Thursday, May 25, 2023

PfMP Success Story: Ensuring Portfolios and Portfolio Management Achieve the Strategic Business Objectives

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


It all started in January, 2018 when I first met Satya Sir. He was my coach for the PMP training session. The weekend sessions conducted by Satya Sir were not only a great learning experience, but also a great motivator to succeed. 

The spark that he ignited in me in January, 2018 not only led towards my achievement of PMP certification with his mentoring and guidance but also was instrumental in motivating me to take up continuous learning and development initiatives. 

Thus, after PMP, I enrolled for RMP and ACP certifications under his guidance and mentoring and was successful in achieving the certifications. 

You can read my experiences below.

RMP Success Story: Risk Management - Essential for Professional and Personal Success

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

As a portfolio manager handling the Procure to Pay portfolio for my organization, I was interested in pursuing the PfMP certification thereby adding value to my role.

On PfMP Certification

Once I decided to pursue PfMP certification from PMI, I started looking out for a training provider to help me guide through the application and preparation for the certification exam. I selected the same training provider (PMCerty) with whom I had enrolled earlier for my PgMP certification. 

While it is not mandatory to be a PMP or PgMP to apply for PfMP, being a PMP and PgMP, did help in my preparation for PfMP as it provides the knowledge of how PMI application procedure works and how exams are structured

PfMP Certification Beginnings

I enrolled with the training provider (PMCerty) for their PfMP Certification Complete Solution Pack which included the following:

  • Application Preparation, Review and Submission Support.
  • Training Course based on Standard for Portfolio Management - 3rd edition (This is important as even though the latest standard for Portfolio Management is the 4th edition, the exam is still based on 3rd edition).
  • Two full length Question Banks.
  • Mentor support throughout the certification journey.

Once I enrolled with the training provider, my first step was to prepare the application for submission. The application evaluation has 2 stages as follows:

  • Stage 1 – Application verification for completeness including random audit review.
  • Stage 2 – Panel review of experience summary (Evaluation 1).

The prerequisites for the application are:

  • 96 months of professional business experience within the last 15 years.
  • 48 / 84 months of portfolio management experience based on your educational qualification.

Apart from satisfying the professional business experience, the candidate is also required to submit portfolio experience statements across the 5 domains of portfolio management.

I started preparing the application and portfolio experience summaries based on my experience across the 5 domains.  It took me 5 days to complete the application and portfolio experience summaries and my trainer provided me with valuable feedback based on which I submitted my application.

The application verification was completed by PMI and I was asked to pay the exam fee to proceed to the next step which was the panel review.

I paid the exam fee and my application was submitted for panel review. This time the panel review was quick and I got the approval to schedule my exam within a few days.

PfMP Exam Preparation

As soon as I submitted my application, I started my preparation for the exam. The approach I took was as follows:

  • I completed the online training one chapter at a time.
  • After completing the online training session for each chapter, I complimented it by reading the chapter from the 3rd edition of the standard for portfolio management
  • Once I completed Step 1 and Step 2 above, I took the chapter end questions from the question bank.
  • Finally, I took the two full length questions sets.

Own PfMP Study

The training content was based on the chapters as per the 3rd edition of the Standard for Portfolio Management and had 9 modules including the introduction, overview, process groups and ECO. 

Hence, I made sure I completed 1 chapter from the online training module followed by the reading of that chapter from the 3rd edition of the Standard for Portfolio management.

This took me 6 weeks to complete. Once I completed the above for all chapters, I took the first full length question set. My score was below 80%. 

I also found out that the questions were majorly based on ITTOs (Inputs, Tools & Techniques, and Outputs).

I started focusing on the ITTOs for each process and the training content had a separate module for practicing the ITTOs by way of selecting the ITTOs for a process or selecting all the processes for a specific ITTO. This helped me in familiarizing the ITTOs for all the processes.

PfMP Exam Experience

As soon as I completed the first full length question set, I scheduled the exam for the next month, giving me a months’ time to revise. I scheduled my exam with PearsonVue Centre in Chennai.

