Friday, January 15, 2021

PMI-ACP Success Story: Agile is Essential for Delivering Customer Value and ROI – Early and Continuously

By John P S Oliver, ACP, PMP, PBA, RMP



Introduction

Being in the financial services industry which is highly regulated, my organization started to increasingly embrace the agile way of approach in its projects to achieve customer satisfaction and realize benefits early. Being a functional owner with a high focus on improving process efficiencies and effectiveness, we started following the agile approach for the implementation of various improvement initiatives like automation of manual processes, improving compliance etc.

While I had touched upon agile practices during my preparation for PMP® certification, with the continued emphasis on agile approach for our projects, I believed that gaining a deeper knowledge and practice of the agile values, principles and approaches will help me in my quest to become a successful agile practitioner and hence I decided to pursue the PMI-ACP® certification.

First Preparation

Once I decided to pursue the PMI-ACP certification, I reached out to Satya Sir for his inputs on getting the mandatory 21 hours of training in agile practices. Satya Sir advised me to go through the PMI®’s Agile Practice Guide which was one of the primary reference books for the PMI-ACP certification exam. I also came to know about his recently updated book: I Want To Be An ACP, Second Edition.

I started my preparation for the PMI-ACP certification with reading PMI’s Agile Practice Guide. I completed reading the Agile Practice Guide and enrolled with a service provider for an online course of PMI-ACP training. 

Once I completed the online course and received the mandatory PDUs, I submitted my application for PMI-ACP certification.

Upon receiving approval from PMI, I reached out to Satya Sir and decided to use his book “I Want To Be An ACP, Second Edition” for my certification exam preparation.

Own Study

I started my preparation for the exam with creating a plan to complete one chapter with the corresponding chapter end questions from Satya Sir’s book: I Want To Be An ACP, Second Edition.

I had applied for 2 weeks of leave and dedicated 8 hours a day for preparation.

The only books I referred were Satya Sir’s book “I Want To Be An ACP, Second Edition”, PMI’s Agile Practice Guide and PMI-ACP exam content outline.

For the sample questions, Satya Sir’s book has 3 complete full set questions in addition to the chapter end questions. I also used the sample questions that came with the online training course that I enrolled for the mandatory PDUs.

I completed the chapters of Satya Sir’s book twice (Initial reading and Revision) and completed the 3 complete full set of questions once.

Book Review - I Want To Be An ACP

The reason for going with Satya Sir’s book - I Want To Be An ACP, Second Edition as the primary reference book was the confidence due to the fact that I had already used his books and study materials in my preparation for PMP® and RMP® certifications and they were instrumental in passing the exams.

My PMP exam experience:
PMP Live Lessons Was Instrumental in Getting My PMP Credential

My RMP exam experience:
Risk Management - Essential for Professional and Personal Success 

The book encompasses knowledge from all the reference books listed by PMI for ACP certification. In fact, in my opinion, this book is a one stop reference book for the PMI-ACP certification exam.

The book follows the pattern of the PMI-ACP exam content outline (ECO), aligned with PMI's Agile Practice Guide and so is easy to follow and cross reference. 

The vision and revision tips in the book helped me to immediately refer relevant topics for revision. The chapter end questions helped me to gauge my understanding of the topics. I used them to revise the portions in relation to the questions where I went wrong

The 3 complete full set of questions were of high quality and the explanations for the answers helped me immensely in understanding the reasoning behind the correct choice. I was able to improve my performance with each mock exam.

ACP Exam Experience

I completed the initial reading of Satya Sir’s book completely with the chapter end questions and scheduled my exam for 7-January-2021, 8:00 AM slot at the Pearson Vue centre, Chennai. I used the remaining days to complete the revision and the mock exams.

I reached the centre by 7:30 AM on the exam date and completed the formalities. I started my exam at around 8 AM. As I progressed through the exam, I noticed that I was taking more time for each question compared to the time taken in mock exams and hence kept a track of the remaining time. I completed the exam without any break and with 6 minutes to spare. I submitted my responses and competed the survey. I was happy to see the congratulatory message on successfully obtaining the PMI-ACP certification.

Types of Questions Faced

  • The majority of the questions were situational in nature.
  • Very few graphical questions.
  • Very few mathematical questions. 
  • More questions on Value Driven Delivery, Agile Principles and Mindset and Stakeholder Engagement domains.

Suggestions for ACP Aspirants

Dos

  • Plan and schedule the exam well in advance.
  • Prepare a realistic schedule and follow it.
  • Prepare a short list of reference books and use them for your preparation.
    (Ideally not more than 2 if you go for Satya Sir’s book)
  • Schedule enough time for taking up mock questions and revision.

