Saturday, December 30, 2017

PMP Success Story: PMP - My Grad School Credential From The School of Project Management

By Ayan Mitra, PMP




Introduction
I’ve been practising project management for about 5 years now and have always felt the need of a structured learning. Also, while working with experienced project managers in my firm, I come to know of terms such as parametric estimate, quantitative risk analysis, cost of quality, net present value, free float, cost-reimbursable contract etc. I’ve used them, but didn’t know of such terms.  

I had not heard about the PMP® certification or other project management methodologies then. But, as I grew in my firm, I started strongly appreciating the fact that having a credential is not only important for me to do my job better but also for my future career aspirations. It is when I decided that I have to earn the PMP credential, and I set a goal for myself which is the end of the year 2017. 


PMP Coaching Experience
From my initial research, I knew that PMP certification requires serious studies. You cannot simply walk-in to the exam center and gain the certification.  I was back in India in July, 2017 after spending 4 years in the US and first I checked with talent team of my organization. The scheduling was in 2018. However, they suggested to go with Satya’s classes at KnowledgeHut to gain the required 35 contact hours.

I had never met Satya, had no idea who he is, how he conducts the classes, how intense or thoughtful they are, or whether it will fulfill my learning aspirations. I did some basic readings of process groups, and knowledge areas over the web so I simply don’t appear na├»ve in the classroom. 

I attended the first class in August, 2017 and was simply awestruck with the way Satya delivered it. All I can say that you may have heard about “chartered accountants”; you can consider him as a “chartered PMP”. 

The 4-day session was eventful, enterprising and full of learning. Most importantly, the learning on flow of the processes through each process group and knowledge areas were really thought-provoking. I think there is no better way to learn them. I learned many concepts such as EVM, CPM, DTA, and many others. The way I've been explained the core concepts, they were ingrained in my brain and it became hard to forget. 

We also had many tips, Q/A sessions at the end of every chapter. Above all, relating core project management concepts with real-life examples was the key differentiating factor. In the end I had a recommend list of readings, Satya’s blog, and suggested books.

Own Study
Immediately after the classroom session, I prepared and submitted my application and schedule my exam on December 14, 2017. One thing to note – be very honest in filling up your application form. I used a spreadsheet, a sample of which is shown below.



In retrospect, registering, submitting my application and scheduling for the exam, had been the keys and helped in two ways:
  • a) Gaining access to several resources in PMI site (including but not limited to the electronic copy of the PMBOK guide).
  • b) Tracking my learning plan towards a fixed goal. I am sure if I hadn’t had scheduled a date for the exam, even today I would not have done it!

I used one book for my exam prep – Headfirst PMP, as I’ve used that series earlier. If I have to give one honest suggestion to any PMP exam aspirant, it will be “don’t read the PMPBOK guide as the first thing towards your learning goals”. It will confuse you more than anything else. I felt it is a like a giant encyclopedia. Do read the guide, but do it later. 

The next thing I did is to prepare a timeline for myself. I had about a 115 days in hand. I could spend about 2 hours during weekdays (due to hectic work schedule),  and 5 to 6 hours during weekends. 
This is how I proceeded.
  1. For the first 60 days, I assigned a target number of hours to study each knowledge area based on descriptiveness and complexityc. I did not refer the PMBOK® guide, but start with one book. I referred Satya’s blogs/articles at https://managementyogi.blogspot.com  and https://www.mpug.com/ which helped me understand several key concepts. 
  2. On a lighter note, daily commuting in cities like Bangalore or Mumbai takes around 2 hours. I spent that time in listening to videos and podcasts such as http://www.project-management-podcast.comhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YA05u1fpX2k
  3. For the next 25 days, I started reading the PMBOK guide. One important thing about Inputs, Tools and Techniques (ITTOs) is this - you can’t remember them all. It’s simply not possible. Rather understand why they are acting as input or outputs. 
  4. Also during these 25 days, I started preparing flow charts (and practice them almost every day) for a few key items such as “Change Request”, “Activity List”, “WBS”, “Risk Register” etc. if you can identify such 5-6 key flows and then understand them in depth, I guess many of the ITTOs will be on your finger-tips. 
  5. I also started noting down all vital project/business documents as well as plans used throughout the all 47 processes and understand their purposes, e.g., “Business Case”, “Statement of Work”, “Configuration Management Plan”, “Requirement Management Plan”, “Forecast documents”, “Issue Log” et. al. 
  6. For the next 15-20 days, I started solving the mathematical problems – CPM, EVM, number of communication channels etc. The reason was they will be in my memory fresh. 
  7. Finally, for the last 10-15 days before my exam, I invested all my energy on solving as many practice questions as I can. I refered questions from the book, 6 questions from KnowledgeHut and the below ones.
    https://edward-designer.com/web/list-of-free-pmp-exam-questions/
    https://sites.google.com/site/pmpbank/pmpquestionbank