The PfMP exam does not have any breaks and hence I timed my practice exams to make sure I was able to answer the 170 questions within 4 hours. I completed the 170 questions in the exam without any issues. In fact, I had 15 minutes to review the 10+ questions that I had flagged for review.

Types of Questions Faced: PfMP Exam

Most of the questions were ITTO based. For example, the question would describe an activity being performed and would ask us to indicate either the inputs / outputs of that activity or the tools and techniques applicable for that activity.

The learnings of PMP and PgMP, especially the Charter, Benefits and Earned Value Management (EVM) helped me a lot to grasp the underlying concepts of portfolio management as the portfolio itself is a group of Projects, Programs and Operations to achieve the strategic objectives

Once I scheduled the exam, I visited the exam centre the previous day of the exam to confirm my appointment and also validate the ID credential required to take the exam. 

Suggestions for PfMP Aspirants


  • Confirm whether you fulfil the prerequisites to apply for this certification.
  • Identify a good training provider who can provide you with end to end support from application preparation to certification.
  • Prepare the portfolio experience statements based on your actual experience.
  • Utilize the correct edition of the standard for portfolio management based on the current ECO and Exam – the training provider would be able to guide you on this.
  • Prepare a plan to complete the study and take the exam within 2-3 Months ideally and not to exceed 6 months from the start date.
  • Especially focus on ITTOs so that you are able to identify the ITTOs for a specific process and vice versa.
  • Try as many questions as you can and understand the basis of the correct and incorrect options.


  • Do not rush to take the exam without thorough preparation.
  • Do not delay or leave a gap of more than a week once you start preparing for the exam.


The learnings from the PfMP certification would help me in managing portfolios of programs, projects and operations effectively to realize the strategies and objectives of the organization.

I would like to thank the Almighty for guiding me throughout this journey and Satya Sir for igniting the passion for continuous learning and development.

Brief Profile: 

John P S OliverPfMP, PgMP, PMP, RMP, ACP, PBA, Lead Business Execution Consultant - Risk Programs Team

I’ve 26 years of ITES experience in Retail, Telecom and BFSI verticals.

PMP Success Stories:

ACP Success Stories:

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Five More Must-Know Setting Tips for Primavera P6 Professional Project Management

In my earlier post, I informed you of five tips that can be used while working with Primavera P6 Professional PM or simply Primavera P6. In this post, I’ll share five more tips with you! For this article, I've used Primavera P6 Release 22.12.

[This Series - Part - 1]

These tips will help you operate with the software easily, efficiently and effectively. Now, let’s check on them one-by-one.

Tip – 6: No unnecessary ‘Welcome Dialog’ on Start-up. 

This is especially true if you are using an earlier version of Primavera P6 such as R15.x or R18.x, among others. You’d have noticed that when you open Primavera 6 a dialog box comes-up as shown below.  

You can disable it by clicking on “Do not show this window again” shown above or you can change the settings. 

To do so, go to Primavera menu > Edit > User Preferences… and select Applications on the left side of the User Preferences screen. In it, disable the option of “Show the Welcome dialog at startup.”

Tip – 7: Setting a New Currency into the list of Currencies. 

Remember Tip – 2 in the first part? Of course, after you add the currencies, you’ve to set the new currency. If you have not seen that tip, it’s a good time to check!

To apply the newly created Currency in the software, go to Primavera menu > Edit > User Preferences… and select Currency on the left side of the opened-up screen.  

Next, select INR Rupee from the … shown next to US Dollar, and select the INR from the list of currencies in the popped-up Select Currency dialog box.  

Do note that in my courses, classes and certification courses I predominantly used USD. However, if you want, you can change it.

Tip – 8: Changing the Start-up Window. 

This is related to Tip – 6. One can also change the start-up window when Primavera P6 gets launched. This is also especially true if you are using an earlier version of Primavera P6 such as R15.x, R18.x or R19.x.

To do so, go to Primavera menu > Edit > User Preferences… and select Applications on the left side of the User Preferences screen. In it, select the Applications Start-up Windows as Activities. 


