4 Reasons Why Medical Coding Is A Promising Career

4 Reasons Why Medical Coding Is A Promising Career

1. Vital Service yet with Lower Stress

Health care sector like any other sector has undergone drastic changes. Surge of healthcare customers on one hand and increased expectation of quality and efficient healthcare service on other hand, has made the medical coding and billing occupation crucial.

Medical coders and biller by assigning appropriate codes to medical procedures ensure that the healthcare providers receives appropriate compensation, while helping the patient to receive the right benefit from the insurance companies.

Without this profession, healthcare providers may not be reimbursed or incur hefty fines  or face competitive disadvantage due to insufficient patient care.

Moreover if you want to work in medical field without getting into the dire business of dealing with blood, medical coding and billing is definitely a wise choice.  As a medical coder or biller you are away from clinical visits or direct contact with patients, yet provide them this essential service while dealing with medical professionals and enjoy a rewarding career in healthcare. Most of the time of medical coder and biller will be spent in computers, assigning codes, organizing and reviewing statements and bills , ensuring accuracy and quality.

2. Quick Turnaround yet with Lucrative Salary

Most medical professions usually require numerous years of education that requires high investment. To become a medical coder, it does not takes years and years of study. Most of the medical coding training programs are only for 3-6 months. In less than a year, one can become a certified medical coder. Medical Coding courses in Dubai  are on the rise , that one can sign up to kick start their medical coding career.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median medical billing and coding salary in the United States is $44,090. According to Economic Research Institute The average salary range for a Medical Coder is between in UAE ranges between  AED 100,671 and AED 165,250 per annum.

Post Pandemic trend for medical coding and billing profession is positive. New Medical Coding and Medical Billing vacancies are added almost every day in UAE and the opportunities are bright particularly for certified coders.

However certified professionals with experience earn more.

According to the 2020 Healthcare Salary Survey:

  • Coders with one certification earn an average of $57,646 per year
  • Those with two certifications earn an average of $63,085 per year
  • Those with three or more credentials earn an average of $68,589 per year

3. Advancing Career yet with Stable Tenure

The field of medical coding is increasing at a faster rate, which is expected to grow up to 15 % in 2024.Besides there are many paths one can take in the medical coding career.

One can take entry level position like physician coder, Insurance claims specialist, collection specialist, risk adjustment coder, medical records clerk.

After gaining few years of experience in entry level position, one can opt intermediate level positions such as Coding supervisor, specialty coder, coding educator, coding auditor, Quality controller.

Professionals can further advance their career in management and leadership positions.

In the middle management level , one can grow to become Coding Manager, Compliance Auditor, Revenue Cycle Manager, Fraud Investigator . Further at a senior leadership level, one can assume bigger roles such as Coding Director, HIM Director, Operations Director. Hence medical coding with its diversified opportunities is a stable and a long term career.

Certified Medical coders with one or more generic certifications such AAPC’s CPC ( Certified Professional Coder), AHIMA’s CCS ( Certified Coding Specialist)  and specialty certifications such as medical coding for cardiology, Ambulatory surgical center, Dermatology, Ophthalmology, Urology etc., are more in demand. The demand and supply gap for certified medical coders is approximately 40% and has increased significantly over the last year.

Many institutes offer medical coding courses in Dubai that facilitates both the novice and experienced medical coders to climb the next level in the profession

You could also work as a medical biller and coder and use your knowledge of medical terminology and the healthcare system to help as you return to school to earn a degree in data management, nursing, and even pre-med and beyond.

Also increased automation in medical coding or billing is not a threat but an opportunity. Human intervention like definitely required as interpretations are required in the grey areas, as every interaction between a provider and patient is unique. Demand for specialty coders is on the rise

It has also opened new positions software developers for medical coding , project managers with medical coding knowledge, trainers, consultants etc.,

Healthcare is one of the sectors that has always been immune to economic downturn. This applies to medical coding and billing as well , as it is key to the smooth functioning of the revenue cycle in the healthcare sector

Many countries , particularly the economically advanced countries viz., US, Japan, China, UK see rising aging population. An aging population will mean more claims need to be submitted for reimbursement from insurance companies as more medical care is provided. Hence the demand for medical coders & billers is not expected to slow down in the near future.

4. Flexibility yet with Predictable Work Hours

Most healthcare jobs require the professionals to work long hours work during weekends or holidays. But in case of medical coding or billing, it  generally requires you to work only stipulated time like 8 to 9 hours a day. Besides hospitals, Medical coders and Billers are employed by government agencies, insurance agencies, educational institutions. Some medical coding professionals work in software companies to aid medical software development projects. These diversified professions increasingly employ medical coders and billers to work remotely from home. In such cases you are allowed to work on flexible timings yet with predictable schedule as long as the deadlines are met.

Recently there is a surge in remotely working medical coders and billers, as pandemic have led to the development in communication technology that gives more controllability and manageability over virtual workers.

Moreover the concept of telemedicine have led to increased access to health care, which in turn have opened new doors to medical coders or billers. Virtual Medicare or Telemedicine is transforming the health care environment. With change come challenges as well and to accommodate these changes, medical coding has undergone numerous updates in codes, reimbursement policies etc.,

These changes have increased the demand for expert medical coders who identify different denials, consultants who train the coding and billing team members, clinicians and who document at the point of service on the new updates. These professionals generally provides their services remotely.

FAQs on Medical Coding

FAQs on Medical Coding

1. What Is Medical Coding and What does Medical Coders do ?

Medical coding is the process of  translating important medical information into simple alphanumeric codes for the purpose of documenting medical records and medical billing accurately.

A medical coder is, in essence, a translator. Medical coders are responsible for carefully reviewing the patient’s file and translates everything from diagnosis to treatment from that file into universal alphanumerical codes required by insurance companies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes medical coders under “Medical Records and Health Information Technicians.”

2. Why Medical Coding service is required ?

When a medical service provider examines and treats a patient, the insurance company or the government provider requires to comprehend what were the medical procedures done in order to process the bill. Common language is not adequate to give the insurance company the accurate details it requires , therefore a set of specific codes has been established.

It’s the role of the medical coder to delve deep into patient data, diagnoses, medications, procedures, treatments, and transforms every bit of information into alphanumeric codes.

3.What kind of knowledge and skills are required to become a Medical Coder ?

  1. Knowledge on Medical Terminologies and Clinical Anatomy : A medical coder assign codes to represent different aspects in health care such as diagnoses, conditions and illnesses , medical procedures medications and equipment used. Hence sound knowledge in the above said elements are required understand the clinical documentation in order to apply right ICD and CPT Guidelines.
  2. Computer Skills : Organizations use various software applications and therefore it is essential for medical coders to be proficient in navigating these tools starting from generic applications like Microsoft office to specific medical coding applications like Epic, Centricity, AdvancedMD, Flash Code, Eclipse etc.,  It is also essential to have good typing speed .
  3. Meticulous and Organized :Attentive to details is a critical skill required for medical coders as error rate. Assignment of inapt alphanumeric codes can cause significant problems. Inaccurate assignment may lead to rejection of claims from the insurers or too little repayment. Medical coders will also juggle between various documents and reports during their work, therefore organization skills also play a key role
  4. Knowledge on Ethical standards :Medical coding professional will have access to patient’s private information. A Medical coder should adhere to policies and legal requirements regarding privacy, confidentiality, disclosure and security  of patient information. Hence its essential for the medical coder to have a good knowledge about local and international code of ethical standards and professional conduct ( e.g., Code of Ethics stated by AHIMA, AAPC, DHA etc.,)

4. How Medical coding is different from Medical billing ?

Although these two roles require many overlapping skillsets ,there are stark differences between these two professions. Following table elucidated the differences in their roles and responsibilities.

Medical Coding Medical Billing
Medical coding focuses more specifically on patient medical records, categorize the services and medications  and accurately  code

 

Involved in calculating, processing and submitting patients’ medical claims to insurance companies and government agencies for services rendered to the patient.
Applying CPT, ICD-10 CM, HCPCS standardized codes to patient records.Developing payment plan , prepare invoice ,follow up with patients, healthcare professionals, insurance companies and ensure the claims are paid accurately and quickly.
Perform medical chart audits when a claim is rejectedInvestigating rejected claims, verifying accuracy of standard healthcare codes applied by medical coders

5. Can a Non-Medical student or Non-Life Science student pursue Medical Coding career ?

Of course. Medical coding job is everyone as long as, one is well versed with the terminologies, standard and the process. Hence enrolling for a medical coding training and earning a certification will help one to kick start their career.

6. How is the demand and earnings for Medical Coder or Medical Biller in UAE ?

The medical coding market was valued at USD 15,259.67 million in 2020, and it is expected to reach USD 28,363.63 million by 2026, registering a CAGR of 10.93%, during the forecast period (Source: Medical Coding Market – Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts 2022 – 2027 )

Post Pandemic trend for medical coding and billing profession is positive. New Medical Coding and Medical Billing vacancies are added almost every day in UAE and the opportunities are bright particularly for certified coders. A person working as a Medical Coder in United Arab Emirates typically earns around 13,500 AED per month. Salaries range from 6,330 AED (lowest) to 21,300 AED (highest).

7. What kind of organizations hire Medical Coders and What are their career choices?

  1. Hospitals, Specialty Clinics, Doctor’s offices require medical coders to document patient information and assign codes to process billing and insurance claims.
  2. Health care Consulting Services requires medical coding professionals in variety of roles such as , to extract data from clinical documentation to assign codes, to conduct audits to prevent coding errors, troubleshooting or improving systems, contribute to IT projects to create healthcare software products etc.,
  3. Insurance agencies recruit medical coders to review the accuracy of the incoming claims and catch errors.
  4. Law firms often hire healthcare information specialists with a good medical coding knowledge to find coding discrepancies to determine whether the discrepancies have led to billing fraud.
  5. Opportunities for Medical coders to work as independent contractors are also on rise in the recent days.
  6. Educational institutions requires medical coding professional to train the next generation medical coders.

8. Can a medical coder work from home ?

Yes. A Medical coder can work from home as many organizations outsource their work or enables the professionals to work as independent contractors. According to the Health Information Management (HIM) Professional Census 2020, more than 50% of coders are fully remote now, and only 17% are entirely on-site. Presumably, the remaining 33% have a hybrid arrangement with their employer. Training and International certification in Medical coding assures credibility in the market and gains you more reputable clients.

9. Is it possible to get a Medical coding job without experience ?

Large Healthcare consulting service providers often Coders at various levels right from entry levels. Many Smaller organizations require entry level assistants for experienced Medical coders. To become a Medical coder with no experience, it is essential to acquire formal education like an associate degree or diploma in medical coding  or short-term training in medical coding and transcription. Attaining Medical coding certifications is a shorter route and   will help you get ahead of the competition. Certifications are well recognized  particularly in UAE.

10. What are the certifications in demand for Medical Coding ?

Global certifications in Medical coding offers many benefits like greater employability, higher pay, remote work opportunities, professional connections etc., Following are the Best  3 certifications in terms of global recognition.

  1. CPC – The Certified Professional Coder (CPC) accredited by the American Academy of Professional Coders.
  2. CCS – The Certified Coding Specialist accredited by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA),
  3. CBCS – Certified Billing and Coding Specialist accredited by the National Health career Association (NHA)

Most of the certifications requires renewal by continued education, thus guarantees the employer that the holder is updated in the field.
According to the 2020 Healthcare Salary Survey:

  1. Coders with one certification earn an average of $57,646 per year
  2. Those with two certifications earn an average of $63,085 per year
  3. Those with three or more credentials earn an average of $68,589 per year