    Do note that these sites have some very simple questions, whereas others to pretty standard/hard questions.  
  8. I also used an app called “PMP Smart Practice Test” which I found very useful, because of the reasoning behind each correct answer.  

PMP Exam Experience
One of the great things that I had in Satya’s class was a simulation of the exam experience. He almost made us live the moment from getting into the exam hall, sitting in front of the computer to write the exam, and finally getting out with your results. I’ve schedule my exam 4 months before and used few exam prep guides where they had suggested serveral best practices to deal with the questions. I’m trying to enumerate my experience as precisely as possible.
  1. I personally don’t believe in any last moment preparations. Kept my occupied in other activities (not at all related to the exam) one day before the exam. 
  2. D Day:
    Don’t carry any pencil/pen, paper, notes, books, etc. with you. Only carry your valid photo identification proof… and that’s it.
    Don’t do any writing at all before the exam commences. It will be considered as a misconduct at the Prometric center.
    I mentally visualized all the process flows I practiced, and the key formulas that can help me crack the mathematical questions. Also, it is pretty obvious you will have more than one question from the same topics like from EVM, CPM, questions on ITTOs, and others. Take a couple of minutes at that moment, to dump your thought in the paper if you really want to refer back. 
  3. Cracking 200 questions in 4 hours:
    I didn’t have any specific strategy in my mind. For me I didn’t look at the clock often while answering each question, I just let it go and tried being natural. I found the highlighter and the strikeout to be the great features for visual cues. I finished answering all the questions in about 3 hrs. 40 min. I took the remaining 20 minutes to revisit the marked questions (around 15 to 20)
  4. Types of questions faced:I didn’t face too many mathematical questions and also there were very few direct questions. Questions were on S-to-F dependency, SPI and CPI, e.g. given an SPI-CPI graph for X periods you need to determine how the project has performed on period Y and Z.
    Also, I had several risk-related questions around risk planning, response, and analysis strategies. 
I submitted 30 seconds remaining. My heartbeat was really running faster. I took the survery question. Post that, the result flashed on my screen. Hurray!! Yes, I made it!!!! I passed the PMP exam on Dec 14th, 2017 with Above Target on all process groups except Planning, where it was on Target. 

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
- Dos
  • Do read only one good book. There are so many of them in the market, choose the one that best matches your taste.
  • Do practice as many exam questions as you can. No question is good or bad. Even the simplest question can help you remember topics.
  • Do prepare the process flowcharts yourself. Just try it out... even if it is wrong. Start with as basic as the Project Charter and take it through all the way till the end (Closing). 

- Don’ts
  • Don’t read the PMPBOK guide as the first thing in your learning plan. You must read it, but do it after you have some ground on core concepts. Otherwise, very soon you will lose interest and get demotivated.
  • Do memorize the 5 process groups, 10 knowledge areas, and the 47 processes; but don’t even attempt to memorize the ITTOs. They are not meant to be memorized.
  • Don’t attempt to brain-dump your thoughts before the exam begins at the Prometric center. It is considered as a misconduct.  

