Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Book Excerpt from "I Want To Be A RMP" - Probability Distribution in Risk Management

This article is an excerpt from the Book - I Want To Be A RMP
It is from Chapter – 8: Quantitative Risk Analysis. 

For partial index of the book, refer: Book Index - I Want To Be A RMP.


Probability Distribution in Risk Management

Probability distribution is a foundational area to understand if you want to use the Monte Carlo or Latin Hypercube simulation techniques. This is also foundational with respect to Program Evaluation and Review Technique (or PERT). Let us first understand what statistical distribution means. 

Distribution represents a range of numbers and their chances (or probability) of occurrence.

What does this mean? Let us take an example. You are going to a friend’s house. It may take you 1 hour to reach. If there is heavy traffic, it is possible that you may reach in 3 hours. However, with some amount of traffic you are most likely to take 2 hours. Hence, you can say:
  • Minimum (or Optimistic) duration = 1 hour
  • Most likely duration = 2 hours
  • Maximum (or Pessimistic) duration = 3 hours

Now that you have three possibilities, which one is correct? Can you conclusively say about it? No. Because any one of them can come out to be correct as there are uncertainties involved, such as traffic conditions! So, you do not know for sure. 

But when we estimate we take the most likely one or the best guess, i.e., 2 hours. By doing this, a lot of additional information is lost. We do the same thing for schedule or cost estimation – we take the most likely or most possible estimate, but forget to take the best case and/or worst case scenario. 

With risk analysis via quantitative risk analysis (QTRA), we can use this extra information – other possible scenarios, not ONLY the most likely scenario. In other words, instead of saying an activity in a project is going to take “X” amount of days, we also can add other days using a distribution. For each number, there is a probability of occurrence available. 

By doing that we will be modelling the activities (and hence overall project) more accurately. This will help to build a more realistic plan – both from schedule and cost perspectives. This also helps in answering the questions, which are foundational in QTRA as we saw before, i.e.,

  • What is the chance that this project will finish on time or within budget? 
  • Assuming that there is a 50% chance for the previous question, next question can be – what is probability we can meet the planned project finish date?
  • Which project activities are most likely to delay the project? 
  • And so on.

By adding other possible duration (optimistic, pessimistic) other than most likely, we are factoring the uncertainties for an activity. In other words, we are considering the risks involved. Hence probability distributions give you the needed lever to factor in the risks of the activities and overall project. 

Let us see what are the possible types of probability distributions.

8.7.1. Triangular Distribution

This is the most common type of distribution used.  This is called triangular because the shape of the curve comes as triangular. This is used when there is no pre-existing data, but only expert opinions. A symmetrical triangular distribution will look like the figure shown below.

By looking at the graph above, you can say:

“There is approximately a 30% chance of the duration being 6 days, approximately a full chance of the duration being 8 days’ days and there is also a 30% chance of the duration being 10 days.”

Putting it differently, we can say this:
“The task is most likely to have a duration of 8 days. There is small chance that the task will take 6 days and also a chance that it will take 10 days. However, realistically speaking, it will be somewhere between 6 days to 10 days.”

Let us take another example. Here I am using the Primavera Risk Analysis software to visualize the possible distributions. We have a task – “PRD Preparation” in a project. PRD stands for ‘Product Requirement Documentation’. It has been estimated to be 5 days (again it is the most likely estimate, but we do not have the minimum and maximum value).

If you use the triangle or triangular probability distribution, it will come as shown below. 

The duration can be 4 or 5 or 6 days – shown in the X-axis. Also shown are the minimum value (around 10% chance), most likely value (100% chance) and maximum value of 6 (around 10%) chance. The chances (or probabilities) are shown on the Y-axis.

You would be thinking where these values are coming from. As noted before, you can use Expert Judgement and/or enter those values while modelling the tasks. For example:
  • Minimum duration = 75% of the planned (or remaining) duration of the activity.
  • Likely duration = 100% of the planned (or remaining) duration of the activity.
  • Maximum duration = 125% of the planned (or remaining) duration of the activity. 

8.7.2. Rectangular (Or Uniform) Distribution
In this distribution, you can use a maximum value and a minimum value, but not any most likely value.  In the below example, we have a uniform or rectangular distribution.

