Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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

Summary: In my previous post on Team Foundation Server 2015, I had outlined how you can install, set-up and run the Team Foundation Server 2015 software, in a step by step way. Also, I had created a Scrum Collection there. In this post, we will extend on that to create a Scrum Project with few Iterations and User Stories in the Iterations.

Note that this post is in continuation with the previous post on Team Foundation Server: 

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

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

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

2) Microsoft Visual Studio Community 2015 with Update 1

3) Operating System: Windows 10 x64.

With Visual Studio Community and TFS 2015 Update 1:

1. We will first install the Visual Studio. 
2. Connect to the Team Foundation Server.
3. Create our Project, i.e., Scrum Project in Visual Studio 2015.

With the later updates of TFS, you can directly create a project in the server, i.e., the TFS. But, I wanted to have this way - so as to check on both the TFS and Visual Studio Community.

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

Now comes the interesting part. Creating the Iterations, Stories etc. for your project. The project has already been created (outlined in the above embedded document).

Next, log into the Team Foundation Server 2015. You get the below screen. 

All your collections and projects will be listed. Select “My Scrum Project” that has been created. Click on Navigate.

It will open the My Scrum Project dashboard. Click on Work – Backlog on Top Right, as shown below. 

Next, we will add Features, Iterations and User Stories. When you open the backlog, the current iteration and few other iterations are available to you. You can add other iterations as you like.

I am going to take the current iteration and add a few stories into it. To add a story simply select stories and click on add - as shown above.
After addition of stories into the backlog, it comes as below. You can see in both Backlog format or Scrum Board format. This is shown below - the backlog view.

Now you have your backlog with iteration one with a few samples stories. They belong to your Scrum Project.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

PMP Protein: How To Prepare And Submit PMP Application

By Manas Das, PMP

What is PMP Certification?
The Project Management Professional (PMP®) is the most important industry-recognized certification for project managers. One can find PMPs leading projects in nearly every country and, unlike other certifications that focus on a particular geography or domain, the PMP credential is truly global.

The reach of this certification can be gauged from the fact that there are over 770,000 certified PMPs worldwide as of April, 2017. The main reference guide, the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) guide, has over 5.5 million copies in circulation.

Figure – PMI Fact File, Source - PMI

Why Take the PMP Exam?
Preparing to take the PMP exam is a journey which can help someone expand himself and his abilities. In preparing for the exam, you have an opportunity to become a better project manager, not just pass the exam. This opportunity to learn is one of the best reasons to get the PMP certification. 

Requirements for PMP Certification
To take the exam, one must meet the requirement outlined by PMI®. The requirements are described in the below table.

Applying to take the Exam

Following are the steps to fill up your application. 
  • One must submit an application to PMI to take the exam. 
  • Applications may be submitted by mail or online. Suggest to submit online if possible since PMI’s response time is faster for e-submission. In addition, the online application process makes it easier to document the Project Management hours and experience while adhering to the application guidelines. 
  • While filling up application form, be careful and sincere in your filing. Pay close attention to what will be considered as project. Many confuse it with operations.
  • It is a good practice to check a few sample applications from successful PMPs and then fill up your own application. 
  • Before filling up online, take your time to do it locally – may be a spreadsheet, to have your experience notes with respect to the performance domains or the process groups. 
  • Once submitted it takes about a week time for the application to be approved. Sometimes, few applications require audit from PMI for more inputs for validating and approving the application. 
  • Post approval one will receive a notice authorizing to make an appointment to take the exam. 
  • There will be one year time from the date the authorization is received from PMI.

Membership and Exam Fee
PMI Membership Fee – $140 (PMI offers free PMBOK guide to members)
Exam Fee - $405 for PMI members and $555 for non-PMI members

PMP Certification credentials are valid for 3years from the data of passing the exam. One need 60 PDUs (Professional Development Units) to renew the credentials for next 3 years.

1 PDU is equivalent to 1hour time spent towards Project management contribution in form of writing blogs (like this one), attending or conducting training session etc.

What is the PMP Exam Like?
PMP exam includes 200 multiple choice questions with four answer choices per question. Table below breaks out the percentage of scored questions in the exam.

PMI has not published what it considers to be a passing score. But I would suggest that target to score above 80% to successfully get through. The questions are randomly generated from PMI database containing hundreds of questions. The questions may jump from topic to topic. There is no penalty for wrong answers. Hence, it’s advisable to answer all the questions.

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

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    Wednesday, June 07, 2017

    RMP Success Story: Go for It and Enjoy The Journey

    By Hendro Hadiwinoto, PMP, ACP, RMP

    I’m happy share my RMP® examination experience with you. I did my contact hour learning from Udemy’s Risk Management Professional - online version. 