Conclusion
I often hear people telling this: PMP will retire soon; it is not according to the modern project management philosophies like Agile, Iterative development etc. 

I’ve a different point of view though. 

Have you seen anyone being specialized in science, arts or commerce without being graduated from their schools? We have to set that foundation first, get our basics clear so we can apply our knowledge towards further specialization. I see the PMP credential as the foundation for project management learnings - really as my project management grad school credential. I can apply these learning just anywhere, be it at my work or organizing my daughter’s birthday party. 

Let’s get it straight. There are no projects in the world which have been ever executed or will be executed without the scope, cost, schedule, resources, and quality being the competing constraints. We have to plan for them even if things are progressively elaborated. We have to estimate the cost of the project, determine the best possible schedule of delivery, analyze risks, manage procurements, and engage stakeholders. Also, for the folks from the IT world, I don’t see the guidance given by PMI® is synonymous with any specific software development methodology. We can fit these learnings just in any approach. Also, I’m coming to know that in the PMBOK Guide 6th edition, Agile development methods/approaches are documented quite in detail. 

For me gaining the PMP credentials is a big accomplishment. I’m looking forward to practising these learning in the real word and reap the benefits. 

Brief Profile
Ayan Mitra has about 13 years of work experience in Information Technology sector. He has been practising project management for about 5 years. He lives with his family in Bangalore. During spare time, Ayan plays his keyboard and listens to instrumental music.  




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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

More Sample Videos: PMP Live Lessons - Guaranteed Pass or Your Money Back




This is in continuation of the following posts: 

In this post, 9 more sample videos have been made public. The access to these videos is completely free and can be seen at the YouTube channel of Management Yogi.

The videos are from:
  • Lesson - 5: Project Integration Management (6 videos)
    • Video 5.3 - Scoring Model
    • Video 5.5 - Scoring Model - Example 2
    • Video 5.24 - Develop Project Charter - Process
    • Video 5.25 - Develop Project Charter - Inputs
    • Video 5.43 - Deliverables
    • Video 5.44 - Deliverables Flow
  • Lesson - 12: Project Risk Management (3 videos)
    • Video 12.1 - Learning Objectives
    • Video 12.3 - Understanding Risks
    • Video 12.6 - Risk Management - What Happens (Part 2)
You can check these videos one by one.

Part 1 of this series: Sample Videos on PMP Live Lessons (Link)


*********

Videos: Project Integration Management

Video 5.3 - Scoring Model (0:55s)
Here, we talk about Scoring Model, one of the project selection techniques. 
This is primarily Portfolio Management technique, but you - as an aspiring PMP - need to know. 




Video 5.5 - Scoring Model - Example 2 (2m:53s)
Scoring model is one of the project selection methods. This video takes an example to explain. 



Video 5.24 - Develop Project Charter - Process (2m:25s)
'Develop Project Charter' is the first process in Project Integration Management, which creates an important project document - Project Charter. This video explains what happens in this process. 



Video 5.25 - Develop Project Charter - Inputs (3m:15s)
The key and important inputs (from the Inputs, Tools and Techniques and Outputs or ITTOs) of 'Develop Project Charter' process.



Video 5.43 - Deliverables (1m:17s)
A project is primarily about deliverables. This video tells what actually are deliverables?



Video 5.44 - Deliverables Flow (8m:48s)
The flow of deliverables is one of the significant flows to know for your PMP exam.  This video explains in detail. 




*********

Videos: Project Risk Management

Video 12.1 - Learning Objectives (1m:02s)
Learning objectives for Project Risk Management.




Video 12.3 - Understanding Risks (2m:04s)
The definition of project risk looks very simple. But, it has a lot of information in that one line definition. This video explains.




Video 12.6 Risk Management - What Happens (Part 2) (4m:59s)
The second part (first part has a sample Risk Register) explains how the processes in the Risk Management knowledge area interact with each other, at a high level.




These additional videos will make you understand more about this course and will help you to finalize. 

To know more about this course and what is "Guaranteed PMP or Your Money Back Program", 
please refer:


If you require more information, please send a mail to: managementyogi@gmail.com


Part 1 of this series: More Sample Videos on PMP Live Lessons (Link)



Friday, December 22, 2017

Sample Videos: PMP Live Lessons - Guaranteed Pass or Your Money Back






This is in continuation of the post: 


As noted in the earlier post, content of this course has been used successful PMPs and is being used by aspiring PMPs. 

Post its public availability, there have been requests by aspiring PMPs to check few sample video, which will assist them in finalizing. Earlier the access to sample videos was somewhat restricted and was provided on request basis.

In this post, there are 9 sample videos, which have been made public. The access to these videos is completely free and can be seen at the YouTube channel of Management Yogi.

The videos are from:
  • Welcome (3 sample videos)
    • Video 1 - Welcome
    • Video 2 - Yogic Quote And Credit
    • Video 9 - Best Wishes
  • Lesson - 2: Introduction (2 sample videos)
    • Video 2.2 Understanding Project
    • Video 2.3 Project Management
  • Lesson - 3: Organizational Influences and Project Life Cycle (4 videos)
    • Video 3.1 - Learning Objectives
    • Video 3.3 - Organizational Structures
    • Video 3.4 - Functional Organization
    • Video 3.5 - Weak Matrix Organization
You can check these videos one by one.


Part 2 of this series: More Sample Videos on PMP Live Lessons (Link)


*********

Videos: Welcome

Video 1 - Welcome (0:44s)
The first welcome video.
Informs about the PMP Live Lessons briefly.



Video 2 - Yogic Quote And Credit (2m:22s)
Yogic Quote starting off with the video lessons, along with people who are credited in making this course.




Video 3 - Best Wishes (0:30s)
Final welcome video in the PMP Live Lessons course.






*********

Videos: Lesson 2 - Introduction


Video 2.2 - Understanding Project (6m:11s)

The definition of a project is deceptively simple. But it packs punch with information.
This video elaborates on it.




Video 2.3 - Project Management (2m:50s)
Like project, the definition of project management, looks simple. But it isn't!
This video explains on project management.






*********

Videos: Lesson 3 - Organizational Influences and Project Life Cycle

Video 3.1 - Learning Objectives (1m:24s)
Learning objectives of this lesson, i.e., Organizational Influences and Project Life Cycle (PLC).




Video 3.3 - Organizational Structures - Basics (2m:41s)
Various possible organizationl structures.
This video talks about the basic, but important information about these structures.




Video 3.4 - Functional Organization (3m:49s)
Details about Functional Organization, with examples.




Video 3.5 - Weak Matrix Organization (2m:58s)
Details about Weak Matrix Organization, with examples.
Includes Yogic Tips for this kind of structure.





I believe this will help you to understand more about this course and will help you to finalize. 

To know more about this course and what is "Guaranteed PMP or Your Money Back Program", 
please refer:
PMP Live Lessons – Guaranteed Pass or Your Money Back

If you require more information, please send a mail to: managementyogi@gmail.com

Part 2 of this series: More Sample Videos on PMP Live Lessons (Link)


More on PMP Live Lessons - Guaranteed Pass:


Thursday, December 21, 2017

PMP Success Story: Grit and Determination, A Supporting Family and A Wonderful Coach Led To Success

By Priyadarshi Samal, PMP




Introduction
As I’ve seen, the importance of Project Management has been increasing. At the same time, it is getting more complex and more demanding job with multitudes of constrains – time, scope, cost, quality, risk, resources and also constraints related to market and environment factors. You need to have a sound understanding on them to be successful in your job as a Project Manager. 

In addition, there are a few of the PMP® benefits, which augmented my decision. They are: 
  • A worldwide recognized certification, provided by world's leading project management organization.
  • Number 1 Project Management certification, worldwide. 
  • Applicable across various industry industries.
  • A number of job opportunities for PMP certified professionals and recognition in your current company and across other organizations.
  • Well administered, tested professionally and also has Audit.

