Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Do we really practice what we preach?


Yes Project Management is all about better communication and being aware of what’s happening in your project and what’s happening around you.. If you dont... you will face the consequences badly...

There is very unfortunate incident happened with one of my colleagues who is going to sit for the PMP exam this time. No offence please.. Whole objective of this post is to pass this message to other people who will be sitting for PMP, Organizing PMP or any other exams in the future.

In Sri Lanka , we don’t have online PMP exams yet. So its paper based exam. We don’t even have exams every year. So its very important to get your registration process right for the exam you are preparing for,. If you miss that, you will have to wait a long time period for another exam or go to another country to sit for online exam.

Ok…. coming back to this incident. My colleague went for preparation classes held at Singapore Informatics. Upon completion, he submitted his application for the upcoming November exam. According to him, he was advised from the chapter that the closing date is on 20th Oct. So he has submitted the application on 18th Oct.

PMI has accepted his application form and informed him to pay online., As its paper based exam he had to enter the “ Testing Group No” which is issued by PMI., When he entered the number, he found out that the Number is invalid and he is too late in his application submission;

This has happened to many students who have been in this batch. It’s very sad that they have no chance to sit for the exam though they have submitted the application before 20th.

I just called PMI customer care behalf of my colleague, whom we sent for the course though our project office;

The support executive’s answer was;

  1. We have clearly instructed your Local chapter to inform students that they need the payments to be processed before 20th. ( Not the application Submission )
  2. The Student guide book clearly says the instructions.. ( I just checked the student guide book and it only says it takes 5 days to process the payment . It doesn’t talk about the application submission date and deadlines.)

Then I called the SL exam coordinator in the local chapter and his answer was that he has informed all the students by email that the application submission (???) should be completed before 20th. (Unfortunately many people have not got that email)

So isn’t this all about effective communication?

May be Im wrong.. But what I think is that,

  1. As the exam coordinator, If I knew the 20th deadline is for processing payment and not for the application submission., , I could have informed the students that the deadline for application submission is on Oct 14th . .. or so., So I’m sure that they will do the submission on time .. Even if they do it on last date, still they have time to process the payment before PMI deadline.

  1. When you define a deadline., it should clearly specify whether the deadline is for application submission or payment processing. ( for PMP the payment can be made only after the institute approve your application)

  1. As the certified institute. Singapore Informatics should also take part of the responsibility. They should have created a student contact base at the time of registration and should provide it to the chapter or exam coordinator for communication.

  1. Students should be more participative.. ( Comm…ooo…n you guys are Project Managers… ) They should have the responsibility to confirm what they hear and double confirm it… (Won’t we do that all the time as PMs ??? )

So I think now it’s the part of Damage Control .. If PMI SL chapter can appeal PMI to consider this as an exception and allow the people (who have submitted the application forms before 20th ) to do the exam.. I think that’s the best…

When I sat for my PMP exam.. 5 students didn’t have admission including myself. But My lecturer who was the former chapter CEO ( Ms. Madhu Fernando ) and the former course director ( Chandana) did everything what they could do for us to sit for the exam. Finally they managed to get permission for us to sit for the exam…Still Im so thankful to them for going that extra mile for us... I’m sure the current board will also do their best for these students….

End of Story.. It proves how important it is to communicate effectively, accurately and efficiently..

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Preparing for PMP?

I hear that SL is going to have another PMP exam very soon.. Today I got to know about this POSDCAST which helps PMP candidates to prepare themselves for the exam..

There is something what I always keep in my mind…
“When the exam is closer , 1 minute is 1 mark for you….
This keeps me focused on my subject matters and studies.. Im afraid to waste time when the exam is closer.. As much as I waste time without studying.. I will be loosing marks…

So isn’t this very cool.. Now you can be prepared for the PMP exam while traveling to office or home.. Or when you are at the Gym.. or where ever you carry your iPod.. Isnt that cool…???

Monday, October 16, 2006

SEARCC Conference 2006 – Research paper Presentations

Research Paper presentations were held on 12th and 13th of October., But due to heavy office work, I managed to participate only on 13th. I will be presenting a paper hopefully by next year so it was very important for me to get a real look and feel of Research Paper defense and how it is done by other researchers.

I expected many Research Degree level Papers , But on 13th , the most of the paper presentations were done by undergraduate students except one PHD candidate from India and another one (MBA) from Moratuwa University. May be I have missed the most important part on 12th.
But, I must say that most of the research paper presentations were really good . It was hard to believe that some of the research papers were done by undergraduate students.

One Researcher who presented the paper on Secure Cheque Payment protocol had few concerns and had some conflicting areas in her concept. It’s better if she could have run that paper through some of the industry experts before presenting it. ( Ok I went to learn by other peoples mistakes :-) ….. ) Still I’m thinking of that paper and seems she has missedout some concepts of bank transferring and already available alternatives and technical concerns. But again for the undergraduate level, its good… More than anything her presentation skills were cool and she knew how to escape from difficult situations at the time of the defense. Hats off to her for that talent!!!

Some other Research papers such as Inventing a fire robot, Graphic algos, email security ….were presented.,
Out of all these the most important one for me was the Implementation failure research paper presented by Dinesh Asanka as its more related to my research area.
Overall it was a useful day......
One of my colleagues who went to see the exhibition said that, quality of the exhibition reduces every year ......drastically.. But I can’t comment on that as I couldn’t see the exhibition.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

BIT Project Management Vs. PMP.


Last few days I went through almost all the PM past papers of BIT ( Bachelor of Information Technology – External) in order to make me understand what UCSC ( University of Colombo School of Computing ) will expect out of a student studying for Project Management.

I saw many similarities and differences between BIT PM paper and PMP exam papers. I think its worth to write some comments on that., so this post will help a student who wish to sit for PMP exams in the future.

First of all., PMP is totally a MCQ paper ( Don’t think its easy.. Its not) while BIT is totally a written paper., BIT PM knowledge areas are centered around Summerville’s Software Engineering Book as far as PMP exam questions are based on PMBOK guide.

How ever, I see major improvements on BIT PM exam papers over the years., 2005 Paper had many improvements and it covered many practical aspects of Project Management than its previous year papers.

When you look at the main difference., More than Anything .. BIT PM paper is only based on Software Project Management.( Ofcourse its an IT degree), But PMP is generally “ Project Management” which can be applied across the industries.

When you look at the syllabus., BIT PM Syllabus addresses all the Knowledge areas listed in PMBOK.

Except to PMBOK knowledge areas, BIT PM expect you to know the Software Development models and Software Configuration Management in detail.

When you consider individual questions, BIT PM expect you to have a wide knowledge and understanding of concepts in each knowledge area., As an Example., you need to know what EVM calculations are., how they can be used in a project., and what do they mean., But in PMP, you need very detailed knowledge in application of EVM formulas., sometimes you get very tricky questions to calculate values. BIT PM does not expect you to calculate the values using formulas ( At least up to this year).

I find cost management is quite different too.. BIT –PMs favorite costing model is COCOMO model and you need to know all the equations to calculate COCOMO model in your projects., I noticed that almost every year there is a question in BIT PM papers based on COCOMO. ( Do we ever use this method to calculate cost in our real Projects??? I have never..) For PMP., they do not expect you to know those models in details in order to answer questions., But you have to have a very clear idea of different techniques which can be used for project costing and pluses and minuses of each of these techniques.

Time Management , Risk Management and Quality management are almost same in both, But in Quality Management, BIT expect you to have a very detailed understanding of ISO900 Process. PMP consider it as just another quality standard.

Which I couldn’t understand in BIT PM paper is that questions regarding MS Project tool. Its just a another tool which helps project managers., But I found few BIT questions which goes in to detailed features of MS Project Software.. Its bit puzzling…

BIT PM does not touch any specific agile methods or any process driven PM methods., neither it talks about PMO concept in organizations.

Overall BIT PM is a very good start and a base for a student who expect to sit for PMP exams in the future.


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