Monday, July 21, 2014

PMP Success Story - Understand the Process flow in PMBOK Guide Clearly, Plan Properly and Stay Calm before Exam

Abhishek Srivastav felt exhilarated after being certified as a PMP.  It was his first try and he aced the exam! As I have seen, Abhishek put in a dedicated effort and was in touch throughout till the final day of before the exam. As they say – sincere effort never goes in vain.

Abhishek had met me personally post the 35 PDU program. During the subsequent discussions after a few weeks when he asked me about his preparedness,  I would put some random questions and check his understanding on the desired subject. He asked me quite a few times during our discussion - mostly during weekends. And I was certain he would clear the exam. 

Below, Abhishek shares his journey in getting certified as a PMI-PMP. 


Hi All,
Cleared my PMI-PMP exam on 24th May, 2014 and what an experience it was! You feel exhilarated after the exam!

Just wanted to share my experience of the entire journey with you guys. I’m sure a lot of you might have actually gone through a lot of such blogs or articles, however I am just adding my two cents towards this and I hope that it helps you – even if a little bit – to attain your certification. 

35 Hours of Training – Mandatory

Had registered for the training on 5th September and had the good fortune of meeting Mr. Satya Dash at the venue. Truth be told, I was at the training just to see how it’d help me and the initial certificate towards project management. However, I must confess, the 4 days of training with Mr. Dash was an eye opener.

He, of course, walked us through the nitty-gritty stuff of the PMP course material but the real value add was the extra efforts he took to take ALL our questions with a lot of patience and then the follow up questions with the same patience ! Cheers to that. Plus he facilitated a lot of discussions to happen naturally in the sessions which allowed us to share our experiences and practices from various backgrounds as well. He made the class interesting with his activities and the session was thoroughly engaging as well as interactive peppered by occasional discussion on topics ranging from projects in real life and in current affairs.

A point which is often lost to a beginner and was made abundantly clear to us throughout the entire session was that the PMP framework does not have a specific flow for the entire 47 processes in a fixed pattern and often the flow could change depending upon the situation or the context. This helped me a lot when I was studying on my own. Another thing which we as a group were afraid of our ability to recall all the 47 processes and this was taken care by him thoroughly so much so that every member of our group could recall the process chart individually by the end of the session.

We were made aware of most of the important inputs and outputs, study material to be referred, degree of difficulty of the exam questions, key terms and practices and most of the commonly type of questions appearing on the exam. Hats off to him!

Preparation for the exam: 

The first step, post classroom session was to go through the material. A thing to remember here is that while you come out of training, you may recall most of the important stuff and are in a momentum towards the PMP exam. The instant you let your job and other priorities take over, all the benefits of the training are wasted. This was informed by Mr. Dash to us as well but to no avail. I had to take up another training with Simplilearn™ later. However the trainer wasn’t even half as good as Mr. Dash and all it helped me was with a refresher. 

Material I referred to: 
  1. Rita Mulcahy – Eighth Edition – RMC
  2. Head First PMP 3rd Edition
  3. PMBOK Guide 5th Edition
  4. Question banks from the provider
  5. Oliver Lehmann website – question bank
  6. PM-Fast Track – RMC – question bank
  7. HyperPMP app on Android platform – Very useful!! 
  8. Certchamp™ and Lehmann question bank on Android Platform

I had taken a 60 days leave without pay for this and had ample amount of time to prepare. If you are following this approach, you can adjust the timeline as per your study schedule. 

A word of caution: For people attempting to study along with work should try to achieve about 10 hours of study per week and about 6-8 hours of study on the weekends. PMP exam prep may require you to sacrifice some family life / personal time. Make sure you are mentally prepared to do that for about 3-4 months before investing time, resources and efforts into PMP. 
  1. Started with the Rita Mulcahy and completed one chapter every day – 16 Days
  2. Started with PMBOK and completed each chapter every day – 12 days 
  3. Revisited Rita and PMBOK (only the important stuff) – 7 days
  4. Tried about 3 question papers, one from Headfirst and two other from PM-Fast Track – Scored about 83% in HeadFirst and 72% and 71% in PM-Fast Track – 6 days
  5. Took a break for 2 days 
  6. Got Headfirst PMP and read the book end to end as a revision. – 10 days
  7. Tried another two sample papers – Simplilearn™ (questions are good quality) – 4 days
  8. Constantly revising during odd hours with the Android apps. Just go through the ITTO’s or some 10-20 questions whenever you get some free time. 

