What is the PMI Talent Triangle

What is The PMI Talent Triangle®?

The PMI Talent Triangle® is a framework that defines the key skill sets necessary for success in today’s project management environment. The three sides of the triangle are Ways of Working, Power Skills, and Business Acumen. Professionals consider these three skills to be the most important for project managers to have in order to be well-rounded and successful. Traditionally, project managers focused on the technical aspects of their projects. However, the PMI Talent Triangle® reflects the changing landscape of project management, where successful delivery requires a more holistic approach that takes into account not only the technical aspects of a project but the need for a multi-faceted skillset that encompasses ways of working, power skills, and business acumen.

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PMI Talent Triangle for PDU

Most Project Management Institute (PMI)® certification holders are familiar with the PMI 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 PMI Talent Triangle in order to renew their certifications. According to PMI’s Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) Handbook, prior to renewing the PMP® credential, an individual may claim up to 25 PDUs for “giving back to the profession”. This could include up to working as a practitioner (8 PDU maximum), creating content, giving a presentation, sharing knowledge, or volunteering. However, they must complete the other 35 PDUs with a minimum of 8 Ways of Working PDUs, 8 Power Skills PDUs, and 8 Business Acumen PDUs. [Page 5, PMI CCR Handbook]

T-Shaped Skills & PMI Talent Triangle

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 PMI 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 Business Acumen and Power Skills competencies apply to all certifications, the Ways of Working competency is certification-specific. When evaluating programs for training or education, it is important to look at what the ways of working focus is and how it will benefit you for educational or continuing education requirements.

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35 Hour PMP Exam Prep

The 35-hour PMP exam prep 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 ways of working hours have fall across certifications in different ways:

PDUs Claimed 1
PDUs Claimed 2

Studying for the PMP Exam?

The PMP certification course’s ways of working hours only apply to the PMP credential. This is not always the case. An example of ways of working hours qualifying for multiple certifications is the PMI-ACP® exam 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 power skills and business acumen 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 ways of working skills is specific to each certification domain area (e.g., the ways of working skills needed to perform program management are different than those for business analysis).” (Page 16, PMI CCR Handbook)

PMP Exam Outlines

The ways of working 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:

Domains within the Talent Triangle

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 Power Skills 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® exams.


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.

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Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO
Director of Product Development at
Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO