Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year End Post: Approach to All PMP Preparation Programs Now Changed

Mid last year, I changed the coaching approach to PMP preparation. It is outlined here

Looking back, it has been a big success. There has not been a single instance in any workshop (many since the last one where I changed the approach), where the team could not remember all the 5 process groups, all the 10 knowledge areas and all the 47 process areas. 

Also, it has been a remarkable revelation what a team can collectively accomplish. In fact, in all the programs, the team members are themselves surprised that it is possible to remember them all - 62 in total.

Still, some issues were playing out in my mind when I coach the PMP aspirants. There are quite a few, but top of them are:
  1. How a person without any formal knowledge of Project Management can grasp the PM fundamentals easily?
  2. How to understand and remember the ITTOs? 
  3. How quickly one can become a Certified PMP?

1. Making a Layperson understand PMBOK:

There are many materials and/or books in the market to prepare for PMP Exam. But my emphasis has always on Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide. I always say to the aspirants that in case of any conflict among your reference materials or books, PMBOK Guide is the final one. It must be your final reference source.

However, PMBOK Guide, as written, is in a Specification Format, which does not make an exciting read. Also, the coverage area of PMBOK is immense. For a first time learner on project management - even for an experienced project manager - the area of coverage is overwhelming. Very few read PMBOK end to end and those who do, are lost in the immense depth provided by PMBOK.

The new approach completely simplifies the process of learning PMBOK. When any participant asks what s/he should read before coming to the program - I say:"Do not read any material or book. No beforehand knowledge is needed. You need not read anything at all.Many of them are taken back with this statement - but I ask them to come with a completely free mind. 

So, if you want to learn PMP, you need not know anything at all about PMBOK - absolutely nothing at all.

2. Remembering Inputs, Tools and Techniques, and Outputs (ITTOs):

How many ITTOs are there in PMBOK Guide? Well, there are some 600+ ITTOs.  Below is a list across all the knowledge areas (Link - View Directly)

Now, that is quite a long list. Can you remember all of them? No! In fact, not needed.

The PMP exam rarely asks a direct ITTO question. It does not test your memorizing ability of ITTOs. Rather, it does test - what you as a project manager would do in a specific situation and which specific Tool and Technique you can apply? You need to know why these are taken as Inputs and why some of them are outputs? You need to now - how a Tool or Technique is helping to get a particular output?

However, you have to remember some of the key ones like various baselines, various estimation techniques, various quality tools so on. Also some of the processes are not very easy to remember - like "Direct and Manage Project Work" or "Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis" or "Perform Integrated Change Control".  Why they are named so? How to remember them?

In both the above aspects, the approach has been significantly changed.

3. Being a Certified PMP:

One can say "He (or she) has gone through 35 PDU Program for PMP" or can say "A Certified PMP". Which one sounds good? You know. It is like saying - "Have prepared for the Engineering Entrance Exam" Vs "An Engineer". You know which one sounds appropriate. Is not it?

Your success will be measured being a Certified PMP. That is the bottom-line. I have not come across a single candidate who went for the exam with the preparation that I asked him/her to do and have failed in the exam. It has NEVER happened. With the new approach, I believe the time to get certified becomes shorter.


Considering all above three,  I have applied the changed approach in last few sessions - for "PMP Prep" and "Practical PMP with MS Project". It also will be applicable for "Agile PMP - PMBOK and AgileBOK" where PMBOK is taught as in "Practical PMP" and candidates are prepared for the PMP Exam. 

The good news is - the new approach is working quite well. Hence decided to write this post. If you want to know PMBOK in a very simple way; to understand its intricacies, the needed ITTOs, the flow of ITTOs across the 47 processes, and want to get quickly certified on PMP - welcome to a new way of learning.

To All My Readers - Wish You a Very Happy New Year 2015.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

PMP Success Story - Exam is Predominantly a Test of Your Psychology and Conceptual Understanding, Less of Your Memorizing Ability

Jawahar Duthuluru one of the youngest I have seen who has cracked the PMP Exam. He believes sufficient confidence building by conceptual understanding of PMBOK and only one reference book should help you to crack the Exam. More importantly, he says - the Exam is a test of one's psychology and less of one's memorizing ability. I agree with both.  

