Sunday, August 24, 2014

PMP Success Story: Only Winning Strategy - Have Thorough Understanding of All Concepts and Process Interactions



Ratnakar Baggi prepared on PMBOK 4th edition, but had to postpone his exam preparation due to personal commitments. Finally, he had to give the exam on PMBOK 5th edition. Though it has been over 16 months, I remember that he was one of the most active participants – a keen listener throughout, worked hands on, asked a number of questions on conceptual understanding - while preparing. When the coaching was conducted, I talked about the changes in 5th Edition, which was also then available, so that candidates can be prepare and give exam in either of the two editions.


It is not that easy – moving from PMBOK 4th edition to 5th edition – and getting certified. There are substantial differences between 4th and 5th edition. However, Ratnakar made it happen and is a proud PMP today.


Below, Ratnakar shares his learning experience in a unique way – or shall I say the PMI way. He prepared as a project management professional would and should do, i.e., via IPECC - Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and finally Closing, which as he has noted “in the true spirit of a PMP certified professional”.

Go on and read his unique experience.


*****
Dear all:

It is my immense pleasure to share my experiences and learning from my PMP journey. Last year I was thrilled to successfully pass the PMP examination on my first attempt. In the true spirit of PMP certified professional I would like to elaborate my journey from the standpoint of the 5 process areas of the PMBOK framework.  

Initiating

In Jan 2013 I decided to take up formal PMP certification after many years of on-the-job experience as a project manager in different organizations.  There were two main motivating factors for this late decision: 
  1. To understand the PMBOK framework as espoused in theory and how could it be mapped and applied to practical situations on the day to day project execution. 
  2. To add the ‘PMP certification’ feather to my cap since it was one of the most sought after qualifications to apply for project management job positions.
Once I made up my mind I enrolled for the 35 hours PDU program in April 2013.

Planning

It is mandatory to attend 35 hours contact session to gain the pre-requisite number of PDUs to appear for the PMP exam. This contact session was spread over 2 weekends and conducted by Mr. Satya Narayan Dash. Mr. Satya is extremely thorough and passionate about the subject. We could grasp the fundamental concepts quickly through his interactive style and interesting analogies to real life situations. He was remarkable in giving individual attention and identifying gaps in our understanding which he could address effortlessly. He took care to stress upon the various process interactions and Inputs, Tools, Techniques, Outputs (ITTO). Never once did I feel bored or lackluster during these sessions.    

The assessment exercises and quiz questions at the end of each Knowledge Area helped us internalize the key terms and techniques. Satya could make us recall all the Process Groups, Knowledge Areas and processes and the most important ITTO. Never before had I assimilated so much knowledge and confidence from any training session. Full credit is due to Mr. Satya for his guidance and coaching.  

Executing

My first impression after the mandatory sessions was that the PMBOK framework was anything but closer to the real life project management experience. Hence one cannot rely on one’s project management experience alone to crack the examination. It required thorough text book preparation. It is also extremely important to prepare and write the examination soon after the 35 hour PDU session so that one’s memory is fresh and mindset is right. However due to personal commitments I had to wait till August to start my preparation. The examination was now based on PMP Fifth Edition instead of the Fourth Edition which I attended in Satya’s class. Undeterred I started my preparation in right earnest by first re-reading the classroom material and concepts three times over and over. Next I approached two primary reference books by Rita Mulcahy and Andy Crowe apart from the PMBOK handbook. My strategy is to focus on couple of reference material and not spread myself across too many books. Both the books make excellent reading and very helpful.

Monitoring and Control

The last one week before the exam is crucial period that should be invested in recap of all concepts and practice as many tests as possible for better evaluation for one’s preparedness for the main exam. Anyone who ignores this critical step can do so at his/her own risk of failing the exam. My target was to score at least 85% in the mock tests/quizzes available online and in the reference books in order to feel confident. The Andy Crowe book comes with access to Velociteach web site where I completed full length examinations. These mock tests also gave an insight to the actual exam experience which could help me to formulate my own strategy for the D-day.  

Closing

Finally 12th October 2013 arrived when I found myself at the Prometric centre at Domlur. During the initial 15 mins of being seated in front of the computer screen I noted down the entire process framework on the rough sheet for ready reference. I ensured that I made a first pass through entire question set in the first 3 hours, answered the easy ones and those I was absolutely sure of and marked few questions that I wanted to attempt later or review my answers. In the last one hour I completed my responses to all marked questions. Few questions were very lengthy but the answers were straightforward and few others were tricky and confusing. The only winning strategy is to have thorough understanding of all concepts and process interactions to achieve success. At the end of four hours and few minutes I was relieved and ecstatic to see pass result flash on my screen!

I wish all future aspirants the best of luck.

-- Ratnakar Baggi, Technical Manager, Alcatel Lucent

*****

Brief Profile: Ratnakar Baggi is a senior management professional and has years of project, program, and technical management experience in IT industry. He is a Bachelor of Engineering from National Institute of Technology, Karnataka and a Master in Business Administration from ICFAI Business School, Bangalore. Currently he works as a Technical Manager with Alcatel Lucent, Bangalore, India. His online PMP profile is available at PMI Online Credential Registry. 


After getting certified on PMP, Ratnakar informed me via Twitter. It was indeed a great pleasure to be able to help in his journey in getting PMP. 

I am thankful to Ratnakar for sharing his unique experience on PMP exam – preparing earnestly, not loosing focus on his goal even when it transitioned from 4th Edition to 5th Edition of PMBOK and above all, coming out certified in one of toughest certification programs on management. I believe his experience will guide others in their quest for PMP. 

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