Wednesday, April 19, 2017

PMP Success Story: Make Up Your Mind and Study Consistently with The Right Materials

By Rangu Dutta, PMP



Introduction
For some years, I had an aspiration to get PMP® certification, maybe from the time PMBOK® guide 4th edition was in place.  In 2016, I made up my mind to complete the certification before December 2016. Got my PMI® membership and downloaded the PMBOK guide 5th edition and started reading. 

My study was not consistent and sometime there were gap of 1-2 weeks between two study days. It was due to work pressure and travel time – almost 5 hours daily. 


PMP Coaching Experience
By July 2016, I realized I had hardly made any progress. That is when I thought, I should join some PMP coaching sessions to jump start and to get my motivation to speed. I googled for the ones, which was close to my residence and provide classroom training. I finalized one and to my bad luck I fell sick during that time and had to postpone by one month.

In September 2016, I joined the classroom session and was lucky to meet Satya Sir as my coach. On day 1, he explained about the 47 Process connecting the process group and knowledge areas.  Satya sir said by Day4 we will be able to remember and understand the flow and sequence of all the 47 process. 

Believe me, by end of Day 2, all my follow students including myself were able to grasp and remember the sequence flow. After Day 4 of training, I realized that not a single minute I felt bored or switched-off. And it was 32-34 hours of learning! Also, realized the amount of in-depth knowledge Satya sir have in all the relevant topics and amount of time he spent in preparation, giving tips to us etc.

Own Study
The ball was back in my court to study and crack the exam. Satya Sir had suggested to give the exam at the earliest because slowly we will tend to forget. I was making good process in studies as compared to before the coaching. By November, I released I’ll not be able to give the exam this year.

By mid-December, I cut myself from everything, switched off my cell phone, social media etc. I started studying the PMBOK guide, chapter by chapter and making notes.  

Satya Sir’s eBook – I Want To Be A PMP
After completing the guide, I realized I had gaps and questions on Inputs, Tools & Techniques and Outputs (ITTOs).  This is when I picked my Satya Sir book - “I Want To Be A PMP.” I went through chapter by chapter in the book and many ITTOs started getting clear. The book explains why the ITTOs is used in the process, which ones are required for the process, etc. I was able to connect the dots. The book also has a separate chapter on changes in PMP exam after 11th January 2016.

Next, I started giving all possible free PMP mock questions, some sites have 200 questions with or without timer, others had less questions again with or without timers. Some sites had answers without any explanation why the author feels that is the correct answer, I avoided such mock questions.

Satya Sir's book had 200 questions of 3 sets – total 600 questions (and additional 75 questions for PMP exam 2016 changes). Most of the questions were situational and lengthy questions (expect similar pattern in the real exam). 

I was able to score above 80% in the first 2 sets. But the last one set put me in back seat because of low score. Satya Sir advised to give the exam again and slowly I again gained confidence.

PMP Exam Experience
Now it was time to book my exam date and time, I had already paid the fee before. But March month is Annual exam time in school for my kid and wanted to fix a date after the annual exam dates. I wanted to choose early morning, not that I am early raiser but wanted to avoid Whitefield traffic and lower energy level post-lunch. I choose 30th March, 2017 8:30 AM.

On the big day, I reached the center at around 7 AM and had my packed breakfast there and stopped drinking water at-least 30 min before the exam. 

This what I did during the exam:
  • Since the exam is for 4 hours with 200 questions, time management is very important. I had set the target to complete 25 questions in 30 minutes without skipping any unmarked answer (kept some questions marked for review but selected an answer).
  • When I was in 125, 150 question, I was behind target by 2-3 minutes. I tried increasing my speed but at the same time was careful not to make mistakes. I had some lengthy problem and situational questions. 
  • I was able to complete 200 questions with 7 minutes left, I revisited all the marked questions, but as Satya sir suggested to make changes in answer option only when you are 100% sure.
  • I remember Satya Sir suggesting - do not let computer take the control, with around 25 seconds left, I clicked the submit button. 
My heart started beating faster; in order to reduce my heart beat, I slowly answered the survey which is optional. But still my mind on the result and heart beat reduced negligibly. After completing the survey, my joy bounced on seeing “Congratulations” on the monitor.

I would like to thank my spouse and kid to be with me in this journey and depriving them of spending weekends with them. 

