Saturday, January 17, 2015

PMP Success Story - Prepare Yourself for Situational Questions, Take Sufficient Practice Tests and Have Fun while Learning

PrashantT K.R prepared earnestly for the PMP exam. Today he is a proud PMP. As noted many times before in this blog, the exam is not easy and a rote learner will find it very difficult to pass the exam. Prashant took a detailed approach for his preparation. 
He also had some innovative ways in his PMP journey, some of which are:
  • Preparation with a Gantt Chart to check on milestones 
  • Imagine yourself as a PMP certified professional throughout the preparation
  • Most interesting part is having fun while learning - Imagine some well-known persons talking on or responding to a specific Knowledge Area of PMBOK Guide

Prashant was one of the participants who was very attentive during my session and has a lot of humility during learning, which in my opinion is one of the prerequisites to learn well. Some months later, when we spoke, he lacked a little bit of confidence, but I knew he was quite well prepared and on a right track. He just needed a helping hand to meet his goal. It is gut feeling, or intuition– whatever you may call – I knew that here is a PMP coming and I told him so.  

He has outlined his unique experience in his way. He has shared his own way of having fun while learning - imagine an Amitabh Bachchan talking on a Project Management topic like Integration Management!

Go on and read how he got certified as a PMI-PMP. 

It gives me a great sense of relief and a feeling of achievement to realize that I am a certified PMP now. I used to think earlier that one day I will write my learnings to help others and I feel so glad to share my experience.

PMP Trainings
I did a lot of research on the PMP training programs in my city, enquired each and every details about the course, the process, the tutor. I even compared the Tutors profile to others and spoke to ex participants about the quality of the course who attended. All were directing me to Mr Satya Narayan Dash. I along-with my good friend enrolled for PMP contact classes for 4 days. I would say my experience with the training program was far more than satisfactory. 

Satya has very deep knowledge on Project Management concepts and skills. His teaching style is different and one can easily connect to what he says or teaches. He is not just a trainer but a true mentor.

It is ideal to give the PMP exam right after the training as your knowledge and learnings are fresh and you can relate to the concepts very well. However in my case, that didn’t happen and my life and job priorities took over and I left the preparation in between. After about 3 months, I felt I should pull up my socks and start preparing towards my exam. I came up with a Gantt chart that helped me track my milestones with respect to each knowledge area.  I referred Andy Crowe initially for my PMP preparation as it was easy to understand.

I spent almost 2 to 3 days initially for each knowledge area and was about to complete the whole book in 1.5 months with some amount of irregularity. I started my second round of reading and went in detail this time, solving chapter questions and understanding where I lacked. I can say that I was able to score 70-80% in all the chapter questions. My third round of study was again a detailed one , filling my knowledge gaps, referring other materials, looking up for more information on internet, youtube etc.

Also to get some fun out of this whole study, I had imagined one celebrity assigned to each knowledge area. For instance I imagined Amitabh Bachchan talking about Integration management. Priyanka Chopra talking about scope management. Imagining Hrithik Roshan in a huge poster of Risk Management and promoting as if it’s a film. So if there is a question – let us say Risk - I would imagine what Hrithik would have done in this scenario. 

I gave my 1st sample test from Andy Crowe and scored around 76% which was an OK score. I tried my knowledge on Rita’s sample question and I scored 61%. This jolted my confidence a little bit.

This is when I contacted Mr Satya for his advice on the way forward and he selflessly guided me through on what I should be targeting and should be concentrating on. This one call had a huge difference in clearing my PMP exam.  I cannot stop thanking him for all that guidance he provided me.

This is what I did later:
I realized that I am little poor at situational based questions, so I started skimming for situational based questions from Rita, PMStudy, PMPforsure and other PMP websites. I kept solving all types of questions no matter whether it was correct or wrong. I tried to understand how the questions were actually framed. I tried to understand the pattern of the questions and its correct answers.

