August 23, 2017

Subscribe:  

Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Preparation Guide for PMP Certification Exam

Preparation guide for PMP examBy Knowledge Hut

Project Management Professional (PMP) is a valuable, sought after certification. It has become very useful for project managers across the world who want to develop and grow in their careers.

A PMP certification will help you stand out in the marketplace. Various institutes provide PMP certification courses to project managers from all backgrounds. The market is expanding and demand is rising and as a result, the number of project managers who are capable of dealing with their work strategically and execute them successfully are finding themselves overburdened with work.

There is huge scope for competent, certified individuals who can deal with the stress and workload of a project professional. But in order to achieve this, there are several hurdles which one needs to cross.

The PMP certification has made the PMP exam preparation courses one of the most popular courses available in the market today. PMP courses are designed for project practitioners to provide world-renowned education and how to relate that to their professional experience. The exam-based certification is highly rated in the business world and takes the individuals to the next level of proven competence.

This guide provides you with the following tips and tricks to help you prepare for the PMP Certification exam.

Have a plan

You should have a proper plan in place to prepare for the PMP certification exams. The applicants must be well aware of the syllabus and know the pattern of the exam before starting the preparation. They also plan out their preparation chart in order to have a clear and well-defined vision.

Be aware of change

Keep pace with the changes that are happening in the current world. Exam candidates should be aware of what is going on around the world by reading articles, newspapers and other sources to remain updated.

Prepare one topic at a time

It would be wise to prepare one topic at a time. It’s better to be thorough with one subject rather than being confused by too many topics at the same time.

Online examination

Guide for PMP prep examSince the PMP Examination consists of multiple choice questions that are taken online, it is recommended to have good computer skills. It will reduce stress and be less time consuming when prepared well.

Time management

Speed is a major contributor for success in these exams. One methods to improve your speed is by practicing more and more. This would increase both speed and efficiency.

Do Mock exams

There are various mock tests available on the internet, some paid, some are free. This will give candidates a good indication of how well prepared they are for the exam since you also receive scores and explanations with the mock tests. It will give a clear indication of topics needing more preparation and candidates can then focus on areas needing to be improved before taking the real exam.

Revision

Before the start of the exam it’s essential to do enough revision. This ensures that the candidates are able to recollect all that they have learned and apply those during the examinations.

Date and time

Your exam preparations should start immediately after deciding the date and venue of the examination for which the application is made.

Practice, practice

A primary method to achieve success is to practice, practice and practice more. There are various coaching centers in major cities to help aspirants to achieve success and good marks in the exams.

Keep calm

It’s very important for every candidate to remain calm and composed during the exam. This is the point where most exams are passed or failed.

Opportunities in the market

Keep an eye on the market and be on the lookout for organisations which are advertising vacancies.

 

When these guidelines are followed, candidates should perform like heroes and they can be certain of success when taking the PMP certification exams.

To find out more about the classroom,  virtual classroom or online PMP Certification Training Courses with additional resources to help you pass the exam, visit Knowledgehut today.

10 Leadership Lessons from Extreme Environments

10 Leadership LessonsBy Linky van der Merwe

Do you know some-one who climbed the Seven Summits (highest peak on each continent) and skied to both the North and South Poles?  Meet Alison Levine, a small person with a big heart for adventure. And not just any adventure, but extreme adventure that earned her the title of achieving the “Adventure Grand Slam”.

After listening to Alison Levine as keynote speaker at the PMXPO2017 I bought her book: “On the edge: Leadership lessons from Mount Everest and other extreme environments.  

Here are 10 leadership lessons from her book that can be applied to projects.

#1 Approach to leadership

Alison starts off by saying that the development of yourself as a leader should be a deliberate, conscious process. People are not born leaders. It’s a ‘muscle that needs to be built.

Leadership is an attitude. Alison believes that we all need to be better leaders. If we put effort into that, we can have much positive influence on the people around us. I think this is especially true on projects. Empower the team to think and act like a leader. This means that we need to help them hone their skills, their knowledge and encourage them to think for themselves and to make critical decisions without always requiring input. Team members need to be able to carry on with the work, even if the leader becomes ill or is on leave.

