Thursday, February 25, 2016

PMP Success Story – Understand the Concepts Well and Thoroughly Read the PMBOK Guide



Sunil Kumar wanted to take the PMP® exam early, but was somewhat delayed due to work pressure and later on audit process by PMI®. As he has mentioned, the application is selected for audit randomly and it will be easily cleared if you have filled up application properly. Many aspirants, who read this blog and ask this question, can follow this simple approach.


Today Sunil is a proud PMP and believes he has a better understanding on project management. 

Sunil was part of my class in October 2015. An enthusiastic person with quick responses, he was very participative in the class. I also remember him quite upfront and direct in his approach. Success in the PMP exam brings great satisfaction as the exam demands rigorous preparation.  Sunil informed me after getting certified and was indeed happy. I share his happiness. 

Go on and read his unique experience. 


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First of all, thanks to Mr. Satya Narayan Dash for inspiring me to write my experience on the PMP exam. 

In my organisation, few of my colleagues and seniors are attempting get PMP certification. My Boss also inspired me to get certified. The HR team of my organization selected the study centre as per their policies and finalized negotiations. I thank my organisation for their support.

PMP Training Experience
While getting PMP coaching, in order to avail required 35 mandatory contact hours, I really appreciate my Coach Mr. Satya Narayan Dash. It was a wonderful experience and good start to prepare for PMP exam. It clearly explained on Project Management.    

The material provided by the training centre and additional materials by the coach sufficiently covered the PMBOK® Guide. Also Mr. Dash supported beyond the training session by replying to my questions, though he normally does not take individual questions beyond the session.  He has also shared a lot of information through this blog.  The articles published by other successful PMPs also helped. 

Own Preparation
I had my training in mid-October 2015 and planned to appear in the exam by December end. However due to hectic office work, I was unable to concentrate on my study. Subsequently, I planned to appear during the end of January 2016. 

However, during my form filling up process with PMI, I was selected for Audit. The audit process by PMI is a randomly selected process and it takes time. I had to wait few weeks more to finally sit in the exam, which happened after clearing the audit process. I scheduled the exam on 22nd February, 2016.  

During my study, I read the books by Head First, Rita Mulchay and of course, the PMBOK Guide. I prefer to read the book by Rita along with PMBOK and it was really helpful.
Post exam, I can say it is not wise to remember too many details. Rather try to understand the content, process and what is your decision in certain circumstances or how will you act in certain situations. All these should be based on your knowledge and understanding on the PMBOK guide.

PMP Exam Experience
I am not very good in English as a language, though I am familiar with Indian English. It created a slight problem for me. It took extra time for me to understand the whole paragraph questions (bigger ones) as the exam is in American English. Anyway, I managed to answer all the 200 questions. But I was unable to review it due to shortage of time. I think it may be problem only with me and believe may not be problem for others.

I prepared for the mathematically questions. So, in the exam, there are around 10 mathematical questions which I was able to crack due to my specific preparation.  Rest of the questions were situational and few were tricky questions or questions which will put into traps.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
- Dos
  • Your work experience and experience in Project Management will help you to understand the processes and content of PMBOK guide. But a through reading of the PMBOK guide is necessary to pass the exam.
- Don’ts
  • Don’t prepare like normal exam study, i.e., do not try to remember things as we typically tend to do.  The exam is completely based on your understanding of concepts.
Conclusion
There are many areas in project management and in certain areas we lack in knowledge. But, now I feel I have a much better understanding of project management. 

Brief Profile: I am Sunil Kumar and have been working as a Manager, Contracts at UE Development India Pvt. Ltd. in Engineering and Construction sector. 

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Sunil’s PMP detail is available at PMI’s online registry.


I am thankful to Sunil for sharing his exam experience and I believe it will help you – the aspiring PMP – in getting your PMP certification.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

PMP Success Story - Don’t Waste Time in Joining Useless Training, rather Choose the Right Coach and Take Sufficient Practice Tests



Pradyumna Deshpande had earlier taken PMP® trainings from others, but realized it is a waste of time for him. He realized foundation is important and only on a strong foundation, one can prepare properly for the exam. Today Pradyumna is a successful PMP. He did it in the beginning of this year. 
 

