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



Introduction

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

Dos 

  • 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.

Don’ts

  • 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.

Conclusion

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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