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:

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