Now, when you open Primavera P6 next, it’ll directly show the Activities window, not any other! 

Tip – 9: Correct Setting for Earned Value Calculation (ETC).

Earned value measurement (EVM) is an advanced topic in project/program management. The settings for it should be properly done in Primavera P6, specifically the Estimate to Complete (ETC) calculation, based on which EAC varies. 

To do so, go to Primavera menu > Admin > Admin Preferences… and select Earned Value on the left of Admin Preferences screen. Next, under “Technique for computing Estimate to Complete (ETC)”, choose the option of 

ETC = 1/CPI or 1/Cost Performance Index. 

The default calculation for ETC is: ETC = remaining cost for activity. But most of the time, it won’t give you the correct value. Select the PF as 1/CPI, which will give the most likely correct value!

Also, ensure that it’s correctly reflected in the Project’s Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), which is shown below. 

Tip – 10: Use Hint Help (Alt+F1) to Clarify Concepts.

A very good feature available in Primavera P6 is the availability of Hint Help functionality. You can use this functionality from Primavera menu > View > Hint Help or from the top Display Toolbar. You can also use the Alt + F1 shortcut keys. 

The Hint Help feature is available as highlighted in the top-right side of the above view. You can enable or disable it.  When you put your mouse cursor over Units of Measure, it explains what it is with message notification as shown in the bottom-left part of the above view. 

[This Series - Part - 1]

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Friday, May 12, 2023

Ten Myths and Facts – Contingency Reserve and Management Reserve


Management Reserve and Contingency Reserve are two widely used reserves in Project Management, Program Management. It can also be used in Portfolio Management and Agile Management, though the way there are used will be somewhat different. However, there are many misconceptions about these two reserves. In this article we will see what those myths are and check upon the facts. 

These explained in my courses such as:

The needed content is also available as part of the PMP 35 Contact Hours, RMP 30 Contact Hours, ACP 21 Contact Hours and CAPM 23 Contact Hours courses. 

Note: First go through the myths on your own and try to answer yourself. That way you will get a better value from this article.

Hope you are tried to do the exercise on your own first! I'll also suggest that you go through this article to learn more:

Article - Contingency Reserve and Management Reserve

Now, let's see the myths and facts. 

Myth – 1: Addition of contingency reserve to activity cost estimates (or activity duration estimates) will create a rubber baseline. 

Fact: Contingency reserve can be at the activity level or work package level etc. If it’s at the activity level, then it need not be at the work package level. The reserves from lower level estimates will get rolled up to the work package level. Hence, there is no chance of having a rubber baseline. 

As you can see in the above block representation, the contingency reserve can be at the activity level, or work package level. Otherwise, you can have an overall contingency reserve at the project level.

Myth – 2: Contingency reserve is not applicable for the project schedule, it’s only for the budget.

Fact: It’s applicable for both project schedule and project budget. You can have contingency reserve calculation while determining the duration estimates of tasks or cost estimates of tasks. 

Refer to the previous diagram to see overall contingency reserve.

Myth – 3: Any reserve can be tracked with a reserve burndown chart.

Fact: Usually, contingency reserve is tracked at the project level, but management reserve is not. The reason is simple. Project Managers know and manage the contingency reserve as it’s part of the performance measurement baseline. 

So, the reserve burndown chart that one creates and manages at a project level is with respect to the contingency reserve, not for management reserve.

Myth – 4: If the reserve is unused, then it can be part of project profit! 

Fact: This is another big myth propounded. But you can’t take the unused reserve as part of the profit. It’s meaningless because you have added the reserve for unforeseen circumstances. 

  • Threats – if the reserve is unused then, it has to be removed or given back. 
  • Opportunities – if the reserve increases because you exploited the opportunity, then yes, for this you can consider it to be a profit.

Re-read the previous line! In risk management, both threats and opportunities are considered, but the way they are treated will be different. 

Myth – 5: Reserves have little to no role to play in S-curve interpretation. 