One way to help develop leadership skills in others is to give them greater responsibility to grow themselves as leaders. This will make the whole team more effective. Developing your own skills and the skill of others should be a never-ending process.

#2 Mentors

Engage with others who are more skilled than you are and learn from the best. Find mentors in your organization, people with experience and people you look up to.

#3 Go backward to go forward

Everest climbThe way Mount Everest is climbed is that climbers start at base camp and go up to Camp 1, then come back. Next they go up to Camp 1 and the following day to Camp 2. Then they go back to basecamp. Then they go up to Camp 3 only to come back down again. Then they go all the way up to Camp 4, sleep over and when the weather allows, they ascend to the top.

Her lesson from this is that there’s real value in going back to your starting point to regroup, to reposition yourself to be stronger before you can ascend to the next level. Even great athletes and sport stars focus on the fundamentals over and over again, by doing the same drills, not because they haven’t mastered it, but because repetition builds strength and enhances agility.

Therefore, reward and encourage progress in all forms, not just the obvious ones.

#4 Conflict management

On every project there will be conflict at some point making it a predictable component of group dynamics. It can be healthy to as it brings different perspectives. Conflict only becomes dangerous when it is unresolved.

It’s important to bring conflict out into the open. This is where communication is key. It’s essential to make team members feel valued and that his or her opinion matters.

#5 High Performance Teams

All women team to Everest

Source: Road & Travel Magazine

Alison shares an important insight on putting together a high-performing team. You want people who are good at what they do and who know that they’re good as that gives them confidence. This is called performance ego.

Another type of ego you want is team ego. A group is only a team when every member of the group cares as much about helping the other members as they care about helping themselves.

I have seen this on multiple projects before where a high-performing team contributes to hugely successful projects. When you put a team together, you need to look for:

  • Experience
  • Expertise
  • Ego

#6 Relationships and Networking

Developing strong relationships is critical to success. As a project leader you need to take the time and effort to connect with people at every stage of your career. Find people who will rally around you, encourage you and support. Attend those conferences and networking events; you never know which connections will lead to more success in future.

#7 Weak links

South Pole skiThe way you deal with the weak link on your team often means the difference between success and failure. When you have to work with people who are as good as you are, those who can’t perform as well, or who don’t match your skills.

To compensate for a weakness is about leveraging hidden attributes in innovative ways that can move you and your team forward. As a leader you need to help every team member to become productive so that everyone on the team benefits.

#8 Build Trust and Loyalty

Never underestimate the importance of treating other with respect and kindness. Also take the time to get to know the people on your team as individuals. Get to know them on a deeper level. That will form strong bonds and people will know they matter.

Each person needs a different approach when it comes to helping them perform at their best. The more information you uncover, the more influence you can have as a leader. You need to adjust your coaching style based on the needs of your team.

The more dedicated you are to your team, the harder they will work for you and for one another.

#9 Complacency

Following the status quo, could be a mistake that businesses, teams fall prey to. Different situations call for different actions. As a leader you need to evaluate all the circumstances in order to know what you best move is.

Complacency can be characterized by not preparing, not making a move, not moving fast enough or not being agile enough.

If you’re busy with your 10th or 50th project, you still need to be alert, prepared and agile.

#10 Embrace your Failures

As leaders we need to own our failures. It’s important to learn from them as that is what really makes us grow as leaders. When we achieve something that we have worked hard for, we need to take a moment to reflect on it.

For many people it’s easier to avoid the risks of failure, unless we have failed before. Something about surviving past setbacks that increases our willingness to risk again.

If you’d like to read a book filled with adventure stories and lessons, don’t miss out on this exciting book:
On the Edge: Leadership Lessons from Mount Everest and Other Extreme Environments

Product Development for Telecommunications Company

Project Success StoryThis story from project manager, Candice Adams, is about a project in the telecommunications industry with the goal of establishing a new Business Model to create a system whereby mobile services could be sold in bulk as part of B2B services.

The project was innovative and it was difficult to find resources with experience. This made the company’s stakeholders who were new to the concept, very dependent on a service provider for domain specific knowledge. It took about two years to complete.