Also, when I joined IBM, India in year 2012, one of my 5-year goals were to improve my knowledge and skills in Project Management field. I knew that this could not only be achieved by having real life work experience but also being competent enough to crack the PMP exam. After completing my training at Knowledge Hut, which was led by Mr Satya Narayan Dash - our wonderful mentor, I was able to put a dedicated effort to prepare for the exam. But, due to work and other commitment, I had to defer my preparation. 

Finally, in the beginning of October 2017, I took it as a firm personal goal to be a PMP certified before I complete 5 years at IBM. I committed myself to the plan of cracking the exams and scheduled the date of exam as 27th November, 2017 and not delay it any further. 

PMP Coaching Experience
Having Satya Narayan Dash as a visionary coach helped me a lot. His approach to get anyone prepared for the PMP exam is very systematic, up to the point. His explanations are quite practical and very easy to understand. 

He gets into the basics in the best way possible. I was thankful to have him as my coach for PMP exam. I believe you are more than prepared for the exam after having gone through 35 hours of training with Satya. Rest, of course, will be your own effort. 

The exam is definitely not a cake-walk and I had put in a lot of effort to prepare myself. It requires a lot of patience and consistency in your own thought process. This was aptly supported by Satya who is a great mentor and coach and guides us in the right direction.

The PMP classroom training is essential in addition to your own preparation for the exam. For me, the key takeaways are:
  • You will get an environment to be prepared for the exam effectively and efficiently.
  • This class room training helps in having the concepts clear in a short period of time.
  • Prepares you with a systematic and precise way to approach the exam.
  • The tips covered in this class are truly helpful in passing the PMP exam.

Own Study
It took me around 8-9 months of dedicated preparation which included study of around 3-4 hours daily on week days and around 6-8 hours over the weekends. I read the following books:
  • The PMBOK® Guide, 5th Edition by Project Management Institute (PMI®): This is the best source of study material available. Please do not get bogged down by the pressure of having to read multiple books. Because this is inarguably the best source of information to clear the PMP exams. Though the 6th Edition will be enforced in March end 2018, but those who are planning to give the exam, before that, can still rely on the PMBOK Guide, 5th edition.
  • I Want To Be A PMP” book by Satya Narayan Dash is a great source of knowledge and exam prep. It has study material and questions which are of outstanding standard and quality.
  • “PMP exam prep Questions & Answers by Christopher Scordo”, which has great practise exams and one needs to complete before appearing for the PMP exam. 

My extensive study plans included stressing on the following:
  • Understand the flow of all 47 processes within 10 knowledge areas (KAs) and 5 process group (PGs). 
  • Understand the reasoning behind the existence of all processes.
  • Visit and understand the Inputs and Outputs of all processes.
  • Clear understanding of Input, Tools and Techniques and Outputs (ITTOs) within all processes, their existence and importance.


Book Review - I Want to Be A PMP
I bought the e-book: “I Want To Be A PMP” as I got to know from the class room training. While enquiring – if Satya had any particular material which is exactly in line with his style of explanation, I came to know about the book. The way it’s written is very easy to understand and all needed concepts are explained in a precise manner. 

It also has many tips and tricks that really helps. It is a very interactive e-book which makes you feel as if you are interacting with Satya. As the book is an online version, it’s always kept up-to-date and latest. Hence, it will reflect the best and latest available content.

The book has many videos to explain the important topics of the exam and are explained in the easiest possible way! This book comes with 3 question sets with increasing level of difficulty. These help you to prepare well for the exam. The sets are very much closer to the real exam in look and feel. 

This book and question sets holistically equip you to be ready the PMP exam. This book improves your confidence to write the PMP exam.

PMP Exam Experience
I scheduled my PMP exam more than a month before the exam date. Before going for the exam even, my strategy was to complete 50 questions in every 1 Hour to meet the target of 200 questions in 4 Hours. While taking the exam, this approach worked best for me. Also, this strategy helped me completing the exam in around 20 mins left! 

