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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Talent Crisis : Dealing with scarcity of Project Management Skills among Management Graduates

India - the developing economy. There is big push for urban and rural infrastructure development throughout the sub-continent. A year back there are around  600+ public sector infra projects undergoing with an whopping estimate of over 150 crores.

50% of project failure is traced to poor (or no) project management:
  • Bad estimates/deadlines
  • Scope changes
  • Poor resource planning

In India, Educated but Unemployable Youths; Graduates Finds Schools Don’t Foster Skills Needed for Fast-Changing Economy

Only 25 per cent of our engineering graduates, 15 per cent of our finance and accounting professionals and 10 per cent of professionals with any kind of degrees, in India, are suitable for working in multinational companies.
Only one in four engineering graduates in India is employable, based on their technical skills, English fluency, teamwork and presentation skills and of the 4 lakh odd engineering graduates, who graduate each year, only about 20% is good enough for India Inc
Only 25 per cent of our engineering graduates, 15 per cent of our finance and accounting professionals and 10 per cent of professionals with any kind of degrees, in India, are suitable for working in multinational companies.

Solution - CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management)

• CAPM certification is an unique positioning for students. It acts as a passport to industry.

The Institutes which offer job ready courses for the students gets better pull at the time of registrations. Positioning of PM as industry ready course is one of the key pitch to the students.

Better Placement / Hiring Proposition

Since a CAPM certification is one of the key job skill the prospective organizations pick up people who are better equipped with work- ready skills.

Unique Opportunity for Institutions, as there are very few institutes which has PM syllabus per PMBOK. PM practice in industry is as per PMBOK.

Information Sources:
McKinsey and Company
PWC Survey
May 2011 Flash Report Min of Statistics & Programme Implementation
Source: FICCI Study : Project Management in India, Insights from Six Key Sectors
Project Management Institute PMI

7 important things to know about PMP


1. PMP is industry agnostic and the acquired knowledge can be applied to any industry sector

2. Getting PMP certification may not yield any (substantial) gains but not going for it have its own woes 

3. The PMBOK provides excellent coverage of PM discipline. The subject matter coverage is superior than PRINCE2.  Though both have different application areas and philosophy thus direct comparison may not be possible

4. Some people say its theoretical and boring but its not when you start co-relating the real world experience. Its very much applied skill which can be applied everywhere.

5. Whatever you learn from PM preparation not necessarily you will able to apply in real life, but not knowing the PM knowledge areas could put you in jeopardy 
6. While embarking on PMP journey, the very first thing one should do is, "Prepare a PMP Project Plan"
7. Exam is all about testing and validating professional PM experience

Disclosures - PMP is a trademark of Project Management Institute

Friday, June 22, 2012

Importance of Test Simulators in Passing PMP Exam

By Makarand Vinod Hardas, MBA, PMP

PMP Test simulators are one of the important and unavoidable milestones in the PMP preparation. By and large most of aspirants touch this milestone en-route to the final destination. Looking at various forum posts and mock test scores, it seems candidates preparing for exam using simulator gains more confidence after 2-3 mock exams.  
The matter of fact is, the time, money and energy involved in passing the PMP exam is substantial. The project which has high value at stake must be pragmatically and systematically planned for the success. As part of the prep process to pass the exam , there are various steps which need to be considered . The PMP prep is like any other project, it also has various types of risks which certainly warrants prioritization and what-if analysis by the aspirant -

  • What if, I fail ?
  • What if,  I can not complete all 200 questions?
  • What if, I could not maintain the momentum
  • What if, I do not get the time to review questions, which were marked for review
  • Breaks during exam will help to improve the efficiency or will lose the momentum.  
  • In spite of reading the PMBOK and other books few times, one cannot figure out the type of questions would you face during your PMP exam?
  • How will be the look and feel of final exam software?
  • How I will be able to manage to answer 200 questions in 240 minutes?
  • Will I able to handle the long tough situational, time consuming and confusingly wordy questions?

Responses to the Risk

The good news is all above risk can be mitigated or managed by opting for a  good question bank and PMP exam simulators. Now to address above risks that an aspirant may face before appearing for the PMP exam the simulator comes very handy. PMP simulators is the software which keeps close proximity to user interface, functionality and user experience which is available at Prometric centre while writing the PMP exam. There are many vendors who offers and claim to have same kind of user experience like an aspirant get at Prometric entre. Though there are many software which have very close experience to Prometric centre but no one has exactly same. The bottom line here is, the very purpose of any simulator should be to prepare aspirant for the final exam by throwing the toughest possible questions on all knowledge areas. That invokes  the deep analytical and logical thinking to answer the questions while keeping the time constraints in the hindsight.

Now to put names brainbok, pmzilla are few among several others good simulators with quality questions. As mentioned earlier, simulators will benefit you in preparing well for the final exam and there is no downside only upside. PMFastrack from RMC is another good software which works offline. 

The smart and hard study with the effective usage of test simulators along with feedback loop in place could work wonders for aspirant. Good preparation for 8 to 9 weeks followed by around 4 to 6 tests from different sources within 2 to 3 weeks time could give you the required confidence to pass the final exam in first attempt with the caveat that aspirant score consistently around 80% in each test. 

Caveat Emptor
Please note that this is a generalize statement and observation based on LL's from various candidates who has passed the PMP in first attempt and does not necessarily hold true for every individual due to various environmental factors and unique traits and personalities. I would  advice aspirant to effectively use this information for reference / guidance only and form your own plan for the final exam.

Happy Preparation!

Friday, June 8, 2012

When to Take The First Mock Exam?

By Makarand V Hardas, MBA, PMP

 Mock exam plays vital role and one of the key element while preparing for PMP. There are several benefits in taking mock exams and most of the times test scores act as a confidence boosters, if taken at right time. Yes it’s very important when you take the mock exam.

I know few people who have passed the PMP exam without taking any mock exam, well that’s not really a point of discussion here.  In my opinion, it’s an essential ingredient and would like to be in the favor of taking mock exam as part of the preparation.
There are several mock exams available with varied quality and standard. It’s better to take mock exam from multiple sources.

Being human there is a natural tendency to see where one stand as of now during the study and its natural to look back how much distance is covered and how much more to travel and mock exams acts as milestones in this journey.

The preparation process starts with training to earn 35 PDU to become eligible for PMP. Most of the times there is a gap of few months to a year between training and actual exam. Thus in order to get prepared, it becomes apparently important to refresh the concepts, knowledge and solve few mock exams.

Many times PMP aspirants go for mock exams quite early in the preparation and it’s kind of mistake because though by experience we know many things but when it comes to answering the questions one need to be in different mode and follow the PMBOK’ism to answer the question. Poor score due to non-preparation or premature attempts to mock exam could make you feel frustrated and could make you disoriented as well. Upside is you will realize where you stand and how far you need to go.

In my opinion before taking any mock exam one has to read the PMBOK (All Chapters + Appendix) at least once and one more book. There are several PM concepts which are not being practiced in day to day work, which has to be understood well and visualized. Example : Per PMBOK, there are several conflict resolution techniques which a PM needs to apply based on the given situation. Most of the PM’s though follow some/all of them but when answering questions one must know the formal terms. Such holes can be easily plugged with the formal study.

The first round of reading sets the base for entire journey toward PMP, second reading (may be from other book) makes the concepts concrete.

List of things to do before taking First full mock exam: 
  • Make the prep plan
  • Have at least one round of reading of PMBOK and one more book
  • Ensure you have good insight into PMBOK page 43
  • Read and understand ITTO’s thoroughly, until you see the logical connection or process interactions
  • There are several resources available like quiz, flashcards for ITTO’s. Go for them, it works 
  • Develop the good fundamentals around numerical problems from
  •  knowledge areas like Time, Cost, Quality, Communication, Procurement, Risk
  • Try solving minimum 15-20 numerical on each type. This will help to acquire you the required speed in number crunching.
  • Many times we don’t need to derive the final answer with practice you will able to identify the right answer without going till the end.
  • Take knowledge area wise
  •  practice questions and then go for process group level
  • Steps 1-9, will bring you to the logical conclusion of preparation. You are now ready for FIRST mock exam.
Its good practice to review questions you got wrong and do some power reading around those before appearing for the next mock exam. This iterative approach will set your mind frame in the right tone and with every next set of exam questions, your natural instinct will help to reach out to the best answer.

All the Best!

Friday, May 25, 2012

PMP Curtain Raiser

By Makarand V Hardas, MBA, PMP

This blog may be useful for fresh PMP aspirants, who are just about to begin and would like to pursue for PMP certification. Blog sets the foundation for aspirant to get familiar with various PMP basic process and knwoledge areas. Happy reading.

What is PMP?

     PMI Stands for Project Management Institute.
     Vital and forward thinking – focused on the needs of project management professionals worldwide; that’s the Project Management Institute of today. Long been acknowledged as a pioneer in the field and now membership represents a truly global community with more than 200,000 professionals, representing 125 countries.
     PMI professionals come from virtually every major industry including, aerospace, automotive, business management, construction, engineering, financial services, information technology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and telecommunications.
     PMP Stands for Project Management Professional
     PMP is one of the several certificate course offered by PMI. Others are CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management), PgPM (Program Management Professional), OPM3 (Organizational Project Management Maturity Model)
     For more details on PMP & PMI please visit,

What are Pre-Requisites ?

     Bachelor’s degree or Global Equivalent
     Minimum of 3 years (36 months) unique non overlapping professional project management experience during which at least 4500 hours are spent leading and directing project tasks.
     35 contact hours of formal project management education

What is the exam format?

     The PMP examination is comprised of 200 competency-based, multiple-choice questions. Of the 200 questions, 25 are considered pretest questions. Pretest questions do not affect the candidate’s score and are used in examinations as an effective and legitimate way to test the validity of future examination questions. The pretest questions are randomly placed throughout the exam.

     The exam is constructed based on the PMP Examination Specification. The Exam Specification details the percentage of questions that are contained in each process group. The following reflects the percentage of questions in each of the performance domains:
  •         Initiation, 11 percent
  • Planning, 23 percent
  • Executing, 27 percent
  • Monitoring and Controlling, 21 percent
  • Closing, 9 percent
  • Professional and Social Responsibility, 9 percent 

– The allotted time to complete the examination is four hours. The examination is preceded by a 15-minute computer tutorial, which is not part of the allotted four hours.

What is PMBOK?

The Project Management Book of Knowledge contains three main sections, they are

  •  The Project Management Framework
  •  The Project Management Process Group
  •  The Project Management Knowledge Area

Additionally, you are expected to study and adhere to Project Management Professional Code of conduct and Professional and Social Responsibility.

Project Management Framework

This subject covers the following topic :

      Definition of Project & Project Management

      General management knowledge & skills

      Interpersonal skills

      Programs and Program Management, Portfolio Management, Sub Projects

      PMO – Project Management Office

      The Project Life Cycle, Product Life Cycle

      Project Stakeholders

      Organizational System & Structure

Illustration - 1

Though the project manager had made a perfect project schedule for Training, Paul managed to reach Shanghai instead of Beijing.

The manager evaluated that, it could lead to a delay of 2 days in start of the training at Beijing and incur a loss of $2500 per day.

What decision the manager should take to ensure the training is completed and hence the project?

Project Management Knowledge Area

This subject covers the following topic :

      Project Integration Management

      Project Scope Management

      Project Time Management

      Project Cost Management

      Project Quality Management

      Project Human Resource Management

      Project Communication Management

      Project Risk Management

      Project Procurement Management

Project Management Process Group

Select project

Create Scope Statement & scope management plan

Execute the project plan

Integrated change control

Procurement audits

Determine project objectives

Determine project team

Manage project progress

Project performance reporting

Product verification

Determine high level deliverables, time & cost estimates

Create WBS

Complete work packages or tasks

Performance reporting

Formal acceptance

Determine high level constraints & assumptions

Finalize the team & create resource management plan

Distribute information

Scope change control

Lessons learned

Determine business need

Create WBS dictionary

Quality assurance

Quality control

Update records

Develop product description

Define responsibilities of the project manager

Create Network Diagram

Team development

Risk monitoring & control

Archive records

Determine high-level resource requirements

Estimate time & costs

Progress meetings

Schedule control

Release resources

Finalize project charter

Determine Critical path

Cost control

Develop Schedule & schedule management plan

Scope verification

Develop Budget

Manage by exception to the project plan

Create Communications Management Plan

Ensure compliance with plans

Create Quality Management Plan

Reassess plans

Risk management planning, identification, qualification, quantification & response planning

Take corrective action

Create procurement management plan

Create stakeholder management plan

Create project control plan

Develop formal project plan

Gain formal project plan approval

Hold kickoff meeting

Sample Questions -

Question # 1: Which of the following is not the feature of a project?
          1 Constrained by limited resources

          2 Planned, executed and controlled

          3 Creates unique product or service

          4 May be ongoing and repetitive

Question # 2: What are the Process Groups in Project Management?

1 Concept, Initiating, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, Closing

          2 Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, Closing

          3 Initiating, Verifying, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, Closing

          4 Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling, Administrative Closure

Hope this will help you get some direction and traction in order to pursue for the PMP certification.

In coming few days I will try to put few more posts on how to prepare for Exam according to each knowledge area. Stay tuned ..

PMI, PMP, CAPM, PMBOK, PM Network and the PMI Registered Education Provider logo are registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Special Note: With a due credit to Mr Sriram Iyengar, PMP who has encouraged me for the PMP certification. The original article belongs to him and this is tailored version of original article.