Monday, December 11, 2017

PMI-ACP Success Story: Innovation Games Make The Difference!

By Suresh Juturu, PMP, ACP, CSM

I have earned my PMP® credential and wanted to adopt the agile practices in my work place for few projects, where requirements churn is high and they have to be continuously prioritized. Also, it has become essential to become master in Agile concepts. Hence, I decided to go for the ACP® certification.

ACP Coaching Experience
The 3-day workshop by Satya was very much informative about the agile methodologies and concepts as well as agile planning and contracts and many more other details. The sessions not only covered the topics from an exam point of view, but also covered vast areas in terms of various agile approaches and myths associated with Agile development.

Satya was very much open to discuss various real-time problems we face in the real world. These were eye openers for many of us on how agile is really being mixed up in various organizations.

In the beginning session of the first day, this was mentioned: “All participants will remember the agile values and principles by the end of the program and also can say it out on their own”! Indeed, as mentioned, I was pleasantly surprised to see that all of us were able to tell the agile values and principles easily. The TIPS & TRICKS provided by Satya ensured that we did.

The key takeaways from the ACP Coaching were these - just understand the concepts clearly and discuss as much as you can. These will be your keys to crack the ACP exam, rather than reading through various books many times.

Own Study
I am a big fan of combined study;-) . As usual four of us had attended the ACP classroom training by Satya and post the session, the four of us sat together for consecutive days for exam preparation – mostly done before the exam date.

Cracking the internal/online sample tests also gave a lot of confidence before appearing for the actual PMI® test.

In my view, the studying the book is just to gain the confidence on agile concepts. To crack the exam, you must discuss, understand, listen to others in the class. These will help you a lot in answering the questions in the actual exam. The questions in the exam are real time oriented.

Two important things which I would like to share are noted below.

1) Being Agile vs Doing Agile – It is very important to apply Transparency, Inspection and Adaption, to become agile.

2) Innovation Games – What do we do different when we are facing continuous failures in Sprint deliveries? Retrospective is the answer by many. But, it is not just about this one ceremony, but how effectively you are doing agile development, matters a lot. Innovation games help you to move forward in the right direction.
• Remember the Future – Ask your team to imagine that it’s sometime in the future and that they’ve been using your product almost continuously between now and the future date. Then ask - what product will make them happy?
BEFORE (and classically without the game): “What the product should do?”
AFTER (as part of the game): Context + “What will the product have done?”

• Speed boat/Sail boat – This is very interesting game to identify the blockers (rocks), risks (anchors) and opportunities (wind) for a given program in this form.

ACP Exam Experience
In ACP exam, there will be questions with roles mentioned (as in the PMP exam, like project manager, team leader etc.) along with terms such as Agile expert, Agile evangelist. These may confuse you a bit. So, be prepared to answer such questions. If you appear for mock exams, you can answer such kind of questions. 

For me, the exam duration was sufficient to answer 120 questions in the first 90 minutes. I utilized the rest of the time to review the book-marked questions and rethink on them.

Suggestions for ACP Aspirants
- Attend class room training for ACP which will give you enough push to get the enthusiasm and tips to clear the exam. 
- I encourage taking guidance from Satya and get his feedback by the end of the course to assess your understanding and prepare accordingly after the course.
- Please don’t stick to one single reference book, rather refer few materials and discuss more with your colleagues and try to apply for understanding the same.

Getting certification is just one part of the goal. Applying what you have learned when you have the right fit or opportunity, will give exceptional value. Key here is identifying when to apply the agile values or principles or the techniques that you learned. One should not apply agile approaches everywhere just because you are agile certified.

Brief Profile
Suresh Juturu, PMP, ACP, CSM, Project Manager in an MNC, Bangalore.

Book Available for ACP Exam Prep:

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Wednesday, December 06, 2017

PMP Success Story: A Good Coach, Dedication and Determination Are Keys to Success

By Naveen Kumar, PMP

I’ve been in Project management field for so many years, and had a goal to crack the PMP® exam, but was never able to put a dedicated effort to prepare for the exam. It kept on dragging for 1 to 2 years. Finally, in year 2017, I took it as a firm personal goal and committed to crack in 2017 and not delay it any further.

PMP Coaching Experience
Having Satya as a coach very much helped me as his approach to get anyone prepared for the PMP exam is very systematic, to the point and easy to understand in comparison to reading any book on your own. 
I was fortunate to have Satya as my coach for PMP exam. I believe you are more than 50% prepared for the exam after having gone through 35 hours of training with Satya. Rest is your own efforts in self-study. Satya is a great person, mentor and coach.

This PMP classroom training is very much essential in addition to your own preparation for the exam. The key take-aways are:
  • You will have a great coach to get you prepared for the exam effectively and efficiently.
  • Without having concepts clear in your mind, it will be very difficult to crack the exam. This class room training helps in having the concepts clear in a short period of time.
  • Prepares you with a systematic and concise way to approach the exam.
  • The tips covered in this class are extremely helpful in passing the PMP exam.

Own Study
It took me around 4-5 months of dedicated preparation which included study of around 2 hours daily on week days and around 4-5 hours over the weekends. I read the following books:
  • The PMBOK® Guide, 5th Edition by Project Management Institute (PMI®) 
  • I Want To Be A PMP book by Satya Narayan Dash
  • PMP Exam Prep by Rita Mulcahy 

In addition to these books, I also completed a lot of mock exams from “I Want To Be A PMP” book, “PMP exam prep Questions & Answers by Christopher Scordo”, “HeadFirst book” and “Knowledge hut mock exams” before appearing for the PMP exam.  

Book Review - I Want To Be A PMP
I bought the “I Want To Be A PMP” book as I got to know from the class room training. The way it’s written is very easy to understand all the concepts, has many tips that really help and is a very interactive book which makes you feel as if Satya is talking to you directly – while you are reading it. Also, this book is an online version which is kept always up-to-date so it will reflect the latest content.

It also has many videos to explain the important topics of the exam and are explained in the easiest possible way. Anyone can understand them very easily. This book comes with 3 question sets with increasing difficulty level which really raises the bar before you actually appear for the exam. This book and question sets holistically equips you to be ready the PMP exam. You feel much more confident to write the exam after 2-3 readings of this book.

PMP Exam Experience
I scheduled my PMP exam around a month before the exam date in Nov-2017. My strategy was to complete all the 200 questions in the first 3 hours. But I could not complete as I was spending too much time on each question during first one hour (could complete only 35 questions). After that I increased my pace and was marking the unsure questions for review in the end. 

I could complete all the 200 questions in 3 hours 45 minutes. I reviewed most of the marked questions in those 15 minutes and corrected the answers wherever it should be. There were a lot of situational questions that were tricky that will really test your thorough understanding of the concepts. 

“I Want To Be A PMP” book really helped for my preparation. There were few mathematical questions mostly around cost management and schedule management areas. 

I’ve three key suggestions:
  • Maintain speed during the exam. Don’t get stuck with one question for more than 2 minutes. If you are not sure, mark it with your best answer and move on. Review it in the end if time permits.
  • Attempt the very long questions (mainly questions that are one full screen long) in the end. Reading and understanding the question itself may take you over 2 minutes, hence better to mark them and attempt in the end.
  • Although it depends on person to person, but taking more than one break during the exam would mean you will lose at least 10-12 minutes easily. I took one break during the exam. That means you will at least lose 5-6 minutes because Prometric will need to perform the checking procedure, signing procedure again after you come back from the break. Consider this aspect while you plan your strategy for the exam.

There can be disturbance during the exam (from noise of keyboards used by other candidates taking exam). Prometric centre has sound proof ear masks that you can use during the exam to avoid the outside noise. It will help you to concentrate more.  

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • Get your concepts very clear and thorough before you appear for the exam.
  • Every day reading for at least 1-2 hours definitely helps to prepare for the exam. Don’t allow the rhythm to break as it can slow down your preparation or you may need to start again.
  • Having a coach is really important and keep sharing with him your preparation progress and follow his guidance which ensures you are on the right track.

  • Don’t break the rhythm in your preparation even 30 minutes in day of reading some topic helps.
  • Don’t delay in submitting the application and scheduling your exam. If you are not serious about the exam, you will not clear it.
  • Don’t allow any confusion to be there in your mind on the concepts. If you have doubt, immediately clarify with your coach or from the PMBOK guide.

