Tuesday, May 23, 2017

PMP Success Story: Learn from the Best, Trust on Your Exam Preparation, and Believe in Yourself

By Manas Das, PMP

I had joined Satya’s classes at KnowledgeHut during July 2016 for PMP® mandatory 35 contact-hour learning.

Satya is instrumental in sharing PMP tips and tricks in very simplified way. I was very attentive to what Satya speaks in the class, because every line of him is very important to gain insight for preparing PMP. Also, there are many topics explained in a very simplified way on his blog (this blog).

Hence, I must recommend that it’s very important to be attentive during the class and revise the courses same day evening and revisiting his blog for PMP articles.

Due to extreme project commitment, I was not able to plan my exam until January 2017. I applied for the exam in February 2017 and scheduled my exam during first week of May 2017.

I was not able to spent much time preparing for study for couple of hours everyday, but I made sure to spent at least 2 hours during weekdays and 6 hours during weekends. 

I had prepared a roadmap for PMP preparation to stick to the timeline. I’m sharing the roadmap here. And, recommending everyone to prepare the same to help you with your preparation and not getting lost in day to day office work and current project deliverables.

  • 1.5 months preparation for Understanding the Concepts (Not Memorizing) –I’ve gone through PMBOK guide once and Satya’s tips and tricks during training notes.
  • 15 days Mock Test preparation (I have used mostly KnowledgeHut’s mock tests)
    My average scores for KH Mock tests are around 71~72%.
  • 15 days for revision of PMP materials – revising the existing materials.
  • 15 days for Mock preparation (had couple of books to refer).
I strongly recommend everyone to go through the PMBOK® guide at least once. I already had two books with me and re-read them after going through Satya’s classes.

It was about 3 days I did not really study anything as part of my preparation and kept my mind free and preparing for time management during the exam.

During PMP Exam
During the exam, I’ve taken one break of 4 minutes after 3 hours 5 minutes of the exam and I’ve completed going through all the 200 questions and few were marked for review. In the rest 50 minutes I’ve done 2 reviews of all the 200 questions and finally submitted just 40 seconds left for the exam to end.

Finally saw the much-awaited Congratulations page.

PMP Exam Tips
  • Initially it takes 10 to 15 minutes of your time to come up to speed for answering questions; so not to panic.
  • If you are good with time management, during Mock exams then it will help to complete the first pass of the 200 questions in 2.5 hours to 3 hours.
  • The first answer that comes to your mind is mostly right (70-80% times). Hence, if you are confident, then select the option and proceed.
  • For wordy questions, please read the last sentence of the question to find out what has been asked in the question.
  • Select the answer always keeping the big picture in mind that proper project management is used and not your own project management experience.
  • There are questions where more than 2 correct answers to the questions so need to analyze and select the BEST answer.

Finally, would like to share the information to all the test takers that PMP exam tests the knowledge, application and analysis which makes the PMP examination much more than a test of memory.

So, it’s important that you know how to apply the knowledge from PMI Project Manager’s prospective and be able to analyze situation.

Trust on your exam preparation and believe yourself to eliminate the fear of appearing the exam.
Best of Luck for your exam!!

Brief Profile:
Manas Das is a Project Manager with Infosys Technologies Ltd. He can be contacted at manasdas82@gmail.com. His linkedin profile is at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/manas-das-0670a02b/

Monday, May 22, 2017

PMP Protein: How To Be A PMI-PMP

By Mahendra Reddy Vakati, PMP

I am very happy to share with you that I have cleared PMP® Certification on 8th May 2017 just one day before my birthday. I hope my experience will be helpful for the future PMP aspirants.

My friends and colleagues had taken training with Satya and cleared the PMP exam; so I thought of attending the same. I strongly decided that I must attend and immediately clear the exam. 