He is from one of the batches this year, where I know many have cracked the PMP Exam. His experience, however, is unique - before the exam, during the course of exam. 

He shares his preparation, approach along with certain myth busters and tips. 

Go on. Read his unique experience.


Hi All,

It is a great privilege to share my experience of PMP Journey. I wish my learnings will help aspirants in their journey to crack the exam.

Experience on 35 Hours PDU Program:

I have registered for training in April,2014. I feel that I was very lucky to have Satya Dash as trainer. The training was beyond my expectations. With Satya you don't just learn the concepts of Project Management, but you get all around experience and wisdom of being associated with a PM Guru. 

He doesn't dump knowledge on you from some text book, instead he educates you with his own perspectives and version of PM wisdom. 

I see Satya as not just a trainer for the exam, but a platform builder of Project Management career. 

Own Preparation: 

I have to prepare for nearly around 300 hours to reach confidence level to take up PMP exam. 

I started preparing sincerely 45 days before the exam and I found that it isn’t sufficient and then I have extended my exam date by 30 days to prepare and gain the confidence to handle PMP exam. Finally cracked it! "Not an easy journey"! 

PMP exam will emphasize PMBOK knowledge and Application. But overall PMP journey was a test to my commitment and wisdom. 

I have mentioned my preparation plan at a very high level in the last section – what I learnt from my PMP Journey.

PMP Exam Experience:

I cleared my PMP on October 30th. A proud moment in my career! 

Though I am well prepared with subject, I didn't practice enough with mock tests. I recommend anyone to practice at least 4-5. 

I just had a practice of 2 mock tests, which nearly put me very much under threat of losing despite sincere preparation. It took me nearly 20 minutes to completely focus my attention towards examination.

4 hours may not be sufficient (relative to each person) for you even though you are prepared well with the subject. You should be really be prepared with mind-set of having attention for 4 hours. I have attempted around 180-190 questions and ran out of time.

Suggestions and Learning for Aspirants:

Please go through standard assumptions/myths we have about PMP exam and what is true with that:

What I thought / we think about PMP preparation /Myths:
  • Need to go thorough 3 books at least. 
  • 4 Hours of exam time is more than sufficient if you prepare well.
  • 2 Mock tests are enough to prepare for real exam experience.
  • You need to remember a lot of stuff.
  • You need 4-5 months of preparation.
  • Real life Project Management experience doesn't help much. We can crack the exam by just studying.
What I really learnt after my PMP Journey:
  • One good book (Even Headfirst PMP) along with PMBOK (reference) is sufficient, but only if you prepare from cover-to cover (I mean 100%). I read every page of Headfirst, along with Index, Glossary and cover. Nothing else.
  • You should have your own notes. Which you can narrate like a story. [If you refer someone’s notes, you can’t stitch those concepts together]
  • 4 hours may not be sufficient for you even though you are prepared well with the subject.
  • It’s all about time management.
  • After you completed preparation with the book, and if you have 10 more days to go, Don’t try another book /Tutorial /videos. Instead do mock tests.
  • PMP is a test of your Psychology (70%) +Memory (30%).Remember concepts in sequential /systematic manner based on sequence, importance and situation where that concept is applied in real time.
  • Remember PMBOK page 61, EVM formulas. It really builds your confidence while handling difficult questions. [You can think in many ways if you remember those, else you would give-up]
  • Don’t drag your preparation. You may lose motivation. At max 90-100 days.
  • Real time Project management experience helps very well, if you can associate it with your study.

Good Luck! All the Best!!
-- Jawahar Duthuluru, Sr. Product Specialist, Jivox Software


Brief Profile: Jawahar Duthuluru is an information technology professional and works with Jivox Software India Pvt Ltd, Bangalore, India as a Senior Product Specialist. His online PMP profile is available at PMI Online Credential Registry.

I am thankful to Jawahar for sharing his exam experience in his quest for PMP, which I believe will enrich and guide others in their respective journeys for the PMI-PMP Exam.

You may also like: