Friday, September 29, 2017

PMP Success Story: Systematic Study and Practice - Keys To PMP Success

By Sandeep Meloth, PMP




I have been practicing project management for more than 10 years, but was never serious about taking PMP certification. 

It was a chance encounter in my company’s external trainings list that prompted me to take up the PMP coaching workshop. 


PMP Coaching Experience
During the workshop, I was able to appreciate many concepts like for e.g. the Project Management Plan document which I had developed for many projects without knowing its importance. 

I wish I had taken up PMP certification few years ago to make project management an enjoyable experience.  Satya has a structured way of teaching and the end of the workshop, the 10 process areas and 47 Knowledge areas are registered in your mind.  His tips are tricks for certain topics and preparing for the exam are really helpful.

Own Preparation
After the workshop, I made a list of topics like Earned Value Management (EVM), change management, mathematical questions etc. that I need to understand better and made a deeper study of those topics. Other than I Want To Be A PMP book, initially I referred the Headfirst PMP book for getting an overall understanding of the topics and referred Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep book which I found to be useful when it comes to detailed explanation of topics. Also, I made a copy of the questions at the end of each chapter from the reference books in one place so as to practice in the last month before the exam. I also found the questions in the form of crosswords to be a useful way of learning.


In the last one month before the exam, I practiced all the questions that I had gathered and also worked out few full-length mock exams. 

About the Book “I Want To Be A PMP”
Actually, my sole intention of purchasing this book was to the cover the newly added 2016 changes. However, I found many useful contents like explanations on mathematical questions, many videos etc. in the book. And the best part were the 3 full length practice exams that is provided as part of this book. 

By taking these 3 full length practice exams, you are equipped for the worst case and can be rest assured of clearing the exam in the first attempt.


Final Words
It is not enough to get PMP certified but practicing project management with a good judgement of the guiding principles of PMP and ethics can only make us a successful Project Manager. 

Brief Profile 
Sandeep Meloth is a Product Engineering Specialist in a leading MNC




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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

PMP Protein: Critical Path Method – Basics

By Manas Das, PMP




Critical Path Method (CPM) is known as one of the key schedule network analysis techniques in “Develop Schedule” process of Time Management knowledge area, under planning process group. 

This analysis is applied on the schedule network diagram, which is created in “Sequence Activities” process – also in Time Management knowledge area and planning process group.


The simplified diagram with the only the key input and outputs, along with the CPM technique is shown below. 




What is Critical Path?
Let’s see the definition of critical path. 
“Critical path is the shortest possible duration within which the project will be completed or critical path is the longest path in the network.”


Above two lines defining critical path may look contradictory to you, but they are not! It means if the critical path is delayed, then the project’s end date will be pushed. Hence it is the shortest possible duration within which the project will be completed. The other aspect – longest possible path, informs us that if you delay on this path, of course the project duration will be elongated. 

It’s worth to understand that activities on a critical path are critical from schedule point of view only and not from functionality or complexity point of view. Project management practitioners, who are new to this concept, confuse on this. All activities on the critical path are known as critical activities. 

Again, the activities are critical, because if you delay any activity on critical path, the project end date will be pushed further. 

More the number of critical paths, more the risks to the project. Let’s check this scenario. Imagine you have a schedule network diagram with multiple critical paths. As it has many critical paths, you can say that there are multiple ways in which the schedule can be delayed. Hence, more risks. 

Let’s take an example to understand more on it. Below, a simple network diagram is shown with various activities. The duration of the activities is in days, e.g., Activity A is of 5 days duration.




There are 3 different ways to complete the tasks which will take different time to complete as below.
Path -1: Start – A -  B – D – F – End = 16 days
Path-2: Start – A – B – E – F – End = 15 days
Path-3: Start – A – C – E – F - End =11 days

But Critical path is Start – A – B – D – F - End being the longest path which takes 16 days to be completed.

Second Definition of Critical Path 
There is another definition of critical path as well, which you can see while using project-portfolio management tools such as Microsoft Project or Oracle Primavera. It goes as follows. 

“Critical path is the network path in which the total float of activities can be less than or equal to zero.”

Total Float and Free Float
To understand the second definition of critical path, first it requires to understand what total float and free float.

There are two types of floats.
  • Total Float (TF): By how much time you can delay the task (or activity) so that it does not delay the project finish date or violate schedule constraint. It can be noted as TF.
  • Free Float (FF): By how much time you can delay the task (or activity) so that it does not delay the subsequent task(s) or the successor task(s). It can be noted as FF.

For critical tasks, Total Float can be “0” or can be “Negative”. Critical tasks will have Free Float as “0”. To understand it with an example, you can refer this post:

Primavera P6 - Critical Path is Not Always The Longest Path

Taking one of the figures from the above article, we have two critical paths shown, which are highlighted in read in the graphical side of the Schedule Layout.



