ICS Certification










Credentials Respected by Contractors
A Rose by Any Other Name

Shakespeare assures us that, "a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet." In other words, labels don't define us. But is that entirely true -- especially in business? Job ads seek heavy equipment operators, project managers, schedulers, or cost engineer in an effort to identify and isolate precisely what they are looking for. Of what good would be an ad simply calling for a construction "worker?"

The point we're making is that labels, when properly descriptive, help us understand the nature, scope, and role of a position. Without a clear understanding of expectations for a given role --in terms of skills, experience, and knowledge -- how are Practitioners to be considered, evaluated, assigned, or challenged to achieve their greatest potential?

At ICS, it occurred to us that one label, regardless of its wording, could never suffice to make these distinctions. Planners and Schedulers perform different functions and draw on different skills, knowledge, and experience. Furthermore, within either discipline, degrees of competence dramatically affect one's ability to perform. The more we thought about it, the more convinced we became that a single "Planning and Scheduling" credential would not serve the Scheduling Practice in any meaningful way.

Graduated Credentials

Consistent with our philosophy that a variety of flowers requires a variety of labels, ICS-Certification, once fully operational, will offer 18 different credentials, in order to recognize increasing levels of competence within the two primary disciplines, and all consistent with the Scheduling Compendium.

By offering more than one Project Time Management credential, ICS-Global will dramatically change how the construction and project management communities will perceive Project Time Management Practitioners in the future. Soon, Project Time Management Practitioners will be viewed as specialists rather than generalists. ICS-Certification will accomplish this innovative feat by developing structured processes that distinguish Planners from Schedulers, and technically define the attributes of apprentices, journeymen, masters, managers, trainers, and consultants.

While we reserve the right to change our minds, our current plan is to develop the following credentials: In the proposed list of credentials that follows, the term "Practitioner" represents one who is equally proficient in both planning and scheduling.

  • ICSP1-Planning Apprentice
  • ICSP2-Planning Journeyman
  • ICSP3-Planning Master
  • ICSP4-Planning Manager
  • ICSP5-Planning Trainer
  • ICSP6-Planning Consultant
  • ICSS1-Scheduling Apprentice
  • ICSS2-Scheduling Journeyman
  • ICSS3-Scheduling Master
  • ICSS4-Scheduling Manager
  • ICSS5-Scheduling Trainer
  • ICSS6-Scheduling Consultant
  • ICST1-Practitioner Apprentice
  • ICST2-Practitioner Journeyman
  • ICST3-Practitioner Master
  • ICST4-Practitioner Manager
  • ICST5-Practitioner Trainer
  • ICST6-Practitioner Consultant
The New Meaning of "Planning"

Even as recently as April 2008, the Project Time Management Practice remains conflicted as to what constitutes project planning. The prevailing understanding is that planning entails the early steps in schedule development, beginning with scope definition, WBS assignment, and even the process of listing activities and estimating activity durations. Planning gives way to scheduling at the point that dates are introduced into the 'plan,' which then suddenly becomes the 'schedule.' This is the Conventional Wisdom, and one with which ICS-Global disagrees.

At ICS-Global, we see planning as occurring during the Initiating Stage of a project. From the owner's perspective, feasibility planning is performed in order to decide whether the project is worth doing altogether. From the contractor's perspective, commitment planning is performed in order to decide whether the project is worth bidding and undertaking.

By contrast, we see scheduling as that set of activities involved in designing, developing, maintaining, and utilizing the project schedule. We see the project schedule as an execution strategy that can be formalized into a document/tool useful in directing the work, measuring and communicating progress, along with a host of other secondary applications. As we see it, the early steps in schedule development -- the ones that the Conventional Wisdom calls planning -- are to our minds part of scheduling, not planning.

From our experience, we have found that a good planner, much like a good estimator, is one who has honed his/her craft over a number of years and projects. When it comes to feasibility and commitment planning, experience is far more important that technical dexterity. With scheduling, the exact opposite is true, because scheduling functions are so heavily software-driven and oriented. Planning, meanwhile, is an art acquired over time and across a multitude of project types, sizes, locations, designs, conditions, delivery methods, etc.

That is why, at ICS-Global, we offer different credentials for Planners and Schedulers. We know that the two are really quite different disciplines. It is only because they employ some of the same techniques and use the same software that it is easy for the novice to see them as close twins, and not the distant cousins that they really are.

We have also found that most Project Time Management Practitioners tend to be more one than the other, but rarely both. That is, it is quite rare to find an equally qualified Planner/Scheduler (as we define those labels). Typically, a Scheduler, even a seasoned one, has limited planning experience, although a seasoned Planner more often has substantial scheduling experience.

Why Have Separate Credentials for Trainers and Consultants?

Our certificates for trainers and consultants result from a similar rationale, one that distinct attributes are required to perform these functions. As we see it at ICS, a good trainer must have ascended to at least the journeymen level in the discipline he/she teaches. Book-smarts is not enough! And Lord knows merely receiving classroom training from another trainer does not qualify one to teach a technical discipline. [That is why, at ICS-Training and ICS-Institute, all instructors are seasoned Project Time Management Practitioners in their own right.]

Likewise, our view of consultants is that they should have prior experience as a journeyman or master Practitioner, as well as having performed as a discipline manager and trainer.

Our Motive is Not Money

In the world of business, and especially construction, it is difficult not to be cynical, and we confess to having a strain of cynicism running through our veins as well. If we were on the reading end of this web site, we would quickly guess that the "real" reason for eighteen different credentials is to fatten ICS-Global's bottom line. But our true motive is to better the Project Time Management Practice, globally.

That is why our credential fee will be so low, a mere $200. The prevailing certifications are over $500-600. Moreover, any successor credential within a specific discipline is only $75. So, for instance, an Apprentice Scheduler credential is $200. As the individual acquires more experience, and wants to sit for the Journeyman exam, the cost would only be $75. Years later, as he/she feels qualified to apply for "Master" status, he/she would only pay the prevailing "successor credential" fee, currently $75. Annual maintenance fee for any credential is $25.

If we were in it for the money, believe us -- the fees would be much higher!

For More Information
For more information, write to us at ICS-Certification@ICS-Global.com.