Friday, February 14, 2020

PMP Live Lessons Success Story: Success is No Accident – It Requires Hard Work, Perseverance, Learning, Sacrifice and Above All, Love What You Are Doing

By Poornima Nagaraja, PMP

I’ve been into the information technology (IT) industry for over thirteen years and have always heard of PMP® certification and its global recognition. I was able to gather useful information about the value of PMP credential through various means such as friends, colleagues, and social media. All of these inspired me to go for this certification. 

Further, I personally explored more about PMP certification and finally decided to go for it as I strongly believed this knowledge will help me to add more value to my project management skills, and give the best value while aiding my day to day responsibilities.

PMP 35 Contact Hours Experience
My preference has been classroom sessions as it’s more interactive, and also for me it’s more serious and attentive. Classroom sessions are livelier, will have a lot of questions and answers as well as knowledge sharing. However, these can only happen if the trainer or coach allows such participation, interactions and addresses the questions. 

After all my research I decided to go for classroom training. I’ve never met Satya before I attended his classroom sessions. He was our trainer for the 4-day classroom session. 

I must say that I was lucky to have him as the trainer. He is passionate about teaching, has very great and in-depth knowledge and explains the concepts in a more practical and realistic way with real time examples. In addition, he shares a large number of tips, which are very useful for the exam. 

By the end of the sessions, I was able to remember all complex formulas related to two-pass techniques. I was able to easily write and sequence all the 49 processes cutting across the various Process Groups (PGs) and Knowledge Areas (KAs). 

Own Study
I used below materials for my PMP Exam preparation:

Immediately after my classes, I received the 35 contact hours certificate. Next, I took around 2 to 3 weeks to read Satya’s “I Want To Be PMP” e-Book. It was a great learning experience. 

I love the way this book is written with a lot of tips. All the key ITTO are highlighted in different colors, which makes it easy to read and understand. My first walkthrough of this e-book was a great experience. After that I took a few months break due to my office work and other things due to which I could not focus on my preparation seriously. 

Again, in mid-2019, I started studying, but it was not at a continuous stretch and frequent in-between gaps. While you study PMBOK for the first time you will definitely not understand anything and it’s absolutely fine. Hence, I read the “I Want To Be A PMP” book and PMBOK, chapter wise.

Though I was preparing, my serious preparation actually started from September, 2019. I made up my mind and first submitted my application. By this time, I’ve purchased the PMP Live Lessons course from Satya as well. 

My application was selected for PMI’s Audit. I followed through the audit process and my PMP Application was finally approved in November, 2019. Thanks to my Manager for extending all the help and support for the PMP Audit process. Next, I booked my exam date for January 2020. 

This was my approach for the final (and real) PMP preparation for 3 to 4 months:
  • I used to study during weekdays for around 2 hours and on weekends for 8-10 hours.
  • I referred PMP Live lessons course and the PMBOK Guide to ensure all my concepts are very clear. I followed each and every tip Satya has given and solved all the lesson/chapter end questions from the Live Lessons. 
  • I started solving full-length questions from December, 2019 from PMP Live Lessons. This gave me more confidence. I also took a few full-length questions from Prep Cast Simulator. All these questions sets are key for my success. 
  • Questions from the PMP Live Lessons should be your Master Set. I must say that the questions are of the highest quality and quite tough. It made me prepare for the tougher questions and how to approach the exam along with time management.
  • I read the PMBOK glossary before your exam. It is a must and it is another round of revision to remember all key terms and terminologies.
  • I used to practice all the formulas and charts with all the 49 processes and sequencing them multiple times. I was able to write within 10-12 minutes.

Throughout my preparation, I’ve called and reached out to Satya multiple times. It was through emails and direct calls. He was always available to clarify all my doubts. His clarifications with proper justifications helped me a lot to keep concepts fresh in my mind. Thank You Satya!

Also, during my free time/driving time, I used to recall all the process names, KEY ITTO for each process, and recall all the formulas. These helped me a lot.

My parents, my husband, and my five-year old son were a BIG support for me during my preparation. I had to sacrifice all the play time with my son until my exam was done, and my son was very co-operative and for his age. He was very wise to understand that “his mother has an exam and he should not disturb😊”.

To be very direct and straight, in order to clear the PMP Exam, you only need to have PMP Live Lessons and the PMBOK guide. They are definitely enough. PMP Live Lessons has great content, well organized and structured. It helps you very easily to understand the concepts.

There are around 200 questions at the end of every chapter (lesson). And they are worth it. It was a game changer for me as it improved my confidence. After reading the PMBOK guide and other materials, I was yet not sure about my preparation. In fact, I read the PMBOK five to six times. 

But I gained good confidence ONLY after solving question sets from Live lessons. With it, I understood the way questions can appear in the exam. As mentioned earlier, Satya’s Questions sets are really very hard and if you can solve and score around 70% to 75%, then the real exam will be a cake walk for you. 

In fact, in Satya’s question sets I was only able to score around 65% to 70%, whereas with Prep Cast Simulator my score was in the range of 85% to 90%. As I said, if you can score in the aforementioned range for PMP Live Lessons’ question sets, you are ready to sit in the exam.  

The Live Lessons is filled with Yogic Tips, Yogic Revision, numerous ITTO Exercises, ECO Exercises, Process Flow Exercises. These will help you to understand and remember the concepts very easily and it stays fresh in your mind.

PMP Exam Experience
I had scheduled my exam at 8AM on 17th January, 2020 at Pearson Center, Central Street, Shivajinagar, Bangalore. One week before the exam, I had visited the exam center to avoid any confusion on my exam day.

On the D-day, my exam commenced after all the formalities. And this is how I proceeded:
  • As it started, I quickly wrote down all the formulas and 49 processes cutting across the PGs and KAs.
  • To be on the safer side, I made up my mind to choose the best answer and continued to do so. I believed this will help me – if towards the end I don’t have time for review. 
  • The first 92 questions were very tough and I took almost 2.5 hours (out of 4 hours) to complete. I was just left with 1.5 hour with 108 questions remaining. I went ahead and tried to increase my speed. I was able to solve 199 questions.
  • I had marked question number 66 earlier and it was my last question, before submitting. But while solving the last question, my time was complete and the computer system took over the control.

A Congratulation message was flashed on the Screen. I received ABOVE TARGET in all the Process Groups. 

My strategy was to choose the best possible answer, though I did not have time to review the questions towards the end. It was still good for me as the result finally flashed on my screen. 

I faced the following types of questions:
  • Questions were mostly tricky, and situational. I had very less straightforward questions.
  • I had just four formula-based questions. 
  • I faced questions from Communications Management and Stakeholder Management. You see there are a number of overlapping areas in these two. 
  • A number of questions were from Change Management. I also faced a number of questions from Procurement Management, Integration Management and Schedule Management. 
  • Overall, I would rate the questions’ complexities from moderate to high.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • Study consistently and continuously. 
  • Read, listen until the concepts are clear. Practice makes a man perfect. Solve as many questions as you can. 
  • Follow and practice an effective time management approach while solving questions. Keep a target time for each question, that will be very helpful during the real exam.
  • Do not waste time on unnecessary questions available on the Internet or Play store apps. Solve ONLY HIGH-QUALITY questions.

I will ensure to use the knowledge gained in my regular day to day activities. I’ll also contribute, mentor and share my knowledge and continue to learn. There is no end to learning.

Brief Profile:
Poornima Nagaraja, PMP. I’ve over thirteen years of experience and currently working as a Quality Assurance (QA) Manager at Infor. 

Monday, February 10, 2020

PMBOK Guide 7th Edition Standard: Principle Application Vs Delivery Capability

Recently, I spoke on the changes happening for the PMBOK® Guide, 7th Edition – Standard, in a webinar conducted globally. (link)

After this session, I had this question offline. 

“Should all the principles be followed for effective delivery? Is there a correlation?”

This question set me thinking about the usage of principles across the delivery spectrum. The standard is currently in draft stage and the principles are outlined there, though it may change. 

Question’s First Part
However, I’m not focused about the number of finalized principles in this post as that will be determined by the team preparing the standard and suggestions, comments from management practitioners. Rather, I’ll be outlining the application of these principles as the first part of the above question goes.

Should all the principles be followed? 

All the principles need not be applied to the same extent in every project delivery, i.e., the degree of application for the principles can vary. 

As per the standard draft, the degree of application of the principles will be influenced by:
  • Organizational context,
  • Project undertaken,
  • Deliverables to be given,
  • The team working on the project,
  • Stakeholders involved in the project,
  • Environmental conditions involved. 

Question’s Second Part
The next part of the question raised was: 

Is there is there a correlation between the principles applied and the ability to deliver? 

This is not mentioned in the standard part of the PMBOK Guide, 7th edition. But, it’s a very interesting question. If you read deeply and look closely at the standard, the degree of application of the principles and project delivery are actually interrelated. 

An Example:
Let’s say a small, simple, organic organization is delivering project to its clients. This organization has few employees – 10 to 15 in number, and the owner of the organization is the manager or leader of the project.
  • Do you think this organization will want to apply all the principles completely? 
  • Do you think this organization will train the resources on the applicability of the principles?
  • What will be the actual value received by principles such as tailoring, assuming that the organization uses very small number of processes? (remember: it’s a small organization) 
You can add other questions in this regard as well. 

However, there will be certain principles which will be of high importance to such organizations. For example, principles such as “Focus on Value” will be of high importance to this organization, other principles such as “Tailor the approach” may not be equally important – and sometimes may have very little usage! 

Four-Quadrant Classification:
Hence, the second part of the question leads to a four-quadrant classification considering two aspects:
  • Degree of application of principles (in one axis)
  • Delivery capability (in another axis)  

This brings four areas for the organization concerned and they can fall into one of these categories. 
  • Low application of Principles, Low Delivery capability (LP, LD)
  • Low application of Principles, High Delivery capability (LP, HD)
  • High application of Principles, Low Delivery capability (HP, LD)
  • High application of Principles, High Delivery capability (HP, HD)
I’ve simplified the shortened versions and in the four classifications shown above:
  • P – stands for "degree of principles' application", D – stands for "delivery capability"

This is represented in the below figure. Do note that it's my interpretation and visualization. 

© Satya Narayan Dash. All Rights Reserved.

If you look at the above figure, you can see it’s based on the degree of application and delivery capability, and we have various types of organizations. 

Let’s understand this four-quadrant classification. 
  • LP, LD (bott0m-left quadrant): These organizations are small, simple/organic. These organizations don’t have a need to apply all the principles fully, and simultaneously their delivery capabilities will also be low. 
  • LP, HD (top-left quadrant): These are mostly start-up organizations, where survival matters a lot, for which they have to deliver frequently – anyway possible and quickly. These organizations, however, don’t apply all the principles to a very high degree.
  • HP, LD (bottom-right quadrant): In this case the delivery capability is not of high importance, but it’s important to know the degree of application of principles in a variety of situations or scenarios. In my view, high-end consulting organizations will fall under this category. 
  • HP, HD (top-right quadrant): If organizations apply principles to a high degree and also have high delivery capability, I’ll consider them to be matured organizations. By matured, I don’t mean these will be large scale organizations, but they have the ability to deliver in various approaches – be it iterative, traditional, agile, hybrid or any other. These organizations also apply the principles to a high degree. 

This is the first impression I’ve while comparing the degree of application for the principles and the delivery capabilities. As the PMBOK Guide 7th edition comes with more clarity, I may update this figure.

And I welcome your views and thoughts.

[1] Webinar - PMI PMBOK Guide 7th Edition Standard – What’s New? by Satya Narayan Dash, Conducted by Microsoft Project User Group (MPUG)

[2] The Standard for Project Management Exposure Draft for PMBOK Guide 7th Edition, by Project Management Institute (PMI)

Monday, February 03, 2020

PMP Success Story: Extraordinary Content of 35 Hours Online Course and a Sincere Approach Helped to Crack the Exam

By V Satya Viswanadha Raju, PMP

The project management professional (PMP®) credential is considered to be one of the best in the market for project management practitioners. 

This, along with many factors such as market conditions, desire to pursue a rigorous course after a long time, and look for further opportunities, made me go for the PMP credential.

PMP 35 Hours Online Learning Experience
I didn’t take any classroom session, but only followed Satya sir’s PMP® 35 Hours Online Learning Course. I spoke with Satya sir before taking up the course and took up this course for a period of six months.  

The 35 hours of video learning course is one of the best educational videos that I’ve gone through in recent times. Not even a single video deviates from the topic. It delivers exactly what is needed, and only the ones needed. This makes learning very effective.

The videos are divided across various knowledge areas and chapters, which aligns closely with the PMBOK Guide. I just followed it.

The course is divided into various topics in a systematic way and is paced gently with its extraordinary content. For example, every topic (taking an example of Knowledge Area) starts with yogic tip and explanation of that, followed by a real time scenario. Next, I’ll be knowing the current trends, key points, Agile perspective, and then will proceed to the actual topic.

The content is so well explained that you will never get distracted from the topic. For example, while explaining Change Management and Change Requests, Satya sir will drive you through sequence of steps that you as a Project Manager (PM) should look at that change. 

This is not only for the topic of change management; it’s explained similarly for many key areas. As you proceed, you will realize the importance of the topic with great interest.

The biggest advantage for me with PMP 35 Online Contact Hours was this: I can play the videos any number of times I want.    

Own Study
I primarily followed the PMBOK® Guide, the 35 Contact Hours Online Course from Satya Narayan Dash, and the book by Rita Mulcahy.