 Critical Path 1: Start – Activity A – Activity B = 5 days 
Critical Path 2: Start – Activity E – Activity – Finish = 8 days

As you can see Activity A is not on the longest path (the path is only of 5 days duration), but still it is highlighted as a critical activity. Because this activity has negative total float of value “-1 day”. Of course, the other two activities – Activity E and F are critical activities, because their TF values are zeroes. 

References: 
1. “6.6.2.2: Critical Path Method” from PMBOK Guide 5th Edition.
2. “6.7.2 Critical Path Method (CPM)” from Book - I Want To Be A PMP by Satya Narayan Dash.


Brief Profile: Manas Das, Project Manager Infosys Technologies
Manas Das has 12+ years of work experience and is playing a Project Manager role for retail portfolios in NA geography for Enterprise Application Services.



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    Friday, September 22, 2017

    PMP Success Story: Journey Was Worth The Time and Effort

    By Krishnadas CK, PMP




    Introduction
    Getting recognized within my organization as a credible Project Manager was the primary motivation behind pursuing PMP®. 

    Roadmap to get PMP certified
    My initial idea was to obtain 35 contact hours by e-learning and then cover the PMBOK® Guide before appearing for the exam. After completing an initial round of e-learning, I changed my plan and decided to attend classroom coaching to ensure that I pass the exam in the first attempt itself!


    PMP Coaching Experience
    I registered for classroom training with one of the providers in Bangalore for a June 2017 weekend batch (4 days in total). Given amount of project management knowledge required to be certified as PMP, I wasn’t expecting much from 35 hours of classroom coaching apart from getting the needed contact hours. Contrary to my expectation, Satya Narayan Dash (who was our coach) covered all the important concepts and knowledge areas within limited time, in the best way possible.


    The key takeaways from the class were:
    • Understanding key concepts to be aware of while becoming a Project Management Professional.
    • Areas to focus on while preparing for exam.

    What helped me the classroom session were:
    • Real-life examples shared during interactions.
    • Examples given on blog (https://managementyogi.blogspot.com)  clarifying concepts.
    • Advice on a having a structured plan to approach the exam.

    Own Study
    I took approximately 6 months (March to Aug 2017) to prepare and get certified as PMP. Initial 3 months were e-learning with an average dedication of 10 hours per week. 
    Next 3 months were used to read reference guide and books. I used:

    • PMI PMBOK Guide 5th Edition
    • I Want To Be A PMP by Satya Narayan Dash
    • PMP Exam Preparation 8th Edition by Rita Mulcahy
    • Various blogs/articles – Microsoft Project User Group (MPUG) at https://www.mpug.com , https://edward-designer.com/web/pmp/ etc.

    Also, took 3 full mock-tests with other practice questions adding up to another 3 full tests before appearing for the exam.  During the latter 3 months, average time dedicated was 20 to 25 hours per week. 

    PMP Exam Experience
    After covering the topics once, attending classroom coaching and planning my further study in detail, I scheduled the exam one-month in advance. I scheduled the exam at Bangalore in the morning of 28th August, 2017.

    Though I referred and was advised of various approaches, based on mock-tests I realised, I am more of a person who would spend quality time the very first time. Hence, decided to stick to one question per minute approach. Exam was completed and submitted with 5 minutes to spare.

    During the exam, I struggled more on the questions related to Initiating process group where exam demanded you to attend to situations directly with the senior management without the involvement of sponsor. There were also questions that required to have a clear understanding of Risk register and Issue register. There were only 4 or 5 mathematical questions and they weren’t very difficult ones.

    Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
    Dos:
    • As with the project management approach, understand the requirements for exam, narrow down the scope, prepare an overall realistic plan and then a detailed one suiting your personal and professional constraints before executing it diligently.
    • There are different approaches to pass the exam, find or create one that suits your personality. For instance, I was told that we need to read the book 3 or 4 times in many online success stories but I was more of a person who will dedicate time to understand the concept first time I read it. 
    • Try to understand the concepts thoroughly and keep it in memory. I read different books which helped me to view it from different perspective and also saved from reading the same contents.

    Conclusion
    I look forward to improve both professional and personal life by putting in practice the knowledge gained through the PMP certification.

    Thank you to all, who supported me in this journey! And All the best to those who are going to pursue PMP certification, it was worth the time and effort ;-)

    Brief Profile
    I am Krishnadas CK, a Japanese bilingual Project Management Professional with more than 7.5 years of experience in IT Service industry. Currently performing PMO role in Fujitsu Consulting India, Bangalore.


    Monday, September 18, 2017

    30 Free PMI-RMP Questions with Answers (Part - 1)





    These questions are prepared  based on my understanding of Project Management Institute's (PMI®) Risk Management Professional (RMP®) examination. Feedback from successful RMPs, have also helped to shape these questions. 

    Exam takers have informed that such questions made them prepare well for the RMP examination. In fact they say some of the questions are harder than the real exam. 

    I believe if you can crack questions which are somewhat tougher, it will be relatively easy for you when you actually answer the questions during your examination. 

    Out of 30 free question, in this article, 15 questions are given. I
    n the next article, you have the next 15 questions. 



    Question - 1: Which of the following statements is TRUE?
    (A) High Risk proximity can increase the risk score, but low risk manageability will decrease the score.
    (B) Low Risk proximity can decrease the risk score, but high risk manageability will increase the score.
    (C) Low Risk proximity can decrease the risk score, but low risk manageability will decrease the score.
    (D) High Risk proximity can increase the risk score, but high risk manageability will decrease the score.

    Question - 2: For some of the risks which you have identified, you have a contingency plan. Also, you have triggers to invoke the contingency plans. In which process, do you create such triggers?
    (A) Identify Risks.
    (B) Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis.
    (C) Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis.
    (D) Plan Risk Responses.

    Question 3: You are doing a risk planning for your project along with your team members. During this process, you decided to look at some of the project documents, while identifying the risks. You decided to look for assumptions. Which one of the following will give you the high-level assumptions taken for the project?
    (A) Project charter
    (B) Project schedule  
    (C) Project baseline 
    (D) Issue log

    Question – 4: You have planned for the risks in your project by creating a risk management plan, which has the information about the probability and impact scales, the probability and impact matrix, the risk audit timings, among others. Next, you identified all possible risks with the help of stakeholders in your project. You have created the risk register, identified and assigned the possible owners for the risks and further elaborated on the risk breakdown structure. What should you do NEXT? 
    (A) Analyze the risks qualitatively to find the probability and impact of each risk. 
    (B) Find the potential responses, if any, for each risk. 
    (C) Find the possible risk responses for each risk. 
    (D) Analyze the risks quantitatively to quantity with respect to schedule and cost impact for each risk. 

    Question – 5: You are working on a multi-million-dollar contract event management. It will take 4 months to complete. During one of the planning processes, you found out that a significant threat exists to your project from one of the contractors, who may go bankrupt. If that situation arrives, the project will be delayed by a month. Considering it, you decide to be in touch with another contractor who can provide the needed material. 
    This is an example of:
    (A) Risk Share. 
    (B) Risk Transfer.
    (C) Risk Acceptance.
    (D) Risk Mitigation.

    Question - 6: Following is a probability distribution for an activity.
    From this, we can infer:
    (A) The activity at best can be completed in 5 days, and at worst can be completed in 11 days.
    (B) The activity at best can be completed in 4 days, and at worst can be completed in 12 days, but most likely to be completed in 6 days with 100% probability. 
    (C) The activity at best can be completed in 6 days with around 30% probability, and at worst can be completed in 12 days with around 30% probability, but most likely to be completed in 6 days with 100% probability. 
    (D) The activity at best can be completed in 6 days with around 30% probability, and at worst can be completed in 10 days with around 30% probability, but most likely to be completed in 6 days with 80% probability.

    Question – 7: A Monte Carlo analysis has been conducted on a project, which shows below cumulative S-curve. The chances of the project meeting the budget of $75,000 is 30% (shown in red arrows). What is the contingency reserve needed if the chance has to be 60% (shown in yellow arrows)? 

    (A) 0% 
    (B) 10%
    (C) 4.9%
    (D) 5.1%

    . . .
    . . .

    The question set is available in the embedded PDF below. 



    For all the questions and answers, subscribe to this blog (on top right corner of this blog) and send a mail, from your gmail id to managementyogi@gmail.com



    Reference: 

    1. RMP Exam Prep Book - I Want To Be A RMP.


    This series part - 2: 30 Free PMI-RMP Questions with Answers (Part - 2)




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    Thursday, September 14, 2017

    PMP Protein: Seven Basic Tools of Quality

    By Sathish Babu, PMP




    Every organization uses various tools and techniques for quality management on a project. As a project manager, you should know, identify and pick the correct tools and techniques to manage and control the quality of your project. 

    One of the important set of tools used in organization is “7 basic quality tools”. These tools can provide much information about problems in the project and hence assist to derive solutions for the same. Let’s take a closer look at each one of them to see what makes them unique.



    1. Cause and Effect Diagram
    Description: Also, known as Ishikawa or fishbone diagrams. It is a graphical tool that helps identify, sort and display possible causes of a problem or quality characteristics. It is frequently used to find the root causes of the defects.

    Benefits:
    • Helps determine root causes.
    • Encourages group participation.
    • Uses an orderly, easy-to-read format.
    • Indicates possible causes of variation.
    • Increases process knowledge.
    • Identifies areas for collecting data.