    This course was really cheap and thanks to the provider that! 

    Below is the list of material I referred for my RMP exam. 

    Materials Referred
    • The PMBOK® Guide, 5th Edition by Project Management Institute (PMI®). It is a must read. 
    • Practice Standard Project Risk Management. It is a must read and specifically Appendix D.
    • Book “I Want To Be A RMP” by Satya Narayan Dash. 
    • Other than that, I also referred couple of other books. 
    • You can also refer some statistics book if you have time. 
    • Videos on risk management, Monte Carlo analysis, LHS, AHP from YouTube 

    I gave the following mock exams.
    • Two mock exams from “I Want To Be A RMP”. The mock exam questions are tougher than the real exam. 
    • Ucertify.com - Free trial version.
    • Pmvision.ca, which has over 700+ questions.

    I had also joined the Linked in Study Group“RMP Study Group”.

    Satya’s eBook – "I Want To Be A RMP"
    Perhaps, I was one of the fortunate ones who has the access to review Satya's book - "I Want to be a RMP". I had purchased it from Satya and got a good discount from him. Now it is my part to give back my review about this e-book.

    In my view, the key points from this book are noted below. 
    • Inputs, Tools & Techniques and Outputs (ITTOs) are extremely important from the RMP exam standpoint. These are explained very well with process flow diagrams. Need to remember all. 
    • Other than ITTOs for the RM processes, if you have time, grasp the ITTOs in Communication management and Stakeholder management knowledge area.
    • There are two full length mock exams in the book, other than the practice questions at the end of every chapter. They are difficult enough and bit difficult than the actual exam. 
    • The book uses Primavera Risk Analysis tool as a reference to give practical understanding. If you don’t have or have not used Privamera Risk analysis, you can substitute by Companion Minitab, @Risk or other Risk Management software. Trying Monte Carlo simulation (this book uses Primavera Risk Analysis to explain) by using software would be give you better understanding.  
    • The book is a bit pricey, considering it is accessible (one year access). However, I got a very good discount on it. Maybe some options needed to rent this book for a few months (depending on your need) to reduce the cost.

    In additional to the materials referred, I would like to note the following points who are aspiring to be RMP.

    Exam Key Points
    • Analytical Hierarchical Process (AHP), relative comparison.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analytic_hierarchy_process, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHoPEbfnLOE&spfreload=10
    • NLP - approach to communication, personal development, psychotherapy. 
    • Prompt List: PESTLE, TECOP, SPECTRUM
    • Critical Success Factors in Risk Management 
    • Probability x Impact x Urgency x Manageability – Read Chapter 7, "I Want To Be A RMP"
    • Monte Carlo/LHS, got 5-6 question on S-curve and they should be easy if your concepts are clear. Read Chapter - 8, "I Want To Be A RMP".  
    • Situational questions on what will happen next - a lot question as usual typical PMI exam.
    • Statistics - scatter, coefficient correlation, probability.
    • Risk Attitude, Threshold, Utility Theory related with Risk Attitude - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCreeXzCNRc
    • Crawford Slip Model- http://creatingminds.org/tools/crawford.htm. Some people have got questions on it.

    Brief Profile: I am Hendro Hadiwinoto and working as a Project Manager, PT Datacomm Diangraha, Indonesia. 

    Tuesday, June 06, 2017

    Book Review - I Want To Be A PMP: A Must Have Interactive Book

    By Sahana Mukund, PMP

    Why this Book?
    I wanted to buy “I want to be a PMP” because I was convinced that it would help me a great deal in my preparations. Satya sir’s credibility and the way he explained the concepts made me want to purchase the book.

    PMP Book – I Want To be A PMP
    The book is very succinct and just what you need when you have overwhelming information everywhere. The yogic tips and tricks that are present in every chapter help you to remember and recollect all the important points. 

    Another great aspect of this book is that the important topics all have videos explained by Satya sir himself. The experience is great when you have content, tips, videos and blogs all rolled into one place. 

    • The topics that helped me the most are the way the Critical Path and EVM concepts are explained. The demarcation of the important ITTO’s really helped focus and remember what is necessary. What also helped me were the clear flow diagrams for change request, deliverables, resource calendars and issue logs.
    • The chapter end questions, full length questions, new question on PMP exam 2016 changes and Exam Content Outline (ECO) were very useful to give a correct guage of my preparation. They are situational, tricky, content rich and very much inline to the actual exam.
    • The other areas such as snapshots of MS Project, Oracle Primavera etc. and examples used really helped in experiencing project management as I read through the book.
    • Also, the formula set was something that I could refer to all the time.