Looking at it, you can say the task has a minimum duration of 4 days, but maximum duration of 12 days. 

You can use Uniform Probability Distributions when you specify the extremes of uncertainty of the activity under consideration and when the intermediate values have equal chances of occurring. It is also possible when you can NOT draw any inference on the possible distribution shape.

Taking our previous example of “PRD Preparation” which was estimated to be 5 days, using Primavera, we have these values for Uniform distribution.

8.7.3. Beta Distribution

Beta distribution, like triangular distribution has also 3 possible values – worst case, most likely, and best case. Like triangular, it also gives more weightage to the most likely case. 

However, there are differences. In case of beta distribution, there can be many values (not just one) which are close to the most likely value. Unlike triangular, the shape for beta distribution is smoother. Also, unlike Triangular, the tails in Beta distribution in the extremes, taper off more quickly. 

Below is an example of Beta Distribution.

Beta distribution can also be symmetric or asymmetric in shapes. The notations happen like Beta (6, 8, 10). As you can see above, there can be many values close to the most likely value.  

Using the Primavera tool, for our task “PRD Preparation”, BetaPert distribution will come as below. 


Beta distribution is further elaborated in the book. Along with it, other distributions covered are:

  • 8.7.4. Normal Distribution
  • 8.7.5. Lognormal Distribution
  • 8.7.6. Discrete Distribution

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

PMP Success Story: Learn from the Best, Trust on Your Exam Preparation, and Believe in Yourself

By Manas Das, PMP

I had joined Satya’s classes during July 2016 for PMP® mandatory 35 contact-hour learning.

Satya is instrumental in sharing PMP tips and tricks in very simplified way. I was very attentive to what Satya speaks in the class, because every line of him is very important to gain insight for preparing PMP. Also, there are many topics explained in a very simplified way on his blog (this blog).

Hence, I must recommend that it’s very important to be attentive during the class and revise the courses same day evening and revisiting his blog for PMP articles.

Due to extreme project commitment, I was not able to plan my exam until January 2017. I applied for the exam in February 2017 and scheduled my exam during first week of May 2017.

I was not able to spent much time preparing for study for couple of hours everyday, but I made sure to spent at least 2 hours during weekdays and 6 hours during weekends. 

I had prepared a roadmap for PMP preparation to stick to the timeline. I’m sharing the roadmap here. And, recommending everyone to prepare the same to help you with your preparation and not getting lost in day to day office work and current project deliverables.

  • 1.5 months preparation for Understanding the Concepts (Not Memorizing) –I’ve gone through PMBOK guide once and Satya’s tips and tricks during training notes.
  • 15 days Mock Test preparation (I have used mostly mock tests)
    My average scores for KH Mock tests are around 71~72%.
  • 15 days for revision of PMP materials – revising the existing materials.
  • 15 days for Mock preparation (had couple of books to refer).
I strongly recommend everyone to go through the PMBOK® guide at least once. I already had two books with me and re-read them after going through Satya’s classes.

It was about 3 days I did not really study anything as part of my preparation and kept my mind free and preparing for time management during the exam.

During PMP Exam
During the exam, I’ve taken one break of 4 minutes after 3 hours 5 minutes of the exam and I’ve completed going through all the 200 questions and few were marked for review. In the rest 50 minutes I’ve done 2 reviews of all the 200 questions and finally submitted just 40 seconds left for the exam to end.

Finally saw the much-awaited Congratulations page.

PMP Exam Tips
  • Initially it takes 10 to 15 minutes of your time to come up to speed for answering questions; so not to panic.
  • If you are good with time management, during Mock exams then it will help to complete the first pass of the 200 questions in 2.5 hours to 3 hours.
  • The first answer that comes to your mind is mostly right (70-80% times). Hence, if you are confident, then select the option and proceed.
  • For wordy questions, please read the last sentence of the question to find out what has been asked in the question.
  • Select the answer always keeping the big picture in mind that proper project management is used and not your own project management experience.
  • There are questions where more than 2 correct answers to the questions so need to analyze and select the BEST answer.