Brief Profile: Rangu Dutta - I have around 18 years of Project and Program management experience in variety of domains and multiple technologies. 



Sunday, April 16, 2017

PMP Success Story: Hard Work and A Lot of Sacrifices Finally Paid Off

By Alok Jain , PMP



Introduction 
I heard of PMP® exam quite a few years ago and also heard that it is very difficult to crack and at that time few of my managers flunked the exam. When I decided pursue this certification I had to select an institution to get coaching. At that time, I wasn’t aware of any good one. A friend who took training in PMP gave some reference but that didn’t suit my schedule. After some research, I came to know about Knowledge Hut and it was suitable for my dates as well. I was fortunate in selection as I met Satya as coach.  



PMP Coaching Experience
I still remember when Satya was teaching the PMP processes, he told that at the end of training we will remember all the 47 processes and at the end of the 4th day it was absolutely correct, I personally remembered all the process at least by name and order.

Satya relates most of the topics with day to day examples so it is very easy to understand. During the class, Satya will share lot of tips and ways to remember the things, you just need to be attentive in the class and you will get brief idea of almost all the topics and concepts.

Own Study
After attending the class room training in the end of October 2016, I first went through all the notes I have taken during the class, the material shared and all the blogs/articles Satya has asked to read during the classroom training.

Satya’s eBook - I Want To Be A PMP

Then I requested Satya for access to his book “I Want To Be A PMP”, I started going through the book and I must admit that Satya has written the book in a very easy and understandable language, the book is very precise and covers everything with examples, lot of tips to remember the content. There are lot of videos shared by Satya which explains some of the difficult topics in detail. Moreover, Satya puts constant efforts in explaining the topics and keeps on sending the updates to the books.

Honestly speaking this is the only book I had referred along with the PMBOK® guide. But before even opening PMBOK guide, I have had a thorough walkthrough of Satya’s book and I felt that almost every topic is covered by Satya in his book.

  • In the beginning, I used to study 1-2 hours a day for 3 month.
  • During this time, I have completed one thorough reading of Satya’s Book and somewhat PMBOK guide as well and attempted one full set of question paper, my score was 67%, then I realised that I have had to put some extra efforts.
  • I generally spend some time in my personal health by going for walk/Gym in the morning time but to put in some extra efforts I started studying more by cutting down my gym time and in the last month I have stopped even going to the Gym.  
  • Since I get up early and I have cut down my Gym time I used to get 4-5 hours in the morning so I have utilised this time to study and I have started scoring well in the mock test paper.
  • I realised that it’s the high time for me to schedule the exam, So I scheduled my exam just after 10 days as I was scoring very well in mock papers.
  • I utilised those 10 days in studying as much as I can and stopped studying one day before the exam.

PMP Exam Experience
  • Since I am an early bird I had scheduled my exam in the morning hours i.e. starting at 8:00AM on 3rd April 2017.
  • I reached exam centre well on time and my exam started 10-15 mins early as I took very less time in reading the instructions.
  • I had received numerical questions on Earned Value Measurement (EVM), Critical Path Measurement (CPM), and Decision Tree Analysis (DTA). 
  • Most of the theoretical questions were scenario based; also, I had received questions on type of documents being updated in processes. 
  • In the very first hour I was able to complete 60 questions. I have not taken any break until I have completed 150 questions, then I took a break and was able to complete 200 questions in 3.5 hours.
  • Work was still not over as I had marked lot of questions and I had to review them, and just before 30 seconds I had ended my exam.

And after few minutes I can see congratulations on my screen, it is the moment for which I had put in lot of efforts, I compromised on plenty of things and in the end I was fortunate that my hard work and efforts which I had put were successful.  

Conclusion
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my wife and family for their sacrifice and Satya for his guidance to make me PMP certified.

Brief Profile 
Alok Jain: I am currently working as Assistant Consultant in Tata Consultancy Services and I have almost 9 years of experience in development, IT service management, transition management and IT project management.





Book Available for PMP Exam:
You may also like:

Thursday, April 06, 2017

PMP Success Story: A Long-Awaited Dream Came True

By Ajanta Behera, PMP



Introduction

I had always been hearing of PMP® success stories from few of my colleagues since 2011.I had also heard that PMP certification is very tough. Since then, I had a dream of earning PMP credential. In earlier years, I put in some thought of doing PMP, but the determination was not that strong. Hence even though it was there in my subconscious mind, I never got a strong calling – until recently and received my PMP credential on 5th April, 2017. 


I was working in my former company as a senior support analyst.  I used to perform well in my current role and was always waiting for the right time to get promotion to the management level. There came an opportunity once in the team, and my manager got promoted to the next level. However, I could have been promoted easily, to replace his position. 

But as it is said, good things in life do not come easily; they need to be earned. Next in few days, it was announced that our company is getting closed. At that moment, I decided to shift my career from the technical background to the management side, as I strongly believe I am born to be a manager. That was the moment that sparked a thought of me pursuing PMP certification.

PMP Coaching Experience
Once I made up my mind of pursuing PMP, I looked up for the classroom training for PMP and I found that the days were quite suitable for me from 21st Jan 2017 to 29th Jan 2017, over the weekends.

I still remember that day, when we were waiting for Satya Sir and he came in around 9.30 a.m. He was suffering from a very bad cold. He was also not keeping well. He started with one round of introduction for all the aspiring candidates for PMP.  Then he started giving details on the topics for PMP.  

More than us, Satya sir had the confidence that we would be PMP certified someday. His knowledge on each and every topic of PMP says that he knows the content in and out.  He constantly gave us information on what is important from the exam point of view, and which one should we focus more. After each chapter, there was a rapid question answer session, which we had to answer ourselves. Then the discussion of why a particular choice was correct and many quicker and smarter ways to remember the concepts. 

The way Satya Sir delivered each topic - made each topic so easy to understand and it was so easy to remember. It clearly shows that Satya sir has put in a lot of effort himself and that is one reason why many of his students are able to come out with flying colours. He made the formulas so easy to remember. 

It is well said, that a student’s life can be well carved with a great teacher. Satya sir was another great inspiration for me to complete my PMP certification.

Own Study
After attending Satya sir’s classroom training, I had to make up my mind for registering in the PMI site. I registered within one week and then filled up the application in the PMI site. Then filled up the form and submitted it for approval to the PMI. Within 7 working days, I got a mail that I can schedule my exam. 

I had also ordered the hard copy of the PMBOK® Guide and had thought of completing it once, along with Satya Sir’s Book “I Want To Be A PMP”, before scheduling the exam. I scheduled my exam for 5th of April 2017. This happened somewhere around Feb 2017. Then the extensive preparation phase started. Being a mother of an active girl child and no support at home, it was a tough challenge which looked quite impossible in the beginning. But my constant perseverance, determination, hard work and last but not the least extensive support of my husband and my daughter finally helped me to clear the PMP yesterday as planned. 

When I look back at the way of doing preparation, I did the followings:

  • I used to put 6-7 hours of time daily for the preparation, getting up early in the morning, sleeping late. 
  • Even When I was travelling or went to a party, I always had the PMBOK Guide and Satya sir’s book, I Want To Be A PMP, handy with me.  These were the most important guides throughout the preparation time. 
  • I also referred Rita MulCahy’s book only for questions, Christopher Scordo book for the 1000 questions.
  • I had also solved the question sets provided by Satya sir. I had made it a point to complete around 30 to 50 questions every day. Also, used KnowledgeHut questions. 
  • It was practice, practice and practice all throughout the day. Satya sir’s question papers were really tough. All the questions gave an insight to me how to find a solution for a given situation or what would be the right course of action. 
  • Day in and day out when I had time, I just got stuck to PMBOK and Satya sir’s book. Satya sir’s book had all the important information, and PMBOK was highly detailed. 
  • Combining everything, I would have attempted around 3500 questions. I had also downloaded code of ethics and professional conduct from the net and gone through it once.
  • On the exam day, I was fully calm and composed. As said by Satya sir in his book, that the preparation time was already over and it was time for performing in the examination.


