A Primer on the PMI Talent Triangle
Karl Cheney

By: Karl Cheney on November 21st, 2018

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A Primer on the PMI Talent Triangle

Talent Triangle  |  PMI  |  PDU  |  Professional Development

The PMI Talent Triangle® combines technical, leadership, and strategic and business management expertise to focus competencies that are vital in professional development and continuing education for project and program managers. Traditionally, project managers have focused on the technical skills that they need to be successful in an organization. The Talent Triangle ensures that project managers are well rounded professionals with the knowledge and skillsets necessary in a complex business environment.


Most PMI certification holders are familiar with the Talent Triangle for PDUs or in listing qualifying hours for project management education. Certification holders must complete a certain number of PDUs in each competency of the Talent Triangle in order to renew their certifications. According to PMI’s Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) Handbook, prior to renewing the PMP, an individual may claim up to 25 PDUs for having worked as a project manager. However, they must complete the other 35 PDUs with a minimum of 8 Technical PDUs, 8 Leadership PDUs, and 8 Strategic PDUs. [Page 5, CCR Handbook]


Traditionally, project managers are expected to be versatilists, generalists with areas of specialization and a knack for adapting to evolving roles. One term that is commonly used to illustrate this is “T-shaped skills”, with the horizontal bar across the top of the ‘T’ representing the breadth of a project manager’s knowledge while the vertical bar descending from the middle of the horizontal represents the depth of knowledge in their respective areas of expertise. Adherence to the Talent Triangle ensures that a project manager increases both their breadth and depth of knowledge as they pursue continuing education and professional development.


When examining the concept of T-shaped skills and how they overlap the talent triangle, it is easy to see how different training and education accomplishments meet different criteria for different certifications. PMI specifically states that the Strategic & Business Management and Leadership competencies apply to all certifications, the Technical competency is certification-specific. When evaluating programs for training or education, it is important to look at what the technical focus is and how it will benefit you for educational or continuing education requirements.


The 35-hour PMP® bootcamp offered by Project Management Academy offers hours of education in each of the competencies, but when applied for PDU purposes it is easy to see how the technical hours have fall across certifications in different ways:


PDUs Claimed 1


PDUs Claimed 2

The PMP® course’s technical hours only apply to the PMP® credential. This is not always the case. An example of technical hours qualifying for multiple certifications is the PMI-ACP® preparation course offered by Project Management Academy.


While it may seem needlessly confusing, PMI’s Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) Handbook offers excellent explanations about the differences. It states, “Since leadership and strategic & business management concepts are broader educational topics and not specific to any one certification domain area, the PDUs claimed in these education areas can be applied across all certifications.” Additionally, it states, “Education around technical skill sis specific to each certification domain area (e.g., the technical skills needed to perform program management are different than those for business analysis).” (Page 16, CCR Handbook)


The technical domains within each certification can be found within their respective Exam Content Outlines. The table below offers an overview of the different domains by certification, as collected from their Exam Content Outlines:










Strategic Program Management

Strategic Alignment

Agile Principles and Mindset

Risk Strategy and Planning

Schedule Strategy

Needs Assessment


Program Life Cycle


Value-Driven Delivery

Stakeholder Engagement

Schedule Planning and Development



Benefits Management

Portfolio Performance

Stakeholder Engagement

Risk Process Facilitation

Schedule Monitoring and Controlling


Monitoring & Controlling

Stakeholder Management

Portfolio Risk Management

Team Performance

Risk Monitoring and Reporting

Schedule Closeout

Traceability and Monitoring



Communications Management

Adaptive Planning

Perform Specialized Risk Analyses

Stakeholder Communications Management





Problem Detection and Resolution







Continuous Improvement (Product, Process, People)





Within this table we can see many recurring themes, such as a focus on communications and stakeholder engagement. Typically, communications and stakeholder engagement fall into Leadership skills as being ‘cross-cutting’ skillsets that a professional should possess to enhance success within project work. Within the PMP Exam Content Outline, the section on “Cross-Cutting Knowledge and Skills” specifically lists many communication and stakeholder engagement skills, such as: conflict resolution, facilitation, interpersonal skills, meeting management techniques, negotiating and influencing techniques and skills, relationship management, stakeholder management techniques, and many more. This is not to say that some certifications list these specifically as part of the domains as well.


Task 3 in Domain 1 for the PMP exam is to “Perform stakeholder analysis using appropriate tools and techniques in order to align expectations and gain support for the project.” This is very similar to Task 2 in Domain 4 for the PgMP exam, which is “Perform stakeholder analysis through historical analysis, personal experience, interviews, knowledge base, review of formal agreements. . .” Task 1 in Domain 3 for the PMI-ACP exam is “Identify and engage effective and empowered business stakeholder(s) through periodic reviews. . .” Further examples of cross-over are available within the respective stakeholder domains for the PMI-RMP and PMI-SP.


While training and education should be selected based upon organizational and personal growth needs, the utility of fulfilling PDUs should not be disregarded. Understanding how credit can be awarded is an important step in preventing unnecessary frustration as you keep your certifications current. If you have any questions on completing your PDUs or satisfying educational prerequisites to sit for a PMI certification, please contact Project Management Academy.


If you are in need of PDU hours to fulfill your PMI certification needs, check out our PDU course catalog

About Karl Cheney

Content Expert at Project Management Academy