Monday, October 26, 2020

PMP Success Story: If You Want To Be A PMP, Then You Must Decide to Proceed and Read The Book–I Want To Be A PMP

By Rahul Nagle, PMP


I first heard these words–Project Manager–in a movie called Swades, where Shahrukh Khan, a favorite that time, played the lead character as the Project Manager in National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), US. I was in college at that time, and since then I wanted to have my designation as Project Manager.

I heard about the Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential sometime around 2012 and since then I wanted to pursue it. I came to know that I need to have at least three years of Project Management experience to apply for the PMP certification. Since I didn’t have that experience that time, I didn’t go for it then. But it was always in my mind and I wanted to do it one day.   

PMP Coaching Experience

I attended my PMP coaching classes towards the end of 2018. Yes, it was two years back. For the first time, in Satya’s classes, I got to know that the 3-year experience does not mean that I need to be a project manager for three years. In fact, you can have any designation, but you should have worked in project management activities.

In the classes, I came to know about the content of the PMP exam, the examination content outline (ECO), how to prepare for the exam, various tips to remember, among others. 

What helped most for my exam preparation are these: the sequencing of all the processes across the knowledge areas and process groups and how they flow, interact with each other. This sequencing helped me a lot to visualize how a project is executed in real-time. This also helped in understanding the entire process chart. 

At the end of the first week of my class, I was able to write the process chart with a little bit of help.  This sequencing has been mentioned in Satya’s book as well with key inputs and outputs. This helped a lot in the exam. 

Own Study

It took me around two years since my first brush with PMP, to prepare for the exam and give the exam. The main reason being the delay that I made. I would NOT recommend anyone to do it. It might take some time for you, but don’t delay this much. My serious study only took four months! 

When I started preparing seriously, I first struggled to find the time where I can spend two to three hours daily. I realized that I cannot study during office hours, even though I was working from home due to the COVID-19 health crisis. The office work commitment didn’t let me study properly with focus. With a few days of struggle, I found that the best time for me to study is after office hours. 

I used to study daily after 9PM till midnight and sometimes till 1AM in the morning. It might take some time for you to find the best time or slot for yourself. It also took some time for me to be regular with my preparation, get the rhythm and be used to it. I followed the schedule strictly and somehow, I got used to it. 

My reference material for the study were two:

You must read the PMBOK guide. I’ve heard people saying it’s tough to read and understand, but trust me, it’s really a very good guide and things are explained in detail. PMBOK gave me details about all the processes, tools and techniques, plans, and documents and their contents. These are must to know and PMBOK gave that in detail. 

However, to clear the exam, Satya’s book–I Want To Be A PMP, was the real guide. It has so many tips, which I remembered, and it helped a lot in the exam.

Book Review - I Want To Be A PMP

I decided to buy the book, I Want To Be A PMP last year, after reading its reviews. The best part of this book is that it’s like the PMBOK, but in a simplified way. The chapters, contents, sections, headlines are synchronized with the PMBOK guide. This helped in reading the PMBOK guide. 

This book has introduction, key concepts, processes along with process exercises, and chapter end questions. At the end of the process, there are flow diagram exercises, questions related to process identifications, and questions related to tools and techniques' identifications. I found those very tough to answer, but I didn’t skip it. It helped me to increase my understanding about what happens in each process, which tools or techniques are used in which scenario. 

It also gave me ideas about the questions, which are asked in the PMP exam. In the exam, questions are mostly indirect. It is asked by defining scenario or by action and hence, we must find which document, plan, tool or technique is being talked about. The process and ITTO exercises in the book give ideas on that.  

I read Satya’s book two times and the PMBOK guide one time. Next, I gave the mock tests, and revised the chapters during all the tests. During revision, I read Satya’s book and the PMBOK guide, almost completely, one more time. 

During the first reading of Satya’s book, I would attend the chapter-end questions. Next, I noted down how I am performing by noting the percentage of correct answers. Then, I would read Satya’s book again, and attend process exercises following with another read of the PMBOK guide. Next, I would re-do the chapter-end questions and recheck my performance to see if I have improved. 