The Customers knew more than the company which put a lot of pressure on the company to establish a model and service package. It took time to work out what is of mutual benefit.

Strained Business Relationships

What worked in the project’s favour was the fact that they had dedicated project team members and good support from IT management.

Initially they didn’t have Business support and they had to build trust over time. Due to the corporate nature of the company, there were the usual challenges with having a Silo effect and different teams working independently.

This challenge was overcome by communicating with the Business stakeholders regularly. The project was executed as part of business strategy and the business stakeholders had to become part of the journey. IT didn’t pretend to know everything.  The relationship became more transparent, business stakeholders were part of decision making and they felt empowered.

Multiple Challenges

In order to address the high dependency on the software provider, the project manager had to source subject matter experts (SME’s) in-house to assist with communications with the software provider from an overseas company who didn’t know the company culture, in order to challenge their ideas.

The business was not trusting IT with how the solution needed to be packaged and delivered. This improved as the relationships between IT and the business stakeholders became stronger.

The external dependency on the network in order to make the new business model work, was particularly challenging, because it wasn’t always stable or optimal. The project was formulating a bulk service solution, but standard services were not stable yet, for example, when calls dropped.

The Business Case determined a launch date a year into the future. This date couldn’t move out, as it was advertised already.  Much money was spent on marketing the future bulk service solution. For certain customers, there was a small window of opportunity to offer this service to their existing clients – this caused an immovable end date for go live of the solution.

Lessons Learned

Project success storyOn a strategic business project of this nature the buy-in from business stakeholders is mandatary and it requires transparent communications in terms of how the solution is developed.

A big factor in the success of the project was the on-boarding of SME’s to become part of the project team. This allowed better negotiation with the software providers in terms of what is required for the new business model. The SME’s also played a major role in transitioning to operations.

Sponsor Support and Communications

Through-out the project sponsor support was critical. The sponsor had to provide updates to the Board of Directors and he had to assist with addressing major project issues that were escalated.

Project communications were done through daily stand-ups with the entire project team (IT and Business) to keep team members aligned, first thing in the morning. Informal conversations also helped to overcome the silo’s. It addressed the questioning of motives and it helped to build trust. Evidence of the trust relationship was seen in how business stakeholders would defend IT if there were delays.

Key take-aways

The project manager had some big take-aways from the project experience, like the importance of being open and transparent. A project manager needs to keep an eye on the pulse of activities and progress. Also stay close to how people are feeling and how the team is experiencing the project. In conclusion the project manager learnt the value of being supportive and managing expectations.

About the project manager:

Candice Adams has started in Systems Management policies and procedures in a Petro-chemical company. She did business process analysis before she moved into project management, where she worked on projects in ERP, like SAP or Oracle and in Retail IT for the past 12 years. She plans to become PMP certified next.

Candice may be contacted on candicead@gmail.com

How Project Managers Manage Virtual Teams

With more companies expanding globally, the trend to work on projects with virtual team members who are remote workers, is growing. I have now worked on a project spanning three countries across three different time-zones. Despite having cloud-based tools for project plan sharing and logging test defects, the latest communication technology like Skype for Business in addition to everyday emails, it has been severely challenging.

Challenges in handling virtual teams

Project managers face a variety of challenges when handling virtual team members who work from different locations, who are permanent or freelance workers, who come from different backgrounds and cultures. It can be difficult to schedule a meeting with all members at a fixed time, especially with a 8 hour time-zone difference as was the case with my project. It impacts the decision-making process negatively.

It can be difficult to communicate a message correctly to remote workers. They may fail to understand the context or cannot grasp specific issues related to a project. They don’t always appreciate the consequences if they fail to have a same-day turnaround, that it can cause 2-3 days delays.

A risk I had to manage through-out was to keep team members aligned in terms of the project schedule, the latest decisions, new project baselines etc. Due to the fact that one team worked during another team’s night time and visa versa, it meant that any requests sent via email had to be very clear in terms of context and what was expected. If the receiver of the email had a question, they usually had to wait another day to receive an answer. This caused repeated delays in getting multiple requests fulfilled. As the project progressed, and especially during testing when team members in different time zones had to work together, we had to resort to different work hours to create more of an overlap between team members and to enhance the communication process and response times to issues and defects.