I have attended 2 weekend classes in February 2017. Satya is a very good mentor and give lot of confidence that you will clear the exam. He explains the concepts very clearly and give lot of tips. I used to read the PMBOK® chapters before going to the classes. This helped me a lot to understand the classes and to be more interactive. Immediately after my training, in the 1st week of March 2017, I submitted the application and my application got approved in 4 days and paid the payment. My application didn’t go through audit.

Materials Referred:
  • The PMBOK Guide Fifth Edition: I have read 3 times. 1st time it took lot of time to finish and didn’t understand much. 2nd time, concepts were very clear and it took lesser time than before. 3rd time it was very quick and I just read 3 days before the exam and completed in 3 days’ time.
  • Other than PMBOK Guide, you need to refer a book which helps you the most; various online apps.
  • KnowledgeHut materials.
  • Ensure you take sufficient practice tests.
First time I did the test and got 65-70% in some tests. After studying the materials twice, I have redone the tests where ever I got less score and my score was 80-85%.

Note: If once you get 80-85% in many tests, then you are ready to take up the PMP certification. Doing lot of mock tests is the key to success.

Type of Questions Faced the PMP Exam:
I’ve noted the type of questions faced in my exam. However, do note that everyone’s experience is unique.  
  • I got many situational questions
  • Had few math’s questions – questions on Earned Value Management (EVM) Metrics:
    • Schedule Performance Index (SPI)
    • Cost Performance Index (CPI
    • Schedule Variance (SV)
    • Cost Variance (CV)
  • Questions on number of communication channels.
  • Questions on communication plan, tools and techniques. 
  • Very few questions (2 to 3) on Inputs, Tools and Techniques and Outputs (ITTOs).
  • I had written down change flow, data flow diagrams, all the formulas and 47 processes flow chart before I start the exam and it took 20 mins. These I had it from Satya.
  • First hour I could answer only 38 questions because 20 mins already spent on writing formulas etc. Slowly I have increased the speed and able to manage to answers all 200 questions. I was left with only 1 min before my exam ends.
My heart was beating so fast even though I kept my self very cool and confident. I clicked the Submit button and closed my eyes, prayed the god. Slowly opened my eyes and saw the Congratulations message on the Screen. All the pain went off and very happy to see the message. 

Dos and Don’ts for Your PMP Preparation:
  • Don’t read too many books. Choose any 2 books (the PMBOK Guide is a must read).
  • Study each book 2 to 3 times.
  • Do as many as mock tests.
  • Keep your mind cool and relax.
  • Don’t postpone exam for more than 3 months after your training.
  • Don’t delay in submitting the Application. Submit the application immediately after the training and do the payment. If once you do the payment, then only you will get to know that your application will go for audit or not.
  • Don’t keep the food inside the locker at Exam center. If you want to have food in between the exam, then instructions won’t allow you to open the locker so keep the water and food outside.
  • Don’t over study and take breaks in between studies. e.g. watch movies, participate in sports.  
  • Don’t revisit the questions and try to finish at the first attempt because if you revisit or if you don’t get much time at the end then there is a possibility of choosing wrong answer. 

Brief Profile:
I am working with SAP as a Senior Technology Consultant. I have 12 years of Project Management, Test Management and SAP functional experience.

Friday, May 12, 2017

PMP Success Story: Proper Guidance and A Well-Planned Study Approach Needed To Crack The Exam

By Asad Abbas, PMP

"Good karma matters" this is one mantra which kept me going for my PMP® exam preparation. 

I had an aspiration to get the PMP certification, so I made up my mind to complete the certification and started preparing.

PMP Coaching Experience
My training began on 18th March, 2017 and I was very fortunate to meet Satya as my coach, who is not only an excellent trainer, a Management Guru but also a good human being. He was always very approachable and at the end of every conversation used to tell me "you will do well”, which boosted my morale and gave me the confidence to prepare and write the exam well.

