Wednesday, July 14, 2021

PMP Success Story: The PMP Badge–Don’t Wish For It, Work For It

By Annarao Patil, PMP



Introduction

I started preparing for Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification in the last few years, after going through the classes of Mr Satya Narayan Dash. His expressional words inspired me to think about the PMP credential, its benefits, and a wide range of practices, which help one to grow professionally. The PMP certification stands unique in the project management area. 

In my professional work, I used to meet a few PMP certified managers. Their team management, customer engagement, work planning and the way they are respected made me think about this exam and try to earn the PMP credential.

PMP Coaching Experience

I received 35 contact hours from the classes of Mr Dash. His classes were fun, interesting, and motivational. While going through the lessons, it lit a spark in me to pursue the PMP certification. 

I still remember his words, where he said: “Many struggle to be a PMP, because they don’t even dare to take the exam!”. He correlates various aspects and practices of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) guide’s knowledge areas with our daily lives. For example, the life cycle of a project, I remember, was specially related to the human life cycle. 

Post my sessions, I was in touch with Satya, but could not spend time taking PMP due to certain personal commitments. Finally, from last year (2020) onward, I started talking with him for serious preparation and decided to take the exam seriously. Once again, his calm and motivational words inspired me to start reading the book: I Want To Be A PMP

Considering the PMP exam, I focussed most on these areas from this book:

  • Risk Management 
  • Procurement Management
  • Quality Management
  • Agile Project Management (Newly added in 2021)

I was not good in the last area of Agile Project Management and this book helped me to get an easier understanding on this topic.

Mr Dash is a good coach for any aspirant and more importantly, a motivational leader. He inspires people to have at least one try before leaving hopes.

Throughout my preparation, I received a lot of support from him and he always replied to my mails. This was the support and guidance I always looked upon.

Own Study

I’ve usually spent around two and half hours daily, early morning, on weekdays. During weekends, I used to just revise the chapters that I had learnt during weekdays. On an average, I’ve spent around five hours on weekends.

This was my approach as I stated my preparation:

  • First Phase:  I read the book, I Want To Be A PMP completely. This took me almost a month. I also made notes during this study.
  • Second Phase: I just revised all notes that I had made during the first phase and started taking the chapter-end questions from this book. These questions helped me to reach the core point of every chapter.
  • Third Phase: Here I started with Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Prep Book, along with the I Want To Be A PMP book. This helped me to get more insights on topics.
  • Final Phase: In the final phase, I revised all my notes, and took all the questionnaires from Satya’s book. There are in total 3 full length questions along with an Agile question set.

Overall, these are the reference books and guides I followed.

  • Book: I Want To be A PMP, by Satya Narayan Dash.
  • Book: PMP Exam Prep, by Rita Mulcahy.
  • Guides: PMBOK Guide, 6th Edition and Agile Practice Guide (APG).

Online platforms I have referred to a bit to understand more on Agile perspective: Simplilearn and LinkedIn learning.

Book Review - I Want To Be A PMP

This was my main reference book for the PMP exam because the book was easy to understand written in simple English words and explanations. 

Following are the few points, which I found valuable.

Simple contents and their correlations: The first two introductory chapters explain in a simple way on how to read this book. It very well explains how to go through each knowledge area (KA).  The content and introduction chapter helped me to understand my study flow, while going further.

Chapter End questions: It really helped me to reach core points and/or important topics of the respective chapters.

Flow Diagrams: It helped me to understand correlation of the Knowledge Areas and Process Groups.

Vision tips, Yogic Revisions: It has a number of tips and revisions, which are must read. The PMP formula chart helped me in my exam.

Separate Mathematical Topic: There is a separate chapter on the PMP Numerical and it helped me a lot.

Topics like Critical Path Measurement (CPM), Earned Value Management (EVM), Change Management are important for the PMP exam and these are well explained in this book. There are a number of associated videos on these topics.

Full length questions with answers and explanations: The full-length question sets helped me a lot–especially one week just before my exam.

Overall, the knowledge gained from this book and his motivational words whenever I spoke with him made me strong. It benefited me a lot.