Getting PMP certified is a great experience and accomplishment. After this, the real benefit would be when you apply these practices in actual project management and ensure continuous improvement.

Brief Profile
Naveen Kumar, Program Manager, around 16 years of experience in hardware and firmware project management.

Friday, November 24, 2017

PMI-ACP Success Story: Agile is Transforming The IT Industry and ACP Credential Equips You to Lead this Transformation

By Geetu Bharti, PMI-ACP

I was lucky to see the Agile transformation in my organization. Though initially challenging, the overall result was motivating. As a Scrum developer, I felt involved and empowered to make my work-related decisions and the customers were elated to see a working increment just after few sprints. 

This inspired me to explore more about Agile and I found PMI-ACP was a perfect way to expand my skillset and get an exposure to multi-faceted methodologies in agile.

ACP Coaching Experience
To obtain 21 Contact Hours of Agile Education I decided to go with classroom training from Knowledge Hut. It was a 3-day weekend workshop conducted by Mr. Satya Narayan Dash.  

These 3 days were full of brainstorming, deep diving into Agile Values, its Principles, various Agile approaches and much more. 

Satya’s in-depth understanding of APM, Scrum, EVM, XP, Lean, Kanban, Kaizen concepts, coaching experience and the tips shared during the sessions really helped me learn, prepare well and gain confidence for the exam.

Last day, all aspirants gave a well-defined mock test which helped us to judge our current level and preparation that we would need to crack the ACP exam.

Own Study
Since it’s really hard to read through all the recommended books, I focused only on couple of books “I Want to Be an ACP” by Satya Narayan Dash and “PMI-ACP exam prep Guide” by Mike Griffiths. Classroom notes too came in handy while recollecting the information absorbed earlier during the 3-day classroom session.

As planned, I had majorly finished the two books by end of two months and spent remaining one month on practice tests to test my readiness and learning more about Agile, its best practices, and various tools and techniques (T&T) by browsing through online blogs and websites.

I also used a lot of other fine materials which I have mentioned in the References section.

Book Review - I Want To Be An ACP
Being an avid reader, I prefer reading eBooks as they come in handy, can be easily referenced and searched for any specific information. 

The book, I Want To Be An ACP, is divided into chapters based on each domain of the exam content outline (ECO) and has liberal use of visuals to help even a novice understand the complex concepts. Another key aspect of the book is the videos explaining the concepts of Earned Value Management (EVM) and Conflict Management in a very simple language with examples.  It covers all the seven domains extensively and neatly. Each chapter has Yogic Tips, followed by practice quizzes that make reading interesting and useful in reinforcing the concepts.

This book is an excellent resource for anyone keen on learning about Agile and preparing for ACP exam. In essence, full value for your money.

ACP Exam Experience
My strategy was to complete all the 120 questions in first 2 hours and use the remaining hour to revisit the bookmarked questions and walk-thru all the answers.  

The first few questions were confusing, lengthy to read and put me under pressure. I hardly faced any straight question. After an hour, I realized I still had around 70 questions left. I picked up the pace, marking tricky questions and proceeding to the next. I was able to complete all questions almost in time and had 45 minutes left to review.

The exam ended automatically and hurray! I saw the Congratulations message appear on the screen. I passed the PMI-ACP® exam with an overall score of “Above Target”.

Multiple questions were on SCRUM and XP Roles, Retrospectives, burndown chart, many scenarios based to calculate velocity, number of iterations required to complete the release, very few on Kanban and Lean and almost none on Crystal, FDD, and DSDM.
Suggestions for ACP Aspirants
  • Be consistent in your preparation, download the study material in your smartphone and revise whenever feasible.
  • Practice as many as PMI-ACP® sample exam questions and target a score of 75%.
  • Plan your test strategy and try to execute it well but be prepared for a turn around on the fly.
  • Don’t depend on PMI-ACP practice exams as your sole resource for studying.

Agile is transforming how IT industry works and PMI-ACP equips you with the knowledge to lead this transformation from the front.

600+ FREE PMI-ACP® Sample Exam Questions.

Brief Profile 
Geetu Bharti, Senior Scrum Developer and passionate Agile QA professional with 9+ years of experience in Project Management, Business Analysis, Development, and Testing. 

Book Available for ACP Exam Prep:

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