Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Book Review: I Want To Be A PfMP – A Definitive Guide for PfMP Certification


Why this Book?

The PfMP Exam Prep Book, I want To Be A PfMP, is a result of the author’s knowledge and experience in the project, program and portfolio management domain. This book covers the entire portfolio management topics in a simple and practical manner so that any portfolio management practitioner or anyone aspiring to practice portfolio management would find it easy to absorb the concepts and practice it in real world scenarios.

This book along with the practice standard for portfolio management is a one stop solution to ace your PfMP exam. The author has covered concepts from all reference books for the PfMP exam to give us a single source material for the PfMP exam. 

This book comes with sample chapter end questions along with a full set of exam level questions and various financial calculations and formulas required for the exam.

PfMP Book – I Want To be A PfMP

The key aspect of this book is that it maps each of the knowledge areas /processes to the PfMP exam content outline tasks which helps the readers to understand context and ultimately help them answering the questions in the exam. 

The other distinct feature of the book is the vision and revision tips for each significant topic. This helps the reader to remember and review the important points. 

Another highlight of this book is the way in which the process interactions have been explained graphically, for every knowledge area. This method simplifies the complex interactions and makes it very useful to grasp the knowledge of how the various processes interact with one another which is not available in most of the other books.

A distinct feature of this book is the availability of videos for Risk Response Strategies, Monte Carlo Analysis, EVM and Portfolio Management Process interactions. These videos help the learner in understanding the concepts effectively.

The various snapshots using MS Project and Primavera provide the learners with real life utilities in applying the concepts.

The other prime feature of this book is calling out the ITTO’s for each process and explaining their relevance. For example, the same tool or technique is used in different ways in different processes. Since most of the questions from the PfMP exam are based on ITTO’s, this understanding is essential to get the right answer in your PfMP exam.

The chapter end questions provide you with an opportunity to revise your knowledge of the chapters while the full-length question set helps you prepare for the certification exam. 

Overall this book is indispensable for aspiring PfMPs to get certified in the first attempt.

Chapters in the Book – I Want To be A PfMP

Chapter 1 – Welcome: This chapter provides you a sneak peek of the contents of the book while setting the context for each chapter. This is a good place to start as it helps you to understand how to use this book along with the Standard for Portfolio Management v3 and Exam Content Outline. This chapter also provides you information on the PfMP exam which is invaluable for your preparation.

Chapter 2 – Introduction: As the title suggests, this chapter introduces us to Portfolio, Portfolio, Program, Project and Operations Management. The main highlight of this chapter is that it simplifies some crucial concepts of Portfolios, Programs, and Projects in layman’s terms for our understanding. This understanding is crucial to acing your PfMP exam.

Chapter 3 - Portfolio Management and Organization: This chapter talks about the various life cycles, stakeholders, roles and responsibilities of portfolio management and the common inputs and outputs of portfolio management processes. The various life cycles and their differences are explained in a simple manner which is easy to understand.

Chapter 4 - Portfolio Management Process Groups: This chapter covers the portfolio management process groups, knowledge areas and the processes. The author has done a wonderful job of explaining the sequence and interaction of the 16 processes across the process groups and knowledge areas which is the highlight of this chapter. This sequencing acts as a process map / work flow of the processes for portfolio management. 

There are also videos explaining the interaction of the processes. This helps the reader in understanding how the processes work within the portfolio management process groups and knowledge areas which is important from the PfMP exam point of view.

Chapter 5 - Portfolio Strategic Management: This is the first knowledge area in the portfolio management and the author explains the 4 processes of this knowledge area in a graphical manner which is easy to understand. This chapter also calls out the ITTO’s of the processes and provides the contents of each key deliverables like the portfolio strategic plan, portfolio charter and portfolio roadmap. These are very important points in the context of the exam.

Chapter 6 - Portfolio Governance Management: The highlight of this chapter is the flow chart of Portfolio Component states and the explanation of various tools and techniques which are important for the exam. The various portfolio component states help us understand the processes and the resultant output clearly.

Chapter 7 - Portfolio Performance Management: This chapter provides critical information on performance management of the portfolio including the KPIs and the various tools and techniques used to measure the KPIs. You can expect a good amount of questions based on EVM metrics in the exam.

Chapter 8 - Portfolio Communication Management: Here the author has talked about the importance of communication in portfolio management. This chapter provides information on various communication terms like communication models and communication methods. One other important aspect covered in this chapter is the stakeholder identification, analysis and classification for communication.

Chapter 9 - Portfolio Risk Management: This chapter delves into the portfolio risk management knowledge area and its processes. It talks about the sources and types of risks, categories of risks and the various tools and techniques used in the processes. 

Chapter 10 - Portfolio Management Financials, Charts and Calculations: This chapter covers the various financial calculations, charts and formulas used in the portfolio management domains.

The last 2 chapters provide information on the PfMP credential including the qualifications required and the process for applying and getting certified.

Brief Profile:


Current Role: Lead Business Accountability Specialist

Brief experience: 25+ years of experience in Operations, Project, Program and Risk management across Healthcare, Retail, Telecom and BFSI verticals.

New Book Available for PfMP Exam:
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Saturday, June 08, 2024

Planned Vs. Actual Percent Complete–Understanding the Format () Function in MS Project

One of the most read articles in this website is Planned and Actual Percent Complete with MS Project. I periodically receive questions on it as MS Project practitioners need this functionality. By default, the ‘% complete’ (Actual % Complete) field is available in MS Project software, but not the Planned % Complete. 