I solved all the questions from Rita PMPFasttrack from all the process groups totaling up to 1600. I downloaded various PMP apps on my smartphone and kept solving them whenever I got time. I enrolled myself for for 4 sample tests and I was able to score more than 75% consistently. In all I might have tried solving around 4500-5000 sample questions. I would say solving sample papers is a key towards clearing PMP exam. So look for solving as many questions as you would like to get a hang of it. I referred following books/Articles/Videos throughout my PMP preparation
  • Classroom Study Notes
  • Andy Crowe – How to Pass PMP in your first try
  • HeadFirst PMP – Especially for Time Management and Cost Management chapter.
  • Rita Version 8 – Skim through for missing gaps and chapter questions
  • Videos and Podcasts on PMP Prep from Internet, YouTube channels
  • – 4 sample tests 

PMP Exam
I was really nervous as the days started nearing. Mr Satya had advised to go and visit the test center 1 day before the exam to get a feeling of the hall, surroundings etc. I could not stress more importance on this part. I did plan to go to the testing center 2 days before and I was shocked to see my Car’s punctured tyre and unfortunately there was no other transportation that I could rely on. I am glad I figured this out 2 days earlier so that I could fix it rather than having it fixed on the D-day. (Most likely I would have cancelled my exam if I had not done this check 2 days before).

My exam was scheduled on 8 AM on Monday morning and I worked from home the whole of last week to prepare for the exam. I mostly solved all 4 sample question papers from PMstudy and Rita.  I stopped reading like after 3PM on Sunday and spend some time playing with my kid, watched some TV, sports etc. and went off to sleep. Next morning, I just browsed through the notes that I had prepared and that’s it.

My testing center was in San Jose, US. I entered the examination hall and was screened throughout for security and other obvious reasons. I was directed towards the PMP computer system. The 1st 15 minutes was a tutorial about the exam. I used this time to jot down the process-knowledge area table, all the formulas. Be aware that there will be students around taking tests and there will be some amount of noise.

I started off well, knocking off easy questions but somewhere down the lane, I lost my pace when I was just at 70th question in 1 hour. However later I picked it up, marked few for later and I could complete all 200 question in 2 hours and 45 minutes. I took a 10 minute break and then finished the marked ones first and then skimmed all the 200 questions again. I did change 4 answers during my final skimming and finished it somehow.
The wait time after finishing the exam is excruciating. I could hear my heart beat so loud and was so relieved to see “Congratulations” message on the screen. I heaved a sigh of relief.

  • Read one book be it Andy or Rita at least 3 times with undivided attention.
  • Go through the PMBOK at least twice. Read the glossary in the PMBOK whenever you get time.
  • Solve at least 1500-1800 questions before attempting the real exam.
  • Don’t conclude with the scores that you get during the sample test. All that matters is that you understand why you chose that wrong answer over the correct one.
  • PMP exam is a test of psychology and your mind and thinking is at test for that 4 hours. It all depends on how you think for a situation on that D- Day.
  • Clear the fundamentals and concepts. Understand the process flow, understand what happens before and next for each knowledge area.
Initiating, Executing and Closing process groups are the easiest groups, so target to be “Proficient” in these areas. Project Management experience helps to some extent in preparation.

Imagine yourself as a PMP certified already all through the preparation. Imagine the smile on your face after clearing the PMP exam while preparing for the same :-)
Wish you all the best :-) 

-- PrashantT K. R, PMP®

Brief Profile: I have been in the IT industry since last 10 years having diverse experience in the field of QA. Currently I am Project Manager for Infosys Limited working from San Francisco Bay Area, US.


I am thankful to Prashant for sharing his PMP exam experience. I believe he has outlined his experience in a detailed way and it will prove to be useful for many future PMP aspirants in their journey and quest for PMP.

Book Available for PMP Exam:
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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Practical PMP (PMBOK) with MSP (MS Project) - Updates Post Mumbai, India and Mexico City, Mexico Sessions

Practical PMP with MS Project is quite different than the 'usual' PMP Prep program. Of course, it prepares you for PMP Program and by doing it, the PMP aspirants are eligible to get 35 PDUs from PMI, which meets the criteria number -1.  The key part however is the Practicals, which prepares you with Microsoft Project 2010 or 2013 (MSP 2010/2013) reflecting on the theories of various knowledge areas, processes of PMBOK Guide. If you are keen, you can also go for the MS Project certification from Microsoft as that this program prepares you for that, too. 

