Monday, May 14, 2018

PMP Success Story: Definitely Attainable If You Are Determined And Dedicated

By Vignesh Lodiya Radhakrishnan, PMP



Introduction
I have been managing IT project for last few years and wanted to gain formal knowledge in Project Management to improve my performance as a project manager.

I enrolled for PMP classroom training in mid-January, 2018 in successive weekends of Jan 19th, 20th and 26th, 27th. I completed the exam on March 14, 2018.

PMP Coaching Experience
I googled for best PMP coaching within Bangalore and shortlisted “KnowledgeHut” for following reasons. Very good reviews on Coach (Satya Narayan Dash), dates availability, competitive 35hrs course fee and good infrastructure (Classroom and Course material) 

Classroom Experience
Satya is a fantastic coach if you are serious about attaining PMP certification. He gives you the narrative of complete PMP course in first few hours. His 4-day session will give you all essentials required to start exam preparation. His coaching focuses on inter relationship of 5 process groups and 10 knowledge areas which I felt very helpful as the exam questions are all situational. 

As an aspiring candidate, I immediately understood his expertise and willingly accepted to follow his instructions like “Always revise the day’s learning for at least 2 to 3 hours if you want to follow the next day class,…Be attentive and raise doubts at appropriate time and so on”. 


Own Study
I had set 6 to 8 weeks target to attain PMP certification when I enrolled for the course. I knew it’s a tough target to achieve and so decided to be very attentive during Satya’s 4-day classroom training and always spent 3 hours to revise the day’s learning. By the end of 4th day over two successive weekends, I was confident to achieve the 6-8 weeks target with adequate preparations.

Immediately after classroom training, I submitted the PMP application for review and it took five working days for PMI to accept the same. Luckily for me there was no audit. It would have delayed my target date. 

Post classroom training, I spent studying 4 hours during work day (2 hrs in the morning and 2 hrs in the evening) and nearly 8 hours during weekends for 6 weeks. Fortunately, my family was out of station and so able to completely focus on studies.

Approach
First 2 weeks, I read “I Want To Be A PMP” book authored by Satya at least 3 times and learned all processes and work flows in real projects from initiating to closing. 
Week 3 and 4: From third week, I starting reading PMBOK guide for deeper understanding on various Input, Toot & Techniques and Outputs (ITTOs) and why a specific input / output is fed to a process and more details on tools and techniques. 

The PMBOK guide is too detailed to start with, but otherwise explains the concepts well and clears-off all ambiguities with examples. My good fundamentals due to Satya’s 4-day classroom training and “I Want To Be a PMP” book made PMBOK read easy and informative. One pager overview of each KAs (Knowledge Areas) in PMBOK is really helpful to understand how each process within KAs interact. Also, the PMBOK guide’s definitions section under glossary is really helpful in revising my understandings.

Mathematical Concepts: Classroom attentiveness and revision post training are enough for all mathematical lessons. I spent a day to understand how formulas are derived and practised few exercises to back up my understandings.

Week 5 and 6:  Practised 6 full 200 questions like PMP exam i.e., 4 hours ( 3 each from KnowledgeHut  &“I Want To Be a PMP” book. ). Post every practice questions paper, I took a day or two to review all 200 questions with PMBOK guide and understood why a specific option is better (correct) than others.  On average I scored above 75% on all 6 practises. 


Book Review - I Want To Be A PMP
Book Media: PDF in Google Platform. It includes video content for vague and important concepts.

Readability: Very Good! Simple English words, Lots of flow diagrams and Video contents.

I purchased “I Want To Be A PMP” book on day 1 of my classroom training. As I knew, it is very critical to revise the concepts post classroom sessions and get ready for the next day class. Again, it’s very tough to follow any trainer if you don’t revise and practise. Satya has structured the book very well and the book follows similar approach to classroom sessions and this enabled me to revise immediately and start preparing for the certification from day 1.

The book shares lots of tips for better understanding with simple daily life examples. Video contents are really helpful in understanding mathematical and difficult workflows.

