Thursday, April 19, 2018

PMP Live Lessons Success Story: Hard work and Focus Lead You to Success

Kamal Ahmed Farooqui, PMP

I’ve been managing the projects for long and have worked in various domains during this tenure. One of the aspects which was always missing in my experience as a project manager was being a certified PM. I bought the PMBOK guide to start with the study, but somehow never got the interest and flow every time I went through any of the them. 

I came to know of Satya from a colleague of my spouse. After that I did some online research and got positive feedback online. I enrolled for 35 learning hours with knowledge hut on the condition that Satya will be the coach, which they agreed to.

PMP Coaching Experience
My 35 learning hours classes with Satya got over by 11th of June 2017. During the session I tried to grasp as much as possible and kept on making notes of all the important tips which were highlighted during the classes. Interactive session also helped me in understanding some of the topics which were little tricky. 47 processes along with the flow and how they interact irrespective of the KA’s and PG’s were on my figure tips by the end of the classes. During the classroom session Satya answered each and every query raised along with the practical examples which helped in correlating with ease. 

By the end of the classroom sessions, I got to the know the basics of the flow involved in various new terminologies and how to prepare yourself for the complex topics by either going through video’s or some of the blog links which were shared. 

Own Study
My plan was to appear for the exam as early as possible after the classroom sessions, but somehow due to the professional workload and other personal commitments I was never able to continue with the plan I had prepared for my preparation of the exam. 

I started my studies without any specific date in mind for the exam. Which was the biggest mistake according to me. I thought of completing all the content once and take a few mock tests based on the outcome of which I had planned to schedule my exam. I started with this approach and soon realized that I was never going to meet the target. 

I remember I was struggling in the first week of December about the overall planning and the approach on when to appear for the exam. I was in complete dilemma, considering a new edition of PMBOK guide was supposed to come under existence and the exam pattern was going to change up to a great extent from 26th of March 2018. On 4th of Dec I got the mailer from Satya that he has come up with PMP Live Lessons, a complete video course-

I immediately called Satya to understand the background and the logic behind this. I requested for some trial videos, which he agreed to share with me. After going through the sample videos, I understood that this is what I needed in the short span of time to be able to qualify the exam. Without wasting any further time, I decided to go ahead with the videos and by 7th Dec I had the access to all the required content.
  • Total Duration: 25hours (25h 10m 15s) 
  • Number of Videos: 550
  • Number of Lessons: 14 (+3)
  • Number of Questions: 2600+
  • Number of Full Length Question Sets: 5 (total = 1000 Questions) 
  • Practice Questions – 100 to 120 questions (average)
  • 390 Smart Cards referring the PMBOK Guide

I got a new enthusiasm and started afresh but there was another twist waiting for me. I submitted my application on 12th of December and immediately on the submission of the form, I was notified that my application was selected for audit. I remember I was completely broken down, I called Satya and explained the situation. He told me not to get demotivated and follow the instructions as per PMI and that it’s a unique experience for you even though audit is generally rare. It took me some time to get back to the terms. I collected the hard copy of all my documents and shared it by post by 3rd week of December. Due to furlough there was some delay in the response but by 30th of December I got the confirmation message from PMI that my audit was through and I could proceed with the next step. I got relived but during this time of 3weeks of audit the pace of my studies had got impacted.

Since audit was over by now and I was not having any further obstacle for my exam appearance, I scheduled my exam for 8th of March and started putting as many number of hours as possible into my preparation. I was left with around 2 months for the exam, so I started devoting around 4 hours daily and around 8 hours in the weekend. 

Coming to my approach on the studies. I must be clear here that I have not referred any single book apart from Satya’s Live Lessons. Most of you might have referred to some of the videos that Satya shared on some of the critical topics like Change Request, EVM, CCM, CPM etc. Based on that standard, if one gets an access to the complete coverage of all the involved modules as videos, that means a lot. I was having the luxury of listening to the same video multiple times till the concept is completely clear. It was something like during the classroom session we tried to grasp as much as possible but that has its own limitation. 