There has been many sessions conducted on "Practical PMP with MSP". However, few of them are available as blog posts here, which might give you certain understanding on it: 
In classroom sessions, it is not only Time Management from PMBOK Guide which is covered with MS Project 2013 (or MS Project 2010), but also other knowledge areas - Scope Management, Cost Management, Human  Resource Management, Communication Management, Quality Management et al - are covered as well. Also, there will be a number of practicals, which are built on from the very beginning. 

As Year 2015 begins, the course material has been updated, for both "Practical PMP with MSP 2010" and "Practical PMP with MSP 2013". The earlier edition of "Practical PMP with MS Project" has been used in many places in India and abroad, but decided to write this post on what exactly the updates have been in 2015 - for the New Edition.

Practical PMP (PMBOK Guide 5th Ed) with MSP (Project 2013) in Mumbai, India

In the last quarter of 2014, Practical PMP with MSP session was conducted at BlueDart Express, Mumbai, India.

At Mumbai, the team ranged from fresh management trainees to highly experienced management professionals. As Practical PMP program takes a strong collaborative discussion with practicals and white board sessions, the most heartening part was to see very senior management professionals not only took a strong hands-on approach to the program, but also came forward to all the white board discussions.  

The questions were numerous from the team and in the end the team succeeded in building the main process flow for the entire PMBOK Guide and learned how to apply MS Project 2013 in many knowledge areas of PMBOK guide.

To have an introductory understanding on how to use PMBOK with MS Projet, from Time Management Perspective, you can refer:
Post session, based on feedback and also to have a best of content, I decided to have certain updates, which are (primarily with respect to MS Project):
  • Scope Management:
    • WBS related advanced techniques are added, which are quite a few in MS Project
  • Time Management, Human Resource Management:
    • Calendars updated including addition for Task Calendars in Project
    • Calendar concept is available in PMBOK, however in a real world practical life of a manager, more are needed. 
  • Cost Management:
    • EVM related practical examples with MS Project
    • More TCPI related calculations are added
  • Communication Management:
    • BurnUp Reports, BurnDown Reports and other Important Reports (includes customized) in MSP
  • Stakeholder Management:
    • How to add/modify/update stakeholder register in MS Project
  • Professional and Social Responsibility:
    • Added inline with the latest one
Note: As per latest Exam Content Outline (ECO), the "Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct" has not been explicitly noted in percent based segmentation. Hence was not available earlier. However, it has been added in this new edition, for a complete professional experience.

Practical PMP (PMBOK Guide 5th) with MSP (Project 2010) in Mexico City, Mexico:

Practical PMP with MSP program was conducted in Mexico City, Mexico in the 2nd week of December, 2014.  

To have an initial understanding on how to use PMBOK with MS Project, from Time Management Perspective:
In December 2014, Practical PMP with MSP was conducted in Mexico City, Mexico.In North America, the traction for MS Project 2010 is still quite high, though the latest release of Project is 2013. Considering it, the material for Practical PMP with MS Project 2010 has been updated. The updates are primarily with respect to MS Project sections:
  • Time Management, Cost Management, Scope Management:
    • How to manage multiple baselines in MSP
    • Single baseline related information was already available.  
  • Human Resource Management:
    • Multiple Resource Graphs in MSP for resource related analysis 
    • Team Planner View in MSP further elaborated
    • Utility of Team Planner View with Activity Resource Requirements phase in Time Management
  • Professional and Social Responsibility:
    • Added inline with the latest one
Other than the new graphical reporting features of MS Project 2013, which are part of Communication Management, all updates of "Practical PMP with MS Project 2013" are also available in "Practical PMP with MS Project 2010" and vice-versa.

Updated Course Content: Practical PMP with MS Project 2013:

For the updated details, you can check at - Practical PMP with MSP. It has Course Objective/Overview, Frequently Asked Questions, Certification Process and the Complete Course Details for both PMP on PMBOK Guide 5th Edition and MS Project 2013 built step by step for each module. 

Updated Course Content: Practical PMP with MS Project 2010:

For the updated details, you can check at - Practical PMP with MSP. It has Course Objective/Overview, Frequently Asked Questions, Certification Process and the Complete Course Details for both PMP on PMBOK Guide 5th Edition and MS Project 2010 built step by step for each module.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

New Course - Practical PMP with Oracle Primavera P6

Practical PMP with MS Project 2010/2013 (earlier with Project 2007) have been used in various classroom sessions - both India and abroad - since its introduction in 2008. I was getting queries on how to apply the principles and practices of PMBOK Guide with Oracle Primavera P6. As far as I have been asked, it is mostly from the construction and manufacturing industry professionals. However, it is used in various industrial verticals as the tool is considered quite robust when compared with its peers. Hence, decided to introduce this new approach to PMP Preparation Program (since last month) - Practical PMP with Oracle Primavera P6. This post outlines - what it is, what are the benefits, what is the course coverage, how to get certified on PMI-PMP as well on Oracle Primavera P6. 