Own Study
My training got over on 26th March, 2017. The books I used to refer during my preparation were:
  • The PMBOK® Guide, 5th Edition by Project Management Institute (PMI)
  • I Want To Be A PMP by Satya Narayan Dash
  • PMP Exam Prep by Rita Mulcahy 
I studied for 5 to 6 hours on week days (Monday to Friday) and 8 to 9 hours over the weekend. Other than the questions given in the book “I Want To Be A PMP”, I also practiced sample questions from the Oliver Lehmann, HeadFirst PMP, Exam central, PMP Exam Prep, Simply learn and PM Exam Simulator.

The questions given in the book “I Want To Be A PMP” were very close to what I saw in the real exam. 

I earned my credential on 2nd May, 2017, just over a month of completing my classroom session. The joy of having this credential is to be felt on your own to believe.  

How To Prepare 
• PMP exam is not about mugging up the Input, Tools and Techniques, and Outputs (ITTOS). The exam stresses on the key concepts. You need to know to how the following key document/tools and techniques flow through the various processes and different knowledge areas:

 - Work Performance Data, 
 - Work Performance Information, 
 - Risk Register, 
 - Stakeholder Register, 
 - Project Charter, 
 - Requirement Documentation, 
 - Change request, 
 - Scope Baseline, 
 - Project Scope Statement, 
 - Enterprise Environmental Factors, 
 - Organisational Process Assets, 
 - Issue Log, and 
 - Change Log.
• Also understand the subtle differences – the differences among Stakeholder Management, Communication Management and Human Resource Management. This will help in answering many questions correctly.
• Expect mathematical questions on Expected Monetary Value (EMV), Earned Value Management (EVM) and Critical Path Method (CPM).

Main Exam
• Try to reach the examination centre at least an hour early as that will give you enough time to settle down at centre.
• If you are not sure with the answer on any question, then mark the same for review and proceed further. Try to select the most feasible option rather than not selecting anything.
• In the Real Exam, you will get the following important tips during initial tutorial which can help in revisiting the marked questions efficiently:
- You can highlight a text by selecting and right clicking over it. While reviewing the questions later, you can save time just by looking only at the highlighted text.
- Also, if you do a right click by putting the cursor on any given option in answer, then that particular option will get marked as cancelled. During final hour in main exam when your stress will be sky high, visualising the wrong options will help you in concentrating on the remaining choices.

More than all the study material it was Satya Sir's unwavering support and guidance which helped me in clearing the examination, along with it the management blog and other pupils’ success stories also motivated me through - thick and thin.

Brief Profile: Asad Abbas, PMP & Certified Scrum Master with 9 years of Experience in service industry. Currently working as Scrum Master with Merck Life Sciences, Bengaluru.

Few Lines By Satya Narayan Dash: Since beginning of this year, I’ve decided to give full credit to the writer, to whom the success story actually belongs. I’m writing a few lines, as Asad fervently requested me to write.

Asad was part of my class in March, 2017. Before coming, he had been preparing for quite some time, but never had the confidence that he could crack the exam. In my class, I remember Asad to be a keen listener, thinks quite analytically on the questions that I asked and was very keen to get the PMP credential. 

Post the session, he bought my book and would have a number of clarifications and questions – why am I saying this would be the correct answer, why am I saying these topics are important and so on. Though I was exhausted after my day’s work, his sheer determination moved me. I remember sitting with him as late as 10pm in night to answer his queries, to never panic and to continue working no matter how uphill the task seems to be. In the end, he succeeded - as he says in the beginning of this article “Good Karma Matters”. Indeed, it does.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Book Review - I Want To Be A PMP: Must Buy Book If Seriously Preparing For PMP Certification

By Ajanata Behera, PMP

The book - "I Want To Be A PMP" is a well thought-out book which should be surely read for your PMP® certification preparation. Professionals preparing for PMP would have often come across the experiences of various people who are certified PMP and would have known that the PMBOK® Guide is a must read book for the PMP certification. But, the PMBOK Guide has a lot of details and not easy when you start off with your preparation.