Don’ts

  • Do not use more than 2 or 3 study resources as you can spend the extra time available on attempting more mock questions.
  • Do not attempt questions before you completely study the resources at least once.
  • Don’t panic during the exam if you do not know the answer for a particular question, Mark it for review and proceed with the next one – You can always come back to the marked question later.

Conclusion

I would like to thank the Almighty for his blessings, my reporting manager for approving my leaves for preparation and Satya Sir for his book: I Want To Be An ACP, Second Edition.


Brief Profile:

Name: John P S Oliver

Current Role: Supply Chain Manager

Experience: 23+ years of experience in ITES operations and project management across BFSI, Healthcare, Telecom and Retail verticals.



Book Available for ACP Exam Prep:

Book Excerpts:

PMI-ACP Success Stories:



Monday, January 11, 2021

PMP Success Story: If You Want To Be A PMP, then Simply Read the Book – I Want To Be A PMP

By Shams Ul Haq, PMP 



Introduction

I first heard about the Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential from my manager while I was a senior software engineer. It was around 11 years back and from that time onwards, I was curious about it. 

As I grew in my career, I kept hearing stories on how important the PMP credential is for management positions and roles. This inspired me to do a PMP certification.


PMP Coaching Experience

I attended PMP coaching classes couple of years back. I was really impressed by Satya’s teaching style. It was simple and very effective. 

He has a very different way of teaching and explaining things. He makes sure that everyone in the class is engaged. He makes sure that everyone benefits in his class and asks everyone in the class to come forward and do activities on the whiteboard with him. This helped us all in understanding the concepts better.

Satya advised us to start reading right from Day 1 of the training. However, it was too much information for me and I wanted to start reading after the training was done. I tried to start reading many times and even scheduled for the exam in the middle of 2019 and then kept on postponing and rescheduling the exam.  

Own Study

When I heard that the PMP exam pattern is changing from January 2021, I decided to write the exam before the pattern changes. I finally rescheduled my exam for 30-December-2020 and wanted to start reading from September but it never happened. When December came, I had a serious discussion with my wife that this is not working out and she motivated me to take it seriously and start reading and it is achievable. I took off for two weeks before the exam so that I can give it all to read and clear the exam.

I followed this approach.

  • I started reading seriously just before 3 weeks of the exam date. I spent 3-4 hours in the first week.
  • Initially, I was able to read first 6 chapters from Satya’s book: I Want To Be A PMP. I was never motivated to read the PMBOK guide, as it was too dry and was too lengthy. Hence, I decided to just stick to Satya’s book and read it thoroughly. 
  • Decision to completely skip the PMBOK guide was a tough decision to take, as Satya had clearly told that reading of PMBOK was a must. But in my case, this was one of the best decisions I took and it really paid off in the end.
  • From 2nd week onwards I started spending 6 to 8 hours a day and sometimes even 10 hours a day (this was possible as I had taken off from office). 
  • I completed reading all chapters from Satya’s book and took all the chapter end exercises and then revised all chapter once more along with the exercises.
  • In my second reading of the book, sometime I took some notes, which helped me in a quick revision at the end
  • Just 4 days before the exam, I took the “PMP-50 Question” exam followed by two full length exams from Satya’s book, out of three, which are provided at the book’s end. 

Book Review - I Want To Be A PMP

In the class, while explaining, Satya showed some of the videos. As these were part of his book: I Want To Be A PMP, I got interested in the book and I bought it right after my classroom sessions.

The best thing about this book it is updated very frequently, and Satya keeps adding more exercises and other additional topics to it.

The “Yogic Vision Tips” and “Yogic Revision” are really useful and many questions can be answered just by remembering these. Satya has covered many important topics for the PMP exam with videos which are really helpful.

The process flows, chapter end exercises are really useful. The questions are pretty tough, but give us a good practice for exam. The full-length questions give us a good idea about how to prepare for exam and how we can plan our timing to complete 200 questions in 4 hours. 

PMP Exam Experience

I scheduled my exam from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM at Pearson Professional Center on Central street Shivajinagar, Bangalore. I reached the exam centre at 7:30AM and parked my car in the Prestige Atrium. The parking is quite costly. I was not allowed to take anything inside the exam hall.

I wanted to finish the first 89 questions in less than 90 min and I was able to do so in 85 min. I took a 10 min break and went a little slow with the remaining questions and took the full remaining time to complete the 111 questions.