Despite all this there was a mixed feeling. Every time I read a success blog I was a little nervous since none of them had followed the approach of not referring to PMBOK guide even once. This was giving me a nightmare more often. Whenever I interacted with Satya he also said that he suggests all his students to refer to the PMBOK guide. I always felt that one needs to know the concepts clearly as the questions in the exam will always be situational. Language doesn’t matter but the concepts matter.

Questions at the end of each session in the Live Lessons are of good standard and which will test your understanding of the subject. Also, there are some 30-smart card set of questions for every module. There are lots of advantages of having the content online. Satya will be updating all the subscribers of any recent changes happening from the exam perspective, e.g. for EVM there is a new trend which is introduced from the PMI. Recently there are mathematical questions coming in the graph format on CPI, SPI. Got the feed few weeks back before the exam and I was happy to see around 3 questions came on EVM with graph. Similarly, EEF and OPA related new videos were shared based on the feedback received recently.

By 3rd week of Feb I had gone through all the videos and it was time to start with the mock tests. I scored decently in the first 2 mock test which gave me confidence. But the challenges really started from the 3rd mock test onwards. Question are very tricky and it will test all your skills. I would still suggest everyone to go and appear for the later mock tests too because that will enable you to handle the questions in exam with more confidence and you will be prepared for the toughest of the questions. 

PMP Exam Experience
I scheduled my exam for 8th of March at the Whitefield Prometric centre. I opted for the 8:00 AM slot to avoid the traffic and it works well for me during the morning hours. 

My strategy was to attempt minimal 50 questions in an hour. By the time 1 hour got over I had completed only 38 questions. So, it was time to increase the pace and coverup in the next hour target along with the backlog from the previous hour. By the end of three hours I completed 150 questions and the last hour was crucial for me to cover the pending 50 questions along with some time for the review of the questions which I marked for review. 

By the time I completed the 200th question, I was left with only 7 minutes to review. I started to review the marked questions but could review only few and by the time it was 9 secs left I clicked End button and the system took me directly to the survey. I somehow managed to complete the survey as my heart was pounding fast. By the end of the survey, I got to see the congratulations message, that I have cleared the exam with Above target. I thought of screaming a loud in joy but kept my nerve in control as there were many others giving their exam. I didn’t take any break throughout the 4 hours window. 

I would say questions were hardly direct and all were situational. I didn’t get many lengthier questions. Many questions around change request, 7-quality tools, most of my mathematical questions were from EVM including the charts, question on stakeholder management and communication management (tend to get confused if the concept is not clear), few questions on kick off, few on the critical path and also questions on Organization theory. 

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • Once the initial planning is in place, schedule the exam as soon as possible.
  • I would highly recommend the “PMP Live Sessions” videos from Satya as the only reference, if you have time and patience PMBOK should be the next reference book.
  • I formulated my strategies around ITTO, so would recommend having deep understanding around them.
  • Extra reference provided by Satya from the blogs of the critical topics are must like Resource Levelling, Resource Smoothing, TCPI, CPI etc.
  • Questions provided at the end of each chapter should be taken up seriously. Try to understand the gap in understanding for the wrong answers before moving to the next module.
  • Wear the ear plugs through out in the exam centre to avoid any disturbances (exam centre will provide one). There will be many people sitting in the same room. During my exam I could see around 15-20 people around.
  • Try to visit to the examination centre once before the D day, to avoid any last-minute hassle around parking, location, document proof needed etc.
  • Take the mock test along with time bound measures to ensure you are meeting the timeline.
  • Do not mug up any of the subjects but try to understand the concept.
  • Do not panic during the exam and keep faith on your preparation.
  • Do not refer lot many books and content available on the net as one may get confused.

I would surely like to take the learning to the next level. In fact, I have noticed in the recent days during my interaction with the team, colleagues and customers, I have started using some of the new terminologies which I learnt during the whole new learning phase. I would like to implement all the learnings in my day to day work. 

I would like to thank my family for the support that they provided during the phase, I must admit without their support it was not at all possible. Satya as the mentor and coach will ensure your journey is smooth and without many hiccups.