11. How to prepare for the Medical Coding Certifications ?

  1. Choose your certification: Based on the recognition for that certification locally and your current level of experience ( Many certifications do not require experience ) and interest choose the certification. Starters can go for generic ones rather than specialized ones.
  2. Take a Formal Training: Many Certification requires a good knowledge on the Medical Terminologies, Procedures and Medications and the assignment of ICD, CPT and HCPCS Codes. Hence it is essential to go for a formal training on Medical coding. Choose a training program that covers the certification exam content.
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice : Passing a Certification ( like CPC, CCS) are not very easy. It requires thorough knowledge, speed and great level of practicing the scenarios. For this reason, certification holders are preferred over degree holders.
  4. Schedule and Pass the Exam:Many learners fail to sit for the exam due to lack of confidence and fear of failure. Work towards an end date for your preparation. With a good preparation and support, you can clear the exam. One last word, pursue the second attempt, if you fail in the first attempt. After all success is a result of hard work and perseverance.
  5. Earn More than one certification : If you are experienced medical coder , expand your domain by earning more than one certification for example in advanced or specialty coding ( dental coding, Neurology coding etc.,)

Project Management 2022 and Beyond

Project Management 2022 and Beyond
Ranging from AI to EI

As we kick off 2022, COVID-19 saga with its novel variants continues to throttle traditional working environment and challenges organizations to explore new ways to sustain and required them to adapt to changes in technological, economic and social domains.  Project Management Landscape is of no exception and this volatile situation have presented both challenges and opportunities to project based organizations and its employees.

Here are some highlights of the most impactful changes Organizations and Project Management Professionals face in 2022 and beyond and top skills in demand that to counter them:

#1 Rise of Remote Work space Demands Virtual Leadership Skills

The Wuhan Virus has broken through cultural and technological barriers that prevented remote work in the past and has led to structural shift in project team’s workplace. Despite the array of issues raised due to remote working in the beginning of 2020, soon the organizations understood both the advantages and limitations of letting the employees work from home.

Organizations broadened the options and identified the right mix of remote and office-based work based on need of job to counter the limitations while reaping the benefits like tapping into subject matter experts world over, higher productivity, saving cost on facilities, transportation etc.,

Source: Musienko, Yuri.Dec 2021. Merehead, www.merehead.com/blog/project-management-trends-2022/

On the other hand, employees, especially ones who are involved in creative work relished the flexibility that remote working conditions provided them. Being free from external irritants, (long hours on road, noise, visits of other employees etc.,) enabled them to work efficiently resulting in higher productivity. 

In the APM Salary and Market Trends survey 2020, 66% of respondents reported flexible working was an important criterion for how they chose their job.  

Virtual Leadership skills will become one of the top skills in demand for future Project Managers. Virtual Leadership provides practical strategies, tools and solutions for the key issues such as isolated and disengaged workforce, ineffective communication, uncoordinated and counter productivity involved in managing at a distance and create cohesive teams across distance, cultures and languages

#2 Next Gen Project Management Information System (PMIS) Demands Digital skills  

The project, program and portfolio management (PPM) software landscape is rapidly changing PMIS includes all the platforms, software and tools that help managers and teams plan, coordinate, and execute every aspect of project or program and portfolio planning and management. The top 5 techno-themes for the future of Project management are Block Chain, Artificial intelligence, Mobile apps, Remote access, Human Machine Collaboration 

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence – AI Systems are increasingly finding its way into project management tools to monitor and analyze the patterns of project team. Integration of AI systems with popular tools like Slack, JIRA aids to optimize processes. Not-too-distant future AI Bots will soon handle less intensive administrative tasks freeing up project managers time to available for team and focus on more value-added activities. 

Block Chain 

Increasing demand for Project Managers with Digital Skills to suit an overarching digital strategy is seen. 

The Block chain Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) will protect the project data, eliminate single-point of failure, enable single source of truth. This will greatly help in investigating discrepancies and disputes with external stakeholders such as clients and contractors. 

Mobile Apps  

Mobility is no longer a nice-to-have feature but a necessity. Project Managers can keep track of teams, tasks and deadlines on the go. Mobile apps have sealed the huge gap between available data and accessible data. 

Human Machine Collaboration:

Post Covid, organizations are reconsidering the structure and composition of work force, reinventing jobs, realizing power of Artificial Intelligence. According to Deloitte, 41% of surveyed companies have already implemented aspects of cognitive or artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in their workforce, whilst 37% are carrying out pilot programmes. However, only 17% of surveyed executives stated a readiness to manage a collaborative workforce of people, robots and AI.Robots and People work side by side complementing and compensating each other’s limitations.  Autonomation – the concept of human- machine collaboration – provides benefits of automation while protecting the irreplaceable human skills such as empathy, persuasion, courteousness, negotiation, problem-solving, and strategic decision-making. 

Remote Access and Cyber security:

Remote teams confront challenges that co-located teams do not, such as asynchronous time zones and work flow. As the usage of remote project management and team collaboration tools rise, there is a growing emphasis on data security. Project Manager being responsible for overseeing project risks, it is the onus of the project manager to identify, evaluate and manage potential security threats and protect sensitive project data. Cyber Incident Planning and Response is therefore will be a in demand skill for project manager of any industry.

#3 Hybrid Methodology – Seems to Stay  

The combination of co-located and distributed teams have triggered another significant change in the way projects are managed – Hybrid Project Management (Hybrid of Waterfall and Agile). 

Almost the whole of the 20th century was dominated by the predictive or waterfall model of project management. Project Managers regardless of their industry, were used to creating WBS, Gantt charts etc., tools that aids the project manager to plan in detail in the beginning.  

In the starting of 21st century with the rise of software projects, agile gained traction. Agile is seen as a magic bullet to solve waterfall problems such as meticulous processes, restrictive procedures and inadaptability to rapid market changes. Frequent smaller deliveries and continuous stakeholder influence throughout the project helps to accommodate requirement changes without derailing the project. 

Yet soon it was realized that agile is not panacea, as it does not suit projects that requires absolute estimates and managing constraints like strict schedule or budget. 

Consequently, Hybrid project management approach picked up steam that combines the best of both the worlds. With hybrid approach, project boundaries are defined upfront with accurate estimates as in the waterfall – where execution and delivery through several iterations as Minimum Viable Products are delivered.  

Global trends in project management survey of projectmanager.com 2022 found that only 12 % of PMs rely solely on the agile project management methodology, nearly 60% of respondents said that they use either a hybrid of waterfall and agile or many styles within a single project.

Hybrid methodology that combines both structure and flexibility requiring continuous stakeholder collaboration will be a new normal in 2022 and beyond.

Source: Global Trends in Project Management 2022 https://learn.projectmanager.com/global-trends-in-pm-2022

#4 Greater Emphasis on Soft Skills  

Growing importance of EI (Emotional Intelligence) albeit the intrusion of AI (Artificial Intelligence) sounds paradoxical but a natural inclination. As more and more technology enter project management, much of the mundane administrative and data analytical tasks of the project manager will be automated and make project manager available for the team. This has and will continue to increase the need for emotionally intelligent project managers.

Skills like empathy, persuasion, critical thinking, conflict resolution, motivation will become even more important. Time and again it is proved that the leader’s attitude is contagious and he/ she sets the tempo for team’s attitudinal norms. The quote “The ‘P’ in PM is as much about ‘People’ management as it is about ‘Project’ management,” will be more relevant than ever. Knowing this trend, many organizations have already started investing in developing these capabilities.   

Concluding thoughts 

Talent landscape has always been gradually changing in the past. But the virus outbreak from Beijing has zoomed up this change. While we still continue to fight the pandemic, we should continue to reinvent our project management practices and team’s workplace and prepare it for the next disruption. The good news is that there are plenty of tacit and explicit knowledge available out there, through different modes ranging synchronous-online to self-paced videos, to help you build the new project management skills. Whether novice or experienced, it is essential to keep abreast of the trend, restructure priorities to stay relevant with the new paradigms else ‘Everything will roll back to zero’.

Author : Durgadevi Padmanaban PMP, CSSGB, CSSBB

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

he 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.