How to manage remote teams effectively

It’s important for project managers to effectively manage both remote and on-site team members to achieve project success. Have a look at the infographic below created by Brandeis University’s Online Project Management Masters Degree program. It addresses the typical challenges and obstacles faced when managing virtual teams, strategies to effectively manage them and technologies to overcome issues.

Managing Virtual Teams

Please share in the comments the challenges you faced when working with virtual teams and how you overcame them.

Please subscribe to Virtual Project Consulting not to miss future articles, tips and success stories!

 

How to Use a WBS as a Team Build Event

Work Breakdown StructureMost project managers will know that compiling a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is one of the key activities of the Project Planning phase. To discover more about the benefits of a WBS, the different types of WBS and how much time is required to develop the WBS, read Project Planning – Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

The purpose of this article is to show you how you can use the WBS as a team building exercise even though it’s considered to be a regular project activity.

Teamwork

WBS as team buildAs a best practice rule you don’t construct the WBS by yourself, you let the people who are doing the work define the work. Let them see how their deliverables begin to translate to assignable activities. This is an excellent opportunity for building trust and relationships through teamwork.

Invite the appropriate participants. This means someone from each group participating in the project. Since this could be a very long work session or a series of work sessions, try to schedule them with an awareness of your team members’ availability and other work commitments. It is recommended to have refreshments that will fuel the brain power!

Review the scope. If this is the first time the team is hearing the formal scope, this will result in lively discussion. Encourage questions and ‘what-if’ scenarios. Have open discussions about the scope to strengthen communications and achieve alignment among team members.

WBS and Deliverables

Ask individuals to work together to identify the key deliverables. Use the ‘sticky note’ approach. This means that you will give the team post-it notes or similar pieces of paper that can be written on and moved around. This allows the team to write deliverables (and next activities) on paper and position them at various locations on the proposed WBS.

Once the deliverables seem firm, have the team work on the lower levels. Have the group or groups that own each deliverable (or a portion thereof) break the work down further. Encourage detail. You want the end result to be assignable and measurable work.

Make sure that good notes are taken during this session. What we construct during one meeting makes perfect sense at the time. Later, details may be forgotten.

Take some time away from the WBS and then revisit it. Walk through it again and make sure it still makes sense.  Have team members present their sections to the rest of the team for review and discussion. This helps build an understanding of the entire work effort.

Now you have built a traditional work breakdown structure that the team understands and through your work together you have a built a stronger team. That is why WBS can also mean We Build Strength!

WBSCoachIf you are starting with a new project and you have a WBS coming up as part of the project planning, I strongly recommend you look into WBS Coach from PMStudent. What to expect from this course:

  • You will end with a proven and repeatable approach to planning and controlling your projects;
  • You’ll be able to translate what your project sponsor wants into what you and your team must do to meet project objectives
  • You’ll discover how to structure every project so it’s clearly defined.
  • It will make creating your schedule and budget straightforward.

 

Don’t delay, try it out today!

Project Success Story: Implementing a Customer-Centric Strategic Project the Agile Way

Agile key lessonsThis story from Lance Hamel, is about a complex Customer-centric strategic project to improve customer experience in the Retail Industry that took 7 months to complete. The complexity was due to having to implement an unknown cloud-based solution using an agile approach in a traditional waterfall environment, with an unknown vendor. The systems integrator promised technical skills some of which they didn’t have, and subsequently had to be outsourced. That delay caused increased pressure towards the end of the project.

Going Agile

After less successful prior attempts, the team was mobilised quickly and was able to deliver a minimum viable product (MVP) after 6 months. This was an early win for the business and it took about one third of the time it normally takes to implement a new solution.

The Business had an active and involved project sponsor who was also the product owner.  Through-out the life-cycle of project, following an Agile approach, the project team was aligned on a daily basis. The Sponsor had a briefing 2-3 times a week, when she did regular prioritisation with her team; therefore there was a close alignment between business and the project team.