PMP Exam Experience

I scheduled my exam for 5th April 2017 in Prestige Shantiniketan, Bangalore, India.  I knew the location as it is within my office campus. My exam was scheduled at 8AM in the morning. I went there at 6.30AM and reached by 7AM. I saw other people waiting for the exam. I completed all my formalities for the exam and went inside at 7.45 AM for the exam. 
  • During my practice of the questions and answers for PMP, I had come across several long questions many of the time. So, I had planned that I will take only one question one at a time. I had no option of coming back to the same question second time. So, at the first shot itself, I need to answer the questions and then move on to the next question. I had planned to review my questions only if I have time. 
  • And the same thing (one mentioned before) happened during the exam. Though I was thrilled to see a personalised question paper for me with my name written on the top, I had to focus on my questions. And see each and every question were a long essay. I had to go through them, sometimes reading them again and again to understand the questions well. 
  • I could only complete sharp 50 questions in 1 hour on average and I finished my exam only 10 minutes prior to the scheduled time. Once completed, I just took a deep breath and submitted my answers with the hope to see the congratulations message on the screen. 
  • Satya sir has rightly said that once you have answered the question, it would not be wise to change the answers at the last moment unless very sure. I followed the same principle. 

Within few moments, I got one the best awaited messages of my life – “Congratulations …”! I was literally in tears. The feeling that I conquered the world can’t be explained. It needs to be felt.

Conclusion
I want to be a volunteer for the PMI site. Also, would like to help people with their preparation phase for the exam. Though Satya sir is already there giving the much-needed knowledge and inspiration to become a PMP, I would like to extend the same to several other people. 

Last but not the least, I want to thank Satya Sir, my parents, in laws, husband and my daughter to motivate me and keep me inspired to be a PMP.  This is a memory to be cherished throughout my life. Best experience with the best set of people.

Brief Profile: Ajanta Behera, Looking out for a new assignment for Project manager. I have total of 12 years of experience in variety of domains - Clinical, Insurance, Finance.  I was working on SAS domain.  



Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Book Review - I Want To Be A PMP: Concise Book with A Logical Flow

By Abhinav Tiwari, PMP



I cleared PMP exam on 3rd April, 2017. When I started preparing for the PMP Examination, I struggled at first to find study resources that fit my style of learning. 

I was very happy when I discovered Satya's e-Book 'I Want To Be A PMP'. It not only presented the material in a manner that I appreciated (i.e. concisely and with a logical flow) but he also provides the reader with a proven strategy to prepare for and pass the exam as well as numerous learning tips in each chapter.


Unique Features of the Book:
  • Practice questions at end of each chapter will reinforce the concepts and improve your understanding.
  • Videos on Earned Value Management (EVM), Critical Path Measurement (CPM), Conflict Management and Risk Response Strategies are added bonus and very well explained. 
  • Formula Gold card to learn the important formulas. 
  • Explanation of mathematical problems with clear examples.
  • Flow charts for Change Request, Deliverables, Change Log and Issue Log. 
  • Flow charts for work performance data, work performance information and work performance report. 
  • Emphasis on key inputs and outputs for each process. 
  • 600 questions in 3 mock tests which were very close to real exam and will help in determining weak and improvement areas.
  • Satya reinforces the concepts he wants to impart to the reader through use of repetition and carefully crafted process flow questions at the end of chapters.

Brief Profile:
Abhinav Tiwari, Senior Consultant, Workday & PeopleSoft Practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers(PwC). Linked profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tiwariabhinav/ 




Friday, March 17, 2017

New Course - Agile Analytics



Summary: Recently, I had a presentation on Agile Analytics with one of my clients. Post the session, I had this realizaton - values, principles and practices that we interacted on can be put into a course so that it enables professionals to know better on Agile Analytics and apply them in Business (BI) Intelligence and Data Warehousing (DW) system development. This post elaborates on the course and topic of Agile Analytics.


Agile Manifesto has been available since 2001. There have been many frameworks or methods on Agile development and different bodies who promote them. Agile development has seen wide acceptance in software community. To be more specific, the highest use has been in application software development.  In addition, many lean approaches such as JIT/pull, visualization, continuous flow etc. have gone into, making it more of Lean/Agile development. 


Business intelligence (BI) and data warehouse (DW) systems have been available for years. It is based on a tiered structure – data source tier, integration tier, presentation tier and finally the analysis or analytics tier.  Development in traditional way takes enormous amount time. Many times, the systems are not used or even it used, customers tend to use few functions in-place of the entire set of functionalities delivered.  Professionals in BI/DW domain say big design upfront have to there, otherwise you will have problems later, e.g., once the data models have been developed it becomes very difficult to change.  It need not be the case with Agile Analytics. 