Chapter-end question helped me to revise the entire chapter. Various videos and article links given in the book, deepened my understanding of the topic. The videos with respect to earned value measurement (EVM) and related calculation, various performance indices, risk response strategies etc., are very well explained.

PMP Exam Experience

I scheduled for a centre-based exam to avoid internet failure at home. I went to PearsonVUE center, at Lalbagh, Bangalore. There is no parking in that building, but one paid parking nearby. The centre staff was helpful. The centre was following strict rules for COVID-19. I was not allowed to take anything–jacket, pen, paper–inside the exam hall. Centre provides a locker to keep the belongings. I was asked to wear a mask all the time and allowed to take sanitizer with me. 

  • Exam was in two parts. Total duration of the exam was 4 hrs or 240 mins. In the first part, there were 89 questions, without any time-limit to attend. You can attend it in 50 mins or 150 mins. Once you complete this, you will get an option brake for maximum 10 mins. For the remaining 111 questions, you are supposed to complete within the remaining available time.
  • You cannot review questions attempted earlier, but you can refer to the notes, formula, process chart that you have prepared during the first part of the exam.
  • I practiced the process chart, and formula by writing 2 times in the morning before leaving for the exam centre. When I started the first question, I prepared the process chart. It took almost 7 mins and then, I started attempting questions. 
  • I decided to keep in mind about the time. It takes time to read and understand questions. I finished my exam at the last minute after reviewing the flagged questions. Luckily there was a calculator available in the system, which helped in solving numerical questions.

Questions Faced 

  • There were few direct questions in the exam. However, most of the questions were scenario based. 
  • Around 5 to 6 questions were mathematical. They were with respect to Cost Performance Index (CPI,) Earned Value (EV), Planned Value (PV) and Actual Cost (AC). 
  • Questions were also on Return on Investment (ROI), and float calculations. 
  • Many of the questions in the exam were from Risk Management, Stakeholder Management, Communications Management, and Quality Management. 
  • Almost 7 to 8 questions were on change requests (CR). Change Request and Risk Register/Report flow are very important from the exam perspective. Satya’s book has flow diagrams for both. 

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants


  • Plan to complete the certification within 3 months to 5 months, depending on your own pace and availability. 
  • If possible, follow Satya’s 111 days plan for exam preparation. It’s outlined in his book.
  • Do follow the schedule strictly.
  • Do take as many as possible mock-up tests. Satya’s book has 5 tests. The first question set is of 50 questions. Next, three question sets have 200 questions each (full length question sets). The last question set has 75 questions, which are from the ECO. 
  • Try to match the timing by attempting 200 questions in 4 hrs.
  • Leave aside everything for a few months: TV shows, cricket matches and social media. Invest that time for your study. You might need to sacrifice some family time, too.


  • Do NOT underestimate the exam. It is tough. It demands preparation and commitment.
  • Do NOT skip anything like process exercises, ITTO exercises, chapter end questions or any topic in the book - I Want To Be A PMP, even if you don’t understand. Try to find the other sources to read through topics. YouTube has plenty of videos on each topic, but make sure to follow either authentic sources or multiple videos to ensure that you don’t get incorrect information.
  • Do NOT go without study for more than 3 days. 
  • Do NOT be afraid of attempting questions, tests, or exercises. You can afford to be wrong during your preparation and correct yourself, rather than trying your luck in the exam.
  • Do NOT ignore your mental and physical health. Stay healthy, as this exam might be pressuring.


It gives a sense of achievement to have the PMP credential, a very well recognized one for management practitioners. I am happy to own it which I have desired since college time. This is a big milestone and hopefully, a new journey will start from here. 

I delayed it and it took me around two years to finally attempt for it. In the end, I earned the credential. So, if I can, that means anyone can with a sincere effort.

I take this opportunity to thank my wife Priyanka, kids Dhairya and Darsh for supporting me by giving their family time for studies. I also thank my friend Abhishek Anand for introducing me to PMP and constantly reminding me and encouraging me to be a PMP.

Brief Profile 

Rahul Nagle, PMP.

I am having around 13 years of experience in software development. Currently, I am working as a Team Lead in Thomson Reuters Corporation.

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Friday, October 16, 2020

Seven Steps to Achieve the PMI-ACP Certification

Takeaway: You will learn how to get certified as an Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP®) from Project Management Institute (PMI®). In the market, there are a lot of myths running and learn how to do it exactly.