PMP Exam Experience
Exam Centre: I booked for Bangalore Prometric centre (PSN) in ITPL Road.  I work in same IT park building and hence locating the place was easy.  Visited the place 2 days in advance of the exam date to confirm the documents required. They requested ID Proof with photo & signature and Prometric Hall ticket (exam date confirmation print-out). 

On examination day, I reached the centre an hour earlier and Prometric agreed to start exam immediately and didn’t waited for the stipulated exam time. Prometric has systematic exam process and it was very easy to follow, i.e., document checks and followed by physical checks.

About Exam: I practised full question papers without break and so followed the same during the exam. Question were relatively easy when compared to practice questions and I finished the exam 10 mins before the stipulated time and submitted after reviewing the marked questions. The system took me to a survey screen to get feedback on exam process and it hardly takes 5 mins to complete and get your results. 

I saw a congratulation note with details of how I have done in each process groups and overall result. 
My Overall result: Above Target (4 Above Target and 1 Meets Target [for Closing]) 

Questions Outlines 
  • Few Mathematical questions on Leads/Lags, EVM, CPM, and Communication channels: Around 20 Questions
  • Change Request and related process flows: Around 50+ questions
  • Conflict Management/Conformance/Power – Interest Grid, RAM – RACI, Delphi Technique, Risk Responses Strategies - around 25+ questions.
  • Few straight and simple questions on ITTO and work flow – around 25+ questions
Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
Dos 
  • 35 hrs classroom training is very important and so try to be very attentive.
  • Revision after daily classroom training is very critical to follow next day’s class.
  • Buy 1 quality PMP book as early as possible (It will help to revise the day’s learning) 
  • Read PMBOK guide at least twice (usually after going through PMP book)
  • Practice quality full question paper at least 4 times and then revise the reasoning behind your answers with PMBOK. – Revise all questions and its answers irrespective of you being correct.
Don'ts
  • Avoid free questions on internet, it’s a waste of time and may mislead you.
  • Don’t panic during examinations if you get few difficult situational questions, it’s fine for few to be wrong. 
  • Do not follow the timings closely, keep a target for every 1 hour. 
Conclusion 
I am sure PMP knowledge will help me in improving project deliveries but attaining PMP certificate has given me more confidence to pursue interests outside of my comfort zone. 

Brief Profile 
Name: Vignesh Lodiya Radhakrishnan
Current Role: Service Delivery Manager, Credit Suisse.
Brief experience details: IT professional in financial services industry with more than 15 years of experience in various roles across development in project management.





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    Wednesday, May 02, 2018

    PMP Success Story: Conceptualization, Practice, Consistency and Mock Tests Are Keys To Success

    By Kostubh Mani Sharma, PMP




    Introduction
    The PMP credential is globally recognised as the best project management certification. It not only boosts your confidence to become a better project manager, but also enhances your skills and thought processes. With this credential and continuously practicing the learnings gained, one can become an excellent project manager.

    Customers also prefer a project manager who is PMP certified as it gives them confidence in the manager’s knowledge and capabilities. It also enables a manager to work with various industries.

    PMP Coaching Experience
    I found Satya very clear about project management concepts which he inculcates in his students very well. This not only helps them to prepare for the exam but also enables them to think like a project manager. 

    He also gives very good tricks and methods to crack the exam which had helped me in stitching the vast concepts together and making it easy to remember.

    His training was well paced and very interactive. Satya had clarified all the doubts with students’ complete satisfaction. His coaching had put me on the fast track towards preparing for the exam.


    Own Study
    I started my studies with the PMBOK guide and reference books. I prepared a thorough plan targeting to appear in exam within 3-4 months from the day I start my studies. I had this plan in an excel sheet where I also had various other tabs e.g., Preparation Plan (with target dates), Gaps, Practice Areas, Formula, Notes and Tricks. I ensured that I always keep this sheet updated with new learnings and follow the target dates.

    I ensured that I give at least 2 hours almost every weekday and 6-7 hours over the weekends for studies. As per my preparation plan, I read one chapter from the PMBOK guide and immediately the same chapter from other reference books. 

    Once I completed my studies, I joined the coaching centre where Satya is the speaker. The course was spanned over the 2 weekends (4 days) and provided me 35 PDUs. After the coaching got over, I had again studied the PMBOK guide.

    Then I started attempting practice tests with smaller number of questions (30-50). This helped me in identifying the gaps in my studies/concepts which I filled with the help of PMBOK, coaching notes from Satya and other material available on net.

    Then I started attempting complete 200 questions sets given by the coaching centre. I timed these tests, revisited the wrong answers to find gaps and filled those in the similar fashion as mentioned above.

    I once again quickly revisited the whole PMBOK and started taking multiple other MOCKs from various best resources. 

    With every practice test, I identified and filled the gaps. Simultaneously, I also updated the master plan sheet. I had taken up at least 4000 questions before going for the exam.

    Practice Tests Referred
    • Rita Mulcahy and Christopher Scordo's Practice Tests 
    • Mock tests from Knowledge Hut (Coaching Centre)
    • PMPC- 101 Ques for practicing formula/calculations based ques
    • Oliver's 175 Prep Ques
    • Oliver's online 75 free ques (http://www.oliverlehmann.com/pmp-self-test/75-free-questions.htm#providers_)
    • Project Management Academy Questions
    • HeadFirst Practice test: http://www.headfirstlabs.com/PMP/free_exam/ 
    • PMAspire’s practice tests
    • PMStudy (http://www.pmstudy.com/PMP-Exam-Resources/freeSimulatedTest.asp)
    • Simplearn free mocks: https://www.simplilearn.com/pmp-exam-prep-free-practice-test
    • Exam Central: http://www.examcentral.net/pmp/pmp-exam-questions 


    PMP Exam Experience
    I scheduled my exam for early morning slot. I had practiced sitting continuously for 4 hours by taking up multiple practice tests. Hence, I did not really feel a need of taking a break during the exam.

    I completed my exam 15 minutes before time. I deliberately used to stretch my body and take my eyes off the screen multiple times during the exam so that my brain does not get tired.

    80% of the questions I faced were situation based and 20% were on memory based. Memory based questions mean which directly ask about the ITTOs.

    I got (approximately) 30% questions from Executing, 25% from Monitoring & Controlling, 25% from Planning, 12% from Initiating and 8% from Closing.

    Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
    Below are the 4 most important things an aspirant must do.
    • “Conceptualize” what Project Management is. Understand all the Knowledge Areas, Process Groups, Input, Tools and Techniques, Outputs (ITTOs) and their relationships. It is more important on why they are acting as ITTOs in the processes. 
    • “Practice it at work place” - Relate and start using these concepts at your work place.
    • “Consistency” - Have a study plan and follow it. Do not let more than couple of days’ break come in between your studies. Live in the project management thoughts.
    • Take up as many as quality “MOCKs/Practice Tests” possible. Not all the practice tests available on net are good. You should not take up low quality mocks.


    Study material to be referred are,
    • PMBOK guide, Rita’s PMP Exam Prep book, Satya’s “I Want To Be PMP” book.
    • PMBOK must be the main reference book which you need to study minimum 2-3 times.
    • Satya’s class notes.
    • Various internet websites but only for building specific concepts which I was not able to do with the above.
    • Tony Karim’s Material: Specially the ITTO sheet he has prepared
    • Consult the PMP certified people for tips/suggestions etc.
    • Do not take up too many books / material

    The main obstacle I faced was to take out time from my hectic work schedule. To overcome this, I utilized my all the weekends (6-7 hours) during the 3-4 months and ensured that I take out 2 hours over the weekdays during early mornings.

    Conclusion
    With these studies and subsequently the PMP credential, you will get the project management concepts. But you can become a good project manager only when you start applying it at your work place.

    Brief Profile
    Kostubh Mani Sharma, Senior Manager at Ericsson. Experience: 17 years in IT/Telecom industry (majorly in Wireless R&D).




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      Wednesday, April 25, 2018

      PMP Live Lessons Success Story: PMP Live Lessons Was Instrumental in Getting My PMP Credential

      By John P S Oliver, PMP




      Introduction
      Well. It all started with an email from our HR reminding us of the limited time we have to utilize the Continuous Professional Development component as part of our package failing which it will expire for the current financial year. Having been in the project management role for almost 13 years and having attended the PMP preparatory course way back in 2010 when PMBOK 4th Edition was in use, I set out looking for a PMP preparatory course which will enable me to utilize the CPD component for the financial year 2017-18.   

      PMP Coaching Experience
      While looking out for the PMP preparatory courses, I came across few providers and their courses on offer. There were others in my organization who were also looking at ways to utilize their CPD before time ran out. I shared my plan for taking the PMP preparatory course and we zeroed in on Knowledge Hut. I along with 5 others from my organization joined the course scheduled during end of January.

      This is where I first came across Mr. Satya Narayan Dash, who led the sessions. During the introduction session, Satya Sir was asking the participants for the reason for choosing to attend PMP session and that triggered me to think about the various reasons buried inside me all these years. 

      Some of which were,
      • I have seen colleagues with PMP certification get a preference in job interviews vs. colleagues without a PMP. While it was not a guarantee for getting a job, it certainly did place you in a “priority” group vis a vis non PMP candidates.
      • Remuneration of PMP certified project managers performing the same role was significantly higher than non PMP project managers.

      After the introduction session, Satya Sir asked the class on what was the top reason an aspiring candidate would not get PMP certified? There were various answers from the participants and while all of them were valid, Satya Sir explained that the top reason for an aspiring candidate to not get PMP certified is the candidate’s failure to appear for the exam. This set me thinking, however I had still not decided to take the exam as I wanted to go through the course and then decide. 

      This is also the time that I came to know of PMI’s movement from PMBOK 5 to PMBOK 6 starting 26-March-2018. This left us with little over 45 days to prepare and appear for the exam.

      The classroom session was very interactive. I would say it was my destiny to have Mr. Satya as the coach since I knew nothing about him before coming to this training. 
      • The key difference that I saw between the preparatory course that I had attended way back in 2010 and now was that, Satya Sir used real life examples while explaining the concepts which were very easy to understand. Also, his way of creating unique keywords were very useful in remembering the concepts.
      • Not only did he explain the concepts, he also provided insights on how to structure our learning for the exam.
      • Satya Sir made sure that every participant was interactive during the sessions and encouraged questions. This in fact helped the entire team to share the learnings.
      • By the end of 3rd session, I felt confident and made the decision to enrol for the exam and submitted my application on 27-Jan-2018.


      Review – PMP LIVE LESSONS
      My Application was approved by PMI on 01-Feb-2018 and I went for the PMP Live Lessons for the following reasons.
      • During the sessions, Satya Sir shared some of the videos which he made as part of the PMP Live Lessons. These videos were very well made, bringing out the key aspects of the topics covered in a simple and effective way to understand.
      • I had just 45 days to prepare for and take the exam and the videos would help me focus my learning effort within this short duration.
      • And it comes with a “Money Back Guarantee”.

      Key aspects of live lessons which helped me are,
      • The PMP Live Lessons came with chapter end Smart Cards and Q&A which were exhaustive and would help me get the required exam practice. 
      • The Answers came with explanation which helped me understand the situational nature of the questions and the logic behind the correct answer.
      • This also helped me to understand my strengths and weaknesses and revise the topics that I needed improvement on. 
      • It was easy to go back and review specific processes when required as the lessons were arranged in the same order as the PMBOK guide.
      • In addition, we had the key and important ITTOs marked with additional yogic vision and revision tips which made sure we did not miss the key concepts.

      Own Study
      I started with the following approach.
      • Went through the videos for the chapter.
      • Went through respective PMBOK chapter.
      • Took the Smart Card Questions and measured performance.
      • Reviewed the smart card questions and answers – Not just the ones I got wrong but also the ones that I got right to understand whether the reason(logic) behind selecting that answer was in sync with the PMBOK learning (reasoning).
      • Took the Chapter-end Q & A – I timed the effort by first answering the questions like an exam.
      • Then I reviewed both the correct and incorrect answers to validate my reasoning for the correct ones and review the topics for the incorrect ones.