Agile Analytics is not a framework or method such as XP or Scrum. Rather it is a development approach. The main objective is to have valuable and working software frequently. It has a set of practices and guidelines, which helps us in doing so. 

Agile Analytics is based on a set of values and principles, mostly adapted from the Agile Manifesto. The practices used in here, have their roots in many other Agile and Lean frameworks. The practices are with respect to project management such planning, estimating, tracking, reporting and adapting as well various engineering practices such as database refactoring, ETL refactoring, adaptive data modelling among many others. 

This 2-day course on Agile Analytics covers both the management and engineering (which includes design, development, testing, release) practices in BI/DW domain. The practices are primarily derived from a gamut of Agile frameworks such as XP, Kanban, Scrum, Lean, FDD, TDD, ASD, Crystal, DSDM, but adapted for Agile Analytics.  

More details about the course: 
  • Agile Analytics - Course Overview (Link)
  • Agile Analytics - Course Agenda (Link)
  • Agile Analytics - Course Benefits (Link)
  • Agile Analytics - Who Can Attend (Link)

The course details are available in the Agile page. The agenda of the course is embedded into the post. In total, 10 modules will be covered exhaustively in 2 days.

For a detailed breakdown of the course content and coverage, send a mail to managementyogi@gmail.com.





You may also like:


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New Course - Transitioning from Traditional PM to Agile PM



Summary: I meet a number of management professionals - from project/team leads to VPs to entrepreneurs, who lead/execute projects in their organizations. When I speak of Agile in courses such as Agile PMP, PMI-ACP, many questions come on transitioning. Well, explicitly it may not be worded so, but questions are actually on that. The questions raised are all valid – I’ll do the same in their shoes. This post is about transitioning to be an Agile PM (Project Manager) and talks of a specific course (case study driven) developed for this need. 



While going for agile development, the technical team wants (and in fact many times quite enthusiastic) to get in quickly. One of the main reasons, at the risk sounding a bit tough, is this: no one is going to tell the developers or designers or testers on various tasks assignments! But, reality is - the team falters, at least in initial few iterations.


The team is expected to be self-organizing and self-managing. That is not an easy thing to do. So, the project managers or scrum masters take the burden of it initially, guide and lead the team till the team is really self-organizing and self-directing. Other than that, there many practices which are uniquely Agile - value driven development and delivery, refactoring, technical debt, user stories, velocity,  burndown reporting, frequent retrospectives, introspection, loop learning. Even a simple sounding agile practice - iterative and incremental - is misunderstood by many! And again, sounding as the odd man out, I know many instances these do not happen at all.  

Also, the managers, who are answerable to the executives, have to provide executive reports, have to follow on government or regulatory compliance etc. and have to show results. 

Here are some questions that I’ve come across in last couple of months:
  1. You say plans are not important. But then you say, you are delivering on features in every iteration. What exactly happens to the project management plan? Do you have any plan at created?
  2. Is there a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in Agile? If not, how will you know what are you delivering against? 
  3. You say everyone in the team participates in estimation. Well, it need not be that way. Not everyone knows on every other feature. People have domain expertise. Why waste the time of others, who know little to nothing about the feature?
  4. You say “Just Barely Sufficient” documentation. How about the executives? They ask about the reports! What kind of reports and reporting is there in Agile?
  5. Is there any chartering process? You are saying individuals and interactions are important than processes. What happens to the project charter?
  6. Your estimation approach on relative sizing is distinct and unique. But at the end of the day people spend time in hours. The clock runs in hours – not in story points! How exactly are you going track?
Projects and project management have been there for quite some time, across industry verticals.  Agile development is well fit in industries where product work is complex, uncertain and goes through a lot of changes.

Transitioning  to a new role is not easy. It takes time, patience and most importantly a mindset change. 

This 2-day course in “Transitioning from Traditional Project Manager (PM) to Agile Project Manager”, will give you a solid base on Agile related principles and practices - covering multiple frameworks/methodologies such as Scrum, Kanban, XP, Lean, FDD, ASD, Crystal, DSDM and others. You will know on transition to agile environment and how to create plans, monitor, track and adapt in your project and continuously improve upon it. 