Brief Profile
Kamal Ahmed Farooqui, working as a Project Manager in Wipro Limited. CRM Project Manager with overall 14+ years of experience with managing projects for around 7 years. Expertise in coordinating diverse teams and resources to complete objectives.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

PMP Live Lessons Success Story: The Journey Itself An Experience To Cherish and Is The Reward

By Rizwan Khan, PMP

I was looking to be educated in Project Management, heard about PMP from a friend and the impact it could make on my career. This developed an interest in me to pursue. I started going through the needed content and found it to be very interesting. Next, I found out the prerequisites for the examination, had a checklist prepared and got enrolled into classroom learning. 

PMP Coaching Experience
In the hunt to get the 35 Contact hours, I selected Knowledge Hut as the schedule given was the best match for me. I was part of Satya’s classes, which was my first decision and glad to mention it as one of the best decisions I made. The least I was aware that being in that class would have such huge influence in my journey to become a PMP. 

The knowledge shared and motivation given by Satya in the classroom sessions helped build a strong base of confidence. The unique ways of teaching, with real time examples, connected the whole learning experience with the real world and made it easier to understand and digest. I still admire how the 47 processes across the knowledge areas and process groups where explained in a sequence which helped me to remember them, without any memorization. It was told like a story.

At first it appeared to be a big task just to remember the names of the 47 processes across the Knowledge Areas and Process Groups. But, as Satya rightly mentioned in the beginning of the class, by the end of the 4th day every person will remember all of them. The sequencing of the processes helped establish the link within the whole course content and making it appear like a story, as I mentioned earlier.  

The tips shared in the class, the acronyms used for complex names, all the mathematical computations or formulas, made it easy for me to remember and apply. The entire 4-days of coaching was an unexpected blessing. 

At the end of the coaching we were given a 30-question test to evaluate our readiness for the exam. My score showed that I need to invest more for my exam preparation. But, Satya’s motivation, the PMP success stories on Management Yogi Blog, kept me charged throughout and helped achieve this success in 3 months.

Own Study
After getting the 35 contact hours, I moved on and filled up my examination form by the beginning of December 2017. I took a week to gather all information and submitted the application. After application’s approval, I started reading the PMBOK GUIDE 5th EDITION. But that was not helping me much as after a long day at work I was tired and reading it was not helping.

Soon enough the PMP LIVE LESSONS was released by Satya. By mid-December I had the PMP LIVE LESSONS course. It was just like attending his interactive classroom sessions. After a full day from work, now I just had to watch the Video Lessons. It was exciting and I had to put little effort as compared to reading a book. And understanding the contents as well as the concepts was easier. They all are explained in simple terms in the PMP LIVE LESSONS course.

It took me around 2 months to complete the PMP Live Lessons course. After completing the course, I went through the PMBOK guide and the PMP LIVE LESSONS again together. This time the PMBOK guide was easier to understand. During this process I also took chapter wise practice questions.

With 3 Weeks left for the Exam I started attempting the full-length question sets and tried completing 200 questions within a 4 hours window. In The first question set, I ran out of time with 3 questions left and for the subsequent ones, I could complete the question sets in around 3.5 hours. 

I referred the followings for my preparation.
  • PMP LIVE LESSONS by Satya Narayan Dash
  • PMBOK Guide 5th Edition By PMI
  • PMP Exam Prep QnA By Christopher Scordo

Earlier in the process of studying I realized that, it is critically important to practice more sample questions. It also helps to achieve the level of concentration required during the exam. 

After investing good amount of time on learning through the PMP LIVE LESSONS and the PMBOK guide, I was still not very comfortable or confident as would end up scoring not more than 65% across the question sets. My target would be a 75%. Yet, one thing that kept me going was the thought of having spent all the time in studying for the past few months – and just a few more days to achieve my dream of being a PMP!

I invested more time and effort thereafter and spent more time understanding the purpose of the processes, the key tools and techniques as mentioned by Satya in the PMP LIVE LESSONS. Once I had a wholesome understanding of the story, I took a 100 Questions from Christopher Scordo’s book. This time I scored above 80% and gained back my confidence. I also realized that the questions in the PMP LIVE LESSONS were of very high quality which pushed me to prepare harder in the earlier days of preparation.