Fact: In fact, it’s the other way around. You should be worried when the reserve starts getting depleted while doing your S-curve analysis. The Budget at Completion (BAC) in earned value calculation should include the contingency reserve (CR).

Sometimes the estimate at completion (EAC) can go beyond the available contingency reserve and may eat-up the management reserve (MR).


As shown in the above S-curve, the trend for Actual Cost (AC) curve is upward and it may consume not only the contingency reserve, but also the management reserve for the project.

Myth – 6: Slack or float can be a replacement for contingency reserve.

Fact: Slack and reserve are two completely different concepts. Many confuse the two. 

Total slack is about how much time you can delay a task without delaying the project end date. Free slack, simply put, is how much you can delay a task without delaying any successor task. 

Reserve or allowance on the other hand protects you against the delay in the current activity, not next activity’s start date! 

Myth – 7: Contingency reserve and contingency response planning are one and the same thing. 

Fact: Contingency as we know is the reserve for known risks, but unknown amount of rework. It’s for risks which are accepted or known risks with active risk response strategies. 

Contingency planning, on the other hand, consists of two plans: Contingency Plan and Fallback Plan. Simply put, these two plans are Plan A and Plan B, respectively that we use in our day-to-day risk management. 

Myth – 8: Agile projects don’t have all these reserves available.

Fact: In Agile projects, too, you may require contingency and management reserves. Consider an Agile project with mandatory regulatory requirements and one of the needs to meet the budgetary regulations with earned value calculations. In such a case, you need to have the reserves. 

Myth – 9: Management Reserve is a budget category, and not applicable for Schedules.

Fact: This is another myth, which is widely circulated. While management reserve is usually a budget category, you can also have it for schedule. In fact, the definition of Management Reserve as per the PMI-PMBOK guide is this:

An amount of the project budget or project schedule held outside of the performance measurement baseline for management control purposes that is reserved for unforeseen work that is within the project scope.

Can you see that the management reserve can also be part of project schedule (not just budget)?

Myth – 10: Contingency Reserve and Contingency are one and the same thing.

Fact: Contingency is an event or occurrence that could affect something, e.g., a task, a work package or the execution of the project. Contingency reserve, on the other hand, is the time or money allocated for known-unknown risks. However, contingencies can be accounted for with reserves.

There are many other myths, which circulate on these two reserves. What are the other myths you think are not correct for contingency reserve and management reserve?

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback, do share your comments in the comment section of this article.


Thursday, May 04, 2023

ACP Success Story: If You Have Prepared Well for Your PMP Exam, The ACP Exam Will Be A Cakewalk

 By Sandip Kumar Nath, ACP, PMP

During my PMP certification preparation, I have already done a good amount of study in Agile concepts. So, I was already in a mindset to get an Agile certification. I’ve been a certified PMP since June, 2021.

Before taking any decision, I had reached out to my mentor, Satya Sir and shared my thoughts.  His first advice to me was to take a break, enjoy the moment of my PMP success, and then go for PMI-ACP. He also informed me that other Agile certificates will explain only about a specific Agile methodology whereas ACP will help me to understand Agile concept as a whole. 

So, I have set my mind to go for PMI-ACP certification to understand Agile deeper and better.

ACP 21 Contact Hours
Every action item should have an owner and estimated time (ETA) associated with it. After completing my 21-hour training, the first thing I did was to fill the ACP exam form and submit.

A week later my application was approved and on the same day I paid the exam fee and scheduled a target date. I targeted for exactly 12 weeks.  

Now my actual preparation has started.

Resources Used
You can use any material you feel comfortable and available to you. But refer to the Agile Practice guide read at least once. This book is very basic and doesn't elaborate much on agile specific methods but gives good clarity on the differences between Traditional Project Management and Agile Project Management.

My primary resources were these: 

As I am a PMP, it helped me a lot in my preparation for the ACP exam. I have again gone back and studied the book, I Want to be a PMP by Satya Sir, but this time I have read only the topics which were relevant for Agile concepts.

As mentioned earlier, I passed PMP on 19th June 2021. And I felt 70% of the questions asked in the PMP exam were based on agile concepts. My personal experience in PMI-ACP was, if you have prepared really well for your PMP exam, your ACP exam will be a cakewalk. I was mentally prepared that I will not get any direct questions and the same happened in the real exam.

You can read my PMP Success Story here:
PMP Success Story: Focus, Consistent Practice and Self-Belief Will Make You A PMP

Own Study
I had a simple plan and as per this plan, I wanted to put around 400 to 450 hours of study. It includes the Books, Blogs, Articles, available Questions and Answers. There were enough. So, I had planned for 4-5 hours per day for the next 12 weeks.

In addition, I followed this free course from scrum alliance.
Name of the course: Introduction to Scrum ( and PM Prepcast Simulator

My preparation was smooth and I faced no difficulty in preparing or submitting the application form.  

ACP Exam Experience
My exam was scheduled center based on 10th March 2023 but Pearson canceled it. So, I again booked the slot in Pearson Shivaji Nagar Branch, Bangalore on 19th April 2023, 8am.

I had taken my PMP exam from home but this time I have decided to take my ACP exam from Pearson. Though I did not face difficulties by taking the exam from home last time, I still encourage you all to go to the center and give the exam.

Both taking the ACP exam from home and center have their pros and cons. For example, while taking the exam from home: 

  • You have your own known and comfortable environment; at the same time, you must make sure that you have a reliable internet connection.
  • Ensure to find a quiet place so that you can concentrate on the exam.

If you are taking the ACP exam from center:

  • Please do not carry anything except a valid ID (Aadhar ID is not accepted).

I reached around 7:20am to the center and after all formality I hope I have started my exam around 8 am.

ACP Exam Taking Strategy

I followed the below ones while taking the exam.

  • My first and foremost strategy was to make myself as calm as possible. 
  • I was mentally prepared that this exam will NOT be easy with a positive note that I WILL PASS.
  • I always read the question first so that I will NOT miss key words like NOT, LEAST, MOST, EXCEPT, ALL, ALWAYS, NEVER etc. This is crucial, otherwise I will choose the wrong answer. 
  • Then I read the scenario or the problem statement to understand which context the question was asked. 
  • Final step to read all given answers choices and choose the correct option(s). 
  • Time management was a big factor.  My plan was to take 60 min per 40 questions.

Type of Questions Faced in the ACP Exam
Below is my experience with the types of questions faced. 

  • I had NO direct questions, NO key words. All questions were scenario-based.
  • Around 80% of questions were one or two liners. Very few questions had three to four sentences or more. 
  • I faced NO mathematical questions. Hence, I did not use calculator.
  • For your exam, you need to be very clear about roles/responsibilities of Stakeholders (Internal and External).
  • Many ACP exam questions were from Agile events, Stakeholders, Agile Team. These will be related to ACP Exam Domains.

During the exam, there will be some interruptions due to candidate movements and mouse click sounds! But I used the headset given me which helped a lot. This you can’t use at home if you opt to take an exam from home.   

In addition, as per exam rule you have to report 30 minutes before your scheduled time. So, it is always better if you reach a little early.

Suggestions for ACP Aspirants

  • Fix the exam date ASAP. Until you do not have the exam date, you will NOT be able to plan and execute your preparation.
  • Focus is the key. Focus on your study plan, focus on the topic you are studying now, focus while answering questions. 
  • Try to understand each topic you read and make your own notes while reading. 
  • During the exam usually, you can eliminate two answers easily but if you have difficulty in choosing between two, re-read the QUESTION first.
  • If the above step is not working for you, re-read the problem statement which has a lot of distractions and unnecessary information, considering the real question.


  • During the exam, never think about the previous question(s) you already answered or the performance of your previous section. 
  • Avoid brain dump if possible. Please do not take unnecessary tension before the exam and brain dump will NOT help you in the exam.

It's a pleasure and privilege to write my experience and share with you readers. I believe, it will help you in your endeavor to be a PMI-ACP.

Wish you all the best for your ACP exam.

Brief Profile: Sandip Kumar Nath, PMP, ACP
Senior Manager – Delivery, Datamatics.

ACP Live Lessons - Guaranteed Pass:

ACP 21 Contact Hours Course:

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Five Must-Know Setting Tips for Primavera P6 Professional Project Management

Primavera P6 Professional (or simply Primavera P6) is a robust project-portfolio management software tool. It’s a widely used tool in professional project management (PM). In this article we know five must-know settings when you work with the Primavera P6 Professional software. 

You can learn the step-by-step approach to install the latest Primavera P6 Professional in the following link:

Step-by-Step Guide: Download, Install, Run and Test Primavera P6 22.x

Now, let’s straight dive-in to the tips for Primavera P6 Prof PM. Going forward, I’ll be simply using Primavera P6, instead of the longer name: 'Primavera P6 Professional Project Management'. 

[This Series - Part - 2]

Tip – 1: Removing the First Warning Message of Appropriate Industry.

When you open-up Primavera P6 for the first time, you’ll find the following warning message. It informs that the industry setting has not yet been done. 

To remove this message, simply go to Primavera menu > Admin > Admin Preferences… and in the opened Admin Preferences screen, select Industry on the left. Next, choose the industry in which Primavera P6 will be used. 

After you’ve made the selection and clicked on the Close button of the above screen, another message will pop-up. Simply click on the “OK” button and proceed.  

Tip – 2: Adding a New Currency to the list of Currencies. 

While United States Dollar (USD) is the default/base currency used in the software, this can be changed from the very beginning during the installation. Did you check the installation steps before? If not, it’s a good time to check them.

To change the currency, go to Primavera menu > Admin > Currencies… and in the opened-up Currencies screen, add your needed currency by clicking on + Add button to the right. You have to give the:

  • Currency ID: Below one, I’ve added INR
  • Currency Name: Indian National Rupee (or INR Rupee)
  • Currency Symbol: ₹ (Rupee symbol)
  • Exchange Rate: 80.000000

After you add the above fields, it will come as shown below. 

Tip – 3: Adding a New Unit of Measure. 

If you are changing the currency, then you’re likely to change the units of measure. For example, while having material resources, you may want to use a new unit of measure. 

To do so, go to Primavera menu > Admin > Admin Categories… and go to Units of Measure on the left side of Admin Categories screen. Next, click on + Add.  

Next, you can add the:

  • Unit (Unit Abbreviation): ₹ (Rupee)
  • Unit Name: ₹

After you make the above changes, you can have a new unit of measure as shown.

Tip – 4: Change the Units Format and Durations Format.

As a seasoned project/portfolio management practitioner, you may want to change the units and durations format for the activities in your project. This is useful when you plan, track and analyze your schedule. 

To do so, go to Primavera menu > Edit > User Preferences… and select Time Units on the left side of the User Preferences screen.  

As shown, I’ve done the following changes:

  • Units of Time are in Hours with two decimal places.
  • For Units of Time, the Show Unit label checkbox is selected.
  • For Durations too, I’ve enabled the Show Duration label.

These are all good practices, which of course depends on the type of project being used.

Tip – 5: Coming from MS Project? Then, change the Units/Time Format!

If you are coming from the MS Project world, then you’d have noticed the Units/Time format is in %, not in h/d (hour/day). For example, a resource is assigned at 50% or 100%. In such a case, you can change the Resource Units/Time format.

To do so, go to Primavera menu > Edit > User Preferences… and select Time Units on the left side of the User Preferences screen. 

Next, in the Units/Time format area, change the Units/Time format and enable the Show as a percentage (50%).  

This will ensure your quick understanding and grasp of Primavera P6 software and its usage when compared with MS Project.

[This Series - Part - 2]


That’s it! These five must-know tips that you need to have while starting-off with Primavera P6. I’ve used Primavera P6 R22.12 for demonstration. The software was released in November/December of 2022. 

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