INTRODUCTION

A couple of years ago when I first heard about the PMP, which is an acronym for Project Management Professional, I immediately pictured in my mind a top-brass executive, wearing an expensive suit and probably gold-rimmed spectacles, making key business decisions and whose life eventually ends up in some kind of financial mismanagement scandal.

Well, I discovered the real thing wasn’t so far from my imagination, especially if that person wound up as an “accidental” project manager, because the real ones have, and follow, an ethical code of conduct of high-fidelity.

PMP Training – Resources (Intense)

Project management happens at different levels and scales. It is a result-driven profession. As a practitioner, you will have demonstrated over time that you possess the knowledge, experience and skills to bring any project to a successful completion. Project Management in the 21st century is now a two-edged sword; it is a skill-set and, at the same time, a career path.

WHAT IS PROJECT MANAGEMENT?

Simply stated, it is the ability to “manage” (administer) a project; a project in turn being a “temporary” endeavor undertaken to create a “unique” product, service or result – all of which must be done “on time,” “on budget” and “within specifications.” This is project management.

WHAT ARE YOUR GAINS AS A PROJECT MANAGER?

Big fat salaries of course! There’s also the sheer satisfaction of a successful project. You will have a good profile and your resume will be highly impressive! You will literally feel the spring in your step, and you will observe that your shoulders are higher. You will be respected by your company as that person who delivers, and other multinationals you will work with will feel the same way.

According to a March 2012 survey result carried out by PMI (Project Management Institute), the body responsible for the PMP, the project manager’s median salary is US$92,000 per annum, polled from 30,000 practitioners in 29 countries. These figures are changing and revolving slightly higher and below depending on the industry. Wherever in the world you may be reading this, that is good stuff. The top 10 countries where being a PMP is top-notch for now include Switzerland, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, United States, Ireland, Canada, United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

If you are in a developing country, you will shine even brighter than your counterparts because you will be that rare gem among coals. It is an international standard profession, except of course unless you decide to sell yourself short. Surveys, statistics, and polls from organizations around the world reveal that the PMP is the highest paying certification you can have in 2013, and this has been the trend for the past 2 years.

HOW MANY MONTHS SHOULD I ALLOT FOR THE PMP EXAM?

This is a neat question. I have heard that it is doable in 5 days, but I have seen it happen in 14 days. Wow!

PMP is one of the simplest things you can achieve if you put your mind to it. I remember Norman Vincent Pearle tell a story of a young man night-crawling on a moonless night and falling into a freshly dug grave on his way home. He tried to come out of it, but it was difficult. A grave can be one of the most difficult things to get out of, believe me; but with the right motivation, you will.

After many frantic efforts without success, he opted to pass the night till morning when someone could help him out. So he slept off. Not long after, he heard a thud. Another night crawler fell in. He sat at his dark corner watching this unfortunate man trying fruitlessly to get out of the grave. After 30 harrowing minutes of watching the man, he decided to advise him to save his energy because it isn’t possible; after all, he has likewise tried.

All this time the second man was unaware of anyone else being in the grave. So our first night crawler spoke up saying, “Dude, there ain’t anyway you gonna get outta here.” That was the last of the man he saw, because in 3 leaps the second man was out of the grave, and gone too.

You can achieve a PMP in 3 weeks. My wife did. A few of my friends did. You don’t necessarily need to have a backlog of project experience to do this, but if you already do, it is a huge advantage for you because you have a reference point for the knowledge areas and processes.

In fact, you will observe that during your classes, there is nothing mysterious about the knowledge areas or the processes. They all just seem to follow each other intrinsically.

I was speaking with Professor James Leicester of the UK Project Management Institute couple of weeks ago, and he mentioned how this short time requirement of being a PMP is one of the greatest setbacks to formalizing PMP as a standard profession like other fields of endeavor such as engineering, accounting, or medicine. Hence, it has been stuck with a professional certification level. The PMI on the other hand stipulates a 90-day (3 months) window. In my professional opinion, you can thus achieve a PMP status from 3 weeks to 3 months, but it is a very achievable goal based on precedence I have seen.

WHAT ARE THE TOP SOFTWARE PACKAGES A PMP MANAGER NEEDS TO BE PROFICIENT IN?

As a PMP, you should have working knowledge of Microsoft Office suites. I am talking about Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. These are tools you will use a lot in communication. Depending on your environment, Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes are essential. These communication tools will show up more in your daily routine than more specialized and dedicated project tools like Microsoft Project, Project Server, SharePoint, Primavera, SAP, and over 50 others out there in the market.