Exam Tips and Tricks: 

Prior to the exam: 
  1. HeadFirst is a good book and so is Rita Mulcahy. 
    • However, HeadFirst is a much better option for those who like interactive learning and the approach is more of a illustrative one rather than the text. It’ll keep you interested throughout the book. If you’re someone who cannot keep up the focus too much, then I’d suggest the HeadFirst book. 
    • Rita Mulcahy has the best content of the lot. However, it is comprehensive and on the dull side. If you’re properly motivated and can keep the focus high for a long time, I’d recommend the Rita Mulcahy in that case. 
  2. Try to get an exam slot for a time of the day when you are at your best focus. 
  3. If somebody is taking an exam in Bangalore, the centre would be the Prometric® Test Centre at Prestige Shantiniketan off Hope Farm Signal at Kadugodi. 
  4. Stop reading about a day prior to the exam – Trust me, this helps! 
  5. Try to get some proper sleep one day prior to the exam. 
  6. Don’t try and cram for the exam one day prior to it. No use and only increases the nervousness. 
At the exam centre:

  1. You are not allowed to take breaks during the exam and there is usually no time to take them as well. You have about 80 seconds for each question! 
  2. If you are using the “brain dump” technique, I’d suggest making a good use of the paper and pencil provided and getting it over with during the first 10 minutes and using the next 5 minutes to get used to the system provided to you. I did not use the ‘brain dump’ technique. 
  3. You do get ear mufflers at the exam centres which are pretty useful things to block out at disturbance from the other candidates in the room taking the exam. 
  4. While attempting the exam, make it into multiple passes. I took three passes to complete the exam. 
    • First pass with the easiest questions with little or no calculation or analysis. 
    • Second pass for all the other questions which did not require too much of analysis or I had no confusion with.
    • Third pass for all the confusion-riddled questions. 
  5. On the first pass, you get a lot of confidence. By the second pass you are pretty much in a smooth mode. This helps in the third pass. 
  6. There is a ‘mark for review’ option. Use it for the above step. 
  7. Get a copy of your report signed and sealed by the test centre. 

 -- Abhishek Srivastav, Team Lead, KPMG


Brief Profile: Abhishek Srivastav is a management professional and based out of Bangalore. He holds a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from Liverpool John Moores University and a Bachelor of Engineering from Visvesvaraya Technological University. Currently he works with KPMG, Bangalore, India. His online PMP profile is available at PMI Online Credential Registry. 

Abhishek informed me that he has been certified as a PMI-PMP the same day.  In life, it is one of the few moments you feel happy about – helping people in  their journey which they earnestly want and when they share it with you on their success. It was one of those moments. 

I am thankful to Abhishek for sharing his experience. I believe his experience will guide and enrich others.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

PMP Success Story - Don’t be overwhelmed by the hype created, Start preparing immediately - Earlier is Better!

A well-known saying goes as:

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

This has been quoted by many in the field of science, medicine, management, and new technological advances. They not only have their own achievements, but also let us know how they were able to proceed and faced the challenges. Indeed, we learn from people who have already gone through the whole nine yards and it enables us to have our paths smoother and better.

TV Vamsi Jaya Prasad, whom I call Vamsi affectionately, is a proud PMP today. He is one of the fastest to crack the PMP exam – in less than two months. Yes! Within two months!

Vamsi shares his experience in his certification journey for PMI-PMP exam.


Dear all,

It is great pleasure to share my PMI-PMP experience with you all.

