Wednesday, March 01, 2017

PMP Success Story: A Valuable Certification for Project Management Practitioners

By Tina Maria Jose, PMP

It is a pleasure to share my PMP journey with you. I hope this helps you to know on the certification process and also prepare for your certification. 

PMP Coaching Experience
It is mandatory to attend 35 contact hours on project management before you apply for the PMP exam.  My classes happened over two weekends in September 2016.

A friend who had attended Satya’s training there suggested I too enroll for the contact hours. I’m happy that I did just that. I would summarize the overall training experience as ‘Exceeds Expectation’. Satya is indeed a management Guru! He didn’t just go through the training materials and instead gave us lots of tips and tricks to crack the exam as well as additional reading materials which covers some of crucial topics in detail.  Passing the exam was very important to me, but I also wanted to deep dive into the concepts and apply them to my projects. So, I was impressed with the coaching. 

Satya has some unique study guides which helps you learn the process and process groups which he has also elaborated in his book – I Want To Be A PMP. I also suggest going through the articles in his blog. They are very informative.

My Study Plan
I wanted to give the exam the exam within a month. But, my application went into an audit. I lost around 3 weeks in the audit process. Also, I had some other work/travel commitments. Hence finally I ended up scheduling the exam on December 8, 2016. 

I would spend 3 -4 Hours daily on weekdays and 6-8 hours on weekends. It was hard to do with work commitments. I used to wake up early and set aside time for studying before tackling work emails. I couldn’t devote as much time I wanted to, but made it a point to do mock exams almost every day in November.  

PMI’s Audit process
My PMP application went for audit. I want to give my first-hand experience on the audit process. I believe it will help you - the readers. 

Once you fill all the required information online and submit the application, PMI will send you an email within 5 days asking you to make payment. You will not know if your application goes to audit until after you have made the payment. 

I was slightly disappointed to see the message - “Your application has been randomly selected for PMI's audit process.” after I made the payment.  But that’s how it is. You cannot avoid the audit as it’s a random process and anyone can be selected.

PMI will give you 90 days to submit your audit materials. Audit verifies the ones mentioned below.
  • Verifying Bachelor’s/equivalent university degree:  You just need to provide a photocopy of your certificate
  • Verifying your Project Management Experience:  Here you need to print the ‘Project management Audit Report’ (available in the audit link PMI sends you), send it to your reporting manager under whom you have worked for endorsing and signing. After they complete the form, they are required to place in an envelope, sign their name on the sealed flap of the envelope and return to you via in person or by post. 
  • Verifying 35 contact hours of Project Management Education: You just need to provide a photocopy of your certificate from the institute that provided training.

Once you have all these documents in place, put them together in a large envelope and mail it to PMI Global Operations Center, 14 Campus Blvd., Newtown Square, PA 19073-3299 USA. I opted for FedEx (can send by registered post as well) to complete the process quickly though it was costlier than registered post. 

If everything goes well, PMI will send you an email informing you have successfully met the requirements of PMI's audit process and asking you to schedule your examination.

Few Suggestions on PMI Audit
Keep your 35-contact hour certificate from your provider ready.
Contact your current and previous bosses under whom you have worked. Inform them about your application and tell them that the PMI may contact them to verify your experience.

Books, I referred
  • PMBOK Guide Fifth Edition: I would suggest going through this 2-3 times at least. First time, it went over my head, but after the training I was able to correlative. The final reading was few days before the exam.
  • Other exam prep books followed: Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep (8th Edition), Andy Crowe’s – The PMP Exam (How to Pass in Your First Try), 5th Edition, and Christopher Scordo's GREEN PMP Exam Prep Questions & Answers (2013 edition).
  • “I Want To Be A PMP, the plain and simple way” by Satya Narayan Dash: I was one of the first few persons to receive this book. 

Apps Referred
  • PMP exam prep 2017 Edition by Pocket Prep Inc: Has decent practice questions and tracks progress
  • PMPro® by Fast Track Ltd: Has Formulas, Flashcards, Glossary and ITTO along with practice questions
  • PMP Smart Exam Prep Practice Test & Study by Friendly App Studio: Has decent practice questions

My PMP Exam Experience
I scheduled my exam on Dec 8 at the Prometric Center in Whitefield, Bangalore. I opted for the morning slot as I wanted to finish the exam at the earliest.  On the day of the exam, I reached the venue an hour early. I had not opted to check the venue beforehand as I knew the place. But if you are an anxious test giver, the center offers a “Test Drive” to familiarize yourself with what is expected on the test day. This dry run involves a fee and you can schedule it from the pro-metric website in advance.  