If you are seriously preparing for the PMP certification, I would suggest the new book “I WANT TO BE A PMP”, written by Satya Narayan Dash. 

Why This Book? 

  • This is a simplified version of the the concepts written in the PMBOK Guide. 
  • Topics and chapters are easy to understand and remember.
  • The chart for 10 Knowledge areas,5 process groups and 47 processes have been sequentially numbered, which becomes very easy to memorize. Once the logic for the numbering is understood, I'm sure professionals who read this book will never forget the above chart. 
  • Mathematical formulas are made extremely simple, so that one understands the concepts. 
  • A lot of videos with examples are mentioned. You take a topic,go through the videos and all the concepts are clear. This easy remembering of formulas can surely assist in getting numerical questions right in the exam.
  • Simple but powerful book where you are given the chart of formulas in the end and they can be downloaded. 
  • Easy, simple tips to memorize various concepts on project management. 
  • Important points are highlighted from the exam point of view. 
  • 3 set of full length question papers. These questions are very close to real exam. Answers for the questions are detailed.
  • 75 questions PMP 2016 Exam changes have also been included. This is in reference with the new Exam Content Outline (ECO).
  • Details about Critical Path and Critical Chain Methods are really very informative. 

I have used Satya sir's book and PMBOK together to understand the concepts. I felt these two books were more than sufficient to be thorough for the PMP certification. I want to extend my sincere thanks to Satya sir for putting in so much effort to make this book simple and easy to remember.

Written By Ajanta Behera: I am currently working as an Associate Project Manager, Standard Chartered Bank. I have 12 years of experience in various domains - Clinical, Insurance, and Finance. 

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Step by Step Guide: Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) for Agile Development

Content Summary: Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) is a well-known tool for Agile Development, Agile Project Management and Agile DevOps. You can install this software on your local machine or you can take the cloud edition of this software. However, while installing, a number of agile practitioners find it difficult. This post informs how TFS can be installed on your local machine and how you can create your own Scrum and/or Kanban collections.

For this installation, set-up and run, I’m using the following software. 

1) Main Software: Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2015 (TFS 2015) with Update 1.

2) Operating System: Windows 10 x64

3) SQL Server: Bundled one that comes with TFS executable.

Many say, it is very difficult to install and work with MS TFS 2015 (or 2017) on a typical windows client machine. Not really. Installation took some time, but it works perfectly. 

Below image just shows that. It is the administration console of the TFS and shows a default collection running on my local machine. You can create as many Scrum and/or Kanban collections you want to work on.

The step by step installation and running instruction for MS TFS 2015 is outlined in the embedded document. It informs on what you have to do to install, set-up and run the Team Foundation Server 2015 software. Also, it shows how to create scrum collections. 

To see the document in a separate window, click on the arrow mark on the top right corner of the below embedded screen. 

Direct link for the document: Step By Step: Step by Step Guide: Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2015 for Agile Development

Note: The collection created "My Scrum Collection" will be used while working with Visual Studio and MS TFS 2015 for Agile DevOps purpose. We will see it in another post.

You may also like:

Courses on Agile Development and Management:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

PMP Protein: Information Gathering Techniques

By Ajanta Behera, PMP

In the PMP® examination, you can expect a number of questions on various information gathering technique. In this article, I’ve outlined a few of them.

The easy way to remember these techniques is to use an acronym.

As you can see above, the acronym used to remember is – BIRD. In fact, if you add another one, which is SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats), it becomes BIRDS!

Now, let us discuss in detail, 3 of the above ones – Brainstorming, Root Cause Analysis and Delphi Technique. 

I. Brainstorming 
This technique definitely makes its way for success for any problem at hand. Brainstorming is a technique used to generate and collect multiple ideas related to a project and product requirements.  This statement is taken from the PMBOK® Guide.  A frequent use of why a particular problem exists or how to resolve, what methods to apply, when to apply, who shall take the ownership of the resolution, Why a particular solution will work better than the other solutions will give a better understanding of the problem at hand.