In real world, while your theoretical knowledge holds certain value, it is far more important to know the practical usage, i.e. how to apply the theoretical knowledge piratically. What I meant, can be tested with these questions, :
1) Will you go to a Doctor who tells that (s)he has a degree in MBBS, but do not know how to operate on a patient?  
- OR- Will you go to a Doctor who knows how to practically operate along with a degree in MBBS? 
2) Will you recruit a Java/J2EE Programmer who says (s)he has a certification from Oracle on Java/J2EE, but does not know how to code in Java?  
- OR- Will you recruit a Java/J2EE programmer who has a Certification and also knows how to code based on practical knowledge? 
3) Will you recruit a Manager or a candidate for Managerial role, who says (s)he is a Certified PMP on PMBOK, but does not know how to apply the principles of PMP in a real world using management tools?
OR - Will you recruit a Manager who is a Certified PMP as well as knows how to apply the Principle of PMP in the real world with practical tools such as Oracle Primavera or MS Project?
You know answers to all the above questions. Don't you? These were initially put, years before, while introducing Practical PMP with MS Project 2007 and subsequently for PMP with Project 2010/2013. The motivation for this new course - "Practical PMP with Oracle Primavera P6" - remains in those lines. So, if someone asks:

What is "Practical PMP with Primavera P6"?

Short Answer will be - it is "PMBOK 5th Edition with Oracle Primavera P6 8.x". It is a practical, real-word driven program that not only helps you to prepare your quest for PMP Certification from PMI, but also prepares you fully hands-on with a practical tool, i.e., Oracle Primavera P6. 

With this program - from the PMBOK Guide, you not only understand earned value management (EVM), but also you know how to obtain EVM Metrics with Primavera P6; from the PMBOK Guide, you not only understand Risk Management – risk categorization, SWOT analysis, P & I value etc., but also how to take all of them and create a risk register with Primavera P6; From the PMBOK Guide you not only know about the work breakdown structure (WBS), the various levels of WBS, WBS IDs and WBS Dictionary, but also you know how to create them practically as it happens in a real world project.

To understand in detail about the program, following reference links will help:

1. Practical PMP with Oracle Primavera P6 - Overview
2. Practical PMP with Oracle Primavera P6 - Complete Course
3. Practical PMP with Oracle Primevera P6 - Benefits
4. Practical PMP with Oracle Primavera P6 - Certification Process
5. Practical PMP with Oracle Primevera P6 - Who can attend
6. Practical PMP with Oracle Primevera P6 - FAQ

Primavera P6 remains one of the most widely used tools in the global project and portfolio management market. Last year, I had tweeted on it.

Recently in the last quarter of 2014, I was again asked by two senior construction industry professionals in Bangalore - if they can have a course on PMP with hands-on session with Primavera P6 . Now, you can! You have this course where you can leverage both - Preparation for PMP Exam and also Prepare yourself with Oracle Primavera P6 step-by-step. 

This course is moduralized and each module along with with practical is built on the previous module. There are practicals where you learn a whole gamut of PMBOK practices - WBS, scope baseline, cost baseline, schedule baseline, various scheduling techniques, risk register, various calendars, stakeholder register, various variances with respect to cost, scope, schedule, EVM, network diagrams, various resources and their management, organizational breakdown structure etc. They will be applicable across various knowledge areas, process groups and processes of PMBOK Guide.

The content details of this course is also available at - Practical PMP with Primavera.

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Thursday, January 08, 2015

New White Paper: PMBOK 5th Edition and Oracle Primavera P6 R8.x - A Practical Step by Step Guide

Oracle Primavera P6 is a widely used software tool in Enterprise Project and Portfolio Management. Considering its popularity, I decided to evaluate the latest version, i.e., Primavera P6 R8.4 with PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition. The software tool works extremely well when compared with various knowledge areas of PMBOK Guide such as Time, Scope, Cost, Human Resource, Risk, Stakeholder etc. However, in this paper, the Knowledge Area taken from PMBOK is "Time Management", as Time/Schedule is one of the most important parameters in project/program management.