Questions Faced

  • Around 50% to 60% questions were situation based. It really needed actual project management (PM) working experience, along with the knowledge of the book.
  • There were around 25 questions on Change Requests, so prepare this very well!
  • Very few mathematical questions and mostly they were around Earned Value Management (EVM). They were very simple.
  • There were some direct questions which were easy to answer. 
  • Make sure that you read the question at least twice and read all answers before selecting the correct answer.

In the beginning there were some network glitches which were resolved after 15-20 min.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants:

Dos 

  • Read all chapters from I Want To Be a PMP book at least twice and take notes.
  • Make sure to do all the chapter-end exercises and full-length exercises.
  • Take at least 4 full length exams.
  • Though everyone tells it’s a must to read the PMBOK guide, I didn’t read it! I was fully dependent on “I Want To Be A PMP” book. So, it’s possible to clear the exam without reading the PMBOK guide, but you need to read the exam preparation book thoroughly.  

Don’ts

  • Don’t be afraid to take the exercises and full-length exams. This will give you confidence to take exam.
  • Don’t panic, exam is not very tough if you prepare well.

Conclusion

I delayed taking PMP exam for around two years and when I finally decided to take the exam, I had only 3 weeks to do it. I had the “Will” to do it, and put in a lot of hard work and it paid off finally. I could clear the exam easily. 

So, it’s very important that you create the “Will” to be a PMP and then put in the efforts and it is achievable. 

Brief Profile: 

Shams Ul Haq, PMP 

Senior Manager - Program Management. I have total 15 years of experience. 



Wednesday, January 06, 2021

PMP Success Story: Study Consistently and Read the Most Recommended Book by PMs in My Circle – ‘I Want To Be A PMP’

By Sarayu Gajendra, PMP, CAPM 



Introduction

I wanted to be Project Management Professional (PMP®) certified to get a job of my choice, earn respect, safety, knowledge, promotion and stability. 

As soon as I cleared the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®) exam, I knew my next goal was PMP and then I didn’t know what books to refer to, where I’ll find the materials and what I need to study.

Like most of us, my first point of contact were my friends who are also in the project management profession. They suggested the book I Want To Be A PMP, by Satya Narayan Dash. 

I haven’t attended his class and never knew him before. Only because it was recommended to me by my colleagues, I followed his book. I had taken my needed 35 contact hours from other providers. 

Own Study

I studied for two hours daily from 4AM to 6AM. I used to make notes after reading the book - I Want To Be A PMP, and solved almost 1000+ questions. Throughout my preparation, I’ve primarily referred this book.

Other than this book, I also referred other content, few apps and PMPs exam questions for my practice. I also referred a quite a few videos from YouTube. 

Only obstacle I faced was managing time and keeping myself motivated. To do this I started writing as I leant and kept a target for myself every week.

Book Review - I Want To Be A PMP

It’s a great book and very easy to read. 

Like the saying goes: “if the base is strong, the building will definitely be strong”. 

So first I understood the concepts from the book, important topics for the exam and an easy way of memorizing concepts through this book and then I started solving a lot of questions. These helped me pass the PMP exam.

My favorite topics of readings are: 

  • Risk Management, 
  • Procurement Management, 
  • Communications Management, and 
  • Stakeholder Management. 

Other than the above knowledge areas, the remaining concepts are also nicely explained in the book.

PMP Exam Experience

I had scheduled my exam from 10AM to 2PM. Ten days before my actual exam, I daily practiced staying awake during that time and took mock exams for those 4 hours. This kept me prepared mentally and helped me concentrate for four hours at a stretch.

I joined a whatsapp group for PMP exam preparation as well and this group kept me motivated. There are a number of PMP aspirants sharing their feedback and helping with important questions.

Approach Used

I have had some quick ways to address the PMP exam questions.

  • If there are scenario-based questions and there are two options that seem right, I choose the longest option and choose the one that sounds like a more humane PM.
  • If the question has the word risk, then the answer will also fall under one of the risk management processes.
  • For lengthy questions, I would read the last line and the options. Then I would read the para real fast.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants

  • Three months is enough to study and clear this exam.
  • Go through Satya sir’s videos, and read I Want To Be PMP book.
  • Solve a lot of questions.


Brief Profile: 

Sarayu Gajendra, PMP, CAPM. 

I currently work in the project management profession at an MNC, based out of Bangalore, India.