    Chapters in the Book – I Want To be A PMP
    The book is divided into  logical chapters. 
    • The introduction has all the necessary elements of an emphasized topic Benefits realization. 
    • The chapter on the processes is excellent where the 47 processes are defined and sequenced for a thorough understanding. This sets the tone for the rest of the chapters.

    The following chapters are divided as per the knowledge areas. 
    • Integration management has the detailed video explanation on change requests and that is something very strongly emphasised on the real exam.
    • The organizational theories that are found in the HR management chapter is something that is again very useful. They are not present in detail in the PMBOK guide and this is where the guidance from this book steps in. 
    • Risk management and Quality management concepts are also very clearly covered and this is enough to arm you for the exam. 
    • Trust me, this was the only book that helped me remember all the points necessary. Reading it is a breeze and I used only this book in the final few days of my prep along with PMBOK.

    Overall, this book is a must have along with PMBOK guide and I really think these two books are more than sufficient for the exam. I want to be a PMP is very much inline with PMBOK and the latest changes. It has all the elements covered. A lot of effort has gone into this book which clearly reflects in my results and I bet a lot of my friends who have used this book agree to.

    Written By Sahana Mukund: Sahana Mukund has 10+ years of work experience and was last designated as a Project Manager primarily in the travel, healthcare and retail portfolio. She is currently on a work hiatus and will be moving to New York for her MBA in August 2017.

    Friday, June 02, 2017

    PMP Success Story: Dream Big, Work Hard, Trust the Process, Achieve and Share Lessons Learned

    By Sahana Mukund, PMP

    I’m a very thrilled project management professional now and am glad I could clear it in the first attempt with proficient grades. Now it is my turn to give it back and I think there is no better way than sharing my experience with this aspiring community. 

    I am a project manager by profession and wanted to gain this certification in order to appreciate the nuances of the trade and better my skills and knowledge. 

    The world leading reputation of PMP® in the realm of project management, an unquestionable endorsement and the credibility was what motivated me to take up this feat.

    PMP Coaching Experience
    My first step was to gain 35 hours of learning. After a lot of research, I zeroed in on one for the training. 

    Little did I know at this point that I was about to meet a great mentor. I’m talking about none other than Satya sir. He made the class room training on weekends very interactive and an easy to learn and grasp experience. His tips and tricks rivetted the concepts into my brain. The way he got the 47 processes in our brains by the end of the class was commendable. He patiently answered all the questions and gave real life examples for every key area. Trust me this is so important and I realised it more than ever when I was giving the exam. 

    The centre staff were equally courteous and made sure we all had a smooth ride. I also made some great friends and it is always good to have people who share the same spirit and enthusiasm as yours. 

    The classroom coaching covered pretty much everything we needed to know with detailed directions on how to proceed with further preparation.

    My small bit of advice is to take the training and the instructions seriously to gain fruitfully. It is very rare to find someone so keen on your success as much as Satya sir. So, make the best use of his valuable suggestions.

    My Own Study
    The next stage was long and gruelling. The application submission and the self-study phase. I started with the application process almost immediately after the training session because I did not want the motivation to fizz out. It went through smoothly without any audit. I then made a study plan and pretty much followed it to the tee. 
    • I studied about 3-4 hours on an average every day for about 2 months.   
    • I had purchased Satya sir’s book “I Want To Be A PMP” during the course and it was one of the best decisions I made in this entire journey. I gave one reading of this book and everything was so crisp and got back all the concepts from the class room back to my mind again. 
    • Next, I started reading the PMBOK® guide, which is not at all an easy guide to read. I initially struggled to stay focussed with this book but pushed myself to get going. I used to read a chapter from Satya sir’s book and then go to PMBOK or may be watch a video and then read the same chapter from PMBOK. This made it much easier for me and I finally got a hang of it.
    • I also made it a point to intersperse the study with questions everyday.
    • Other than Satya sir’s book, I had referenced couple of other books to see explanation on some chapters and to know why it is liked by others. But, you have to read PMBOK. No exceptions. 
    • The last 15-20 days of my study was only PMBOK, Satya sir’s book “I Want To Be A PMP". It is fully aligned with the PMBOK guide 5th edition and the best way to remember key ideas with examples and video explanations and questions. Nothing else. 
    I did about 4000 questions overall from different sources. Read the PMBOK thrice. Although the last read was a flip through in 2 days. I started with around 70-75% accuracy and towards the end I managed to get to about 85 to 90% in the questions. 

    I also went through the Exam Content Outline, Glossary in PMBOK and Lexicons from PMI site.

