Sunday, March 25, 2018

PMP Live Lessons Success Story: The Coveted Credential – “PMP”

By Hemanth Thimmappa, PMP




Introduction
I once heard about PMP® certification and thought it’s only for the experienced ones. I come from a varied background and someday wanted to be a Project Manager, and slowly realised that a professional education coupled with an industry certification will help me realise my goals in the future. That’s how the PMP bug bit me!

PMP Coaching Experience
I have taken the mandatory 35 contact hours of coaching twice. But the sessions never had the penetration that Satya was able to garner. The live examples, the process flows narrated in a story-telling manner made it look simple and more and more interesting to listen and hence the retention in memory. 

Every focus area mentioned by Satya either directly or indirectly appeared in the exam and it is these simple but effective tips & tricks that help you recollect the logic behind answering questions that lead you to the path of a successful PMP certified management professional.


Real life scenarios (outside of an ideal project world), Satya’s experience in the Project Management space during his term as PM, carving a story out a process flow, umpteen examples, easy to remember tips/tricks (especially the Yogic Quotes) to arrive at a rational logic to answer a question, proved to be valuable fragments of gold to be able to do a mental mapping of scenarios to the Process Groups and Knowledge Areas, that eventually led us to the most appropriate answers for those tricky and challenging questions which teases our brains!

Own Study
Satya was right from the very first words that he uttered during the start of the training – “PMP is not a test of your experience or knowledge or reasoning abilities but it is the test of your discipline, patience, ability to unlearn and re-learn, physical, mental and emotional strength”.

Based on these, although a little late, I started by making a plan – after all it’s a long journey and if you cannot or do not plan, you do not deserve to be a PMP!

Making the plan was the easier bit, sticking to it is where the test actually started. A couple of hours of daily study (mandatory 8-10 hours on weekends), a doze of question/answer sessions to top it, started giving me the confidence that this is an achievable target. There was only one material that I decided to stick to, and this is a decision I will never regret nor forget – Satya’s PMP Live Lessons.

The craftmanship of the material is unreal when you compare it with the approach that the PMBOK® Guide takes to provide you the same information in a complex manner with cumbersome language, which becomes difficult to map to a day in the life of a project manager.  

The Smart Cards at the end of each lesson and the Practice Questions probably touch every aspect of the PMBOK® Guide but in a very simply yet effective way – I now am a believer of the proverb “Beauty lies in simplicity”!

I probably wouldn’t be exaggerating if I’d say that every word that Satya has spoken has some correlation to the way the concepts get registered in your memory.

Satya’s suggestion to refer the corresponding PMBOK chapter after the completion of the Live Lessons is a bull’s eye advice.

Making my own short/crisp notes of Satya’s lecture in the videos helped me in gazing through the topics and important things to remember, just before the exam - this ended up becoming the oasis in the desert, on my exam day!

When I was done with the chapters, the full-length questions and answers provided by Satya showed me the mirror, so I could quickly reflect on the gaps and work on closing them. This also helped me be physically and mentally prepared to sit for the entire length of the exam without any distractions.
The “Yogic Tip” is a life saver especially when the questions play with your mind – a comma, a misplaced word, sentence construction and any such distractors are taken care in the Live Lesson Tips.


Review – PMP LIVE LESSONS
I initially bought the Book, “I Want To Be A PMP” and the content blew me away and I straightaway knew that the investment in the “PMP Live Lessons” will be worth it. You realise after the successful completion of the exam that it was not just the money that mattered, it was probably everything else! After all, before you become a PMP, you need to learn to do the cost-benefit analysis and ROI calculations, for your own self ;)

The mind mapping of process groups, knowledge areas, ITTOs with the scenarios and examples is the key feature of the “PMP Live Lessons”. What makes it distinct is, I never found a single word “wasted”. It is just necessary and sufficient. You never feel fatigued even after long hours of hearing the videos because it keeps you at the edge of your learning experience at all times, simply because of the smooth flow that is created between one topic and its preceding and succeeding ones.

With my own exam experience and my batchmates' I can clearly tell that the Risk, Procurement, Quality, Stakeholder & Integration Management were key focus areas and those topics are covered in the Live Lessons with razor sharp precision.

The effective usage of “key” technical terms by Satya in the videos is so intriguing, you can actually map the process flows without even looking at it, but by just listening to it!

PMP Exam Experience
I scheduled my exam in Bangalore Prometric Centre, in Prestige Shanthi Niketan Tech Park, Whitefield.

While I started solving the Full-length questions provided by Satya, I observed that keeping a realistic target of ONE QUESTION A MINUTE, helped the cause. This gives you just enough time to read, think and answer the questions whilst time-boxing this event to smoothly flow to the next question. This practice helped me have enough buffer at the end to review the answers and correct about 20 of them.

Mathematical questions were a couple, one of them direct and the other just one step less to being direct. The exam was filled with situational questions which is when it re-emphasised the need of real world examples that Satya quotes throughout the training and in the videos. Words like AND, BUT, OR, IF, NOT can trap you easily into giving the wrong answers, so like Satya says, the key way to handle it is “Be calm and slow while reading the questions, have a logical interval/junction to pause, then you’ll know what the question is really asking out of you”.

You may face disturbance with fellow examinees reading out questions a little louder than acceptable, you may use the “Noise Cancelling Headphones” or alert the invigilator so it is taken care of, else this can be a major inhibitor to your better performance. Remember – no focus, no PMP!

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
Dos:
  • Prepare a study plan as soon as the training is finished.
  • Trust a book/material (in my case I had complete faith in the Live Lessons).
  • Foster that trust by using the material every day, at least twice, for study/revisions.
  • Prepare your own short notes and quick reference chits.
  • Get a goodnight’s sleep before the exam day.
  • Keep yourself hydrated, eat sufficiently before you give the exam.
  • Reach the exam centre well within time.
  • Be calm, collected and composed, if you have stuck to your plan, you will clear PMP.
  • Pace your exam well, keep a constant watch on the clock and try to challenge it.
  • Attempt all questions – Remember there is no negative markings, hence nothing to lose if you’re not sure of the answer.

Don’ts:
  • Do not Panic, if you have stuck to your plan, you will clear the exam.
  • Do not under eat or be under hydrated, you need stamina to focus on the exam, it’s a marathon.
  • Do not reach late to the exam centre, the adrenaline rush can temporarily deplete your memory.
  • Do not waste your preparation time – You can never get it back.
  • Do not under estimate the preparation levels required, if you missed a day of preparation, compensate it the very next day, else you will lose the flow and eventually the interest.
  • I repeat, do not leave any question unanswered – Sometimes a couple of questions could be the distance between going past the line or not!

Conclusion
PMP not only tested my understanding of the Project Management best practices advocated by PMI, but helped me understand my body, mind and competencies.

I now know that proper planning, willingness to learn and a bit of courage can take you places and help you achieve things that you might otherwise never do.

There was definitely more credibility that I earned at work once I became a PMP and there is a significant perception change and that has boosted my confidence in taking up newer challenges.

Brief Profile and Experience
Hemanth Thimmappa
Central PMO Analyst – Project Proposal Developer
I started my corporate career at Accenture, within the call centre operations space, moved on to Process Excellence team and managed an operations team of over 100 resources.

I later moved to an IT Organisation, emids Technologies, specialising in HealthCare IT Solutions as a Quality/PMO Lead.

Currently with Shell India, as a Central PMO Analyst handling the project proposal development activities and assisting in Project Initiations, Process Consultations, Change Request Administrations etc.





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