I followed this approach for my PMP certification:
  • First, I wanted to be clear on why I wanted do this certification. I took time and decided. Because without a vision you can't achieve anything. And this goal of being a PMP will take you towards the vision.  Next, I asked myself: “Can I spend dedicated time daily for this, despite the busy schedule?” I decided I've to do it anyway.
  • I've had three months dedicated preparation. In my view, it's minimally needed. I spent daily 3 hours during weekdays for PMP preparation, and 6 to 7 hours during weekends. Be in this mode, till you are PMP certified. I even used to play the 35 contact hour videos during my travel time to and from office and also, whenever I am free. 
  • I first read PMBOK book, got an overview. Next, I went through the 35 hours contact hour online videos. 
  • Once this is over, I immediately took the first mock exam and evaluated myself. This helped me to identify the areas of weakness. I again went through the videos and covered the gaps.

It will be difficult initially to go through any course or content. But when you study, do it with keen interest. If you can spend daily 3 hours for the first seven days, then that’s it! I am sure you will continue daily after that. Study and absorb, relate to your day-to-day work. 

Review – 35 Contact Hours Online Course
I’ve already mentioned in the beginning the content of 35 Contact Hours Online Course is extraordinary. Also, I’ve mentioned that the biggest advantage with this 35 Contact Hours is, you can replay any number of times. 

This is not the case with any class-room training. This way the course is unique and distinct. 

The beauty of this course is, the trainer will drive slowly to the core topics through a series of steps. And these steps will be common throughout the knowledge areas.

At the end of every lesson/chapter, there are about 35 to 40 questions with answers. They will really test your understanding and more importantly, they will help you how to read the question, how to identify the key-points in the question. 

The practice questions at the end every section are really useful. They will help you to understand the topic from various perspectives.

PMP Exam Experience
After I finished one round of 35 Contact hours course, I registered with PMI®, and filled up the exam application form. You must do this irrespective how much you gained from the course or from the PMBOK guide. If you don’t choose a date for the exam, your preparation will be never-ending. I'm telling you this with my experience. The commitment will come after you choose the date.

As I preparation neared completion, practiced for sitting 4 hours without any distraction. It was a very big challenge. So, I treated the mock exams as real exam and it really helped. 

The PMP exam will test you from every corner. It will not only test your knowledge, but also test your patience.

These are the types of questions I faced in the exam.
  • Perhaps, you would be knowing that most of the PMP questions are situational in nature. My experience was no exception, i.e., most were situational questions. I had very few straight-forward questions.
  • A number of questions were on PM roles in various types of organization.
  • I received around 12 formula-based/mathematical questions. I had two questions on critical path measurement (CPM).
  • I received a good number of questions on change management, change requests.
  • There were around 15 questions on Agile approaches. Also, I received a question on point of total assumption (PTA).
  • It's important to note that around 70% of questions I received were having more than four lines. But the choices are just one line. Hence, be prepared for such questions. 
  • Find the difference between Lessons learned and Lessons Learned Repository. I faced questions in these areas.
  • Be very clear on all the content of all the “Plans”, like risk management plan, scope management plan, schedule management plan, etc. I received question in these aspects.
  • Have a good understanding of Communication Knowledge Area (KA) and Stakeholder Engagement KA. In situational questions on these two KAs, you may find difficult on which context the question is asked.
  • Be prepared for choosing the right answer among 2 CLOSE answers. You will be presented with 2 very close answers.

I practiced breathing exercise, took break for 2 minutes as I wanted to relax and stretch my legs. In my personal opinion, a break is needed halfway through the exam.

I completed all of my questions well on time. I had just 17 questions to review. Finally, when the exam end, the message “Congratulations” flashed on my screen. But I was not really sure if I’ve cleared the exam. 

Finally, as I received the print of my report, I realized that I’ve actually cleared the exam. I scored Above Target (AT) in all the process groups – Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing. 

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • Start your day by telling yourself, “I am “<your name>”, PMP”. You imagine yourself being a PMP. That motivates.
  • Don’t panic if the initial questions are tough.
  • Don’t give up. Stay away from distractions. 
  • Don’t give any excuses if you don’t study for a day. 
  • Be sincere to your employer. This is your personal goal, and don’t mix it with your office work.

The process of preparing for PMP itself will bring a lot of changes in your personal and professional lives. I’ll try to apply what I’ve learnt so far in my professional work. 

Brief Profile:
V Satya Viswanadha Raju, PMP: I work as an information technology professional with DXC Technology, Bangalore, India. 

PMP 35 Contact Hours Online Course: