Expert Advices on Clearing the PMP Exam in First Attempt

Although PMP is the most desirable certification amongst project management professionals yet obtaining PMP certification is not easy for many of them. For some it’s almost impossible to crack the examination, but for others it’s very easy. Its all about understanding the expectations of PMI.  Those who can crack this code can clear the PMP exam in their first attempt. Following are a few suggestions for professionals who are preparing for the PMP examination.

PMP Is Not Theory Rather Its Practical

The biggest misconception about PMP is that it is all about theory. Those who have cleared the PMP examination can very well vouch that it’s all about practicality, it’s all about how a successful project manager will handle the situation you are handling right now. PMP teachings are purely based on successful practices being used across the world by the most successful project managers. As a PMP certified project manager the ability to handle the situations will be at par with the various successful project managers across the world. Two different PMP professionals in different parts of the world will handle a similar situation given to them in a similar fashion. This indicates that PMP is all about practicality and not theory.

It’s Never Too Early Or Late

Those want to take PMP examination should do it immediately after completing 35 Contract hours training. Most of the people, after completing the Contract hour training do not appear for the examination as it’s too early; the same people will not appear for the examination after some time as it’s too late.  Upon completion of 35 contract hours training, two to three weeks self-study is more than enough for clearing the examination. The biggest is that you book your examination date and prepare yourself for the exam instead preparing for the examination and then booking that date.

Listen To The Advice

Listen to the advices of your trainer and those who have cleared the examination in the past, their advice would be more practical as they have been through the same situation while preparing for their examination. By doing this, it is most likely that you will not waste your time making mistakes.

Follow Your Instinct

While booking the examination date or which material to be referred it is recommended to follow your own instinct. Most of the students follow the advisors or examples of other students. Your workload, study style and preparedness for the examination might be different from others, hence all decisions about your examination should be yours and not others.

Practice Makes Perfection

For those who want to clear the examination in their first attempt, it is advised practice mockup examinations as much as possible. These examinations and questions are exactly in line with the real PMP examination conducted by PMI, therefore these mockup examinations help the candidate appear for the final examination. Another big aspect of these mockup examinations is it helps to manage the time. It has been observed that many of the candidates who do not practice mockup examinations miserably fail to manage their time in the real examination and cannot complete the entire set of questions. Therefore, it is recommended to practice the mockup examination as many times as possible before appearing in the final examination until you are confident about your performance, this gives a guarantee that the candidate can clear the examination in their first attempt.

Never Repeat Other’s Mistakes

While attending classroom training or preparing yourself for the examination it is recommended to have a regular discussion with those who are appearing for the examination or who have cleared the PMP examination. This will help you to understand what to do and what not, special attention is needed to focus on the mistakes being made by others; learn from the mistakes and try not to repeat them.

Correlation To The Real Time Projects

PMI intention is to check on how you would handle a problem while working on a project and hence most of the PMP questions are real-time project issues. Candidates are thus recommended to correlate these questions with their projects and put themselves as a project manager and then try to solve the problem and the solution to the problem would be the answer to the question.

Keep It Simple

Unlike many person belief, PMP exam is very simple if you keep it simple. One should understand that if he or she is eligible to appear for the PMP examination it means he or she has got enough knowledge and experience to handle a project. It is important to realign your experience and knowledge with the PMI recommended practices. If you can align your knowledge and experience with the PMI recommended practices it is very simple and easy for you to crack the examination.

PMP Certification Is Not The End

 Now that you are ready to appear for the PMP examination, one thing which you need to understand is that PMP certification is not the end and many certifications from PMI are available. These certifications will enhance your knowledge and will help you to take you to the next level of your career.

What PMP Aspirants Must Know About Stakeholders Management

Stakeholders management is one of the vital part of project management. Definition of stakeholders itself tells us the importance of stakeholders in any of the project and their importance in the success of the projects.

