Sunday, March 11, 2018

PMP Success Story: Be Honest With Yourself And Things Will Fall In Place

By Deepti Mallenahalli Prahalad, PMP

I started off my IT career as a Test Analyst. I had no plans to get into a management role. During my initial days of my career, I came across a Project Manager who excelled in management -  be it project management skills, technical excellence or people management skills. He is a role model to me till date. He is my first source of inspiration. 

Over the years I did work with wonderful Project Managers who also inspired me to become a Project Manager. My aim is to become a successful Project Manager who could excel in management skills, technical skills and people management skills. Getting certified as a PMP® was a necessity in that direction and it has boosted my confidence. 

PMP 35 Contact Hours Experience
My mentor was Mr. Satya Narayan Dash. He is a great coach with in depth knowledge of project management skills. Satya Sir has the knack to capture the audience’s attention and make them active listeners. I am lucky to be part of Satya’s Sir’s training batch. 

I have to admit that I take time to understand the complex concepts. But the learnings from Satya Sir’s 35 hours of coaching helped me understand the concepts in a simpler way. Though I didn’t get everything in the first try, I made it a point to understand the concepts in depth, as I proceeded. By end of 4th day of the training, I had realized what I had learned and decided that I would definitely purchase Satya Sir’s e-book “I Want To Be A PMP”. 

Key Takeaways from Training
  • Understood the concepts well.
  • Instant tips provided on topics during the session helped me for my preparation.
  • Relating to real life examples helped me to understand in simpler way.
  • Tips related to before/during/after exam.
  • Tips on understanding the PMP tricky/situational questions.
  • Satya Sir’s e-book “I Want To Be A PMP”.

My aim was to understand the concepts clearly and understand the Inputs, Tools and Techniques, and Outputs (ITTOs) and their purposes. This was possible only because of Satya Sir’s coaching and his e-book “I Want To Be A PMP”. With this I was confident about the concepts. Also, there were tips from Satya Sir on knowledge areas (KAs) to prepare well. 

I concentrated more on Initiating, Executing and Closing process groups (PGs). The tips from Satya Sir on how to plan for the exam has helped me gain more confidence, e.g., taking mock timed tests, jotting down all the mathematical questions once the exam begins.

Own Study
I started off my preparation immediately after the training, which was in November 2017, by reading through Satya Sir’s ebook “I Want To Be A PMP”. I understood the concepts completely. Then, I referred PMOK Guide 5th edition, i.e.,
  • One chapter from the book “I Want To Be A PMP” and then corresponding chapter from the PMBOK Guide 5th edition. 
  • This way I was able to cover one round of read through the PMBOK guide 5th edition.
My preparation lasted for 3 months – 1 to 2 hours on weekdays and 6 to 8 hours on weekends.

Books Referred
  • Satya Sir’s e-book "I Want To Be A PMP"
  • PMBOK Guide 5th edition

Mock Exams Attempted
  • Questions from Satya Sir’s e-book.
  • Questions from the classroom session provider
  • App: PMP exam mentor

I had a preparation gap of 3 weeks during December 2017 and this hit me very badly. To get back on track I had to put in a lot of hard work as I had almost forgotten the concepts. But with immense dedication, I got back on track. 

Book Review - I Want To Be A PMP
Project management concepts in the book are very clear and explained in layman words. Key indicators and tips in each chapter helped me to grasp quickly. Videos on certain topics were handy and easy to grasp. 

'Formulas Gold Cards' is the ultimate winner. Mock questions at the end of e-book were totally helpful as there were all kinds of questions – situational questions, mathematical question, trapping questions etc. I took them as timed tests. 

Revision tips mentioned at different chapters were truly helpful as that determined the level of one’s understanding on the concepts. I completely followed the tips before, during and after exam. Especially jotting down the formulas at the beginning of the exam, was effective. 

PMP Exam Experience
I had scheduled the PMP exam for 26th February, 2017 at Bangalore. To beat the traffic, I started off of early and got an early slot.  

The first 15 minutes were for the tutorial and the last 15 minutes was for the test centre feedback. Once the exam commenced, I spent the first 15 minutes in writing down the KA/PG chart and formulas. 

The first 10 questions were tricky and by end of 10th question I was little tensed thinking what if the remaining 190 questions were tricky too. However, to my luck, the questions were situational later on and I gained confidence.

I had marked around 20 questions to be reviewed later. I completed answering 200 questions in 3 hours and 30 minutes and spent the last 30 minutes in reviewing the marked questions and answering them carefully. Finally, I clicked the submit button and the feedback form appeared. I filled up and submitted the feedback form. My heart start pounding and congratulations appeared on the screen. Tears of joy sparkled in my eyes. 

Exam Strategy 
My goal was to crack the 200 questions in 4 hours without taking a break. For that, I had taken timed mock tests. This helped me a lot in planning and maintaining the time and concentrating on the questions. 

During preparation I had spent time on practicing writing the formulas and the knowledge area (KA) and process group (PG) chart. This helped me scale up during the exam. I spent the first 15 minutes in writing down the Formulas and the KAs and PGs chart. Any doubts while answering I could always refer back to the chart which was really very helpful.

Types of Questions Faced
Most of the questions were situational. I faced following types of questions.
  • Only two mathematical questions - on Communication Channels and PERT estimates. 
  • Situational questions on Types of Organizations.
  • Questions on Change Request and Change Management.
  • Question on Closing the project.
  • Tools – questions specifically on Seven Basic Quality tools.
  • One question on motivation theory.
  • A number of questions on Risk Management and Stakeholder Management.

One caution – Don’t have a seat near the entrance of the exam hall. I faced a lot of disturbances in the initial 2 hours, but later it subsided. I would suggest to select a seat which is a bit away from the entrance/exit door. 

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
  • Understand the concepts clearly.
  • Understand the purpose of ITTOs.
  • Create a plan and study chapter wise and take mock tests. Read the explanations for wrong answers and learn from them. 
  • Make notes as and when you read. This will help during revisions. 

  • Do not memorize ITTOs.
  • Do not attempt mock test unless you are well prepared.
  • Do not over study during the last week of the exam. This brings into lot of pressure. 

I truly want to pursue my PMP learnings and actually implement them in my projects and grow in my career and excel in project management skills. 

Brief Profile
Deepti Mallenahalli Prahalad is working at Vymo Solutions Private Limited as a Program Manager and having 12+ years of experience in Software Testing, Project Management (Traditional and Agile), Service Delivery in Insurance domain. 

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