This is a first of its kind paper that talks of PMBOK and Primavera P6 side by side and how to use the practices and principles in PMBOK with the help of Primavera P6. PM World Journal has published the paper in its Volume IV, Issue 1, January 2015. Thank you. 

The paper is based on PMBOK Guide 5th Edition and Oracle Primavera P6 Professional Release 8.4. It also will be applicable for the earlier versions of Primavera P6, e.g., R8.3 or R8.2. 

Few excerpts from the paper:

5.1.2 Work Breakdown Structure – WBS (PMBOK/Primavera P6) 
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is created in “Create WBS” process of “Scope Management” KA. As per PMBOK, the WBS is the hierarchal decomposition of work to be carried out by the project team to create the project deliverables. A WBS is created from the Scope Management Plan and Project Scope Statement.  
In Primavera P6, first the creation of WBS is a needed as a good practice. Without WBS, you can have activities too, but that will be an unnatural thing to do....
5.1.14 Critical Path (PMBOK/Primavera P6) 
Critical Path method is defined as one of the Tools and Techniques in “Schedule Development” PA under Time Management KA of PMBOK guide....

The concept of critical path is same in Primavera P6. The options for Critical Activities can be set in the General Tab of Tools -> Schedule -> Options -> Schedule Options.  

If the option for Total Float of ‘less than or equal to’ is taken, then the maximum float time for activities should be specified, before they are marked critical. A new number and time unit can be entered. If Longest Path is selected, then the activities on the longest path in the network are considered critical.  Next, the “Scheduler” of Primavera has to run. Based on the options set, the Activities will be marked as Critical.
As shown above, the activities marked in red are in Critical Path and they are Critical Activities. ...

5.1.14 Resource Optimization Techniques - Resource Levelling (PMBOK/Primavera P6) 
“Resource Optimization Techniques” is one of the Tools and Techniques defined in “Develop Schedule” and “Control Schedule” PA under Time Management KA as defined in PMBOK guide. One of the Resource Optimization Techniques is “Resource Levelling”, which means no resource should be more than 100% allocated. 
In Primavera P6, the concept of resource levelling is same. Resource levelling options is launched from the “Tools” menu.   
Both manual or auto resource levelling option can be set with the Levelling Option dialog box in Primavera P6. The dialog box is shown below. ... ... 
5.2.3 Schedule Baseline (PMBOK) Vs Baseline (Primavera P6) 
“Schedule Baseline” is created in the “Develop Schedule” PA of “Time Management KA” as defined in PMBOK Guide. 
The Baseline concept in Primavera P6 considers all the above mentioned steps. To create a baseline, choose “Project” menu -> “Maintain Baseline” and then click “Add” and then “Choose to save a copy of the current project as a new baseline”. ... ... 
In Primavera, after performing a baseline, there will not be any visible reflection of baseline in the Gantt Chart under “Layout: Classic Schedule Layout”. However, to see the baselined data, one can switch to “Layout: Baseline Vs Current”.  

In Primavera P6, some the concepts are different compared to other project management tools from different vendors. It has some of the unique features available such as Graphical WBS, Graphical RBS, Multiple options to change your Critical Path etc. while going with Time Management. All of them are illustrated in the paper. 

In fact, all of the major Inputs, Tools and Techniques and Outputs (ITTOs) of Time Management and few from Scope and Human Resource Management of PMBOK are taken and shown with the help of Primavera P6 - Resource Breakdown Structure (RBS), Leads and Lags, Compression techniques (Fast Tracking and Crashing), Various types of Activities, Various types of Duration, Relationships/Dependencies, the overall Enterprise Project Structure, various types of milestones (in Primavera P6 there are two kinds), Network Diagram, Various types of Calendars and so on. 

Below is the link for the complete white paper - filled with practical hands on learning on PMBOK 5th Edition with Oracle Primavera P6 Professional R8.x.

Download White Paper (Free): PMBOK Guide 5th Edition and Oracle Primavera P6: A Practical Step by Step Approach for Time Management 

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