.
Simply put, if you can choose between several projects to include in your application, pick the ones it will be easier for you to get stakeholder’s signature.
For example – Stake holders from your current work place, or ones that you have more frequent contact with.
It will simply make it easier for you to complete audit faster.

How do I know if I’m selected for the audit?

PMI will leave no place for doubt. As soon as you submit your PMP application you will be notified on screen and by email that “Your application has been selected for PMI’s audit process”.
You will also receive  detailed instructions on how to completed the audit process, as well as “audit package” that you have to complete (sign) and send back to the PMI institute.

Important: You will also receive a due date to complete your audit. You must submit your audit materials to the PMI by the given date in order to avoid failing the audit.

If some issue prevents you from completing the audit on time, contact PMI customer care center in advance to get it sorted.

What’s included in the PMI audit package?

The PMI audit package is simply a set of PDF files.

Each file represents a project you submitted while applying for the pmp exam, and has the title of “Project Experience Audit Report”.
This report is simply a printout of what you wrote in the project description, and the rest of the project data (title, dates, hours per domain), and contact name (stakeholder) that you specify.

At the end of the printout there is a paragraph called PMP® Experience Verification Form where the contact person needs to sign and approve that the information you provided is correct.
You get one file per project, and you need to get all file files signed to complete the audit process.

Formal education

On top of the signed audit package forms, you need to send back to the PMI a certification of your formal education (if you declared such in your application), and a certification of completing a PMP exam preparation workshop (33 hours minimum).

Important: DO NOT send original documents to the PMI, you will not get them back!

Important tips:

  1. You can have one person as a contact for multiple projects.
  2. Remember that you must put the signed reports in an envelope and you must get the contact person to sign the envelop itself, over the folder, after you sealed it, so that the PMI will know that the envelop was not opened after the contact person signed it.
    See example at the attached picture.

Downsides of the audit

Let’s be honest, there are some downsides to the PMI audit. They are not too bad, but certainly worth talking about.

  1. It puts scheduling the exam on hold, as you cannot reserve a spot in any test center before receiving PMI approval.
  2. It also forces you to get some paper work done. For example I had to submit a certification of my B.A degree.
    Unfortunately for me, my score card was in Hebrew, and the PMI materials should be in English.
    Therefore I has to contact the administration office of my university and ask for and English version on my score card, with formal seal and signature to include in my audit materials.

    It is also worth mentioning that the PMI does not require notary translations or signature on the documents. So in my case, as long as they are sealed and signed by the university administration office, I was in the clear.

However, to be honest getting an English version of my scorecard was actually the most complicated issue I had to deal with during my audit.
There rest was simply getting stakeholders to sign on the project I specified while submitting the application. Each stakeholder signed the project(s) relevant to him, and that was it.

Why should I complete the audit as soon as possible?

There are two major reasons why you should not delay the submission of your PMI audit materials

  1. It delays the exam. As said before, you cannot schedule an exam before receiving an approval from the PMI that you have successfully completed the audit.
    The longer you wait, you will be lose focus, and the benefits of the PMP exam preparation workshop will fade away.

    Remember communication retention time from chapter 10 (communication)? Here is a quick reminder, we retain:
    – 50% now (in other words we forget 50% of what we’ve just been told).
    – 25% in two days.
    – 10% after 7 days.
    So you see, the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be for you to pass the exam.

  2. If you delay, You may not complete it at all.
    I cannot be more blunt about it, but the longer you delay submitting the audit materials the larger the risk you won’t submit them at all.
    Life has a tendency of getting in the way. New job, new challenge, family issue, you name it. They will get in the way. I have seen this ,myself with classmates from my own PMP study group.
    Simply – get it done!

How to complete the requirements quickly?

Easy. Handle it just like any other project or a task with due date.
Simply decide that you are going to gather all the materials and send them to the PMI within a month and get it done.

Based on my experience it shouldn’t take more than that.

Tip: How to submit the audit materials?
The best way will be to send via registered mail, but do not ask recipient signature at delivery. This is also mentioned at the PMI audit information you will receive.

I have submitted the audit materials to the PMI, now what?

Well, actually here comes the difficult part – you simply have to wait for confirmation.

And to be honest you will receive two confirmations.

The first confirmation will be when the PMI receives your audit material. You will get an email saying that “Your PMI application audit materials have been received”.

The second confirmation will be upon successful completion of the audit. You will get an email saying that “You have successfully completed PMI’s audit process”, or another email with follow-up questions, if needed.

According to the PMI it can take up to five business days to get the 2nd confirmation, or follow up questions.

I have passed the audit, what is the next step?

Well, first of all congrats!

Your next step will be to schedule a date for the PMP exam.
The confirmation email from PMI will include all the relevant details for completing this step, and you can always use the Exam Scheduling Instructions, at PMI website.
Please note you have one year from date that of successfully completing the audit to take the exam. After that your eligibility will expire.
The actual date is marked as “Eligibility Expiration Date” in the confirmation email.

Summary

About 20% of the PMP aspirant who apply for the PMP exam are randomly selected for the PMI audit.
It is a methodical process with a clear guidelines and rules. Except for the little extra paperwork, you have nothing to fear from it.

Even if your have been selected for the audit, you should be able to complete the process in just a few weeks following the PMI audit information and the tips provided in this post.
Just give yourself a due date to completed this task, and get it done, just like any other project task.

Whatever you do, and however you choose to approach the audit process,
I wish you good luck int the audit and in your upcoming exam.

Make sure to check the rest of my “Obtaining a PMP certificate” series for more tips and study notes.

Good luck!

Yasaf.

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