The exam is for 4 hours and quite taxing. I took a 5 min break every one hour. When you take a break, and return to the testing room, you would have to undergo a quick inspection to comply with their security protocol.

I had planned to finish all the questions in 3 hours and use the last one hour to go through the marked questions. But I ended up getting only around 20 min for the marked questions. Luckily that was enough as I had only about 15-16 questions I wanted to go through again. 

On Exam Questions
  • I got a number of questions from Integration management, specifically on closing process.
  • A number of questions were on change requests. 
  • Had questions on Critical Path Method (CPM). 
  • Had question on Earned Value Management (EVM). The Mathematical questions were relatively easy to answer.
  • Most Questions are situational and suggest you read them carefully as it. There are options to highlight the words in question as well as strike out invalid answers in the screen. I found this these quite helpful. 

I hit the submit button before the exam ended and was very happy to see Congratulations flashing on my screen. I got the hard copy of the certificate a week later by post.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • Take the exam within 1-3 months after the training while the concepts are still fresh in your mind
  • Make your own handwritten notes as you go over various topics. This will help you remember what you learned and also will be a quick revision material before the exam
  • Make sure you practice lots of mock tests. 

On a final note, I also recommend a course on MS Project after your PMP Training, which I had taken from Satya. This is a valuable learning and will be enable you to plan, monitor and oversee projects to successful completion. 

Brief Profile 
I work with SAP as a Technology Consultant. I have over 11 years of Project Management, Quality Management and Consulting experience in BFSI and Retail domain. 

1 comment:

  1. Tag: PM236A53. Let me share all of you about #5 Tips for Project Management Success,, I hope you enjoy it

    1. Plan your day using time management techniques

    As a project manager, time management skills are essential because you are dealing with a wide range of tasks that demand a quick turnaround time. Planning your day will go a long way in keeping you organized and increasing your productivity. Assist your task planning by using project management software which helps you track the work of you and your team.

    If you are not very tech savvy, a simple to-do list can also be a great organizational tool. Prioritize your most important tasks by putting them at the top of the list and less important ones at the bottom. Having a visual plan of your daily tasks helps to keep you on track and aware of time.

    Related post: Free ebook 104 secrets to become a great project manager

    2. Include stakeholders in important project conversations

    While you will have plenty of responsibilities regarding the project, don’t neglect your clients.

    Good communication is essential is keeping both parties informed of project progression, curtailing scope creep, and apprised of changing requirements. Some clients may have different expectations when it comes to communication, so make sure to establish the frequency and type of communication (like emails, phone calls, and face-to-face conversations) at the beginning of your project.

    Establishing communication expectations early helps alleviate stakeholder uncertainty about communication frequency and delivery.

    3. Regularly communicate with your team

    Daily team communication helps keep misunderstandings and unclear requirements under control. Keeping your team informed in every step of the project is essential to project management success.

    For example, a study published by Procedia Technology found that good communication skills were the cornerstone of project management. The study examined over 300 “construction project managers, architects, construction managers, engineers and quantity surveyors” and their successes and failures on various construction projects.

    4. Anticipate project setbacks

    Even the best-laid plans often go awry.

    Remember that even with a high amount of planning and attention to detail, your project may still encounter some challenges. Pay attention to complaints from stakeholders or colleagues, and other warning signs, like a missed deadline or cost overrun, that there may be a problem.

    Preventing a crisis will keep your project running smoothly, save you a lot of time, and keep you, your team, and your stakeholders confident in progressing with the project.

    Unfortunately not every complication can be avoided. Crisis management skills are essential for dealing with the unexpected. Project managers need to be flexible and pragmatic. Improvise and make sharp decisions when needed.

    Related post: 92 free project management templates

    5. Stay focused on the details

    A common problem project managers encounter is having the project aims not aligned with the organization’s objectives. A great project manager will strategize a plan for the project to lead back to the overall success of the business.

    Know your project’s scope by heart and avoid wandering outside of the project’s requirements. It’s too easy to get lost in minor details and forget what your focus is, so a well-planned project scope is essential for success.

    And final, you should use KPI to measure effectiveness of the project, here are full list: 76 project management KPIs


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