Finally, would like to share the information to all the test takers that PMP exam tests the knowledge, application and analysis which makes the PMP examination much more than a test of memory.

So, it’s important that you know how to apply the knowledge from PMI Project Manager’s prospective and be able to analyze situation.

Trust on your exam preparation and believe yourself to eliminate the fear of appearing the exam.
Best of Luck for your exam!!

Brief Profile:
Manas Das is a Project Manager with Infosys Technologies Ltd. He can be contacted at manasdas82@gmail.com. His linkedin profile is at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/manas-das-0670a02b/

Monday, May 22, 2017

PMP Protein: How To Be A PMI-PMP

By Mahendra Reddy Vakati, PMP

I am very happy to share with you that I have cleared PMP® Certification on 8th May 2017 just one day before my birthday. I hope my experience will be helpful for the future PMP aspirants.

My friends and colleagues had taken training with Satya and cleared the PMP exam; so I thought of attending the same. I strongly decided that I must attend and immediately clear the exam. 

I have attended 2 weekend classes in February 2017. Satya is a very good mentor and give lot of confidence that you will clear the exam. He explains the concepts very clearly and give lot of tips. I used to read the PMBOK® chapters before going to the classes. This helped me a lot to understand the classes and to be more interactive. Immediately after my training, in the 1st week of March 2017, I submitted the application and my application got approved in 4 days and paid the payment. My application didn’t go through audit.

Materials Referred:
  • The PMBOK Guide Fifth Edition: I have read 3 times. 1st time it took lot of time to finish and didn’t understand much. 2nd time, concepts were very clear and it took lesser time than before. 3rd time it was very quick and I just read 3 days before the exam and completed in 3 days’ time.
  • Other than PMBOK Guide, you need to refer a book which helps you the most; various online apps.
  • Ensure you take sufficient practice tests.
First time I did the test and got 65-70% in some tests. After studying the materials twice, I have redone the tests where ever I got less score and my score was 80-85%.

Note: If once you get 80-85% in many tests, then you are ready to take up the PMP certification. Doing lot of mock tests is the key to success.

Type of Questions Faced the PMP Exam:
I’ve noted the type of questions faced in my exam. However, do note that everyone’s experience is unique.  
  • I got many situational questions
  • Had few math’s questions – questions on Earned Value Management (EVM) Metrics:
    • Schedule Performance Index (SPI)
    • Cost Performance Index (CPI
    • Schedule Variance (SV)
    • Cost Variance (CV)
  • Questions on number of communication channels.
  • Questions on communication plan, tools and techniques. 
  • Very few questions (2 to 3) on Inputs, Tools and Techniques and Outputs (ITTOs).
  • I had written down change flow, data flow diagrams, all the formulas and 47 processes flow chart before I start the exam and it took 20 mins. These I had it from Satya.
  • First hour I could answer only 38 questions because 20 mins already spent on writing formulas etc. Slowly I have increased the speed and able to manage to answers all 200 questions. I was left with only 1 min before my exam ends.
My heart was beating so fast even though I kept my self very cool and confident. I clicked the Submit button and closed my eyes, prayed the god. Slowly opened my eyes and saw the Congratulations message on the Screen. All the pain went off and very happy to see the message. 

Dos and Don’ts for Your PMP Preparation:
  • Don’t read too many books. Choose any 2 books (the PMBOK Guide is a must read).
  • Study each book 2 to 3 times.
  • Do as many as mock tests.
  • Keep your mind cool and relax.
  • Don’t postpone exam for more than 3 months after your training.
  • Don’t delay in submitting the Application. Submit the application immediately after the training and do the payment. If once you do the payment, then only you will get to know that your application will go for audit or not.
  • Don’t keep the food inside the locker at Exam center. If you want to have food in between the exam, then instructions won’t allow you to open the locker so keep the water and food outside.
  • Don’t over study and take breaks in between studies. e.g. watch movies, participate in sports.  
  • Don’t revisit the questions and try to finish at the first attempt because if you revisit or if you don’t get much time at the end then there is a possibility of choosing wrong answer. 

Brief Profile:
I am working with SAP as a Senior Technology Consultant. I have 12 years of Project Management, Test Management and SAP functional experience.