The four main reasons I bought PMP LIVE LESSONS were:
  1. I had complete confidence in Satya’s knowledge, ability and dedication towards aspirants getting PMP after the 4 days of classroom session.
  2. With limited time in hand (As the PMBOK Guide 5th Edition was expiring on 26th March 2018), I had to prepare faster for the exam.
  3. I approached Satya to know more about the PMP LIVE LESSONS and I received a set of sample videos. These videos were just like his classroom sessions I attended. 
  4. The icing on the deal was this - It is a Money Back Guarantee! I had nothing to lose.  

There are many interesting aspects in the PMP LIVE LESSONS which will make it an amazing learning experience. 

Of all, the best ones I liked were:
  1. The Yogic Vision Tips given at frequent intervals and the Yogic Revision Tips, which always helped recall things done earlier and help establish the connection among concepts.
  2. In every Knowledge Area there is a video called “What Happens?”. This explained the sequence of events and the difference between the key benefits and purpose of the processes within a Knowledge Area.
  3. Risk Management was explained in the easiest possible way with all the process in the Risk Management Knowledge Area put into a single video over 2 slides covered the entire flow of processes in the Risk Management Area. This was an example of a complex concept told like a story.
  4. EVM was explained with its real-time use with the help of graphs which helped understand the formulas than just memorizing the formulas.
  5. Exercises in the form of Flowcharts at the end of the Knowledge Areas or chapters would help connect the chapter / Knowledge Areas with others as it was always iterative and interconnected. 

After completing the PMP LIVE LESSONS, I had a better understanding of each knowledge area from the exam point of view. It helped identifying the aspects in which one needs to be prepared and the pattern of the questions. 

The full-length question sets on the other hand helped manage the timing for each question and helped maintain the concentration levels for 4 hours at a stretch. It was effectively useful to measure the time I was spending per question compared to the amount of time I should be spending per question. It was always more interesting to go back and self-evaluate after completing the sample tests and to learn from the mistakes made through the course of the test.

PMP Exam Experience
I started looking for an exam centre nearby to my locality, Monterrey, Mexico. Early in January, I scheduled the exam for 19th March. This helped me to plan my study by keeping the exam date as a target. I had only one slot available 2 PM to 6 PM, I took it. 

There was no master strategy, except this: take every question individually, do not carry the baggage of previous questions into the upcoming ones. 

For the easier questions, I ran through them quickly and that made time for the lengthier or the mathematical questions. I always wanted to be sure that I have 50 questions answered in 1-hour max. which is exactly how I played. It helped me complete 200 questions in 3 hours and 50 Minutes. I came back to check the marked questions (very few) and I changed the answer for only one of them. Finally, I submitted with 5 min left.

The 4 Hours exam was an experience I would remember all my life. Every question out there is to test your understanding, i.e., do you understand what the PMBOK guide say. 
  • To my surprise, there were 4 to 5 questions only on Pareto Diagram.
  • A dozen on questions on Earned Value Management (EVM), which included questions to find variance; EVM graph questions, questions to calculate EAC etc.
  • One question on Matrix organization.
  • Few questions on Control Chart.
  • Several Risk and Quality Management related questions.
  • A couple of questions on the types of contracts.
  • Handful questions regarding Change Requests and Change Control System.
  • A couple of questions which had a paragraph of write-up in the beginning but the question was just in last line of the paragraph and to my surprise the paragraph was not required at all to answer the question asked.

During the exam, after little over 2 hours and 110 questions done, I started losing my concentration level and felt exhausted. I stopped right there and took a break. The break lasted 2 minutes exactly. Two minutes of stretching gave my mind the freshness to start all over again. After the break I felt the same level of concentration as I had in the beginning of the exam and the journey continued.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • At least spend 1 hour a day. This helps to maintain continuity.
  • It’s all about understanding the reason or purpose of having a Process or a Tool or a Technique. 
  • Practice more and more questions.
  • Your first round of studying may not help understand everything. So, go through the same content repeatedly.
  • 12 to 18 hours before the exam, just relax. Save yourself for the 4-hour long Exam. 
  • During the examination, put yourself into the shoes of a Good human being, an ethical Project Manager or Resource Manager and that will help answer some questions well.

  • Being clam is the key. Do not rush even if you feel you are running behind time. To avoid this situation, maintain a steady speed from the beginning. Full-length Sample question sets will help practise for time management. 
  • Do not learn or explore new things or materials in the last couple of days, rather take more practice questions or revise through the learned concepts.

I have now started reading through the PMBOK GUIDE 6th Edition. It is really exciting to know the changes in the new Edition. The PMP credential is not just about a book or a guide, as Satya had mentioned in the class. It also develops your character and personality. I intend to lead projects with the knowledge acquired through this learning and drive my career towards becoming a knowledgeable Project Manager, who can apply these learnings in real-world situations.

Brief Profile 
Mohammed Rizwan Khan
Technical Analyst Intermediate, 
Global Support Services, 
JDA Software.
I joined my first and current organization, JDA Software, Bangalore, on 1st July 2013. Thereafter had various roles as part of Cloud L2 team and moved onto the Cloud L3 team, being responsible for a handful of projects on JDA Cloud and currently part of the Global Support Services at JDA Software Mexico. 

Sunday, April 08, 2018

PMP Live Lessons Success Story: Be Committed To Your Ultimate GOAL

By Rajeev Ranjan, PMP

I have been managing projects for quite some time now. There are many things in the project management domain that we do not do as an individual, like I was less involved in initiating, cost, procurement management, etc. I wanted to get the project management understanding in detail and end-to-end. 

There are many jobs, which requires PMP certification. Although I do have practical experience, but I cannot apply just because of the absence of PMP certification.

PMP Coaching Experience
One of my colleague recommended Satya’s class and particularly him as a coach. I went ahead with my colleague’s recommendation, which I felt was the best selection decision among all the available REPs.

Satya has a unique teaching style. His practical project management experience and comparing it to the practical project management or life situations will encourage you the most.

My PMP classroom experience was an awesome one. I was fortunate in having a very interactive classroom session. By the end of 4 days of classroom session, I was confident in Initiating PG, Monitoring & Controlling PG, Closing PG, and mathematical questions across all the 47 processes. I felt that 35% - 40% exam preparation was done during the classroom session only. This could happen all because of the teaching style of Satya.

I wanted to prepare all the knowledge areas in detail and then go for the exam. But life is not perfect and Risk Management was one of my weak area during my classroom session as well as during my PMP preparation as well.

Own Study
I got my required 35 contact hours in December. I knew that preparation time was really less. Therefore, I planned to invest 3 – 4 hours (weekday) and 8 – 9 hours (weekend) of effort for the preparation. Just after getting my contact hours, I booked the exam slot for 5th March that motivated me to prepare harder.

I referred Satya’s PMP Live Lessons, PMBOK and Head First book. I read each topic in detail from all the three sources simultaneously, and then I moved to another topic. At the end of each Knowledge Areas, I took the 30 Smart Card questions, Practice questions from PMP live lessons, and questions from Head First book. I scored between 75% - 85% in each knowledge area from all three sources of questions. After finishing, all the knowledge areas, I took 3 full length from PMP live lessons. I scored more than 80% in all three full-length question papers.

My preparation was mostly referenced to:
  • Satya’s PMP Live Lessons,
  • PMI’s PMBOK Guide,
  • Head First, and
  • Internet for any confusion

My suggestion would be:
  • Fix the exam date just after finishing your 35 contact hours. This will motivate you to work harder and in the right direction.
  • PMBOK is a standard guide, which is quite boring (at least for me). Please do not lose patience while reading the book.
  • Exam preparation is long, so you might feel uneasiness. Again, I will suggest not losing your patience and continuing your hard work. If you need break during the reading, the do take it. 
  • Have sound sleep during your preparation also (at least 8 hours). It will help in concentration.
  • Stick to your preparation plan and do not postpone the exam just because you are feeling the exam preparation is not enough. Just like we do limited testing for any software, we need to know our preparation w.r.t. exam. PMBOK is the sea of knowledge. It may take years to understand each line or concept. We need to understand that we are preparing for the examination.

I did face many obstacles during the preparation, like:
  • My sister’s engagement and marriage were suddenly planned in February. I almost lost 10 days there. I could not study anything new for 10 days. However, whenever I was getting any free time, I used to revise through my personal notes. Therefore, I postponed my exam from 5th March to 20th March.
  • Just before 15 days to the exam, I was down with high fever and severe throat infection. I lost another 6 – 7 days. I needed to give mock exams. So, I postponed my exam again from 20th March to 23rd March (last day of PMBOK 5th edition).