“Stakeholder is any individual, group or organisation that can affect, affected by or perceive itself to be affected by project”


Stakeholders management is a vast field and can be divided into the following stages, in order to achieve a better implementation of stakeholder management plan:

Stakeholders Identification:

this is one of the most important stage in the stakeholder management process. Identification of relevant stakeholders is like foundation stone for stakeholders management process. Listing of a stakeholder who has the least influence on the project may lead to waste of time and efforts and will affect the project progress adversely. On the other hand, missing an important stakeholder will lead to multiple changes in the project at a later stage which could cost extra budget or extra time to the project. Therefore, it is recommended to carry out a thorough exercise while identifying the stakeholders for a particular project. PMI ® recommend various methodologies and process for better identification of stakeholders. Timing of the stakeholder identification also plays a vital role in the success of the project. Early identification is always recommended for project managers, as late involvement of stakeholders always leads to time and cost overrun to the projects.

Stakeholders Engagement:

Next step in the stakeholder management process is the engagement of already identified stakeholders. Stakeholder engagement could be official, formal, written or verbal. Selection of the mode of communication with stakeholders purely depends on the category of the stakeholders. Stakeholders which are important to the project or having an influence on the project need to be dealt accordingly through official and more of formal communications, whereas, other stakeholders can be dealt informally or verbally.

Stakeholders Expectations:

Once identified and engaged it is important to understand the expectations of the stakeholders. Clear understanding of their expectations will help shaping the project in the early stage, rather meeting their expectation towards end of the project, which may end up extra cost and extra time to the project. It is always recommended to record the stakeholder expectations in some or other form of documentation. Documentation of stakeholder expectation is an essential record for resolving any dispute or potential dispute with the stakeholders during the life of the project.

Managing Stakeholders Expectations:

After the identification of stakeholders, engagement of stakeholders, understanding their expectations; the most difficult task for a project manager is to manage their expectations. Management of stakeholder’s expectation will help project manager to avoid any future dispute respective stakeholders. In case of any dispute with the stakeholders, any such dispute should be resolved in the better interest of the project rather than stakeholder’s interest.

In order to manage stakeholders effectively, it is important to classify them in to manageable categories. One of the most popular classification could be based on the power of the stakeholder and their interest in the project. This classification is based on various combination of power and interest of the stakeholders.

1. Stakeholders with high power and high interest should be managed with the utmost care.
2. Stakeholders with high power and low interest should be kept satisfied.
3. Stakeholders with low power and high interest should be kept informed.
4. Stakeholders with low power and low interest requires less effort than the rest only be monitored.

All About PMP® Exam Update

PMI® has announced that starting 1st July 2020, the PMP® exam will reflect new content and the last day to take the current version of the exam will be 30th June 2020.

The new exam content outline was published by PMI® on 30th June 2019.
In this context, this article focus on providing complete insight on the following topics.

1. Why the Exam is Changing?
2. What you can expect in the new version of the exam?
3. Exam updation Vs PMBOK® Guide updation?
4. Is the exam becoming more difficult?
5. How to prepare for the new version of the exam?

1.  Why is the Exam changing?

PMP® credential recognizes an individual’s ability to manage projects. It proves you have the specific skills and experience in leading and directing projects that employers seek. So PMI®, regularly updates Exam content outline in order to keep up with the emerging trends of projects and to retain PMP® relevant to the growing expectation of the employer and to ensure it reflects accurately the practices of the project management practitioner. PMI® conducts Role Delineation Study (RDS) or Job Task Analysis (JTA) to update the examination content outline.

So updation of PMP® examination is not something new. This usually happens at an interval of 3 to 5 years.

2. What are the changes?

2. a Change 1: Three domains instead of five domains.

The current exam content outline focused on five domains, viz., Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling and closing. Each domain contains tasks, knowledge and skills required to competently perform the tasks, that are measured through the PMP® certification process.

The Exam content outline for July 2020 consists of three domains viz., People, Process and Business environment, which in turn consists of tasks and enablers.

What is a Domain, Task and Enabler?

