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..


Barbara said...

This is a typical example for a project failure..
I didn’t face any issues when I did my online exam from Florida. Anyway thank you very much for posting this. You are absolutely right ! This is an excellent case for a communication failure of a project.
I wish that your friends will be able to do the exam!

Gogula on 5:31 AM said...

I don't want to be unpatriotic. But this kinda thing happens a leeeeetle too often in our lil' Paradise, no?

Mahasen on 11:25 AM said...

That’s why I believe qualifications don’t necessarily means competencies… Anybody can do any thing – but the question is do they really do?

thushara said...

You are very true .. "qualifications don’t necessarily means competencies… " I agree.. But I always believe that the process to get that qualification will help people to be more competent.... But not all the time

Nelli ( PMP) said...

Excellent example of a case study..
This helps any Project Manager.. According to this case , I think its not only a problem with communication.. All the project management theories have failed here.. Where is risk planning? Contingency?

BTW you have not written the last part of the story. How the story ended? Are they able to sit for the exam now?

Lightning_Struck_Tower on 4:35 AM said...

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Discussion Forum:

Shawn T. Futterer, PMP on 6:52 PM said...

There are many methods for you to prepare for the gruelling 4 hour PMP Exam. We’ve outlined a few of the most successful here:

1. PMP Exam Prep Classes or Boot Camps: These cram session courses are specifically designed to fill your mind with the knowledge required to pass the test. Typically a more expensive route, but very effective at helping you beat the PMP Exam. We recommend Exam Prep Classes through Pinnacle 3 Learning, as their classes are priced mid-range and provide project managers with more understanding of real life application than that of industry competitors. Most of these courses qualify for contact hours or PDU’s, which can be used on your application with PMI.

2. Self-Paced Study efforts: There are numerous books and materials out there to assist you in preparing for the PMP Exam. Most provide more in depth understanding of the PMBOK. Self-paced study happens on your schedule. Progress at your individual pace. Studies have shown that individualized programs enable the majority of people to complete the material more quickly. In addition, it also allows slower learners to set a pace commensurate with their learning speed. In a traditional training program, all participants are usually required to go through the material at the same time and pace. Self-paced Learning gives students a chance to speed up or slow down as necessary. Be sure which product you buy is PMBOK aligned. is a great place to start. The PMP Success Study Guide is PMBOK aligned, easy to comprehend and very exam focused. Great exam tips included.

3. Practice Exam (Simulation): Practicing against simulated PMP® Exam Questions is one of the absolute best ways to prepare for the actual exam. Completing multiple practice exams gives the learner an opportunity to better understand the exam layout, types of questions and pace of the exam. 200 questions over 4 hours equals roughly 1.2 minutes per question. You have to learn to gauge your exam pace. Many people use a predictor. To do this, make columns on a sheet, one for 90%, one for 50% and one for 25%. If you know the answer to a question with little or no doubt, put a mark under 90% column, if you think you know the answer to a question, but there may be an alternate correct answer, put a mark under the 50% column, if you have to guess at the answer, place a mark in the 25% column. At the end of the exam total up the 90% marks say you have 114 * .90 = 104. Similarly for 50% say 60 marks under the 50% column, 60* .50 = 30. Finally total number of marks under 25%, in this example 26 * .25 = 6.5. 104 + 30 + 6.5 = 140 (pass)

As you practice against the sample questions adjust these. If your predictor is consistently high say 180% and you are scoring lower change the ratios. For me I find 80%, 50% formula works was the best predictor. You can do these calculations in your head.

Develop A Study Strategy

· Pre-Test. Use the exam simulator at to gauge your learning efforts. By knowing what your scores are, you can focus on the areas you need the most work on. I did lots questions before and after a knowledge area, worked on weaker or questionable questions. This teaches you to read the questions carefully…Sometimes you see a common or re-occurring theme.
· If you are a visual learner write things down as you study. I created terms, glossaries and definitions by writing it helped me remember things
· Create flashcards with important project management processes, terms and equations. On one side of the card put the term and on the other side write the equation. When I had time, I would thumb through the cards. It was not important to memorize all the terms, since the test is multiple choice. However, you must be prepared to recognize the definition, or a variant of the definition, as well as how and when you might apply it.
· Learn what is required to pass the PMP test. You may have techniques and processes that work better than the PMI way, but for the purposes of passing the test, it is the PMI way that matters.
· The more experience you have as a veteran project manager the more difficult you will find the exam. The reason is best answer. Experience or personal best practices tell you one thing, where the PMI approach may be slightly different. This doesn’t mean you’re not a qualified PM, but it can skew your exam scores. Always answer the PMP Exam questions from PMI’s perspective.
· Know the inputs, tools and techniques
· Do not be afraid, the exam is not that hard if you know the material from the PMI perspective!

Bottom line, the exam is not impossible, just detail oriented. You must also forget some of your project management experience and know the PMI way. Read the whole question, and look at all the answers. When I got done, and saw the score, I took a deep breath & reflected that it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.