In my class, I remember Pradyumna to be a quiet person, but joins in whenever the team is struggling to solve a problem given or not able to reach a conclusion. I remember him sitting at the end of the class, but very attentive throughout the session. On the day of his certification, he informed me via twitter. In fact, his was the 1st success story that I came to know in 2016. 

Below, he has outlined his experience and how he succeeded in being PMP. Go on and read his unique experience.
 

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Introductory
My main inspiration to go for PMP certification was to be ahead in competitive job market and ensure that I speak and follow the practice set in project management professional world. 

I had started self-learning and then attended trainings given by inexperienced trainers. This actually wasted my time as I was not able to understand. Then through reference of my friend, I identified Coach Satya Narayan Dash. This helped and changed the way I studied and helped in clearing PMP exam.


PMP Training Experience
I opted for weekends training and Satya was my coach. His training methods and example he gave for each topic helped in understanding the best PMP practices very quickly.
Takeaways from PMP trainings were:

  • Clear understanding of 47 knowledge areas and how to study and understand each topic.
  • How to approach and plan my own self-study.
  • Mathematical calculations throughout the topic were made easy to understand.
  • Tips on how to prepare and write exam.

My Own Study:
I started studying on weekends for 2 to 4 hours. I would have spent around 300 to 350 hours for studying.  I referred PMI® PMBO Guide and Rita. I read them twice and I attempted around 10 online exams. I had confidence to give exam after I started scoring 80%.


Major obstacles were the approach of studying only on weekend. I found it difficult to recollect as I would some time skip studying few weekends. 


We had company shutdown during which I studied for 8 to 10 days and gave my exam. Continuous flow of studying helps and gives enough confidence.


My PMP Exam Experience
I scheduled my exam at Prometric at PSN office. Four hours of exam is quite draining, so I had carried some food items and water. I took one break in between for snacks.


There were quite number of question on mathematical and network diagram.  Brain dump of formulas helped as I did not have to think through the formula when I encountered mathematical question.


Some network diagram does not require calculation of forward and backward path. Understanding the question and option given helps in solving them directly. This would save time during exam.


Look out for ‘Next’, ‘Best’, ‘First’ and ‘Except’ key words in questions as some time all answer may be correct and you have to choose among them.


Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
-    Dos 

  • Choose a good coach. Satya is excellent. 
  • Refer PMBOK and any one PMP book. (I referred Rita).
  • Attempt as many online exams as possible. This gives more confidence. 
  • Have study partner with whom you can discuss and clarify doubts.
-    Don’ts 
  • Don’t have gaps in studies.
  • During exam don’t get stuck on a question if you are not sure of answer.
Brief Profile: Pradyumna Deshpande, Platform Test Manager, CapGemini, India.
 

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Pradyumna’s PMP detail is available at PMI’s online registry.



I am thankful to Pradyumna for sharing his experience to all the readers of this blog and believe it will help my readers for their PMP preparation.


Book Available for PMP Exam:


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Monday, February 15, 2016

New Course - Practical PMP with Oracle Primavera P6 R15.x






'Practical PMP® with Oracle® Primavera P6' has been used by many professionals worldwide, since it launch in the beginning of 2015.  You would know that PMP exam has gone through certain changes in 2016 and has focus on certain new areas. Also, the latest release on Primavera P6 Professional is Release 15.2. 

Based on these new changes to PMP exam and Primavera P6 software, the new course - "Practical PMP with Primavera P6 R15.x" - is  launched. It will have all the changes mentioned for the new PMP exam. Also, PMP aspirants can use the new Primavera P6 Professional R15.x (specifically 15.2), which has a number of new features, as a hands-on tool to understand the theory. 

The official announcements are noted below:
For more details on PMP exam 2016 changes refer the short slide video in YouTube. (03m:18s)



Some of the changes for the PMP exam, which are part of the new course:
  • Goals, Strategy and Objective
  • Business Strategy, Business Benefits, Benefits Realization
  • Strategic Alignment of Projects and Role of Project Manager
  • and more...
Some of the changes for Primavera P6 R15.2, which are also part of the new course:
  • Additional Filter Criteria for Codes
  • Resource Selection and Resource Histogram
  • Microsoft Project 2013 (and 2016) integration
  • and more...

