Friday, June 07, 2019

PMP Success Story: Credential With Real-World Applicability of New Project Management Concepts

By Varun Amirthakumar, PMP

I am Varun Amirthakumar and I am from Bangalore, India. In early 2018, I became a member of PMI® and by doing so, I gained access to the sixth edition of the PMBOK® Guide, along with the Agile Practice Guide. Then in the subsequent months of February and March, I attempted reading the PMBOK Guide, but found it to be too complicated and exhaustive.

I was also not able to grasp the contents of the PMBOK guide. Then I learnt about Satya’s classes.

PMP 35 Contact Hours Experience
I immediately enrolled myself in April 2018 for Satya’s 4-day classes. The tips and tricks shared in the classroom especially on how to remember the 49 processes across the 10 knowledge areas (KAs) and 5 process groups (PGs), on how to master the inputs, tools and techniques and outputs (ITTOs) for all of the 49 processes and the yogic tips shared across all chapters, really gave me the confidence that I can crack the exam of course by putting in extra efforts. 

Satya has a unique way of making everyone remember the 49 processes spread across the 10 KAs and 5 PGs. It helped me a lot. I strongly went by his advice “write down and practice – only then you will learn”. 

At the end of the 4-day classroom training, I was given this advice by him: "While taking the exam, for every question, look for options as a project manager, i.e., what would you do FIRST, before going over to others such as sponsor(s), stakeholders etc." Soon after, I went on to purchase the book: "I Want To Be A PMP".  

Towards end of April, 2018, I submitted my application for the exam. The sample application forms included in the book really helped me fill out mine. My application went through an audit by PMI and post that I paid the exam fee and scheduled my exam for March 7, 2019. Because I had a lot of work assignments and travel to do in between, I realized that I must have this examination taken up and completed in Mar 2019. 

As I was again pressed with a work assignment in March 2019, I had no choice but to push my exam to May 30, 2019. As time was too short for me, I instantly decided that I need to purchase Satya’s video package – “35 Contact Hours Online Course” as well. 

Review – PMP 35 Contact Hours Online Course
In this Online Course, All the chapters in this video package were synchronized to the layout within the PMBOK guide. Because of this, the PMBOK guide could also be read simultaneously without any difficulty. 

The most helpful part of the video package was the ITTOs, which Satya has explicitly mentioned for each process and the flow charts. These made a lot of sense in understanding the integration of the processes. The best part of this video package was that it was like a classroom session and I could replay any video as many times as I could, until I understood the contents. 

Remembering key ITTOs were made easy as they were highlighted wherever the process integrates and there were tips given to revise once you reach a certain level in learning. To top it all, the practice questions after each topic helped in gauging my understanding of each chapter. 

How I Prepared For The Exam?
The process spread in the PMBOK is known to most of us. For the sake of illustration, I’m only outlining these:
  • Project Initiation has two processes
  • Project Planning has twenty-four processes
  • Project Execution has ten processes
  • Project Monitoring and Controlling has twelve processes and
  • Project Closing has one process

Therefore, my first aim was to achieve an “Above Target” score for Project Closure and Project Initiation. My next aim was to achieve an “Above Target” score for Project Monitoring and Controlling followed by Project Execution and finally concentrate on Project Planning. I was very much confident that if one scores “Above Target” across all other Process Groups apart from Project Planning, there is always a strong chance for one to pass the exam – even in a worst-case scenario wherein one may achieve only a “Needs Improvement” score for Project Planning. 

I first thoroughly understood the ITTOs for each of the 49 processes by attacking the process groups one after the other in the order mentioned above. Next, I went through the Knowledge Areas and read the contents chapter wise to understand as to what are the emerging trends, tailoring processes etc. 

The only thing that I memorized were the mathematical formulae involved in certain Knowledge Areas as mathematical questions in the exam will have only one correct answer and such questions are easy to score in the exam. 

I then practiced over 3000 questions and answers applicable across all Knowledge Areas (with a mindset that I need to take no more than 72 seconds per question). By doing so, I was able to judge from the questions, four important things:
  • Which Process Group the question is talking about?
  • Which Knowledge Area the question is talking about?
  • What is the relevant information and what is the distractor within the question?
  • Whether the question is asking for a specific accurate answer such as the name of a project document or the name of a tool and technique etc. or whether the question is asking for the best answer from a list of choices? The last one is important.

What to Do a Day before and on the Exam Day?
I would advise the followings one day before the exam and during the exam day. Many such tips are part of Satya’s video package as well as the book. 
  • It’s advisable not to revise or memorize any last-minute chapter on the day before the exam.
  • A good overnight’s sleep is essential before the day of the exam.
  • It is advisable only to refresh your memory with the mathematical formulae in the morning hours on the day of the exam.
  • On the day of the exam, reach the Prometric Test Center well before time.
  • Before the start of the exam there is a tutorial for 15 min – it is advisable to read the tutorial with care.
  • Once the exam starts, do not straight away jump over to question 1 even though the clock starts ticking backwards from 3h:59m:59s.
  • It is highly recommended that one submits the exam rather than the computer (system) taking control of the exam submission. 
  • It is advisable to choose an answer for every question even though one may mark the question for review later on without choosing an answer. 

PMP Exam Experience
As the exam began, I spent a solid 5 min in writing down all mathematical formulae on the scratch paper which was very useful for me when the relevant question came up during the exam. I was able to finish 200 questions in 3 hours and 52 minutes. Of the remaining 8 minutes, I used the 7 minutes to review the marked questions and the final one minute to submit. 
I faced varieties of questions, some of which I’ve noted below. 
  • 50% of the questions were lengthy but had heavy distractors. There will be lot of redundant information, but the question is asking something else. 
  • Some of the questions were too short and of the direct scoring type, e.g., for activity B to start, activity A must be completed in full. What is the relationship involved here? 
  • Some of the questions were specifically framed to test if one as a PM is able to choose the correct project document, e.g., midway through a project, a new stakeholder was identified. Where would you record this information?
  • Some of the questions were tricky and had to be carefully interpreted, e.g., the sponsor just received an approved Change Request from the CCB and had the same passed over to the PM for implementation. What should the PM do next?  
  • Some of the questions were specifically framed to test if one as a PM is able to choose the correct tool and technique, e.g., answer choices had expert judgement as well as team judgement. There is nothing called team judgement! 
  • To the best of my knowledge, there were no questions on AGILE practices. But it’s wise not to skip reading this section. Read at least once from the PMBOK guide.

Tips for PMP Aspirants
  • Reading the PMBOK guide is a must. Read it two times at least – once in detail and once by fast tracking. 
  • Make it a point only to memorize only mathematical formulae.
  • Make it a point to understand all aspects of project management and associated processes via KAs, PGs and ITTOs.
  • Take more number of online practice tests. This will give you the confidence to complete 200 questions in four hours. 
  • Never panic before or during the exam: If a question is tough to understand move on and come back. Keep eight to ten minutes for review.  
  • While reading questions, straight away attempt to eliminate distracting information before looking at the best answer from the choices given.
  • Finally, God needs to be thought of just before taking the exam and while taking the survey questions of the Prometric Center when actually the exam report is getting generated.

Preparing and appearing for the PMP exam helped me in learning new concepts. I am now able to relate every Process Group (PG) and Knowledge Area (KA) to a real-world example and I am able to execute some of the concepts in my day-to-day work as well. 

Thank you for reading my experience and wish you all very best in your preparation. 

Brief Profile:
Varun Amirthakumar, PMP. 
I am currently working in the Pratt & Whitney Canada Center of Excellence for Cyient India Limited in Bangalore on aero engine maintenance and overhaul manuals, since 13.5 years. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from R.V. College of Engineering, Bangalore, India. I completed my schooling from National Public School, Bangalore, India.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

30 NEW PMI-ACP Free Questions and Answers (Part - 2)

This is in continuation of the earlier series of questions for PMI-ACP examination. 

[This series - Part - 1] 

I would suggest that you take this one and earlier post of 30 PMI-ACP Freee Questions Part - 1 together, when you do your practice. Note that these are not verbatim  questions from PMI-ACP exam, however, these questions covers the domains, references books and guide for the exam. 

The questions are from the newly released book:
I Want To Be An ACP, 2nd edition. 

[This series - Part - 1]



Question – 16: For a customer service project which will be using robots, your team has been formed with a set of specialists as well as generalists. The team members are striving to be generalizing specialists. However, your team is a small one with rapid changes, you want to have your team members deeper experiences across various disciplines. What should you do?
A Team member should be encouraged to have broken-comb skills.
B Team members should be more self-aware, self-organized, self-managed, and cross functional.
C Team should have more intraspectives as well as retrospectives.
D Follow practices such as pair programming, whole team and sit together.

Question – 17: A release burndown chart for a project is shown in the below figure.

Based on it, can you as the Scrum Master can interpret which one of the following?
A On an average 30 story points are added in every Sprint and also completed.
B On the 4th Sprint, the total work in story points is 180.
C While 30 story points were completed in 5th Sprint, 20 story points were also added.
D Being 4th and 5th Sprints, there has been no change in scope.  

Question – 18: For an infrastructure project, your designers are not sure of the architecture. Some of your key stakeholders proposed to have a thin slice of the system, which can be used to determine the potential architecture of the system. The slice to cover all the possible layers of application to validate the potential architecture. This slice will be a prototype and will not be used in production, but only for demonstration. What should you do?
A Create a user story for the potential architecture.
B Develop an architectural spike to determine the potential architecture.
C Build analysis stories which will help to find other stories.
D Create a set of infrastructure stories. 

Question – 19: You are facilitating a planning poker estimation meeting, where your team is following the steps such as reading the story, providing an estimate and discussing the differences. For one backlog item, one team member informed that this story is pretty much nothing and very little work is needed. This is much lower than the features estimated to be 1 story point.  What should you do NEXT?
A Switch to T-shirt size estimation approach.
B Assign a value of 0 or 1/2 for this story.
C Mark "?" for this story and remove it from the backlog.
D Mark "∞" for this story and continue working on other items.