Being certified in Adult Learning techniques and knowing how people learn has lead us to incorporate the following learning techniques into our program and materials:
· Active Learning
· Accelerated Learning
· Memorization
· Chunking
· Motivation
· Mind Mapping
· Brain Dump

Building a Study Plan

Begin with the end in mind: Estimate the amount of time you need to prepare for the exam and schedule the PMP Certification Test. If you need 8 weeks to prepare, schedule your exam for 8 weeks from today and work to meet your deadline. This helps ensure your focus.
· Build a plan: Figure out how many hours per day you can dedicate to preparing for the PMP Exam, and stick with it. Allocate blocks of time for studying on the weekends.
· Form study groups: Learning in teams can be beneficial for everyone, if it is focused study.
· Learn in Chunks or Sections; don’t try to capture it all at once.
· Learn to Mind Map: The human mind makes a connection each time your pen and paper meet. In conjunction with this, the visual makings of a mind map will help keep information fresh in your minds eye.
· Brain Dumps: When you arrive at the testing center, before you take the actual PMP Exam, perform a brain dump. This is an activity where you use the scratch paper provided to write out all of the exam notes you’ve committed to memory. In order to do this at the testing center, you must practice it daily. I recommend focusing on the calculations and formulas.
· Practice Exams at the end of each chapter or section. Each day I did a set 50-200 questions after a chapter. The following day I reviewed weak areas. I found the more questions and answers that I did, the better prepared and more comfortable I was.
· Cramming before test day: I took one week off before writing the exam to review and cram for the exam… It was slow getting into a study mode but once I applied myself, it seems to be the best study method for me.

Taking The Exam

Anticipate that many questions will have multiple correct answers. It is your challenge to pick the best answer based on how PMI outlines the situation should be handled. Remember to answer questions from PMI’s perspective, not from your real-life experience. Think, “What does PMI say I should I do?” rather than “What ‘s worked in the past?” The actual exam allows you to “mark” any question for later review. Plan on making several passes through all 200 questions of the exam. (Double-check yourself on questions that you are unsure of your answer). On the initial pass through the exam, “mark” any question that you are not 100% sure of the answer. On the second pass, review all the “marked” questions. You may discover that the answer to a given question is detailed out in another question or answer throughout the exam. During the exam, as the test taker, you will need to manage your exam time. 200 questions in four hours (240 minutes) = 1.2 minutes per question. Some questions will be as easy as 15 seconds; others may take 3 – 4 minutes. You are not required to immediately take the exam when you sit down at the computer terminal. Use this time to gather your thoughts and prepare your “reference sheet.” Write down all formulas, diagrams, and information that will assist you with the exam. This allows you to clear your thoughts and focus better as you begin the exam. When you begin the exam process, you will initially be provided a tutorial of how to use the terminal and how to take the exam. If you feel comfortable with the information, you can pass over this tutorial quickly and begin the exam. Pace yourself and be sure to read all four answers completely. Do not just choose the first potentially correct answer you see, there may be a “More right / Most right” answer available. Take breaks throughout the exam. You have 4 hours for the exam, you need to complete at least 50 questions per hour and allot for periodic breaks to allow yourself to regain focus and rest.Question content is something to pay close attention too. Practice exam questions provide valuable insight into actual exam questions. There will be several types of questions to be cognizant of:
· Situational questions · Conceptual · Time-consuming questions · Fill-in-the-blank and other factual-type questions · Select the exception from the four possible answers· Short stories· Calculations and/or draw simple diagrams.
In our estimation, around 75% of the exam questions come directly from the PMBOK® Guide. The remaining questions are derived from other reference materials and real-world situations. Solid common project sense should help you in answering these.
Some key exam topics you won’t find in the PMBOK but should understand are: Conflict-resolution techniques, Organizational theories, Problem-solving Techniques and Theories of motivation.Before the exam begins, you have fifteen minutes to do the tutorial. I used this time before the exam to do a memory dump of the formulas. The tutorial is straightforward on marking questions, reviewing questions and how to view exhibits.
· Usually, the examination center will give you time to write down things, get your thought clear and then you begin the tutorial.
· Take few minutes to do the memory dump.
· If the question contains diagrams, tables or other numbers used in calculations, copy these down completely on your scratch paper before beginning the development of the solution. Number your notes and diagrams (the exam calls these exhibits) on the scratch paper and use it in an orderly fashion, later to facilitate checking. Often the exhibit used in one section of the exam will be used in another section.
· Keep a close eye on the way a question is phrased. The exam has lots of which is the correct answer EXCEPT. Usually the questions will highlight this (i.e. word EXCEPT or BUT)
· Be very careful of questions framed in the double negative (“None of the following are true EXCEPT….”). Re-phase these questions (if necessary, write the rephrased question down on your scratch paper and number it) to eliminate both negatives (“which of the following is true…”).
· Use the calculator for all but the most elementary calculations. If you have enough time re-calculate your calculations -- again using the calculator. It is amazing how often, in the pressure of the examination 1+1 = 3 by mistake.
· Make note of questions that have exhibits, or calculations these are often referred to in later questions and open question will give you a clue.
· Remember to answer all questions! If you miss a question, when the exam hits review it will flag questions you missed.
· Keep track of your score: Use your predictor tool

With this, you now have everything you need to begin your journey to becoming a certified PMP. Please visit and get the study resources you need to be successful.


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