Why Practical PMP with Primavera?
Let me elaborate with some examples.

1. In Cost Management knowledge area of PMBOK® Guide, you will be definitely learning on Earned Value Measurement (EVM). But then, how EVM happens in real time? How do you plan, baseline and set the status date? How do you find the basic EVM metrics like BAC, EV, PV, AC? How do you find out the forecasting metrics such as EAC or ETC? Or for that matter how to present them graphically in real life tools? Only theory wont help you here. 

2. Let us take Human Resource Management knowledge area, again from PMBOK Guide. Resource Calendars (drawn from Project Calendars), Resource Histogram, Resource Usage - all sounds good in theory. But how that happens in a practical way in real life projects? How about the Resource Breakdown Structure(RBS) which is created in Time Management, but considers Resource Management, Procurement Management? Again, theory wont tell you that. 

3. Now, let us take Scope Management knowledge area. Work Breakdown Strucure (WBS), Levels in the WBS, WBS Dictionary, Scope Baseline - all fine in theory. But how use them practically in a project? As you can see, theory again falls short here. Similarly, how about Communication Management, Risk Management? 

If you want to check on Time Management knowledge area, there is a white paper available, which details the similarities and differences between PMBOK and Primavera P6.
Detailed Course
For more details on 'Practical PMP with Primavera P6 R15.x', the following details are available. To know the content of the course, refer the "Complete Course" document.
  • Practical PMP with Primavera P6 15.x - Course Overview (Link)
  • Practical PMP with Primavera P6 15.x - Complete Course (Link)
  • Practical PMP with Primavera P6 15.x - Course Benefits (Link)
  • Practical PMP with Primavera P6 15.x - Certification Process for PMP, Oracle Primavera P6 (Link)
  • Practical PMP with Primavera P6 15.x - Who Can Attend (Link)
  • Practical PMP with Primavera P6 15.x - Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ) (Link)
Details on Practical PMP with Primavera P6 R15.x and R8.x are also available here

Theory and Hands-on Practicals with .XER Files

Participants in the class and professionals who buy this course, find it very useful to practice theory with hands-on practicals. Project management knowledge areas, as outlined in the course details, have many XER files associated as references, which one can use. These XER files are based on the practicals at the end of various modules. Do note that the course is built on a case study - module by module. In addition, a number of videos on project management theory and hands-on practicals are available. In fact, the most in demand are these files and practicals for this course. 

I am certain this course will provide immense benefits to aspiring PMPs, who want to have hands-on proficiency on Oracle Primavera P6 - side by side.


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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Step by Step Guide - Install, Setup and Configure Oracle Primavera P6 Professional R15.2 on Windows 7/8


Content Summary: In this post, you can have the complete step by step installation, set up and post set-up configuration for Primavera P6 Professional Release 15.2 in Windows 7 (64 bit). This is the latest release of Primavera P6 Professional, which came in the later part of 2015. Unlike earlier editions, I have used the SQLite Database here, which throws no permission access issue or execution of script issue. Installation happens smoothly as seen on Windows 7/8. 


Primavera P6 Professional R15.2, which came in the later part of 2015 has a host of new features. It has:
  • 64bit installation support
  • Additional filter criteria for codes
  • Export XML as a job service
  • Copy project as a job service
  • Saving of resource selection in the resource histogram,
  • Microsoft Project 2013 compatibility (I checked with MS Project 2016 with created XML file for MSP 2013. It works)
  • Support for UN/CEFACT XML Format 6. Here you can also include WBS and OBS informed during export.
  • Selection and setting language before logging etc. 

During installation, I did not face any issue and it was done in minutes. I used the P6 Pro Standalone (SQLIte) for the Database driver configuration. There is also no additional scripts to execute here, which makes the installation a bit easier. It may help people who read this blog and ask on permission issues that they face. You wont have any such issues. For learning on Primavera, the DB used in this set-up post, in my view, is quite good. However, if you have a very big industrial scale production deployment, then preferably use Oracle DB for the back-end.

There are 4 major components for installation:
  • .NET framework (comes bundled with 4.5)
  • Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 7.0 with u85 (comes bundled)
  • PPM Database Configuration (SQLite), and 
  • Primavera P6 Professional 15.x software (Client side)
The installation steps follows certain minimal configuration. The first change you will see is in the log-in UI dialog box. Here the language setting can be done, i.e., from the very beginning.