35 PDU Contact Program:

I attended the PMI-PMP workshop from 19th April 2014 to 27th April, 2014, a 4 day workshop. We were trained by Satya Narayan Dash. It was a good learning experience. Workshop was conducted in very professional manner with focus towards PMI-PMP exam objectives.

PMBOK material is a huge one to grasp with. I read few topics prior to training however I was left with many dots. I am impressed the way Satya connected those dots and made whole learning very interesting by sharpening the intellect of all participants.

The workshop contained good number of real life illustrations, experiences that gave practical insights into the concepts of project management. I am extremely impressed the way Satya depicted the process interactions and information flow among processes areas in various knowledge areas under 5 process groups.

I am very thankful to Satya, our coach and trainer for the program.

Preparation – Books followed, Practice Tests:

I went through the notes prepared during the workshop. I studied PMBOK comprehensively and also additionally studied the book on PMP Exam Prep by Rita Mulcahy. I practiced questioned from Rita Mulcahy’s book and completed full length 6 mock tests from the provider once I felt confidence on the theory part that is after 4 weeks of starting my preparation.

PMBOK, Prioritization, Conceptual Focus:

I have given more focus on reviewing PMBOK as many times as possible – I reviewed more than 5-6 times. I covered the all knowledge areas with the order of priority as follows: Procurement, Risk Management, Scope, Schedule and Cost Management, Quality Management, HR Management, Communications Management and Integration and Stake Holder Management. I focused on Earned Value Management, Communication Channels, and Expected Monetary Value Analysis, PERT Diagrams and Critical Path Measurement as mentioned by Satya.

If you focus on conceptual understanding on PMBOK and its concepts, then the exam is going to be much easier to crack.

Exam Experience:

I appeared the exam on 28th June 2014. Most of the questions were on conceptual understanding and situational. Around 20 questions were mathematical. No negative questions are asked. Questions with except, true or false, are not asked. Few of the questions were even half a page length. Few questions were tricky. However, a deep understanding of the PMP Concepts is sufficient. Many questions were tricky but common sense with sound understanding combined with concepts learned during the 4 day program by Satya, enabled me to score.

I took 3 hours 50 minutes to answer all questions with a break of 5 minutes after 100 questions. I took rest of 10 minutes to review the question that I marked earlier. I ensured all questions are answered. When finally clicked on finish “congratulations” displayed on being a PMP – it was immensely gratifying.

My suggestions to PMP aspirants:

Since I appeared within 2 months’ time, I was able to recollect the knowledge imparted in the workshop. I feel it is better to start preparing exam immediately after the workshop. Even if you appear for the exam after having thoroughly prepared (say after eight to nine months) you are going to score the same marks. Earlier is better.

Studying for the purpose of exam will not be beneficial to the owner of the certificate. Refer books for widening your understanding and knowledge. But do not confuse yourself. I suggest don’t be overwhelmed by the hype created by few of the preparation books available in the market - exam is reasonable to test the true knowledge of project management and not so difficult with unwanted complexities.

I have experienced that Satya’s workshop goes beyond the exam, and it ensures that the participants understand the subject and use it properly in their respective fields. In my experience, the course materials provided for classroom session and additional tips and tricks shared by Satya Narayan, are sufficient to pass the exam.

Good luck to all the future PMP aspirants. Time and money spent is worth the experience.

-- TV Vamsi Jaya Prasad, Manager-Projects, Cognizant Technology Solutions


Brief Profile: TV Vamsi Jayaprasad is a senior IT professional and has been associated with the technology industry in various leadership roles. Till recently he was with MindTree Limited in Bangalore, India. Currently he works as Manager-Projects for Cognizant Technology Solutions(CTS) in Chennai, India. His online PMP profile is available at PMI Online Credential Registry. 

Footnote: This is a new initiative taken to share the experience in PMP exam by fellow professionals and colleagues who have cracked the exam. PMP Certification from PMI is not an easy exam to crack. It takes time to prepare, solid understanding in project management concepts and above all applying those concepts in real time situations. I am thankful to Vamsi for sharing his experience, which I believe will enrich others in their journey for PMI-PMP exam. 

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