The vendor was leading the agile process.  They had a very transparent way of working between IT and Business,. The right stakeholders were involved with sprint planning, backlog grooming, reviews and briefings. They also attended sprint reviews/retrospectives in a continuous improvement process.

New way to manage projects

There was a complete shift in the way they managed the project. Instead of …..

Read more ….. for many lessons learned and key take-aways for future projects.

Certifications for Professional Project Managers

By Linky van der Merwe

In a previous article about being a professional project manager, we explained the characteristics of a professional, the type of qualifications within the profession as well as the benefits to the individual and the organisation. This article will explain the main project management bodies, as well as the certifications on offer.

Who are the recognised Project Management Bodies?

Certifications for professionalsThere are three main recognised bodies for project management who provide a range of project management best-practice methodology, principles, qualifications, certifications and professional membership.

There is considerable overlap with what each of the three Bodies considers as best-practice project management. The differences tends to be more related to the level, focus, breadth and depth of project management principles, processes, techniques and methods rather than there being any fundamentally conflicting views about best-practice project management.

The three main recognised project management bodies are:

  1. Project Management Institute (PMI) – The PMI is the largest global membership association for project management professionals. At the heart of the PMI philosophy is ‘A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)’, comprising of core project management processes and techniques. Training is delivered through PMI Registered Education Providers (REP). PMI is headquartered in the USA.
  2. Association for Project Management (APM) – The APM’s mission statement is to develop and promote the professional disciplines of project and programme management for the public benefit across all sectors of industry. At the heart of APM ethos is the APM Body of Knowledge (APM BoK), comprising fifty-two knowledge areas required to manage any successful project. APM BoK provides a framework and key principles for managing projects. Training and examinations are delivered through APM Accredited Training Providers. APM is headquartered in the UK.
  3. Association for Project Management Group (APMG) – The APMG is the registered examination institute and administer qualifications, certifications and accreditations for Axelos on behalf of The Cabinet Office. The Cabinet Office is the owner of the PRINCE2 method for managing projects and MSP for managing programmes. PRINCE2 is an acronym for Projects In Controlled Environments. MSP is an acronym for Managing Successful Programmes.PRINCE2 is a structured process-based method for effective project management and a de facto standard used extensively by the UK Government and is increasingly used in the private sector.

Certifications offered

The most well-known certifications in the project management marketplace today are awarded by these three institutions.

1.      PMI®:  Project Management Institute

PMI is the world’s leading not-for-profit membership association for the project management profession, with more than half a million members and credential holders in 185 countries. Their worldwide advocacy for project management is supported by a globally-recognized standards and credentials, an extensive research program, and professional development opportunities.

  • CAPM®– Certified Associate in Project Management
  • PMP® – Project Management Professional
  • PgMP® – Program Management Professional
  • PMI-RMP® – Risk Management Professional
  • PMI-SP® – Scheduling Professional

2.      APM:  Association for Project Management

As the largest independent professional body of its kind in Europe, their membership extends to more than 20 000 individual and 500 corporate members throughout the UK and abroad.

  • Introductory Certificate in Project Management
  • APMP
  • APM Practitioner
  • CPM: Certificated Project Manager
  • APM Risk Certificate – Level 1
  • APM Risk Certificate – Level 2
  • Registered Project Professional (RPP)

3.      APMG-UK:

APMG-UK is the United Kingdom arm of APMG-International, a global Examination Institute accredited by The APM Group. APMG-UK specialises in the accreditation and certification of organisations, processes and people, within a range of industries and management disciplines and is currently the Official Accreditor of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC).

  • Agile Project Management
  • APMP Foundation, Practitioner, Professional Bid & Proposal Management
  • CHAMPS2 – Change Management Foundation
  • CHAMPS2 – Change Management Practitioner
  • Earned Value Management (EVM) Certification
  • PRINCE2® Foundation
  • PRINCE2® Practitioner
  • PPS – Programme and Project Sponsorship
  • M_o_R® Foundation and Practitioner (Management of Risk)
  • MSP® Foundation, Practitioner, Advanced Practitioner Managing Successful Programmes

4.      IPMA®:  International Project Management Association

The IPMA® is a world leading, non-profit making project management organisation which represents more than 50 project management associations from all continents of the world. The organisation actively promotes project management to businesses and organisations around the world in order to increase the recognition of the profession.

