Tuesday, February 14, 2017

RMP Success Story: Go for It, If You Are Actively Managing Risks in Your Projects

By Sindhu Sreenath, PMP, RMP

Why Go For RMP?

If you have been applying Risk strategies, proactively identifying and documenting Risks through thorough planning, and implementing methods to analyze, prioritize, mitigate, eliminate negative risks and even take advantage of positive risks, then it's a great time to study and learn how PMI® defines Risk Management. 

And that's why I decided to give the PMI®-RMP® certification a try.

Learnings from the RMP Exam

Below are few salient pointers on my learnings from the RMP Exam.

1. You are not required to be PMP certified to give the PMI RMP. But, if you do not understand the principles of project management and the role risks play in every aspect of it, then this might not be an easy feat.

2. Studying for the PMP has its advantages. If you have been preparing for the PMP or are already PMP certified and considering PMI-RMP, then don't delay the process. Giving the RMP within the first couple of months of getting done with the PMP is very advantageous. I found myself answering many questions from my PMP study rather than the RMP study.

3. Know your tools. If you do not use Risk tools such as Oracle® Primavera® and are not exposed to the Monte Carlo analysis, you might want to consider doing a quick ramp on the same. Expect up to 25% of the questions to be based on Quantitative risk analysis with reference to your tools.

4. Study material for the RMP is tricky. The practice standard for RMP is rather out dated but you must still read it at least once. Refer to the PMBOK® Guide’s Risk Management knowledge area section, but also check the processes that this knowledge area interacts with. This includes Time, Cost, Communications, Stakeholder and even partially procurement management. In-spite of this you might find yourself exposed to terms that you are unfamiliar with in the exam.

Satya’s eBook – "I Want To Be A RMP"

While I was one of the fortunate few who was given access to review Satya's "I want to be a RMP - The plain and simple way to be a RMP", I was not fortunate enough to do so prior to my exam. But nevertheless, I managed to pass and am in a better position to identify how helpful Satya's book is for anybody who is interested in studying or preparing to be certified.
  1. Although Satya mentions "This book is to be read as a companion with the PMBOK Guide, The Practice Standard for Project Risk Management and the RMP Examination Content Outline", I personally feel this book is all you need to pass the RMP Exam, provided you understand the PMP concepts and have applied Risk Management in your profession.
  2. Revision is the key to success in this exam, and Satya highlights the same frequently in all the chapters. Try recollecting what you have studied when you encounter this point, and if you cannot remember what you have read, go back and re-read it. This way it will stay imprinted in your memory.
  3. Reference documents specified are extremely useful if you are looking for ways to implement Risk Management in your organization and Satya has a very crisp list to assist you with. (Refer Chapter 2 in the book).
  4. Using Primavera Tool snapshots to help you understand practical examples is an excellent way to understand Risk management and how to approach applying it, which are covered extensively in this book.
  5. ITTO (Inputs, Tools & Techniques and Outputs) are extremely important from an exam standpoint and are explained very well with process flow diagrams depicting exchange of documents that help in better understanding the flow.
  6. Recurrence of the disastrous Cyclone in Odisha is taken as an amazing example to summarize the importance of Risk management alongside actual results derived from this implementation which helped save thousands of lives. Throughout the book, you will find examples of real-life scenarios that will help understand concepts in a practical manner.

Important concepts to prepare for the exam (with references to Satya's book)
  1. Organizational structure - From PMBOK this concept is only explained in the first 2 chapters with no emphasis thrown on it in the Risk Management Chapter. However, you will find several references to organizational structure matrices and composition of project teams through situational based questions in the exam. Expect at least 5-8 questions. (Refer Chapter 3)
  2. Environmental and Organizational Impacts on Risk management are important as they are part of almost all ITTO's. Expect up to 5 questions in the exam. (Refer to Chapter3)
  3. Known vs Unknown Risks - Understand the importance of Known vs Unknown risks and how you can identify them in a given scenario. You are continuously tested regarding this concept on the exam. (Refer to Chapter 4)
  4. Estimation Techniques are described in one place in Satya's chapter 4. If you need to gather this information from PMBOK you will need to read through several chapters.
  5. Contingent and Management Reserves - You will find around 5-8 questions regarding theoretical and calculative questions on the types of reserves in the exam. You will need to apply Beta Distribution, PERT estimate, and finally do a Monte Carlo simulation. (Refer to Chapter 4 & 8)
  6. Plans vs Documents - Understanding the difference between Project Management plans and project documents makes the process of learning easier because sometimes it can get confusing. (Satya's Chapter 5 covers this in simple terms)
  7. Risk Categorization - Expect at least 5 scenario-based questions on identifying the category of a given risk. (Refer to Chapter 5)
  8. Risk Identification techniques are frequently asked in direct and in-direct references throughout the exam. Pay close attention to "Information Gathering Techniques", "Group Creativity Techniques" and "Group Decision making Techniques". If you had to gather this information from PMBOK it is distributed in sections across Quality Management, Cost, Time and Scope Management. However, (Satya's Chapter 6) has a clean and crisp reference to all the techniques.
  9. Prompt lists - While you can definitely expect 2-3 questions with Prompt lists, they are often used as wrong choices in many questions as well. Know the expansion for each - PESTLE, TECOP, SPECTRUM. (Refer to Chapter 6)
  10. Risk Urgency and Manageability - You will face around 3-4 questions on this.  (Refer to Chapter 7)
  11. Probability & Impact (PI) Matrix - Understanding the PI matrix is very important as this helps quantify risk in the real world. Satya has managed to show a Primavera example alongside PMBOK's PI Matrix to depict the Scoring Model. Probability, Impact, Manageability and Proximity.  (Refer to Chapter 7)
  12. Butterfly Matrix is explained only in this book. I found a question on the same in the exam and had to take a guess.  (Refer to Chapter 7)
  13. Calculations on EMV (Expected Monetary Value), DTA (Decision Tree Analysis), and even EVM (Earned value Management) were present in plenty. Understand how to work with the theory behind the calculations and it is much simpler to solve these questions. Expect questions on Duration and Cost Sensitivity analysis, Critical Path and Critical chain to find "float" or "slack" questions. (Refer to Chapter 8)
  14. Probability distribution, Triangle, PERT, Beta Distribution and standard deviation - At least 5-7 intimidating statistical Monte Carlo analysis "what-if" and "sensitivity analysis" questions were asked. The answers to which are rather simple but ensure you familiarize yourself with the formulae and tools.  (Refer to Chapter 8)
  15. Terms like LogNormal Distribution, Rectangular Distribution, Asymmetrical Distribution, Discrete Distribution, S-curve are not exposed anywhere in PMBOK Guide. Latin Hypercube - Usually used as a wrong option in questions is easy to eliminate if you understand what it means.  (Refer to Chapter 8)
  16. Risk Response Strategies for negative and positive risks are part of 5-6 scenario based questions. (Refer to Chapter 9)
  17. Change requests and Workarounds - Understanding when to apply a change request and when a workaround is implemented is important. Expect 4-5 questions on the same. (Refer to Chapter 10)