Friday, January 01, 2021

PMP Live Lessons Success Story: Stay Determined, You Will Be A PMP One Day

By Kavita Nambiar, PMP



Introduction

I have been performing in a Project management role for years now. My current organization has made it mandatory to be Project Management Professional (PMP®) certified for all the Project Managers (PMs). 

One of my colleagues had completed her training under Satya and had cleared the PMP examination. She recommended Satya’s training. Hence, I decided to joined enrol in his training session.



PMP 35 Contact Hours Experience

I was the first-row bencher for the 4-day of training. The only reason I sat in the first row is to avoid questions from Satya. But he made sure I was the first one to be asked! He very well understood my poker face when I could not understand a concept and would pull me into the discussion to get clarity. 

I had a fear of speaking in front of people, but he made sure that I answered (or try to answer), even if my answer was wrong. That helped me remember those questions, especially the ones I could not answer.

By the end of 4 days, it was too much information to grasp. A number of tricks and tips were shared, which made me understand the concept better. It definitely gave me the motivation and confidence of passing the PMP exam. 

Own Study

Due to my hectic work-related travel, I could not continue to do self-study. I kept on postponing my studies and preparation for the examination. Then I was told that the PMBOK® Guide, 5th edition is going to change and I should take the exam before the new course. I attempted the exam in haste. The biggest mistake I made was that I applied my practical knowledge and my own understanding compared to what has been mentioned in the PMBOK guide. I could not clear. 

I was called by Project Management Institute (PMI®) to take the second attempt with a lesser fee. Within a month I took the exam. My thought process was that I have prepared enough compared to my previous attempt. Hence, strengthening my weak areas could help me clear this time. I was wrong. I went with 80% preparation rather than 100%. I failed again. This time I was devastated. The pain of failing twice was very disheartening. 

However, I was determined that I have to clear the PMP exam no matter what. In 2019, I again got in touch with Satya and received the PMP Live Lessons. I planned to take the PMP exam by Dec 2019, however due to a full-time onsite project, I could not devote time for studies. I was also scared of taking the exam due to pure fear of failing. 

I kept on postponing and COVID pandemic started. This period actually gave me the chance and courage to utilize my time to take my PMP exam. 

Course Review – PMP Live Lessons

The videos of PMP Live Lessons are quite engaging. 

By listening to the videos, many concepts got registered in my mind. It was like attending a remote session.

I dedicated three months of study. It was very difficult for me to sit and study as I was not able to focus. It took me two weeks of time to actually start gaining knowledge. 

Then I would dedicate four hours daily on week days and six hours on weekends. I would listen to videos of one lesson (chapter), then read the PMBOK guide’s corresponding chapter and give the lesson-end test. 

I did three rounds of reading and listening in the last 3 months. The full-length questions are very helpful in revising the concepts and being careful about the tick questions. 

PMP Exam Experience

I scheduled for the online proctored exam on 19-Dec-2020. Satya had prepared me that there would be a break around the 90th question and ideally it should take 70 seconds (just over a minute) per question. I was prepared to take a break which really helped me go freshen up and have a nice cup of black coffee.

Questions Faced in the Exam

My experience on the questions faced are noted below.

  • Most of the questions were situational. For example, what would you do next
  • I did not have many mathematical questions fortunately as it was very difficult to write on the online white board in the proctored exam. 
  • There were few network diagram related questions. Drawing the network diagrams took more than a minute. 
  • Overall, the exam went-by very smoothly. I was able to complete the exam in 3 hours and 15 minutes – 45 minutes before the scheduled completion time. 
  • A number of questions were on stakeholder management, and communications management. 

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants

Dos 

  • Please make sure you practice sitting for studies for 2 hours every day, same time and same place. It builds a rhythm. It also takes a while to actually start learning.
  • Prepare a timetable even if you miss a few timelines. Revise the timetable and adjust according to the time left.
  • Please make sure to read and listen to videos a minimum three times. Like Satya says: “Cover to Cover. Every definition is important.”
  • Practice the online white board at-least a week before the exam. 
  • Think positive. Believe in yourself.

Don’ts

  • Do not panic during your preparation or during the exam.
  • Do not take exams and preparation lightly.
  • Do not doubt your first instinct while choosing the answer.

Conclusion

I would be more systematic and organized in my ways of working. After learning and internalizing stakeholder engagement lessons, I realized the actions or steps I have been not doing for stakeholder engagement. I will try to apply these learnings. 

Brief Profile: 

Kavita Nambiar, PMP

I currently work as a Customer Delivery Manager. I have been working with an IT organization for the last 10 years. I have been into the project management role for the last 4 yrs.