Tuesday, June 05, 2018

PMP Success Story: Focus, Plan and Execute with Confidence

By Saurabh Raj Sharan, PMP



Introduction
For some years, I had an aspiration to get PMP® certification, due to a simple reason that I wanted my career to take shape and personally I wanted to grow my managerial skills by managing a project. I started My career as SAP consultant and lately (after 10 years) started managing small upgrade/migration/test projects within my organisation.

PMP Coaching Experience
Once I decided I need to get PMP certified, I contacted my colleagues and friends who have done PMP or were in process of doing it. I came across one provider's Certification Training Course as one of the best coaching institutes for PMP. As it is mandatory to attend 35 contact hours of project management before you apply for the PMP exam, I enrolled and came across Satya Sir and the 4 days of the weekend batch was very interactive and fruitful. My classes happened over two weekends.  

Satya Sir's tips for sequencing the processes and knowledge areas were very helpful to me. The charts for knowledge areas, process groups and processes have been sequentially numbered, which becomes very easy to memorize. Once the logic for the numbering is understood, it became easy to understand further. Also, the way he told us to calculate free floats and total float, was helpful in understanding. 

After completing the course, I got 35 contact hours needed to register my PMP application.  


Own Study
Books, I referred: PMBOK Guide Sixth Edition. 
I read this new edition 3 times and would highly recommend reading only the PMBOK guide as your main reference book. I made my own notes using my readings from Sixth Edition and re-read it twice in the last week. 

I studied PMBOK guide for 2 months, made notes and in last 10-15 days, I just did the revision. Since this was a new format, there were very few question banks and online tests available. I completely avoided reading questions and attempting Mock test based on PMBOK fifth edition, this was done just to avoid any confusion with Sixth edition. 

I joined LinkedIn PMP group which was helpful in knowing the trends of PMP and I came across one question set, which was an online test. This is the only test I gave to test my skill and be more confident about my preparation. I scored around 72% during initial attempt. Later I verified where I was wrong and improved my score.

PMP Exam Experience
I scheduled my exam on 22nd May at the Prometric Centre in Whitefield, Bangalore. I opted for the morning slot as I wanted to finish the exam at the earliest and avoid the infamous traffic of Bangalore. On the day of the exam, I reached the venue 30 minutes early. The moment I entered there was no one and the centre asked me if I can start my test early. I went to the restroom and sat for the exam.

The exam is for 4 hours and quite tiring.  I took only one break as the exam hall was very cold.

My strategy was to read the questions at least twice and make sure I also read all the four options even when I knew which one was right, just to make sure remaining 3 are not valid. This helped me save time to review or use of Mark options. By this way I was able to finish 50-52 questions in an hour. I finished my exam with 15 minutes in my hand. I didn’t want to confuse, hence I didn’t go through a review and submitted well before. This is because I am a fast reader but to plan 50 questions in an hour is very achievable.

  • I got many mathematical questions based on Variances. I put the formulas on the scratch sheet as soon as I entered in the room. 
  • I also got lots of question on Quality Management process areas, Change management and role of Project manager.
  • I didn’t get any questions on Agile nor “Manage Project Knowledge” process.
  • Got 3 questions on CPM - Critical Path Method.
  • Few questions on resource levelling, crashing, resource smoothing and fast tracking.
  • There were many questions where the trick was in the last line, so I would request you to read all the lines before attempting answers.

My Score was Above target.



I got three Above Targets and one Target. So, try to focus on getting 3 Domain “Above Target”.



Suggestions for PMP Aspirants
Dos
  • Read PMBOK sixth edition at least two times.
  • Make your own notes- I used Google docs and handwritten.
  • Do revise at-least twice in last week of preparation.
  • Do file your application and schedule the exam to bring seriousness and the exam date will act as a milestone to plan your study and activities.
  • Give at least 4-5 hrs every day for PMP study.

Don’ts
  • Don’t read too many books.
  • Don’t revisit the questions, try to finish them in one go.
  • Don’t opt for free mocks and too many easily available online tests. They are not as per the PMP exam and may not guide you properly
  • Don’t lose the confidence. 
  • Don’t memorize tools and techniques but try to understand why there are used and how they are used.

Conclusion
All the effort and hard work were worth in the end. It was a pride moment to get the PMP certification. Your outlook towards your work will also change.

Brief Profile
Saurabh Sharan. I work with Walmart Labs India as a SAP Product manager in Manufacturing domain. I have over 11 years of Project Management, Test & Quality Management and SAP consulting experience in multiple domains.





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