    Diagram:


    Example:

    2. Flow Chart
    Definition: It is a diagram that uses graphic symbols to depict the nature and flow of the steps in a process. It can be used to better understand a process in order to determine which steps add value to the process and which ones don’t (and which therefore can be eliminated).

    Benefits:
    • Promote process understanding.
    • Provide tool for training.
    • Identify problem areas and improvement opportunities.
    • Helps for decision-making processes.

    Symbols:

    Example:


    3. Check Sheet
    Definition: Also, known as Tally Sheet or Checklist is a used for gathering and organizing data. It also helps to keep track of data such as quality problems uncovered during inspections.

    Benefits:
    • Records data for further analysis.
    • Provide historical record.
    • Introduce Data Collection methods (where, what, who and how).

    Example:

    4. Histogram
    Definition: It is a bar chart that shows the distribution of data and a snapshot of data taken from a process. If the histogram is normal, the graph takes the shape of a bell curve. If it is not normal, it may take different shapes based on the condition of the distribution.

    Benefits:
    • Summarize large data sets graphically.
    • Compare measurements to specifications.
    • Communicate information to the team.
    • Assist in decision making.

    Example:
    If a project had 125 defects, you might think that they all were critical. So, looking at the chart like the one below would help you to get some perspective on the data.



    5. Pareto Chart
    Definition: It is a bar chart arranged in descending order of height from left to right. Bars on left relatively more important than those on the right. Joseph Juran adapted Vilfredo Pareto’s 80/20  rule to create the 80/20 principle which states that 80% of the defects are usually caused by 20% of the root causes. 

    Benefits:
    • Breaks big problem into smaller pieces.
    • Identifies most significant factors.
    • Shows where to focus efforts.
    • Allows better use of limited resources.
    • Help focus attention on the most critical issues.
    • Prioritize potential “causes” of the problems.
    • Separate the critical few from the uncritical many.

    Example:

    6. Control Chart
    Definition: It is used determine if the results of a process are within acceptable limits or not. These limits, i.e., upper control limit (UCL) and lower control limit (LCL), are decided by project manager and other stakeholders. If the variables are within the limit, the project will be treated ‘in control’. There is a line in the middle of the control chart which is known as ‘mean’. It represents the middle of the range of an acceptable variation. If seven variables are found in one side of the mean, but within the control limits, it is known as rule of seven and the project will be treated as ‘out of control’. There is also upper and lower specification limit (USL and LSL) which are decided by the end customers.

    Benefits:
    These charts allow you to identify the following conditions related to the process that has been monitored,
    • Stability of the process.
    • Predictability of the process.
    • Identification of common cause of variation.
    • Special conditions where the monitoring party needs to react.

    Example (reference source - “I Want To Be A PMP” book):



    7. Scatter Diagram
    Definition: It is used to study and identify the possible relationship between the changes observed in two different sets of variables. A regression line (or trend line) is calculated to show the correlation of variables, and can then be used for estimation and forecasting. 

    Example:
    Given below are the steps to construct a Scatter diagram.
    • Collect two pieces of data and create a summary table of the data.
    • Draw a diagram labeling the horizontal and vertical axes.
    • It is common that the “cause” variable be labeled on the X axis and the “effect” variable be labeled on the Y axis.
    • Plot the data pairs on the diagram.
    • Interpret the scatter diagram for direction and strength.


    Exercises:

    1.Which of the following tools and techniques is used to show which categories of defects are most common?
    A. Control charts
    B. Pareto charts
    C. Checksheets
    D. Flowcharts 

    2. Which tool and technique is used to analyze trends?
    A. Scatter chart
    B. Run chart
    C. Checklist
    D. Flowchart

    3. Which Control Quality tool is used to analyze processes by visualizing them graphically?
    A. Checklists
    B. Flowcharts
    C. Pareto charts
    D. Histograms

    4. Which of the following is associated with the 80/20 rule?
    A. Scatter charts
    B. Histogram
    C. Control chart
    D. Pareto chart

    Answers:
    1.B, 2.B, 3.B, 4.D


    References: 
    1. “8.1.2.3: Seven Basic Quality Tools” from PMBOK Guide 5th Edition.
    2. “8.3: The 7 Basic Tools of Quality” from Book - I Want To Be A PMP by Satya Narayan Dash.
    3. “Chapter - 8. Quality Management” from Head First PMP 3rd Edition.
    4. “Chapter - 8. Quality Management” from PMP Exam Prep by Rita Mulcahy


    Written by Sathish Babu:
    Sathish Babu is working for Motorola Solutions as a Project Lead and having 11+ years of experience in Product, Project Management and Service Delivery in Telecom domain.




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