Thursday, September 01, 2016

PMP Success Story: Continue With Your Momentum No Matter What May Come

Saurabh Singhal successfully cracked the PMP® exam and believes it is a huge confidence booster. The learning that he has, in this process, also helps him in talking to the senior management in his organization. 

Saurabh was part of my class in January 2016. He was sitting at the front of my class and I remember him to be very attentive throughput the session.  After being a PMP, when he called me, his sense of joy was palpable. I share his happiness. In fact, the other good part is this: Many from this batch have gone successfully through the PMP exam and few have also shared their experiences in this blog. 

Below, he has outlined his ups and downs, being selected and clearing the audit process and again starting off with renewed vigour. Go on and read his unique experience. 

For quite some time I wanted to broaden my sphere and increase the horizon of my work. The PMP credential seemed to be a good option but I never took it seriously until I got a chance to attend a training in my organization. The training was called Projects Leads Workshop which introduced me to Project Management concepts like Project Charter, WBS, Estimation techniques etc. 

I then started to look for a good training institute and most importantly, a good trainer. I searched for PMP registered REPs on the Internet and got a brief profile about the trainer, Satya Narayan Dash and found him to be good.

PMP Training Experience
I attended the classroom training in the end of January, led by Satya Narayan Dash. I must say that after just a couple of hours I knew I made a right decision. He was very knowledgeable and explained the concepts really well. 
One of the things that I liked most about his coaching style is that he was correlating the Project management concepts with real life scenarios, which made the things quite clear to me. His flowcharts were really helpful in understanding the overall process flow.

At the end of the session, I had a plan with me. The only challenge was to stick to it. Now that I’ve cleared the PMP, I think I managed it fairly.

My Own Study
Before I get into my detailed study plan, I would like to tell you that I just referred two books i.e. the PMBOK® guide and the prep book by Rita Mulcahy and attempted only the free mock quizzes available on the web. 

I started with the PMBOK. I used to complete one knowledge area in couple of days and attempted the questions related to that area. Although there were so many things which were not clear at that time but I still continued because maintaining the rhythm was crucial. After finishing the PMBOK, I started reading Rita’s book and I maintained the same pace as I maintained for PMBOK. After reading the book, a lot of things started coming into perspective. The process charts in her book were really helpful to identify and distinguish various processes. 

After I finished reading both the books, I tried my luck with my first mock tests. I finished it much before 4 hours but I scored around 70%. I tried some other tests taken from the web. I scored the same in those tests as well. 

I did some retrospective and found my weak areas. I reread those Knowledge Areas from both the reference book and PMBOK guide, and I found that this time I’m able to understand most of the things. I then read both the books again and attempted the mock tests again. This time I started getting scores above 80% and I felt that I can take the exam. I remembered the IITOs related to just two Knowledge Areas, Risk and Procurement because there are lot of questions that requires you to know the Process in which you are based on those ITTOs. For all other I had prepared my own notes to understand the overall flow.

My PMP Exam Experience
As soon as I did the payment, my application was selected for audit. Here is when I would like to associate my learning with the essence of my topic “Don’t break the Journey”. Till the clearance by the audit process, I did not study any further. And the effect that had on my confidence is extremely profound. When I resumed my studies with some more mock tests, I found that not only I’m scoring little low but my confidence has also gone low. So my suggestion is to not break your studies. Continue the momentum no matter what may come.

I reached the Prometric centre 45 minutes the schedule time and they allowed me to start the test before the schedule time. There is a 15 minutes session on how to use and navigate the system. I sat there and utilized all those 15 minutes to get relaxed. Initial few questions were tough and as you move further, you get used to it. I marked just 10 questions for review and at the end of three hours, I completed all the 200 questions. I just reviewed those marked questions and changed the options only for a couple of questions and submitted the exam. Neither did I have patience to go over all the questions again, nor did I have energy left. And I also knew that my first attempt is usually right. 
  • 95% of the questions were situational and scenario based, e.g., “What should the PM do next in this case”? My suggestion is that read all the options at least twice before marking the answer because options are really close. 
  • Think logically about what would happen if PM does what is there in the option and you would arrive at the right answer. 
  • Quite a few questions were on closing the project. So understand the differences among various documents that needs to be updated during closure.
  • Did not encounter any question where I had to write down any formula to get the answer. There were no questions on network diagram either.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  - Dos:
      • Understand the concepts well especially the Tools and Techniques.
      • Define a study plan and stick to it.
      • Attempt as many mock exams as possible.
      • Think like a Project Manager in the exam.
  - Don’ts:
      • Don’t lose confidence during the initial few minutes of the exam. The exam really tests the
        mental strength along with analytical thinking.
      • Don’t break your journey.

One of the primary reasons for doing PMP for me was to diversify my work. Though, this is not accomplished immediately, the confidence that PMP credential has given me is getting reflected in my work now. I’m acquainted with project management terms and terminologies now and I’m more relaxed and confident in talking to the higher management.

Brief Profile: Saurabh Singhal, Lead Analyst in CGI, Primarily a Business Analyst in the ERP domain.


Saurabh’s PMP credential is available at PMI’s online credential registry.  

I am thankful to Saurabh for sharing his PMP experience.  I believe it will help the readers of this blog, who are aspiring their own credentials.

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