I knew that preparation time is very less. 

Moreover, I needed to study PMBOK guide in detail. I am not a fast reader. Therefore, I decided to go for PMP Live Lessons as it helped me in reading the PMBOK guide faster. I understood the concepts well when I was reading PMBOK guide. 

Following are the key points in this course.
  • It is difficult to understand the mathematical concepts from PMBOK. All mathematical concepts are explained in an easy manner.
  • The initial chapters (Introduction and Organization Influences and Project Life Cycle) of the PMBOK guide is not easy to understand. The PMP Live Lessons did include the 2016 changes, which was explained in an easy manner.
  • The tips were very useful in remembering the overall flow and inputs and outputs of the different processes.
  • Chapter end questions were not easy. It required you to read PMBOK guide thoroughly. Simply a high-level browsing through the PMP live lessons will not be enough. I did make some useful notes out of those questions, which came handy during my revisions before the exam. Satya has spoken about making notes while going through the Live Lessons.
  • I could solve only 3-1/2 full-length mock exams due to time constraints. After reading PMBOK guide, and going through PMP Live Lessons, it was lot more easy for me to solve the mock tests. I got more than 80% marks in all the mock tests. The only problem for me was the timing. I took more time in solving mock tests due to disturbances, and due to my throat infection. However, I was very sure that I can complete the exams on time as I had a good preparation.
  • The flow diagrams were very useful in understanding the clear picture of the interaction among different Knowledge areas or processes including inputs and outputs.
  • Satya put many revision reminders of the past topics that helped me in remembering the key concepts.
  • Please make your own personal short notes, which will help you for the last-minute revision. I could finish my revision of the entire course material within 3 hours.

PMP Exam Experience
My final exam was scheduled on 23rd March 8:30 AM slot at the Prestige Shantiniketan, Whitfield, Bangalore.

My only strategy was to devote 1 question per minute and I should get 15 minutes of time for the marked questions. I was able to keep pace in the first two hours of exam, but due to some lengthy questions, I started slipping with the time. I got many mathematical questions (after 100 questions), which I could resolve fast and these mathematical questions put me back on track.

I got many mathematical questions on EVM, project selection methods. I got some questions on CPM and CCM concepts too. Funny part was to forget TCPI formula during my exam. I could remember only after the exam ;-) Most of the questions were situational and multiple answer seems to be right. However, with careful reading of the answers and filtering out the incorrect ones was leading me to the correct answers.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • Book your exam slot before you start preparing for the exam. This will give you a lot of push to prepare harder for the exam. You will not be lazy.
  • Do go through the PMBOK guide twice thoroughly. There is no replacement of PMBOK guide.
  • Do stick to your preparation plan.
  • Have good sleep during your preparation time also. You can focus more.
  • Do take necessary small breaks during your preparation too.
  • Drink lots of water during your preparation.
  • Sleep well before the exam.
  • Reach exam centre on time.
  • Keep yourself calm and have confidence in yourself before giving the exam.
  • Try to finish each question in 1 minute. This will give you extra time for the lengthy questions.
  • Attempt all the questions even if you are losing out the time.
  • Finally, do celebrate your success with your family who have helped you in the preparation. 
  • Do not lose your patience and concentration during the preparation and the exam.
  • Do not leave any questions unanswered in the exam.
  • Do not drive to the exam centre. Take a comfortable cab ride instead.

When I was solving mock tests and the final exams, I got many situational questions. If you could relate these questions to the practical experience in your office, you will be able to get the correct answer. 

PMP has given me a personal as well as professional boost to my life and career. 

Brief Profile
Name: Rajeev Ranjan
Current Role: Senior Project Manager, HCL Technologies. Currently managing a project of Cisco ASR5K mobility Prime Network product.
Past Experience: 
Alcatel-Lucent India Limited (Now Nokia Networks Limited) as Technical Specialist. I mostly worked on 2G, 3G, 4G, IMS core network as an automation test engineer.
ZTE Corporation as Chief Technical Engineer. Worked as field engineer and managed multiple CDMA networks of BSNL.

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