Thursday, February 22, 2018

PMP Success Story: Plan, Do, Check and Act

By Jim Kim, PMP

I’ve over 10 years of experience in multiple domains and I’ve handled multiple projects as a Project Manager. A PMP® certificate was something which was in my professional goal list for many years. But due to time constraints, I was never able to pursue it. In July 2017, I decided to take a break from regular work and that time I decided to actively pursue PMP certification.

PMP Coaching Experience
I decided to join classroom sessions and met Satya, who was our coach and led the sessions for 4 days. He helped us in going through the web of PMBOK®, quite effectively. Our doubts were cleared and we also had references to various blogs/videos/charts, which really helped in better understanding of the concepts.

Satya promised that by the end of the session most of us would be able to identify all the process groups (PGs), knowledge areas (KAs), inputs, tools and techniques and outputs (ITTOs). And surprisingly we were able to spell them out on the last day.

Own Study
The strategy was to follow the Deming’s Cycle, i.e., Plan – Do – Act – Check.

My plan was to simple - to read the PMBOK guide once by completing one chapter every day, then do the practice mock tests, analyse the results and keep trying till score was over 80% on regular basis and appear in the exam in next 2 months.

But as it is said, plans are made only to be changed. Same happened with me. The break from work didn’t last long, and soon I was back managing a big ERP transformation program and struggling between deadlines. PMP certification suddenly seemed to be distant dream. To keep the dream alive, I decided to join few FB groups on PMP preparation, so that I get my daily dose of inspiration.

The execution of the plan got shifted to December and thus started the ‘Do’ phase with reading of PMBOK guide.

Reading PMBOK guide itself was a big challenge, but decided to read it at least once. I focused on creating 2 to 3 summary page document for each chapter covering the important concepts.

Part 2 of the ‘Do’ phase was the practising Mock Tests. I started with few Mock tests in December end, scored 60% in the first test.

The ‘Check’ part started with the detailed analysis of the paper. I used to spend 2 to 3 hours in solving a paper and spend almost equal time in analysing it.

As an ‘Action’ item, found the topics which were missed in first read of PMBOK, add those topics to the chapter summary documents. I also went through ManagementYogi blog and YouTube videos to clear doubts where PMBOK has not provided detailed explanation.

This exercise was continued till I was scoring more than 80% marks in new Mock exams.

PMP Exam Experience
I scheduled my D-Day on Feb 13th and had booked the morning slot. My strategy for the exam was simple -  to remain calm and read every question carefully to understand the real meaning.

I first noted down the PGs and KAs table, key formulas and some terms such as resource levelling, resource smoothing etc., after the exam started. It took about 10 mins to complete this. The first question itself was a bouncer and had to mark it for later review. Next few questions were bit twisted but due to understanding of the concepts were able to answer them confidently.

I was able to go through all the 200 questions in 2.5 hours with a 10-minutes break in between. Since there was enough time, I started to revise from the beginning. This helped me in correcting 4 to 5 questions, which I had previously marked wrong. I was finally able to complete the revision with 5 minutes to spare, submitted the responses to check the result.

There was a congratulations message popping on the screen and I was on Cloud nine, finally I am PMP certified. I scored Above Target in all domains.

Types of Questions Faced
  • There were questions from all KAs.
  • I had multiple questions on Pareto chart analysis
  • There were questions on Fast Tracking, Risk response Strategies, 
  • Mathematical questions were from Cost Performance Index (CPI), Schedule Performance Index (SPI) and Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT). 
  • Most of these questions were not direct and one needs to apply the concept, and decide why the particular option is correct. 
  • There were many twisted questions on Project Charter and Contracts. 
  • Also, you need to be very clear with concepts of Communications Management, Stakeholder Management and Risk management area. In many questions, the choices would be from these areas and you need to find the most appropriate answer.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • Read the questions carefully. A single word can change the complete meaning of the question.
  • Look for eliminating the options if you are not sure about the right option.
  • Practice as much as you can and do analyse the mistakes made
  • Don’t panic, I gave the exam on 13th February. The cubicle allocated to me was also numbered 13. 
  • Keep calm. If you don’t know the answer of initial 2-3 questions, it is ok. It’s natural that one may not be knowing correct answers for all 200 questions.

Appearing for PMP certification itself is a Project, where one learns and executes lot of concepts mentioned in the PMBOK guide. The certification helped me in learning new concepts and would make me a better Leader and Manager.

Brief Profile 
Jim Kim, Associate Program Manager, Thoucentric. Involved in multiple ERP, Product Development projects across geographies, sectors. 

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