So we can say that the current exam content outline to a greater extent reflects the process domain, whereas the updated one equally emphasize on team building, managing team, engaging stakeholders and increased focus on addressing internal and external business environment.

2.b Change 2: Predictive and Agile/Hybrid Approach

50% of the questions will represent predictive project management and other half will represent agile or hybrid approaches. Predictive, agile and hybrid approaches will be found throughout the three domain areas listed above and are not isolated to any particular domain or task.

Predictive Vs Agile Project Management approach

Predictive project management methodology is otherwise called traditional or waterfall methodology. Predictive approach would suit if the project’s scope is determined early and that do not require frequent changes in schedule or cost as well. On the other hand, agile project management approach accounts for evolving scope and focus on continuous releases.

Project managers should choose appropriately choose the project approach based on the nature of the project.

3. PMBOK® Guide Vs PMI® exam content outline updation

There is a general misconception among the PMP® aspirants, that PMP® is an examination completely based on application knowledge of PMBOK® Guide. This may be because most of the PMP ® preparatory training institutes / instructors are not referring to exam content outline during the session, instead their concentration is completely on PMBOK® Guide

PMBOK® Guide is not the syllabus for PMP® Exam. It is the Exam Content Outline that serves as the syllabus of the examination.PMP® exam questions are mapped against the PMP Examination Content Outline and not the syllabus. PMBOK® Guide is a go-to reference book. But the exam isn’t based on it alone.
The PMBOK guide will be updated every four years. The last updated version (PMBOK® sixth edition) was released in SEP 2017. So we can expect the next updated version to be released on 2021 or 2022. Hence PMBOK® guide sixth edition is still a valid reference and one can use it as primary reference material, even after July 2020.

4. Is the exam becoming more difficult?

Relatively Yes. It is still 200 questions, 4hrs exam. But what could make the exam more difficult is the volume of material to be referred. At least a fair preparation on Agile Practice Guide in addition to PMBOK® Guide becomes mandatory.

Secondly you should be able solve questions considering two or more different scenarios, namely predictive, agile or hybrid project environment. This requires in depth comparative study as well.

But if your training institute or instructor provide you with appropriate materials, transition becomes smooth

5. What should you do next, if you are planning to take the exam on or after July 2020?

If you are preparing to take the exam after July 2020, then we would suggest the following

1. Review the updated Exam Content Outline thoroughly.
2. Use PMBOK® 6th edition as the primary reference material. Map the Exam content outline with PMBOK® guide 6th edition and give more emphasis on those topics.
3. Do go through Agile Practice Guide carefully that comes as a complimentary copy with PMBOK®.
4. Take mock exam that gives emphasize on the updated domains and tasks

Other reference materials for the updated Exam Content Outline

1.Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling
Author: Harold Kerzner
Publisher: Wiley

2.Effective Project Management: Traditional, Agile, Extreme, Hybrid
Author: Robert K. Wysocki
Publisher: Wiley

3.Fundamentals of Technology Project Management, 2nd Edition
Author: Colleen Garton with Erika McCulloch
Publisher: MC Press

4.Project Managers Portable Handbook, 3rd Edition
Author: David Cleland and Lewis Ireland
Publisher: McGraw-Hill

5.Information Technology Project Management, 7th Edition
Author: Kathy Schwalbe
Publisher: Cengage Learning

6.Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process
Author: Kenneth S. Rubin
Publisher: Addison-Wesley

7.The Project Management Tool Kit: 100 Tips and Techniques for Getting the Job Done Right
Author: Tom Kendrick
Publisher: AMACOM

Agile Project Management an Overview

Businesses have always been susceptible to change, but today’s world experience much stronger winds of change and they are constantly changing its direction. Spurred on by the need to adapt to this ever-changing environment, organizations adopt flexible technologies, flexible management methodologies and predominantly flexible mindset.

The concept of Agile also is one such adaptation that arose as a response to rapid change, growing complexity and the shift in power in the marketplace from the producer to the consumer.