The Problem

Now, while data is needed, your stakeholders would like to see the reports – most likely in a histogram. I realized it’s easier said than done for many as they struggle to format the field in certain special situations and hence their report doesn’t come properly. For example, when you add a special task into the already baselined plan, and try to determine the Planned and Actual % complete, you will get the following numbers.

As shown:

  • I’ve added a new task: Special Task of 2 days duration.
  • When tracked, not so readable numbers of 68.8888888888889% is coming for the Top Summary Task and 36.3636363636364% is coming for the Phase – 2 Summary Task. 

The above numbers are not properly readable and hence, won’t be visualizable with our histogram report. You can see the above numbers in this video at 4m:37s.

Current Formula Used

The formatting given for Number 3 with cStr () function, doesn’t help much as this what the cStr () function does according to MS Project custom fields in Project Desktop


Coerces an expression to data type String.


CStr( expression )

expression  Any valid string or numeric expression.

In our case, I’ve concatenated the “%” into the ‘Number 3’ custom field and have this expression. It’s noted as: 

Text1: cStr ([Number3] & “%”)

The Format () Function

The Format () function available for MS Project custom fields is quite useful in this scenario. In this article, we will understand more of it. In an upcoming article, I’ll show how to build the Planned Vs. Actual % Complete in a histogram.

Again, the format function is noted in this link of project functions for custom fields for MS Project. While it’s noted for MS Project 2019, these fields and functions are applicable for later versions of MS Project.

For the Format () function, the documentation notes the following.


Format( expression[, format[, firstdayofweek[, firstweekofyear]]] )

expression  Required; any valid expression.

format  Optional; a valid named or user-defined format expression.

firstdayofweek  Optional; a Constant that specifies the first day of the week.

firstweekofyear  Optional; a Constant that specifies the first week of the year.

It’s clearly saying that the Format () function must have a valid expression. It's followed by a ‘format”, which is optional and it can be user-defined format. The final two – firstdayofweek and firstweekofyear – are optional. 

Examples of Format () Function

Let’s take some examples to understand as there is no better way to learn! As shown below, I’ve two custom fields:

  • Number1 – A number custom field. There is no formula given for this field. 
  • Formatted Number1 – A text custom field to have the formatted expression for Number1. The formula given for this custom field is Format([Number1],"#0.000"). It tells to format the Number1 with user defined format of ‘#0.000’.

Do note that I’m directly using the Gantt Chart view of MS Project software. 

In the Number1 custom field, I’ll enter a variety of numbers (positive, negative, with decimals etc.) and the formatted expression will be auto-populated in the Formatted Number1 custom field.

Next, as I enter the numbers, the formatted expression of these numbers is shown in the next column. This is depicted below.

Let’s understand the above formatting:

For 23, it returns 23.000. In other words, Format (23, “#0.000”) returns 23.000.

  • Format (45.55, “#0.000”) will return 45.550.
  • Format (3.35, “#0.000”) will return 3.350.
  • Format (-4, “#0.000”) will return -4.000.
  • Format (-5.76, “#0.000”) will return -5.760.
  • Format (0, “#0.000”) will return 0.000.

You’d have understood why that is the case. The Format () function is taking the number and formatting with “#0.000” expression. 

  • The ‘#’ in the expression, before the decimal point, denotes any number.
  • The ‘0’ in the expression, before the decimal point, is specifically to include the zero. If this is not given, then Format (0, “#.000”) with only a “#” will return ‘.000’. Note that a zero is missing before the decimal. We don’t want that! Do we?
  • The three zeroes, after the decimal, results in the expressions including 3 points after the decimal. If you have four zeros, then it will have 4 points after the decimal.

Other Styles of Formatting

In our previous example, we used Format([Number1], “#0.000”) with the user-defined format expression of ‘#0.000’.  Others can be:

  • String = Format(177.8, "###0.00")  will return “177.80 ".
  • String = Format(4499.7, "##,##0.00") will return "4,499.70".
  • String = Format(9, "0.00%") will return "900.00%".

Interpreting the above formatted expressions:

  • In the first case, we have three hashes (#) followed with a zero (0), before the decimal and two zeros after the decimal. We received the corresponding formatted number.
  • In the second case, we have a comma before the decimal and hence, a comma is included in the formatted output string. 
  • The last case is interesting to note! We don’t have any hash before the decimal, and we have a “%” included and hence, the resulting formatted expression has been multiplied by 100!

Solution to Our Problem

Remember the first problem we started with the for Planned Vs. Actual Percent Complete? 

Now, I believe, you can address the problem. We have to simply change the formatting of the Number3 custom field. The formula used will be the following:

Planned % Complete = Format([Number3],"#0.00") & cStr("%") 

I’ve additionally used the cStr (“%”) to display the % notation next to the number. In the custom field it will be used as shown below.

Next, when you apply the above formula, the value will come properly as shown below.

As shown above:

  • Now, for the top summary task, instead of 68.8888888888889%, we have 68.89% being shown.
  • For the Phase – 2 summary task, instead of 36.3636363636364%, we are having 36.36%

Aren’t these numbers more readable?


There are a number of custom fields and functions available in MS Project software. I'd definitely suggest you keep this link handy, if you want to know more on custom fields and working on them. You can also read the following two foundational articles:

The Format () function is quite helpful if you are using MS Project custom fields. As we learned in this article, this function can format any type of number in the way you want.

In addition, with this Format () function we will have a better report, which we are going to see in the next article.


[1] Online Video Course: MS Project Live Lessons, Guaranteed Learning or Your Money Back

[2] Article: Understanding Planned Vs. Actual Percent Complete with MS Project