      My Study Schedule was as follows since my office timings were 2:30 PM to 11:30 PM.
      • Weekdays: I started at 12 Midnight and went on till 5 AM in the morning – My target was to complete one chapter a day including the Live Lessons Videos, PMBOK Chapter, Smart Cards and Q&A.
      • Weekends: 8 – 10 hours – My target was to complete 2 chapters a day including the live lessons videos, PMBOK Chapter, Smart Cards and Q&A.
      • I started the study schedule on 10-Feb-2018 and covered the 17 chapters in Live Lessons along with respective PMBOK chapters and Q & A on 6-Mar-2018. 
      • With 15 Days remaining, I took the Exercises for ECO and 5 Full length Q & A as a mock exam complete with review.
      • I then followed up with revision of Glossary and all formulas including the PERT forward and backward pass methods.
      • I then had 5 days remaining in which I took around 1200 questions from the Knowledge Hut and other question banks.
      • I took the day off from office the previous day and had a good night’s sleep.

      PMP Exam Experience
      As soon as my application was approved on 01-Feb-2018, I had scheduled the exam for 23-Mar-18 – The last possible business day to allow me maximum time for preparation before the PMBOK exam changes take effect. I had scheduled the exam at the Prometric Center in Bangalore.

      While taking the Q & A as part of Live Lessons, I had timed each and every Q&A to measure my performance. I noticed that I was able to complete the 200 questions in an average of 3 hours for each of the 5 Full length Q & A.

      However, I also noticed that I was making mistakes in understanding the questions and that resulted in incorrect answers. Especially I was making mistakes in understanding questions with the terms “Except”, “All But one”, “Not correct”, “Cannot Be”, “What should happen NEXT?”, “Which is the BEST”, “What should you do FIRST?” etc.

      Hence, for the exam I decided that I would spend extra time reading and understanding the questions and chose the appropriate answer even if it meant I may not have time to review them at last.

      Most of the questions were situational except for the Mathematical (EVM questions) which were straight forward. 

      I did not face any issues during exam. The previous day, Prometric coordinator had called me confirming my appointment and had asked me to be at the centre by 7 AM for the 8 AM exam. I reached the centre at 6:30 AM and waited for it to open. Once there, after the verification, they allowed me inside the exam centre and allotted my seat. Once i completed the tutorial and started the exam, I spent 15 minutes writing down the formulas and then started answering the questions. As planned, I took extra time in reading and understanding the questions and answered them. I also marked questions which I wanted to review if time permits I sat for the full 4 hours at a stretch without any breaks. I completed answering all the 200 questions with 13 minutes to spare. I reviewed a few marked questions and completed the exam with 5 minutes to spare. I then completed the feedback survey and waited for the results. I was happy when I saw the congratulations message. I asked the coordinator to get me a printout of the result and he was kind enough to do so.

      Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
      Dos
      • Plan and schedule your exam well in advance.
      • Prepare a realistic study schedule and follow it rigorously.
      • In addition to PMBOK guide, I would suggest that you go for another study resource like “PMP Live Lessons”, other published books etc. to aid you in your studies.
      • Spend at least 30% of the overall schedule to attempt practice questions, but do so only after you go through the PMBOK guide and other study materials at least once.
      • Review your answers both the right and the wrong ones to understand the reasoning and logic behind the answers. This will help you to get familiarized with the pattern behind the questions and answers.

      Don’ts
      • Do not attempt questions before you complete the study at least once.
      • Do not use more than 2 study resources (PMBOK + 1) – That may end up confusing you as well as take your time which can be spent on practicing Questions & Answers.
      • Don’t panic during the exam if you do not know the answer for a particular question -  mark it for review and go the next one – You can always come back to the marked question later.

      Conclusion
      I would like to thank the Almighty for his blessings and Satya Sir for his PMP Live Lessons which was instrumental in getting my PMP certification as I just had 45 days to complete the quest.  

      Brief Profile
      Name: John P S Oliver
      Current Role: Associate Director – Project Management
      Experience: 20+ years in Operations and Project Management in ITES across Healthcare, Insurance, Telecom, Retail, Manufacturing and SCM verticals.




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