As you can see, this is an excellently articulated book covering all aspects of Risk Management through real-life examples alongside Primavera and Monte Carlo references. While this is my personal recommendation, do skim through the PMBOK Guide and the Practice Standard for Risk Management. 

All the best for your RMP exam!

Brief Profile: Sindhu Sreenath, Program Manager, Intel Corporation. 

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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

PMP Success Story: Worth Studying and Understanding the Project Management Concepts from PMI

By Mangala Bhat, PMP

During my job search, I found that, along with work experience, industry expects PMP® certification. I started looking for different providers both face to face or online sessions. Finally, I decided to take a face to face training to obtain the required contact hours. 

Face to face learning gives more opportunity to know the subject and to ask questions or seek advice.  After paying the fee, I checked with the provider about the coach and I was very satisfied with the feedback given in their website about Satya Narayan Dash.

Coaching Experience
PMP coaching over the two weekends were very intensive. It is a vast subject to be covered in such a short time.  Satya gave many tips about the topics of interest for the exams throughout the sessions which are very helpful for the further preparation for the exams. The complete content covered by Satya was clear and helpful in understanding the PMBOK® better.

Application Submission
After attending the session, you would know different process areas. Based on that, you need to be able to divide your project management effort into different groups and keep them ready for entering in the application form. Better to become a PMI® member, update your complete profile and start entering the already noted down project details into the application. You can take your time to complete the application. Once the fee was paid, my plan to schedule the exam in little over a month.

My Study
After initial 2 days’ of classroom session I became PMI member and obtained my copy of PMBOK guide and started reading it. Then I changed my strategy and took some trial exams – wherever I was unable to crack or have lack of understanding, I would go through the guide and if the question is out of bound, I would search on the internet. I studied the PMBOK guide once completely. The books and mock exams referred are:

  • The PMBOK Guide, 5th Edition
  • Rita Mulcahy’s book 
  • 75 free questions from Oliver Lehmann
  • Contents from the internet

While taking mock exams, it is very important to understand why your answer is wrong and also why the other answer is correct.

I noticed that the questions difficulty level in real exam was similar to chapter end questions of Rita’s book. However, the answers are more confusing in the real exam. Also, while taking chapter end questions, as you will be aware of which chapter questions you are taking, it is easy to guess the right answer. 

PMP Exam Experience
I had scheduled my exams in the morning of 11th January, 2017. I gave them a call to confirm the appointment scheduled earlier.  On the exam day, I reached the centre well in advance. At the centre, I was briefed about the exam process. There is no brain dump allowed before the actual exam begins. I received 4 work sheets, 2 pencils and a calculator. 

I attended 100 questions and took a break for 5 minutes.  I took 3.5 hours to complete the first round of 200 questions. I had marked few questions for review and I reviewed them in next half an hour. Strike through option which is available to mark the incorrect answers helped while reviewing the marked questions. While answering in the exam, I was confident that I would pass and I was happy to see the “Congratulations” message.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • Once applied study well and understand how different processes are related.
  • Solve as many situational questions or mathematical questions as possible along with reading the PMBOK Guide.

  • Do not delay in submitting the application.
  • During the exam, do not hurry while reading the question/answers. Read carefully and fully. 

It was worth studying and understanding the project management in PMI way. It has motivated me to obtain further certifications of PMI.

Brief Profile: I am a project management professional with over 16 years of experience. I worked as project manager in Tpvision India Private Limited.