Who should follow this technique?
This technique can be followed by anyone who has a problem at hand.  If there are two or more participants, this will be more useful.  But it does not exclude the situation where there is a single person and who wants to solve his own problem cannot use this technique. 

How does this work?
A team identifies a problem at hand, gets together in the room. A problem statement is stated and written down on the white board. The team starts a brainstorming session. The team starts giving the solution to the given problem. A project manager should be able to facilitate this session properly otherwise the session may not be effective.  The solution is written down on the white board.  It is discussed in detail as to why that solution must be chosen, what the benefits of that solution are. More solutions are thought of and put down on the board.  The solutions are prioritized, and the action point of who would own to work on the solutions would be discussed.  The team performs an iterative method of finding the solutions until the best solution is discovered. This technique can be applied to various phases of the project or product analysis. 

What are the benefits?
1- Greater productivity since the entire team member is participating in this activity. 
2- Better quality of products /services/results.
3- Better customer satisfaction
4- Greater bonding with the team 
5- Much effective results/products/services.
6- Lower project cost and better adherence to schedule.

Though the above technique is powerful enough to bring a lot of benefits mentioned above, if it is used in combination with Delphi technique or Root cause analysis, the results or outcomes would be more effective.

II. Delphi Technique 
The Delphi technique is a way to reach a consensus of experts. This statement is taken from the PMBOK guide. Here the project risk experts participate in this technique anonymously.  Mark the word anonymously.  A set of predetermined questions are distributed among the experts.  The responses are collected and summarized. This is done by a facilitator. After the responses are summarized, the responses are sent back to the experts for further comments. This is again an iterative process. This process helps to remove bias in the data and prevents the influence of the individual person on the outcome. 

How does this work?
A team identifies a problem at hand, gets together in the room. A problem statement is stated and written down on the sheet of paper and distributed among the participants. The team starts a rating process. Each participant is assigned a 100 token which has to be distributed among the various questions. A project manager usually facilitates this session.  There are chances that the experts may feel very strongly about a particular problem and they can give the 100 tokens to one particular problem. The ratings or responses are collected and shared among all the team members for further analysis. Another approach is to rate the items from highest to lowest priority. Now the team gets an opportunity to explain why they have chosen a particular response to the problem.   The facilitator calculates the mean, median, standard deviation.  Here the discussion is important because each member can explain why a particular rating is assigned to the problem. This is a time-consuming process. This process is repeated for much iteration until the standard deviation of the responses starts to converge and is within the acceptable range.

III. Root Cause Analysis
Root cause analysis is a specific technique used to identify a problem, discover the underlying causes that lead to it and develop preventive action. This is the definition mentioned in the PMBOK guide. Mostly this technique is used once there is a problem at hand. The solution discovered for the problem prevents the problem to recur. The solution may not be the permanent solution. Further analysis of the problem could help to develop the effective solution. 

How does this work?
A problem is identified. This would be a systematic analysis of the problem at hand. An individual or several of the team members would be finding the solution to the problem. The solution would be worked out to remove the problem at hand. In case the solution does not work other solutions are found. This is also an iterative process. It continues as long as the solution to the problem removes the problem. This is mostly a preventive method. Once the effective solution is found out, the solution must be included in the service/result/report. This may also be a time-consuming process.
The above three methods definitely would bring a greater success as much time is invested to find the solutions to the problems at hand. It would also increase the team binding as all of the team members would have come together to find out the solution.  Frequent use of these techniques can result in better outcomes. 

Written by Ajanta Behera:
Ajanta Behera is a software professional with 12 years of experience in variety of domains - Clinical, Insurance, and Finance. She is currently working as an Associate Project Manager with Standard Chartered Bank, India.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

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

By Rangu Dutta, PMP

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.