  • IPMA: International Project Management Association
  • Level A – Certified Projects Director
  • Level B – Certified Senior Project Manager
  • Level C – Certified Project Manager
  • Level D – Certified Project Manager Associate

5.      Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a business management strategy originally developed by Motorola, USA in 1981. (Unfortunately, there is no recognised Six Sigma accreditation body or single organization which oversees a standard body of knowledge or standardized Six Sigma tests and certification).

  • Six Sigma Certifications
  • Yellow Belt Certification
  • Green Belt Certification
  • Black Belt Certification
  • Master Black Belt Certification

Please subscribe to Virtual Project Consulting not to miss future articles, tips and success stories!

Are you a Professional Project Manager?

By Linky van der Merwe

professional project manager

What does a professional project manager really mean? Defined simply it means the level of excellence or competence that is expected of a professional.

Next you want to know what are the characteristics of a professional project manager.

Characteristics of a Professional

In a profession, people would be expected to have characteristics like:

  • Advanced education and expertise
  • Membership to professional bodies
  • Implicit adoption of that organisation’s ethics
  • Commitment to continual professional development and learning
  • Sense of responsibility to the wider public
  • Consistent exercise of discretion and judgement

Qualified or not

Professionals would have a qualification, an accreditation and/or certification. Let’s look at the definitions to be clear:

Qualification – A learning outcome as a result of formal tuition. Diplomas, Degrees and post-graduate degrees in Project Management are available from Training Institutions or at Universities and Business Schools nationally in your country or even internationally.

Accreditation – Recognition provided to a candidate in accordance with the criteria of a specific organisation or institution typically based on a combination of knowledge and demonstrated ability.

Certification – Certification is often needed to work in some trades. It usually means an individual has passed a trade test administered by a recognised authority. Possessing a certificate of completion of a course is typically not the same as being certified.  Examples of popular certifications are PMP, Prince2 and Agile Practitioner.

Registration – A Professional Registration gives a license to operate and to practice within a scope of operation and to take responsibility for the work. It provides authority to perform a certain scope of work without supervision. The registration is typically a statutory requirement.

Designation – In some countries a designation is a job title. It’s the title conferred by a recognised professional body that could be statutory or non-statutory, based on certain criteria defined by the professional body.

What are the benefits of achieving a qualification or certification?

Both an individual and the organisation they work for should benefit from an individual achieving a project management qualification or certification. Dependent upon the nature of the organisation and its business, some of the key potential benefits are as follows:

Benefits to the organisation:

  • Best-practice knowledge, skills, tools and techniques acquired through the training necessary to achieve a qualification are deployed back in the work place.
  • Improved capability and competence to deliver an organisation’s programmes or projects, resulting in increasing customer satisfaction and reputation, saving costs, utilising resources more effectively and positively impacting morale.
  • Supports individuals with their personal and career development planning. This in turn can result in increased appreciation of, and commitment to the organisation, by the individual.
  • Catalyses improvements to an organisation’s own project or programme management methods and processes through gaining an understanding of best-practice.
  • Enhances the credibility of the organisation to own clients and customers through having project or programme staff that have achieved externally recognised certification or qualification.
  • External recognition of an individual’s project management knowledge and capabilities indicating a core level of embedded understanding, which is then likely to be applied back in the work place.

Benefits to the individual:

  • Provides the individual with additional and portable knowledge, skills, tools and techniques in order to be more successful in managing and delivering projects or programmes.
  • Enhances career development prospects through having achieved an externally recognized qualification or certification.
  • Demonstrates to the employer, the individual’s desire, commitment and capabilities to learn and improve themselves, and thus improving an individual’s reputation within the organisation.
  • Provides an external industry-wide benchmark of an individual’s project management knowledge and competence.

 

One of the biggest compliments a professional project manager can receive, is when stakeholders (customers) call you back by name to do additional projects for them.

It is my belief that you are only as good as your last project; therefore project managers should always strive to be professional and competent on every project, since you never know if it is your last…

Please comment and share if you have had good experiences with ‘last’ projects.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...