This is a new feature in Primavera P6 R15.2. The step-by-step guide is embedded in this post as shown below. It is a detailed one containing many pages of instructions. You can scroll (or open in larger screen by clicking the arrow on right in the embedded frame) to see the content. 




Post the setup, I checked with one of Practical PMP XER files, from one of the modules - Cost Management, which is worked out perfectly. 

The detailed step-by-step document is also available in GDrive, which is tested in Windows 7. The steps will remain same Windows 8. For full view in PDF format - Link. 

All the above are also outlined in the shared document: Step by Step - Install, Setup and Configure Primavera P6 15.x.


If you want to have a PDF copy of it separately,send an email to managementyogi@gmail.com.


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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Working with Multiple Baselines in MS Project 2016



A saying goes as:
“Planning is indispensable, but plans are useless.”

In real world projects (as also in daily life), it rarely happens that you exactly follow the planned course of action. You have to make changes to your plan. But planning is needed and it can not be avoided. Because planning sets the direction, gives a possible end date and lets you and your team members know what is expected to be executed at what point of time.

Planning, of course has to be monitored. To monitor the plan, we baseline the project. Any variations - with respect to scope, time, cost etc. – are tracked. It is against the baseline, where the variances are monitored, tracked and reported.

But when plans change we need to adjust our course. When many changes have  happened, then we have to rebaseline - because the previous baseline is no longer relevant. Your sponsor will approve this baseline after due considerations.  Microsoft® Project software gives the option to have multiple baselines. It provides 11 baselines for a project. When you re-baseline the project, your tracking will happen to the latest baseline, which is approved by the sponsor. When the project is complete, you measure the changes, with respect to the final baseline. This is what also PMI® and other standard bodies on project/program/portfolio management say. 

Why View Multiple Baselines?
Say, you are in Baseline 2. And you want to see what has happened since the beginning, i.e., you want to see the information for Baseline (0), Baseline 1 as well. How will you check on these changes? This is a question that I get many times in my “Practical PMP® with MS Project” or standalone  “MS Project” classes. Hence, this post.

Putting this need into a diagram, the need looks like this.



Measurement happens with respect to the status date. In any project-portfolio management software, one should be able to look back at any baseline and find out what are the differences with respect to the key objectives for the project. In MS Project you can do that by checking on the Tracking Gantt Chart (or making some formatting changes to Gantt Chart). 

This is how it comes a for project created in the Tracking Gantt.


This shows information only with respect to the baseline that you have selected – but NOT all the baselines. 


Multiple Baselines Gantt:

How about seeing all the baseline information in a single graph?
It means, I want to see information for Baseline 0, Baseline 1, and also Baseline 2 as on the status date. That also can be done in MS Project. How? Just switch to Multiple Baselines Gantt view. If you are in Task tab, go to View group -- More Views … and then select Multiple Baselines Gantt. 

In this special Gantt view, all the baselines information will be showed. The formatting is not what you might expect to have properly. Here only lines will be visible and it may not give you information that you need. It comes as follows, for the above project created.


As you can see, from here you really can not make out what is happening. So we have to make some changes.

Formatting Multiple Baselines Gantt:
To format the Multiple Baselines Gantt, go to Format tab -- Bar styles -- Format -- Bar Styles…


Or you can simply also right on the graphical side of the Gantt Chart and click on Bar Styles. This will also open the Bar Style box.
Now we will do formatting for the 3 baselines. I’ve done the following formatting:

Baseline (0) -- Black Bars 
Baseline 1 --  Orange Bars
Baseline 2 -- Green Bars

In addition, I have also added the % completion in each bar – with each bar being visually more prominent by increasing the width. For the final baseline information, I have added the name of the tasks to the right. All these formatting are done in Bar Styles box.


After formatting is applied, the Multiple Baselines Gantt looks as below. Note that the corresponding milestones are also formatted for respective baselines.

By looking at the Multiple Baselines Gantt Chart, I can say what has happened to each task over a period of time, what is the latest percent complete for each task, and who are the team members working on these tasks.