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THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO PREPARE THE PMP EXAMAre you overwhelmed by the tons of information you need to know to pass the PMP exam? You can read a lot of books, watching videos or attending courses, but the risk to feel confused is around the corner. Here it is the solution of your problems: an essential guide of all concepts, tools, descriptions, formulas you need to prepare yourself for getting the most important certification in Project Management.Structured and to-the-point, don’t waste your time wandering around to find more information, everything is included herein.And with the original memorization technique, you will learn all in an easy way.
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Daniele Giudici, PMP®
To my beloved wife Roberta Ginevra,
my best "project" in my life
• INTRODUCTION •
First of all, let me congratulate you for your wish to become a Professional Project Manager through the PMP® certificate. It will be a big step forward in your career and once you’ll have passed the exam, and you’ll have received the certificate from PMI, be prepared to see your career boosting. Later, I’ll show you why PMP® is important for who already works in this field and also for ones that want to jump into this amazing world, but now in these few pages, I want to show you why my book is the best choice for you.
The right way of thinking
Getting the PMP® is not as easy as you can think, even if you’re an experienced project manager in your company. It’s not easy because of tons of information, formulas, structures, definitions to memorize, but more important is the way of thinking that is behind the PMbok® (the reference book written by the PMI). As you can see, the Project Management world has changed many times since its first years, there is the old school of thoughts that thinks the Waterfall method is still the best, and another one that believes the new project management consists of theories such as Scrum, Agile, Lean and so on. Beside this point, every single person that leads a team and is responsible for a project works with its own method, procedures, and practices. It works, of course, and this is why every single company in the world produces its deliverables even though none inside knows something about the above-mentioned methods, but the PMI’s work has always been to provide a sort of academic organization of the Project Management theory, standardizing strategies, organizations, procedures.
That’s exactly what I experienced when I approached the PMbok® for the first time. I decided to get the PMP® certification when I was 39, and I had already worked as project manager in an Italian media company for more than 20 years. I had led teams up to 30 people (journalists, media partners, advertisers, experts, and so on), I had launched on the market tens of new magazines and rebranded old products that were unprofitable, managing budget of millions of euros, and I can proudly say that I have always succeeded in my goals, but when I bought the PMbok® I found a new world. I had my own method, learned working side by side with very good masters, and perfected years after years with a lot of practice. I had the talent for this job, of course, I have always wanted to organize everything, and since my adolescence, my hobby has been to create games, magazines (at school, with my friends, and so on) and achieving my goals, so at 39 I presumed I had the right experience. Well, I was right, but PMbok® is organized in a different way, it has been ideated thinking to a Project Manager that works in a multinational company, a very big company, and you must keep this in mind when you will answer to every single question you’ll find in the exam.
Anyway, I studied the PMbok®, I attended different courses, I watched videos, and I read a lot of related books that should help in preparing the exam (you can find a list at the end of this book), and what I found is that the method I used was quite the same described in the PMbok®, but with other words or with other tools.
Open your mind and put your knowledge aside
So, if you had never worked in a PMP® environment, you’d probably have to reshape your know-how in a PMP® way. This aspect can be easy for someone, but extremely difficult for others: you’ll find questions that are simple for you and you’d easily manage those situations in your office, but your answer will be wrong. You could find yourself answering, “of course, it’s the answer B because it’s exactly what happened to me two weeks ago and I successfully solved this problem in this way”. Then you check the answer and the right one is A. Your first thought will be “what? It’s not the right way!”. So, be calm, try to get the best from your experience, and think how you should act if you were a project manager in an international company with standardized procedures or tools. I know, it could be difficult, it was difficult for me, the first times I answered I was a disaster because I approached the exercises with my experience, but PMI wants you to think in a different way, in a standard way, in a more scientific way. PMI has standardized this job and you must answer in its way, not in yours. So, keep your mind open, don’t fight with the book, just read it, study it and do tons of exercise. The more exercises you try and the more chance to pass you have. I told you, it’s not easy, but it’s not impossible.
Time and quantity of studying
A common question you can find on the web is: How long do I have to study for passing the exam? The answer, of course, is very difficult.
It depends on different factors:
-Your experience as PM
-Time available for studying
-Quantity of practice
-Your mind speed
I have already written about the first aspect (consider it, but take care of it), and only you know how hard you want to study in terms of time for memorizing the information and for practicing a lot of exercises, but here I want to focus on the fourth point. It’s important you know the PMP® exam is composed of 200 questions, some easy and some complicated, and you have only 4 hours to answer. A lot of time? You have 1,2 minute to answer each question, and in this minute you must read the question, think about it, decide the right answer and then check it. If it’s a simple question, ok, but if you find a question with a double negation, a trick one, or a question with a calculation (such as EVM or a CP) one minute is really not enough. Remind that most of the questions are about situations and not just notions: you must choose the best answer in a particular event so you have to imagine yourself in that situation: how could I act in this scenario as a PMP® (and not as the PM I am usually)? So, it’s not that automatic, every question requires your full attention. Prepare yourself for being concentrate for 4 hours, you will wear a couple of earplugs, but be ready to feel stressful for the whole time. Then, of course, everything is subjective and probably you’ll approach the exam as a stroll in the park during a spring day, but it’s important you know this aspect.