PMP Exam Experience

I scheduled my exam on 10th July, 2021 and I took the Online Proctored platform. 

Below is my pre-preparation approach:

  • I took my exam from my office because I don’t want to face any technical glitches due to the internet connectivity or disturbances in my house.
  • How to sit for 4 hours: I took one-litre water bottle with me, which is allowed. Every 10 minutes, I used to drink water to relieve stress and increase my focus towards questions.
  • I was very much clear to use the break of 10mins. You can take this break two times. It helps to relax a bit. One should go for it.

Below is my experience on the exam day:

  • I didn’t get any technical issues as I was checked in to the exam.
  • During your exam, make sure your room is locked and no one is crossing your door with sounds.
  • When it comes to answering questions, I always read all the options for every question starting from choice D to choice A and then again, coming down from choice A to D. This helped me to go through all options/choices.
  • Time management here is a big factor. First 60 questions if you can end up in 65-70 minutes that’s the great start. Next 60 questions, you can spend around 80 minutes and final 60 questions with reviews can be done with the remaining time. 

I faced the following types of questions:

  • Predominantly, you will have multichoice questions. Some questions required you to match the options and select multiple responses (multi-response questions). These are basically based on the general topics and easy to answer.
  • There were no direct questions, or no direct questions on Inputs, Tools and Techniques and Outputs (ITTOs). 
  • Most of the questions I attempted belong to Agile Project Management. There were very few questions specifically asked on Agile methodology like SCRUM, XP and Kanban etc. Questions on agile were general where the PM needs to follow the practices.
  • I didn’t use the calculator. There were hardly two to three questions on the numerical.

Suggestions for PMP Aspirants

Dos:

  • Plan your exam ASAP. Without an end date, you might ignore your study or follow up a study plan. 
  • Focus and use time allotment for every day. It’s much needed and very important. If you miss a week to study, then catching up again is a big issue.
  • Read each and every bit of the books or guides that you are referring. Don’t think of 4 to 5 books. Limit yourself to just one to two references because reading all books will take a lot of time.
  • Don’t forget to make notes for all chapters.
  • Follow 3 sets of questionnaires given from Satya’s book: I Want To Be A PMP. Take the first set and try to reach each and every word of that question, then go to the related topic of the book and read once again. This first set will take a minimum of 5 days to complete. Remaining 2 sets you can take as you reach closer to the Exam Day.
  • Plan your work and study. Balance these very well. Early morning 4AM to 6.30AM is the best time I felt to read.
  • It’s not necessary that you should keep all ITTOs in mind, but at least remember the important and key ITTOs.
  • Some chapters like Communications Management may seem to be easy, but don’t ignore them. The questions from these chapters can be tricky, and it might lead you to incorrectly answer some questions in your PMP exam.
  • Never miss your breaks during the exam. Take them. It will help you a lot.

Don’ts:

  • Never skip topics like Agile Burndown Charts, Agile Release Planning, among others. The topics related to Agile Management may not be easy as was the case for me coming from a Mechanical Engineering background. It’s also possible you may be predominantly following the predictive mode of project management.
  • Topics like Resource Management, Procurement Management may make you uncomfortable or may not seem to be very interesting. Don’t leave these chapters. Split these chapters into two to three readings, so that you go through each and every topic of these chapters properly.
  • You might get a series of questions during your PMP exam, where you are not confident in answering. Never get demotivated. Because that might lead to wrongly answering the known questions or topics!
  • Don’t follow too many references or books or websites where you get Free Questions and Answers, Tests and Exams. Those won’t help.

Conclusion

To be a PMP certified manager, never just wish for it. Always work on it to get that badge.

Anything that you learn during your PMP preparation is and will be useful–be it in professional, or personal life. Because terms on procurement management such as time is of the essence, or terms related to project management such as constraints, objectives, goals are seen in both professional and personal lives.

Finally, to all the readers of my story, I wish you all the best. Start your preparations early and dare to take the exam.

Brief Profile:
Name: Annarao Patil, PMP 

Current Role: I’m working as a Project manager for innovation projects in Buhler India Pvt Ltd.


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