    Finally, I was in touch with my guide Satya sir in every phase and he did not hesitate at all to assist in answering any question or doubt and responded very promptly.

    The study phase can be excruciating, but hold on and develop an interest in what you are reading. Wake up everyday with a motivation to finish what you have chalked out for that day. 

    My PMP Exam Experience
    I scheduled for my exam on 31st May, 2017 at Bangalore’s Prometric centre. I was halfway through with my preparation and had a fair sense of confidence. However, I got more serious after scheduling. So, take a date early so that you will be more focused. 

    My strategy for handing the questions in the exam was to take every 75 questions or so and proceed calmly. Also, another strategy was to mark as few questions for review and give it my best shot in the first pass. 

    On the D day, I left early at 5:30 AM to beat the traffic. Now question for you! Is this a risk avoidance or risk mitigation – as PMP exam asks in some of its questions?  

    As I reached early, it was possible to take the exam early, too. I was given the instructions, a notepad, 2 sharpened pencils and a calculator. You can request a manual calculator if you are not too comfortable with the online one.

    The PMP Exam
    My questions were weird and tricky. You have to understand the nitty gritty of every concept. They were a mix of long and short but nothing was direct. It was all situational and warranted a decision at every step. Here are the kind of questions faced. Your experience would be of course unique. 
    • A lot of critical path questions. 
    • A lot of questions on which document needs to be updated. 
    • EVM analysis questions and calculations. These are simple if you have understood the concept. 
    • One question on EMV decision tree
    • Quite a few questions on crashing and fast tracking but they were all disguised.
    • Change request sequence is important. Got many questions on that one. 
    • Got loads of questions on the quality tools. Know them in detail. 
    • Know the differences between stakeholder and communication management. Risk response strategies, procurement types, resource calendars, requirements, team building techniques in HR management. 
    • Also learn the closing processes well. 
    I was reading fast, analysing quickly and marking with confidence. But time was running was fast. I finally completed 200 questions and was left with only a minute to review. 

    My heart was pounding and the survey screen appeared. I skipped it and clicked next awaiting with bated breath. My heart swelled with happiness seeing the word “CONGRATULATIONS”. I was extremely overwhelmed. I then clicked next and saw that I had got 3P’s and 2 MP’s. Moderately Proficient in Initiating and Planning and Proficient in the rest. I knew it was not easy and felt a sense of pride. I gathered my emotions and collected my printout. It was finally time to celebrate ;-)

    Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
    • Make a study plan and stick to it. No exceptions to this point.
    • Understand the concepts in every chapter.
    • Don’t ignore PMBOK. Go through at least twice.
    • Satya sir’s book “I Want To Be A PMP” is very good. Do read it at least twice.
    • Memorizing will not help. Only memorize the formulae and the 47 processes. Understand everything else.
    • Understand the flow of processes. How everything links with the other.
    • Know initiation and closing processes well. Initiation can be tricky.
    • Know every detail about quality tools.
    • Communication and stakeholder management can get tricky. Understand the small differences well.
    • Know the strategic alignment of projects.
    • Numerical questions tend to be easy but know the concept well. What the formulae mean. How can you interpret anything from that etc.
    • Solve a lot of questions to gain confidence and do include critical path questions as part of your final practice to get a gauge of time. Add about 5-6 questions of this type and check for time.
    • Do not take the exam lightly. Be cautious of time and keep a track while solving questions.
    • Finally, stay confident and smile often and say to yourself that you can do it.
    • Don’t go through too many study materials. Focus on few. From experience, they are pretty much the same information presented differently. See what works best for you to understand what’s going on. That’s most important.
    • Don’t delay taking the exam.
    • Don’t panic when you get tricky questions. Solve through them calmly and trust your preparation.
    • Don’t ever get demotivated. Don’t listen to naysayers and stay positive.


    “Don’t downgrade your dreams just to fit your reality. Upgrade your conviction to match your destiny”.  

    Learning is life long and PMP is indeed one of my dreams come true. The study cycle has undoubtedly enhanced my understanding to a great extent and made me realize that project management is a life skill. I am looking to leverage this knowledge with my experience and lead big projects successfully.

    Final thoughts: Will it be easy? Nope. Will it be worth it? Absolutely. So, stay focussed and never give up.

    You can reach out to me for any queries at sahana.mukund@gmail.com. Happy to assist. Good luck and God Bless.

    Brief Profile: I am Sahana Mukund with 10+ years of work experience and I was last designated as a Project Manager primarily in the travel, healthcare and retail portfolio. I am currently on a work hiatus and will be moving to New York for my MBA in August 2017.