In this post, I’ll keep the steps simple. This will help you to know and absorb quickly. 

If you want to have a detailed discussion on how to proceed with the exam, then you may want to watch the recorded global webinar. 

Long back, I had written on how to get PMI-PMP certified in seven simple steps. Many PMPs have gone through those steps, joined my courses or sessions and have cleared the PMP exam. This post is in similar lines, though it’s for the PMI-ACP certification exam. 

Now, let’s start right-away with the minimal steps for being a PMI-ACP.


Step – 1: Prerequisites

Minimum 12 months of unique non overlapping "General Project Experience", in which you have spent 2,000 hours in project teams. This experience should have been accumulated in the last five years. 


Minimum 8 months or 1,500 hours of unique non overlapping "Agile Experience", where you have worked in Agile methodologies. This experience should have been accumulated in the last three years. 

For details, please visit: 

Please note that by "General Project Experience", it doesn’t mean you should be a Project Manager or a Product Manager or a Portfolio Manager or Program Manager. If you are an Engineer, Lead Engineer, or a Team Lead/Project Lead/Module Lead etc. and you have done general project work, you are eligible. Similar is the case for Agile experience.  

Step – 2: Membership

Once you are sure of prerequisites, then go ahead. If not, please be careful. PMI does not tolerate any kind of malpractice. 

If sure, it is better to get a PMI membership. To have that, you have to pay an amount to PMI. Have an account at and pay the amount.

Note: You may NOT be a member, but still can get PMI certified. However, if you are a member, then the overall cost is somewhat less and you also get the benefit of various journals and magazines from PMI. 

Step – 3: 21 Contract Hour Program

You need to have 21 contact hour programs to take the test in addition to the criteria in Step – 1. This is in addition to the General Project Experience, Agile Experience and is termed as Agile Management Education. And this is mandatory. 

Step – 1 and Step – 3 are with respect to professionals with a Secondary degree or global equivalent.

Step – 4: Experience Validation

PMI validates your claim of experience and hence requires you to put the experience in detail at their website. You have to prove that you have 2000 hours of General Project Experience and 800 hours of Agile experience. 

Note: If you are a Project Management Professional (PMP), or Program Management Professional (PGMP), then you won’t need to show this project management experience, because PMI has already validated this experience.  

If it is found to be fake (they will have the contact details of your previous company, managers etc.), your application will be rejected. And PMI strictly follows it. 

Step – 5: After the Validation

After your experience is validated (normally within two weeks), you will be invited to take the exam. PMI randomly selects applications for validation. If you are not selected, you will be informed about the application being approved. 

For the final exam you have to pay the exam fee. 

After paying, you will have an ID, which will be required to schedule via PearsonVUE. You can schedule in advance at a PearsonVUE center near to your locality. (

Ideally, you should take the exam after 6/8 weeks of getting the contact program. One normally loses motivation. ACP is relatively easier compared to the PMP exam. However, this exam’s standard is much higher compared to various ‘Master’/ ‘Expert’ certifications that you would be seeing in the market, which are done with little or no effort!  

Step – 6: At the Exam

You have to take a print out of the invitation for the exam and valid government issued identity proof. The exam is of 3 hours with 120 multiple choice questions. 

You can take the ACP exam in both online proctored mode or traditional-center based

Note: Do NOT consider the PMBOK guide as your reference for the ACP exam. In fact, I would suggest that you don’t read it at all! There is a list of books and the Agile Practice Guide from PMI, which will be your references. 

You may want to read a number of PMI-ACP success stories in the below link:
PMI-ACP Success Stories 

You will be notified on your pass or failure at the exam center itself by PMI. It will be reflected on your computer screen. You can take a print out of your certificate. 

The final certificate will reach your snail mail address afterward.

Step – 7: If you fail

You can go for another attempt and you have to pay an additional fee. You can give three attempts including the first one in one year. The one-year timeline is set from the day your application is approved. 


As noted earlier, after going through the steps, if you want to know a detailed discussion on this topic, you can follow the below link for webinar. In the global webinar, conducted by MPUG, I’ve also answered a number of questions related to which credential to go for, how to prepare etc.