Question – 20: A product backlog has 400 story points worth of work and total budget estimated is $200,000. At the end of fourth iteration, actual cost is 42,500 and total story points completed so far is 90. If the baseline velocity is 25 story points, what can be set about this project?
A Project is ahead of schedule, but over budget.
B Project is behind schedule, but under budget.
C Cost performance of the project is bad.
D Schedule performance of the project is good.

Question – 21: A user story is written as "As a <team member>, I want to know what the key stakeholders expect from the payment part of this system, so that I can find stories to work on." The story is not timeboxed yet and brought in for discussion in a backlog refinement meeting. However, as your team members are not sure what kind of story it is and how to proceed, you should FIRST inform, it's a:
A Spike story.
B Infrastructure story.
C Analysis story.
D Architecturally significant story.

Question – 22: Your team is developing a social media product. Some of your engineers, including UX engineers, are part of other teams and work in your project as and when needed because of organizational constraints. Your product work progressed well and many items have been successfully reviewed in earlier two sprint review meetings. However, the stakeholders are not satisfied with the way the user experience has been addressed. What should you do FIRST?
A Have refined requirements for UX related items.
B Ensure all engineers are 100% dedicated to your team.
C Make the UX engineer part of your team. 
D Have a clear definition of ready for the UX items 

Question – 23: A team has been working on a process improvement project with flow-based approach and using Scrumban method for its work. Whenever an impediment is identified and it looks to be blocking in nature, the team uses swarming to collectively work and focus on the impediment till it is resolved. Which one of the following BEST describes roles in team swarm?
A Coordinators, Swarmers and TeamLets.
B Team Members, Flow Master and Process Owner.
C Swarmers, Mobbers and Coordinators.
D Manager, Doomsayer, and Tracker. 

Question – 24: For a system development project, your team is following Scrum Practices. For the current Sprint, your team has committed a number of items from the product backlog. Mid-way into the Sprint, the team strongly felt that they won’t be able to complete many items. As you checked and discussed with the team along with the Product Owner, you found that if those items can't be delivered, then the Sprint Goal will be jeopardy and the Sprint will lose its value. What should you do NEXT as the Scrum Master?
A Cancel the Sprint.
B Abnormally terminate the Sprint.
C Ask the team members to deliver the items which they can.
D Let the team self-organize and find a way to resolve.

Question – 25: You are working as a project manager to develop the portal of a banking organization. There are many requirements and technological uncertainties, which necessitates risk management. You have defined the risk probabilities and impact for this project before the first iteration planning meeting. Your team members are now identifying the risks. However, you want to have better visualization. What should you do?
A Create a risk probability and impact matrix and share with your team.
B Prepare a risk register and ask the team to add new risks to this register.
C Have a risk map prepared, add color coded sticky notes representing the risks with severities.
D Find out the risk scores and prepare a risk burndown chart. 

Question – 26: You project has completed two releases and currently you are in the 7th iteration. There have been many risks identified throughout and now you want to check the effectiveness of risk responses in dealing with these risks and want to have a risk audit. Which one of the following is the BEST place to conduct such activities?
A Retrospectives.
B Iteration planning meeting.
C Daily stand-up meeting.
D Product Demo.

Question – 27: A drug company is working on a new drug product where requirements are not fully known, the technology platform is changing and also has high uncertainties. The organization hence decided to use an agile mode of development for this product. However, for the final drug approval, the Government agencies demand work to be stable, a product to be known because the regular has a clear process to work through on it. Which one of the following hybrid models will be MOST appropriate?
A Predominantly Predictive with Agile model.
B Predominantly Agile with Predictive model.
C Combined Agile and Predictive model.
D Agile-Predictive hybrid model.

Question – 28: Reviews in agile approaches are not only limited to product work, but can be used for other ones such as continuous improvement. Which one of the following is not a type of review?
A Product demo
B Technical review
C Risk status review
D Team performance evaluation 

Question – 29: A media publishing house team has been using Scrum for its journal publications. The agile coach for the team continuously reminds the team to join the daily stand-up, update the burndown chart, complete the tasks and update them on the task board, among others. Which coach mode is displayed by this coach?
A The Nag
B The Heckler
C The Admin
D The Megaphone 

Question – 30: Your release is coming to an end which has 5 iterations. Currently, for the release retrospective, your team members are writing signi´Čücant events during the release on index cards and putting them on a timeline in a chronological order. Team members are then using color coded stick dots for feelings about those events, i.e., blue for sad, yellow for mad, orange for surprise and green for glad. Which activity (or activities) the team is performing?
A Team Radar
B Timeline with Triple Nickels
C Timeline with Color Code Dots and Mad Sad Glad
D Timeline with Color Code Dots

[This series - Part - 1]

The question set is available in the embedded document below. The answers are also part of this document.

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