There are a lot of techniques, such as the “75-75-50” (take a break after the first 75 questions, then after the second ones, and at the end. Then, go back to answer to those you haven’t answered), or the “speed exam” (the first passage is using only 15-20 seconds to each question: if you know the answer ok, otherwise pass it and go to the next one. At the end take a little break and go back to the unanswered), but I’m pretty sure you have your own method. After all, you are an experienced Project Manager, you have managed a lot of projects in your life and this is only an exam. You can do it, especially if you use my book (after studying the PMbok®), and you make a lot of practice.
How this book is organized
This book is the result of my studies for the PMP® exam. It’s the summa of what I learned in my courses and in the books I read before entering the exam location. I don’t write about my experience as Project Manager because it’s not required for this task. It doesn’t matter if I’d act in a different way in a particular situation, the important thing is how PMI wants you to act in that particular situation.
After this little introduction, the book is organized into three parts: the first is divided like the PMbok® with basic definitions of the framework, the structures, the processes and the analysis of every single knowledge area (Integrated, Scope, Schedule, Cost, Quality, Communication, Risk, Procurement, Stakeholder). Here you find everything you need to know about the KA: it’s what you find in the PMbok® but in a more detailed way and with much other useful information. In the second part, there is any single formula, from EVM to PTA. In the third one, there is a further division, the Project Management lifecycle: each process is positioned in the right sequence. The fourth part is the method to memorize I used for studying. It may appear a bit difficult, but it isn’t, you only have to understand how it works and you’ll use it for this exam and for every other information you want to memorize in your life: guaranteed! At last, you find a list of books and website you should consult if you want to study a bit more and to test your preparation.
How to use this book
The most important thing is to study the PMbok® and use it as a guide. Reading it you can understand how the PMI thinks the project management job and consequently the exam. It’s really important and you shouldn’t skip it. Meanwhile, you can study my book to examine in depth some concepts that are just touched by the PMbok®. Afterward, you can use my book to have a fast overview of every single notion you need to know.
I didn’t insert an exercise section on purpose because you can find a lot of them everywhere in other books or in many websites, but I’d like you to consider this book as a reference guide, as a brief summary of concepts that you can easily comprehend if you don’t already know. I also included concepts that are in some questions but that aren’t included in the PMbok®: for example, do you know what the “Journey to Abilene” (Abilene paradox) is? Well, here you can find it.
Let me say a bit more, every single concept included in this book would require a lot of further information and studies, and sometimes you could find it written in a too simple way, but it’s enough for this task. Of course, if you want to become an expert of Earned value management or Risk management or something else this book is not enough.
I wrote it, this is not a book about Project management, I don’t write my experience, my method, my know-how, this is a book about the PMP® exam. And that’s all.
• CHAPTER 1 •
PROJECT MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATE
What is the PMP® certificate
Everyone can be responsible for a project and achieves successfully all type of projects, but only a few people have a professional certification that demonstrates their ability in managing projects professionally. In an always more competitive world, it’s time to stand-up with the right skills, and a PMP® certificate ensures that you’re ready to meet the demands of projects and employers across the globe. The Project Management Professional (PMP®) is the most important industry-recognized certification for project managers. It’s a worldwide certificate, and as a PMP® you can work in virtually any industry, with any methodology, and in any location. It shows you can speak globally the language of project management and you can also connect with other professionals through the local Chapter and through dedicated websites such as www.pmi.org or www.projectmanagement.com.
It’s a guarantee for all: in companies with one-third of their project managers that are PMP-certified, most projects are completed on time, on the budget, and meeting original goals (Pulse of the Profession® study, PMI). It’s good for project managers as well: according to “Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey” PMP® certification holders earn 20 percent more than their non-certified peers according to Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey, Ninth Edition.
How to get the PMP®
PMP is a document that certifies your professionalism and to get it you need to have a few prerequisites and then you need to pass an exam. The prerequisites are:
-Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree or the global equivalent)
-7,500 hours leading and directing projects
-35 hours of project management education
-4,500 hours leading and directing projects
-35 hours of project management education
If you are ok with these aspects you can apply for the exam that cost US$405 for members of PMI and US$555 for non-members. The process is:
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