The best part about going through the tutorial is that it guides you on how to approach the exam. I followed the same, and understood that you can highlight the part of the question which you feel will help you relate to the intent of the question. This helped me a lot! As well you can strike out an option, which you feel is not relevant. 

There were a lot of situational questions that were tricky that will really test your thorough understanding of the concepts. There were questions like - “As a Project manager, what you should be doing FIRST”, from among an option of 4 choices. All four choices are correct, but you have to pick the right one. There were few mathematical questions mostly around 15-20 cost management and schedule management areas which one should be able to answer if you practiced a lot of similar questions and also are clear on the fundamentals. 
  • To be precise the actual PMP exam questions were mostly on the below subjects:
  • Stakeholders Management
  • Procurement Management
  • Risk Response strategies
  • Risk Management
  • Change Request (Important)
  • Quality Assurance and Quality Control - differences
  • Mathematical questions (primarily on Time and Cost Management KAs)

I’ve a few suggestions for aspiring PMPs:
  • Do not sit for the PMP exams if you are not scoring in excess of 85-90% consistently across all the KA’s (Knowledge Areas) and across all the PG’s (Process Groups) in the mock exams (e.g., exams in Satya’s e-Book).
  • Maintain your pace during the exam. Don’t keep on trying a question for longer duration. This will a penalty on your time. Mark the question, move on and come back if you have time. 
  • If you have long questions, take them at the end. This will save you a lot of time.
  • Use the facilities provided the Prometric center, e.g. handsets to offset the noise, calculators, scratch papers and pencils. These will come in handy when needed.


Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
Dos 
  • Do have your concepts very clear and have a thorough understanding of the PMBOK before you appear for the exam.
  • Do study for at least 3-4 hours daily to prepare for the exam. 
  • Do have the right coach to guide you. It is really important and follow his guidance which ensures you are on the right track.
  • Do understand the concept and reasoning behind existence of every process.
  • Do understand the Inputs, Tools and Techniques and Outputs (ITTOs) of every process. Understand the flow of processes within KAs and PGs.
  • Do understand what process group the question falls under, while attempting to answer the questions in exam. Understanding this itself will make you look for the right option within the answers given.
  • Do try to think of real life examples and align the concepts for better understanding.
  • Practice, practice and practice.

Don’ts
  • Don’t mug up anything at all. That will not help you but rather make things difficult for you on the exam day.
  • Don’t underestimate the exam questions. The questions are not direct but situation based. Hence, try to answer the questions on their merit.
  • Don’t ever get demotivated. Believe in yourself and move forward.
  • 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.
  • Don’t allow the rhythm of your preparation to break as it can slow down your preparation or you may need to start again.
  • Don’t delay in submitting the application and scheduling your exam. If you are not serious about the exam, chances are that you will not clear it.
  • Don’t take the preparation lightly. PMP certification is one of the best investment you will make for yourself. So, invest wisely, both your time and yourself.
  • Don’t panic when you get tricky questions. Trust your preparation and act accordingly.

Conclusion
The whole process of getting PMP certified is an enriching experience and being a PMP, is definitely a great accomplishment. Simultaneously, passing PMP does not mean that you know everything about Project management.  It just ensures that you are being certified for being able to address the real-life scenarios of project management and make you better prepared to handle such scenarios in future. 

PMP certification is a remarkable achievement and it is one of the success in your life, which you will definitely cherish for your lifetime. It brings along with it the credibility to your existence in the current organization as a Project Manager as well as socially presenting yourself in the capacity of a PMP Certified.

You would definitely require your family to be by your side, when you have preparation of this magnitude. In want to thank my wife for her long-standing support throughout my journey. 

I look forward to leverage these skills and knowledge, coupled with my experience, educate others around me of the PMP methods, processes, and lead projects within IT and if given a chance, in other industries too. 

Brief Profile
Priyadarshi Samal, currently Project Manager in IBM India Pvt Ltd working for a leading US Liability Insurance client. With more than 9 Years of experience in Information Technology across multinational companies catering to financial services, healthcare, retail and manufacturing industries.





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