Global Webinar: Want To Be A PMI-ACP? The Primary Steps to Take


[1] Book: I Want To Be An ACP, The Plain and Simple Way, Second Edition, by Satya Narayan Dash

[2] PMI-ACP Handbook and PMI-ACP Exam Content Outline (ECO), by Project Management Institute (PMI)

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Agile Asanas: Mapping Traditional Project Roles (PMBOK) to Agile Frameworks

I get this question many times from management practitioners on how various roles in a project will translate to the roles in Agile frameworks. Let’s say your team is following the Scrum framework, where you have three roles: Scrum Master, Product Owner and Team Member. 

How will these roles map to the traditional project roles? 

[ To read all posts in Agile Asanas series, use this link. ]

For the mapping, I’ll take the reference of the PMBOK® guide, which is considered to be a leading  guide in project-program-portfolio (PPP) community . But that doesn’t help if you have some idea in Scrum. Also, because I mentioned in the post title how to map to the Agile frameworks - not in particular Scrum – you need to have an understanding in approches as well, e.g., XP, Kanban, among many others. 

To answer this question, you need to have these three:

  • Very good understanding on the role of a PPP Manager, the role of team members and stakeholders.
  • Sound understanding of the roles played in various Agile frameworks such as XP, Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban etc. 
  • A change in the mindset as you move to Agile.

For this Agile Asana article, I assume you have a sound understanding of the project team and roles and also a solid understanding of various Agile frameworks. 

With this assumption, let’s understand briefly the knowledge areas (KA) of the PMBOK guide.

Traditional Knowledge Areas 

The below table informs on the various knowledge areas applicable for a project, as noted in the PMBOK guide, 6th edition.

In the above table, do note that Resource Management entails:

  • Human resources such as team members, contract workers.
  • Non-human resources, which can have physical as well as non-physical resources.

Another tricky area is the Stakeholder Management

  • Your team members are also your stakeholders. 
  • There can be hidden stakeholders in your project or even completely unknown ones. Hence, stakeholder identification is an iterative process. 

Next Mapping the tables to the individual roles in Scrum/XP/Kanban etc. I’m not going to use any specific framework or method in Agile. Hence, I’ll keep the terms to be generic across the roles. 

Mapping Project Roles to Agile Frameworks

As you can see in the below table, I’ve mentioned varieties of roles such as Product Owner (PO) or Product Manager, Scrum Master (SM) or Agile Project Manager (APM). It can be also Kanban Flow Master in Scrumban approaches, and Team or Development Team. 

Considering the table, I’ve noted some key points below:

  • Quality is everyone’s responsibility. Hence, “Yes” has been put for all three roles: PO, SM/APM and Team.
  • Risk management and mitigation are also everyone’s responsibility. Hence, “Yes” has been put for all three roles.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: The Product Owner deals with the customer/sponsor and brings the customer and other needed stakeholders to reach an agreement on the features or functionalities to be taken up.
    The Scrum Master (or Agile Project Manager) main job is to protect the team from external interruptions and interventions. Hence, this role is significant in dealing with the stakeholders. 
  • Communication happens across all these roles and hence, “Yes” has been put for all of them. 
  • Resource management involves management of both human and non-human resources. As you would have noticed, I’ve put the TEAM as the owner of human resource management. This area is acted upon differently by other two roles in an Agile team. 

It’s also pertinent to note that there will be other managers, stakeholders such as partners, regulatory bodies that may be involved in a project. If such is the case for your project, you can decide on their roles in the project and with whom they can interact with. For example:

  • If regulatory bodies are there, then there will be compliance needs. In such cases, the Product Owner or Product Manager will be involved. 
  • If the project is part of a bigger program or portfolio, then during integration, other managers can play a role for integration.

As you can see, it’s not that difficult to map the responsibilities of the project manager to various roles. Of course, for that to happen, you need to have a sound understanding on what project management is about and roles being played by the team in an organization. 

However, the hardest part is usually the third part mentioned in the beginning:
A change in the mindset as you move to Agile.

To understand more on Agile Mindset, you can read the following piece:

If you can address it in your team, you are well set to move into Agile frameworks.