PMP LIVE LESSONS - Guaranteed Pass:

    You may also like:

    New Book Available for PMP Exam:

    Friday, May 12, 2017

    PMP Success Story: Proper Guidance and A Well-Planned Study Approach Needed To Crack The Exam

    By Asad Abbas, PMP

    "Good karma matters" this is one mantra which kept me going for my PMP® exam preparation. 

    I had an aspiration to get the PMP certification, so I made up my mind to complete the certification and started preparing.

    PMP Coaching Experience
    My training began on 18th March, 2017 and I was very fortunate to meet Satya as my coach, who is not only an excellent trainer, a Management Guru but also a good human being. He was always very approachable and at the end of every conversation used to tell me "you will do well”, which boosted my morale and gave me the confidence to prepare and write the exam well.

    Own Study
    My training got over on 26th March, 2017. The books I used to refer during my preparation were:
    • The PMBOK® Guide, 5th Edition by Project Management Institute (PMI)
    • I Want To Be A PMP by Satya Narayan Dash
    • PMP Exam Prep by Rita Mulcahy 
    I studied for 5 to 6 hours on week days (Monday to Friday) and 8 to 9 hours over the weekend. Other than the questions given in the book “I Want To Be A PMP”, I also practiced sample questions from the Oliver Lehmann, HeadFirst PMP, Exam central, PMP Exam Prep, Simply learn and PM Exam Simulator.

    The questions given in the book “I Want To Be A PMP” were very close to what I saw in the real exam. 

    I earned my credential on 2nd May, 2017, just over a month of completing my classroom session. The joy of having this credential is to be felt on your own to believe.  

    How To Prepare 
    • PMP exam is not about mugging up the Input, Tools and Techniques, and Outputs (ITTOS). The exam stresses on the key concepts. You need to know to how the following key document/tools and techniques flow through the various processes and different knowledge areas:

     - Work Performance Data, 
     - Work Performance Information, 
     - Risk Register, 
     - Stakeholder Register, 
     - Project Charter, 
     - Requirement Documentation, 
     - Change request, 
     - Scope Baseline, 
     - Project Scope Statement, 
     - Enterprise Environmental Factors, 
     - Organisational Process Assets, 
     - Issue Log, and 
     - Change Log.
    • Also understand the subtle differences – the differences among Stakeholder Management, Communication Management and Human Resource Management. This will help in answering many questions correctly.
    • Expect mathematical questions on Expected Monetary Value (EMV), Earned Value Management (EVM) and Critical Path Method (CPM).

    Main Exam
    • Try to reach the examination centre at least an hour early as that will give you enough time to settle down at centre.
    • If you are not sure with the answer on any question, then mark the same for review and proceed further. Try to select the most feasible option rather than not selecting anything.
    • In the Real Exam, you will get the following important tips during initial tutorial which can help in revisiting the marked questions efficiently:
    - You can highlight a text by selecting and right clicking over it. While reviewing the questions later, you can save time just by looking only at the highlighted text.
    - Also, if you do a right click by putting the cursor on any given option in answer, then that particular option will get marked as cancelled. During final hour in main exam when your stress will be sky high, visualising the wrong options will help you in concentrating on the remaining choices.

    More than all the study material it was Satya Sir's unwavering support and guidance which helped me in clearing the examination, along with it the management blog and other pupils’ success stories also motivated me through - thick and thin.

    Brief Profile: Asad Abbas, PMP & Certified Scrum Master with 9 years of Experience in service industry. Currently working as Scrum Master with Merck Life Sciences, Bengaluru.

    Few Lines By Satya Narayan Dash: Since beginning of this year, I’ve decided to give full credit to the writer, to whom the success story actually belongs. I’m writing a few lines, as Asad fervently requested me to write.

    Asad was part of my class in March, 2017. Before coming, he had been preparing for quite some time, but never had the confidence that he could crack the exam. In my class, I remember Asad to be a keen listener, thinks quite analytically on the questions that I asked and was very keen to get the PMP credential. 