More details about the course: 
  • Transitioning from Traditional PM to Agile PM - Course Overview (Link)
  • Transitioning from Traditional PM to Agile PM - Course Agenda (Link)
  • Transitioning from Traditional PM to Agile PM - Course Benefits (Link)
  • Transitioning from Traditional PM to Agile PM - Who Can Attend (Link)
  • Transitioning from Traditional PM to Agile PM - FAQ (Link)

The course details are available in the Agile page. The agenda of the course is embedded into the post. All the modules of this course are based on two simple questions.

1. What I did then (as a traditional PM)?
2. What I have to do now (as an agile PM)?






For a detailed breakdown of the course content, send a mail to managementyogi@gmail.com.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Step by Step Guide - JIRA 7.3 for Lean/Agile Development



Content Summary: Many management professionals, while going through the course on Agile with JIRA, find local installation of the software useful. I tend to agree. This gives them a lot of flexibility to experiment and learn. In this post, I'll elaborate a complete step by step download of JIRA Server, its installation and set up. Also, post set-up, we will see the creation of Scrum and Kanban projects with Atalassian JIRA. 


Atlassian's JIRA is a widely used Agile/Lean project management tool for Scrum or Kanban development. JIRA was earlier quite known as a bug tracking and issue management tool. In recent years with enhancements on this software, it has seen wide usage as a tool for agile/lean based development. 

While taking my sessions on Agile with hands-on tools such as JIRA, I encourage management professionals and team members to work with the tool by installing as it teaches many things. Otherwise, there is a cloud edition, on which you can also learn. But many professionals want to install and test the software on their own. Here you have both the server and client sides of the JIRA software. It is not that difficult to install and run the software. 

The embedded document in this post covers in detail explanation of all the steps involved to download, set-up, run and create Scrum  or Kanban related projects. Post it, you can use the courses on them, to have deeper understanding. The steps outlined in the documents are:

  • Step - 1: Downloading JIRA Server 7.3.x
  • Step - 2: Installing JIRA
  • Step - 3: Launching and Configuring JIRA
  • Step - 4: Creating a Scrum Project 
  • Step - 5: Creating a Kanban Project 
  • Step - 6: Learning with Courses on JIRA Agile

The software used for JIRA server is 7.3.2 and the operating system used is Windows 10. The document is exhaustive - lists step by step what you have to do to download, install and run the JIRA software. Next, the document tells you on how to can create Scrum projects and Kanban projects with JIRA. 



The document is also available for viewing (complete) in PDF format - Link. (one link)

If you want to have a PDF copy of it separately,write an e-mail to managementyogi@gmail.com.


You may also like:


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

PMP Success Story: A Valuable Certification for Project Management Practitioners

By Tina Maria Jose, PMP



Introduction
It is a pleasure to share my PMP journey with you. I hope this helps you to know on the certification process and also prepare for your certification. 

PMP Coaching Experience
It is mandatory to attend 35 contact hours on project management before you apply for the PMP exam.  My classes happened over two weekends in September 2016.

A friend who had attended Satya’s training there suggested I too enroll for the contact hours. I’m happy that I did just that. I would summarize the overall training experience as ‘Exceeds Expectation’. Satya is indeed a management Guru! He didn’t just go through the training materials and instead gave us lots of tips and tricks to crack the exam as well as additional reading materials which covers some of crucial topics in detail.  Passing the exam was very important to me, but I also wanted to deep dive into the concepts and apply them to my projects. So, I was impressed with the coaching. 

Satya has some unique study guides which helps you learn the process and process groups which he has also elaborated in his book – I Want To Be A PMP. I also suggest going through the articles in his blog. They are very informative.

My Study Plan
I wanted to give the exam the exam within a month. But, my application went into an audit. I lost around 3 weeks in the audit process. Also, I had some other work/travel commitments. Hence finally I ended up scheduling the exam on December 8, 2016. 

I would spend 3 -4 Hours daily on weekdays and 6-8 hours on weekends. It was hard to do with work commitments. I used to wake up early and set aside time for studying before tackling work emails. I couldn’t devote as much time I wanted to, but made it a point to do mock exams almost every day in November.  


PMI’s Audit process
My PMP application went for audit. I want to give my first-hand experience on the audit process. I believe it will help you - the readers. 

Once you fill all the required information online and submit the application, PMI will send you an email within 5 days asking you to make payment. You will not know if your application goes to audit until after you have made the payment. 

I was slightly disappointed to see the message - “Your application has been randomly selected for PMI's audit process.” after I made the payment.  But that’s how it is. You cannot avoid the audit as it’s a random process and anyone can be selected.

PMI will give you 90 days to submit your audit materials. Audit verifies the ones mentioned below.
  • Verifying Bachelor’s/equivalent university degree:  You just need to provide a photocopy of your certificate
  • Verifying your Project Management Experience:  Here you need to print the ‘Project management Audit Report’ (available in the audit link PMI sends you), send it to your reporting manager under whom you have worked for endorsing and signing. After they complete the form, they are required to place in an envelope, sign their name on the sealed flap of the envelope and return to you via in person or by post. 
  • Verifying 35 contact hours of Project Management Education: You just need to provide a photocopy of your certificate from the institute that provided training.

Once you have all these documents in place, put them together in a large envelope and mail it to PMI Global Operations Center, 14 Campus Blvd., Newtown Square, PA 19073-3299 USA. I opted for FedEx (can send by registered post as well) to complete the process quickly though it was costlier than registered post. 

If everything goes well, PMI will send you an email informing you have successfully met the requirements of PMI's audit process and asking you to schedule your examination.

Few Suggestions on PMI Audit
Keep your 35-contact hour certificate from a PMI Registered Education Provider ready.
Contact your current and previous bosses under whom you have worked. Inform them about your application and tell them that the PMI may contact them to verify your experience.

Books, I referred
  • PMBOK Guide Fifth Edition: I would suggest going through this 2-3 times at least. First time, it went over my head, but after the training I was able to correlative. The final reading was few days before the exam.
  • Other exam prep books followed: Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep (8th Edition), Andy Crowe’s – The PMP Exam (How to Pass in Your First Try), 5th Edition, J Le Roy and Ginger Levin’s Exam Practice Test and Study Guide (9th Edition), and Christopher Scordo's GREEN PMP Exam Prep Questions & Answers (2013 edition).
  • “I Want To Be A PMP, the plain and simple way” by Satya Narayan Dash: I was one of the first few persons to receive this book. 

Apps Referred
  • PMP exam prep 2017 Edition by Pocket Prep Inc: Has decent practice questions and tracks progress
  • PMPro® by Fast Track Ltd: Has Formulas, Flashcards, Glossary and ITTO along with practice questions
  • PMP Smart Exam Prep Practice Test & Study by Friendly App Studio: Has decent practice questions

My PMP Exam Experience
I scheduled my exam on Dec 8 at the Prometric Center in Whitefield, Bangalore. I opted for the morning slot as I wanted to finish the exam at the earliest.  On the day of the exam, I reached the venue an hour early. I had not opted to check the venue beforehand as I knew the place. But if you are an anxious test giver, the center offers a “Test Drive” to familiarize yourself with what is expected on the test day. This dry run involves a fee and you can schedule it from the pro-metric website in advance.  

The exam is for 4 hours and quite taxing. I took a 5 min break every one hour. When you take a break, and return to the testing room, you would have to undergo a quick inspection to comply with their security protocol.

I had planned to finish all the questions in 3 hours and use the last one hour to go through the marked questions. But I ended up getting only around 20 min for the marked questions. Luckily that was enough as I had only about 15-16 questions I wanted to go through again. 

On Exam Questions
  • I got a number of questions from Integration management, specifically on closing process.
  • A number of questions were on change requests. 
  • Had questions on Critical Path Method (CPM). 
  • Had question on Earned Value Management (EVM). The Mathematical questions were relatively easy to answer.
  • Most Questions are situational and suggest you read them carefully as it. There are options to highlight the words in question as well as strike out invalid answers in the screen. I found this these quite helpful. 

I hit the submit button before the exam ended and was very happy to see Congratulations flashing on my screen. I got the hard copy of the certificate a week later by post.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
Dos:
  • Take the exam within 1-3 months after the training while the concepts are still fresh in your mind
  • Make your own handwritten notes as you go over various topics. This will help you remember what you learned and also will be a quick revision material before the exam
  • Make sure you practice lots of mock tests. 

On a final note, I also recommend a course on MS Project after your PMP Training, which I had taken from Satya. This is a valuable learning and will be enable you to plan, monitor and oversee projects to successful completion. 

Brief Profile 
I work with SAP as a Technology Consultant. I have over 11 years of Project Management, Quality Management and Consulting experience in BFSI and Retail domain.