Meaning, Definition and Origin of agile

The word agile or agility has been derived from the Latin word ‘agilis’. The dictionary meaning of agile is or agility is to move/ think quickly and easily. In the business world, agility means adaptability, flexibility, continuous improvement and balance.

1. Adaptability: Adapt quickly to market changes
2. Flexibility: Respond rapidly and flexible to customer demands
3. Continuous improvement: continuously be at a competitive advantage by optimizing your processes
4. Balance: Adapt and lead change in a productive and cost-effective way without compromising quality

The term agile was popularized by the “Manifesto for Agile Software Development” (or simply Agile Manifesto) in 2001. Nevertheless, many organizations have been practising various tools, techniques, methods of what is called today as ‘agile’ even before the founding of “Agile Manifesto”

Agile Manifesto:

In Feb 2001, 17 thought leaders of the software industry, in an endeavour to find an alternative to documentation driven, heavyweight software development processes convened at Utah, U.S.
They formalised the agile movement with the publication of Manifesto for Agile Software Development.
Based on their combined experience of developing software and helping others do that, the seventeen signatories to the manifesto proclaimed the following 4 values.

© 2001, the Agile Manifesto authors

Some of the authors formed the Agile Alliance, a non-profit organization that promotes software development according to the manifesto’s values and principles.

Is agile suitable for only IT/ software projects?

We explained that although the term became popular after founding agile manifesto, the concept had been in application in various names in various industries.

The values, principles outlined in agile manifesto, in the past decade has spread to many industries and are tailor made to their organizational/ project requirement.

It is worth noting, agile approach can be applied at various level viz., Enterprise level, Project Level, Product Level, Process level.

Hence irrespective of the industry, products and projects agile principles, methods, tools can be appropriately tailor-made and applied. In fact, Agile is a mindset rather than Just a Methodology. This Agile mindset includes both

1. operational agility (making the existing business better) and
2. strategic agility (generating new products and services and so bringing in new customers)

Agile Software Development Vs Agile Project Management?

To elaborate further let’s compare agile software development and agile project management. Agile project management focuses on the overall management of the project. Agile product development, on the other hand, focuses on engineering activities associated with the project’s product, be it a software product or construction or automotive product. Agile software development hence falls under product development category. The goal of agile software development is to develop excellent quality, sustainable software faster and easier. Requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organising, cross-functional teams, customers and end-users. It follows an iterative approach and relies on continuous feedback from business users.

Agile in software development is an umbrella term that denotes various frameworks and practices under it.

Agile project management goes beyond software development. This involves implementing agile approaches at a project level and geared toward project managers and team members adapting to an agile approach in planning and executing projects involving high uncertainty. As high uncertainty projects may span across industries, again agile project management can be used in any industry.

How does it differ from traditional project management?

Despite the industrial buzz, some organizations or projects continue to use traditional approaches. Traditional Project Management, otherwise called the waterfall method involves the bulk of planning upfront and then executing the phases/ processes more or less sequentially. Hence the traditional approach is usually termed as a plan-driven approach.

Agile project management approach, being designed for high uncertain projects, with unclear scope in the beginning, involves frequent iterations, continuous feedback from stakeholders and deliver more often incrementally to avoid rework or waste. It is a change driven approach.

It should be important to highlight that introducing agility into your projects does not mean replacing your current processes. Projects often combine elements of traditional and agile approaches, in the proportion required for the project. In other words, most projects use a hybrid approach rather than the extremes.

How to master agile project management methodology?

“The bridge between knowledge and skill is practice. The bridge between skill and mastery is time.” says Jim Bouchard.

At the outset, it is essential to start with acquiring knowledge on agile project management, its tools, practices and start implementing one by one in your projects without trying to completely transform the approach.

To start with, we recommend you to go through PMI’s (Project Management Institute) ® Agile Practice Guide. This guide is a collaborative effort of PMI and Agile Alliance ®

This guide introduces agile approach, compares it with other approaches, gives light on agile practices with suitable illustrations and cases.

Scaled Agile Framework Inc. (SAFe)® is another certification body that provide globally recognized standard and credential for agile approaches.

Upon gaining necessary knowledge and experience, we suggest you to attain credentials like PMI-ACP® or SAFe Agilist, hence it’s evident to the world that you are a skilful agile practitioner.

Lean and Six Sigma : Contradictory or Complementary

Shift from industrialization to globalization besides expanding markets for goods and services transcending borders, made the market much more competitive. Competitive pricing , superior quality, on time delivery has become a matter of necessity rather than choice for organizations today. Therefore emphasis on holy trinity of Quality, Cost and Delivery has become more important than ever.

Concurrently , over the past 50 years or so organizations have recognized the difference between production and productivity; the close linkage between productivity and quality.

“Quality, not quantity is key to productivity… route to increased productivity is by increasing quality” (Hart and Hart, 1989; Sumanth and Arora, 1992;)

This is a paradigm shift from More from More ( more raw materials and other resources to produce more) to More from Less ( using the resources efficiently to produce more).Improved productivity and high quality do not happen by accident or by chance. They are the result of a conscious, deliberate and continuous improvement.

The efforts of East and West worlds have bestowed us with variety of  process improvement / continuous improvement (CI) methodologies to achieve supreme quality with an internal and external focus.

Some are offshoots of another, some evolved from another, some are integrated approach and some share common goals and tools as well.

This write- up discuss about the two most popular methodologies viz., Six Sigma and Lean.

Six Sigma : Origin, Meaning and Principles

Origin :

During 1980s , under the leadership of Bob Galvin, Bill Smith (who often referred to as Father of Six Sigma ), Mikel Harry, Motorola devised Six Sigma Methodology to standardize defect measurement and drive improvement in manufacturing. However the field of statistics itself –upon which many of Sigma’s tools are based- has been around for much longer.

Following the  success of Motorola, Six sigma became a buzzword in the Management Scene. Companies like IBM, Xerox, took on board Six Sigma philosophy, principles, practices and tools. Six Sigma changed the DNA of General Electrics.

Meaning of Six Sigma:

Six Sigma is a disciplined, statistical-based, data-driven approach and continuous improvement methodology for reducing process variation eliminating defects in a product, process or service.

The etymology is based on the Greek symbol “sigma” or “σ,” a statistical term for measuring process deviation from the process mean or target. A six sigma process has a process mean (average) that is six standard deviations from the nearest specification limit (USL or LSL).

This provides enough buffer between the process natural variation and the specification limits.This indicates the process is well under control.

Lean and Six Sigma Comparison

An Integrated Model : Lean Six Sigma

The story of Lean Six Sigma started with fight but ended in marriage. After numerous debates of arguing which is better : Lean or Six Sigma ?, some  practitioners, realizing the cohesions between these two methods, came up with an idea of integrating the two methodologies and bring about synergetic results out of the integration. Hence Lean Six Sigma was born.

This integration does not only complement each other but also solves the limitation of each other. Practitioners use this integrated model to  identify different types of deficiency and eliminate them by using appropriate combination of tools.

Usually the implementation starts with application of simple, yet logical Lean tools first. Upon eliminating waste, bringing a flow in the processes, remaining problems are addressed using more sophisticated tools of Six Sigma.

Speed  +    Accuracy =  Lean Six Sigma

Lean                                   Six Sigma 

Integrating Lean and Six Sigma presents us with the following benefits

  1. Greater process stability with increased speed.
  1. Increased scope of problem solving and flexibility to use variety of tools.
  1. Increases cross functional team work.
  1. Combines bottom- up (Lean) and top-down approach( Six Sigma)

Hence, integrating Lean Six Sigma instead of disputing is a better option. However it is essential to address to the challenges such as ensuring sponsor’s commitment throughout the project, bringing an “welcome problem” culture, managing resistance to change etc., to  achieve sustainable results.