What to consider when choosing dedicated software to use in learning is its complexity or simplicity. You may not have the technical ability and resource to pull off SharePoint, or Primavera, or Project Server, hence easily installable, standalone software like Microsoft Project comes in handy. I am not putting into view at this time any tool for collaboration or communication like Team Viewer, Skype, Microsoft Live, or any such online or on-premise webinar tools used in holding meetings with team members in different geographical locations and stuff. So, if you have to make the call, I recommend Office Suite, any email system, and Microsoft Project; with these you are set and ready to commence your PMP career.

WHAT POTENTIAL SNAGS OR SETBACKS SHOULD TEST-TAKERS EXPECT?

Expect to be tested on everything you have learned. This comes to “knowing” your material, not “cramming” your material. The PMP exam structure is as follows:

Domain Question Number in Percentage
Initiation 11%
Planning 23%
Executing 27%
Monitoring and Controlling 21%
Closing 9%
Professional and Social Responsibility 9%
TOTAL 100%

That being said, looking at these figures in the table above doesn’t mean much. Many people who attempt the exam have always sought for practice questions from all kinds of places, even Googling. My advice? That is a bad idea.

I have checked all these questions, and they are not like the actual exam. The practice questions come from independent organizations and they are not as astute as what PMI creates. The trick is to use the questions as a test of your grasp around a knowledge area or process area. If you don’t get it correctly, it means you have probably missed the anatomy of that subject matter. Go review it again. The concept is to have an idea of what the questions are like, but more importantly the accuracy of your knowledge.

These form the basic structure of the exam. The first tests your ability to remember or recall definitions, the second checks your knowledge of applying principles to scenarios being described, and the third part checks your analytical reasoning to see if you know the relationships between individual pieces of given information to make an appropriate decision.

Expect the questions also to skip and hop from one knowledge area to another and back again only to go off in another direction. This is because the exam engine randomizes the questions. So, you need to keep a bird’s eye-view perspective on the whole exam.

A very neat trick is to know that your brain stores information just like databases, with primary keys and foreign keys and alternate keys and composite keys. One synapse retrieving some information will, without your consent, retrieve related information even if it’s useless. Don’t be surprised if while you are facing a terrible question, you are also wondering if you will ever be able to use Green Arrow to beat Solomon Grundy in the INJUSTICE video game. They’re distractions, yes, but it’s your brain finding a relationship between the two pieces of information. You can take advantage of this by using the skip method. It means that, from the beginning, start rapidly answering all the questions that you are certain of.

If the question begins to task your mind, mark that question for review and skip it. When you get to the end of the question stream, you would have gained a valuable overview of your questions. This means that you can use the answers in the ones you know to retrospectively and accurately deduce the correct answers for the ones you encountered before. This is a good technique since you will be served 200 questions in 4 hours, which means you are forced into an average of 1.2 minutes per question. Ensure you answer all questions; there is no negative marking where wrong answers are deducted from right ones. Having all these at the back of your active mind should help you overcome any snags.

WHAT METHODS WORKED BEST FOR CONCEPT RETENTION?

Generally speaking, we have people who are on different learning curves and models. As a grown-up, you have probably defined your own learning style. Perhaps your mind can handle abstract concepts dexterously without a diagram; perhaps repetition, for deep and lasting impressions, is your style; or you need some kind of symbolism first. Whatever it is that you do, I recommend you use that method to retain as much “know-how” of your material.

Know this: PMI has decided that if you hit a score of 68.5% (135 correct answers out of the 200 questions posed) you have passed. The method that I know worked best for me was collaboration. Why did I get a question wrong during a practice test and Andy got it right, while Kimberly and Matthew got it off-tangent? So we discussed it, and I saw where and what made me miss it. As a PMP, you will not be working solo at any time; you will be managing people and resources and you will collaborate as you communicate, so you are better off starting that now.

For the formulas I recommend that you identify all of them, write them down on individual pieces of little cards, like the complimentary card size type. Keep them as rote as much as possible, but when you get into the exam location, discard them. When you are at your CBT room facing your computer, ask for a paper from your proctor and regurgitate your rote on that paper.

STUDY BOOKS I RECOMMEND

There are hundreds of books available on project management, so I will say read as much as you can get, which is inevitably impossible because this is the jet age – we do not read as much as we should.

So for starters, because this write-up is for starters, I recommend you get these materials with a learning video if you can and get a grasp of the scope of what you are going into, and then you can filter the areas you want to thrash out one by one. Read SYBEX’s PMP: Project Management Professional Study Guide. Then read Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep 7th Edition, and PMBOK Guide 5th Edition. I also think any of the dummies series on PMP is worth reading.