    Post the session, he bought my book and would have a number of clarifications and questions – why am I saying this would be the correct answer, why am I saying these topics are important and so on. Though I was exhausted after my day’s work, his sheer determination moved me. I remember sitting with him as late as 10pm in night to answer his queries, to never panic and to continue working no matter how uphill the task seems to be. In the end, he succeeded - as he says in the beginning of this article “Good Karma Matters”. Indeed, it does.

    Tuesday, May 09, 2017

    Book Review - I Want To Be A PMP: Must Buy Book If Seriously Preparing For PMP Certification

    By Ajanata Behera, PMP

    The book - "I Want To Be A PMP" is a well thought-out book which should be surely read for your PMP® certification preparation. Professionals preparing for PMP would have often come across the experiences of various people who are certified PMP and would have known that the PMBOK® Guide is a must read book for the PMP certification. But, the PMBOK Guide has a lot of details and not easy when you start off with your preparation.

    If you are seriously preparing for the PMP certification, I would suggest the new book “I WANT TO BE A PMP”, written by Satya Narayan Dash.

    Why This Book? 
    • This is a simplified version
      of the the concepts written in the PMBOK Guide. 
    • Topics and chapters are easy to understand and remember.
    • The chart for 10 Knowledge areas,5 process groups and 47 processes have been sequentially numbered, which becomes very easy to memorize. Once the logic for the numbering is understood, I'm sure professionals who read this book will never forget the above chart. 
    • Mathematical formulas are made extremely simple, so that one understands the concepts. 
    • A lot of videos with examples are mentioned. You take a topic,go through the videos and all the concepts are clear. This easy remembering of formulas can surely assist in getting numerical questions right in the exam.
    • Simple but powerful book where you are given the chart of formulas in the end and they can be downloaded. 
    • Easy, simple tips to memorize various concepts on project management. 
    • Important points are highlighted from the exam point of view. 
    • 3 set of full length question papers. These questions are very close to real exam. Answers for the questions are detailed.
    • 75 questions PMP 2016 Exam changes have also been included. This is in reference with the new Exam Content Outline (ECO).
    • Details about Critical Path and Critical Chain Methods are really very informative. 

    I have used Satya sir's book and PMBOK together to understand the concepts. I felt these two books were more than sufficient to be thorough for the PMP certification. I want to extend my sincere thanks to Satya sir for putting in so much effort to make this book simple and easy to remember.

    Written By Ajanta Behera: I am currently working as an Associate Project Manager, Standard Chartered Bank. I have 12 years of experience in various domains - Clinical, Insurance, and Finance. 

    Thursday, May 04, 2017

    Step by Step Guide: Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) for Agile Development

    [NEW: ACP Exam Prep Book Available - "I Want To Be An ACP" (Link)]

    Content Summary: Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) is a well-known tool for Agile Development, Agile Project Management and Agile DevOps. You can install this software on your local machine or you can take the cloud edition of this software. However, while installing, a number of agile practitioners find it difficult. This post informs how TFS can be installed on your local machine and how you can create your own Scrum and/or Kanban collections.

    For this installation, set-up and run, I’m using the following software. 

    1) Main Software: Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2015 (TFS 2015) with Update 1.

    2) Operating System: Windows 10 x64

    3) SQL Server: Bundled one that comes with TFS executable.

    Many say, it is very difficult to install and work with MS TFS 2015 (or 2017) on a typical windows client machine. Not really. Installation took some time, but it works perfectly. 

    Below image just shows that. It is the administration console of the TFS and shows a default collection running on my local machine. You can create as many Scrum and/or Kanban collections you want to work on.

    The step by step installation and running instruction for MS TFS 2015 is outlined in the embedded document. It informs on what you have to do to install, set-up and run the Team Foundation Server 2015 software. Also, it shows how to create scrum collections. 

    To see the document in a separate window, click on the arrow mark on the top right corner of the below embedded screen. 

    Direct link for the document: Step By Step: Step by Step Guide: Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2015 for Agile Development

    Note: The collection created "My Scrum Collection" will be used while working with Visual Studio and MS TFS 2015 for Agile DevOps purpose. This is outlined in another post:

    Step by Step Guide: Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2015 with Visual Studio Community 2015 for Agile DevOps

    You may also like:

    Courses on Agile Development and Management: